When is the feast of Saint Aquila and Saint Priscilla
Our Orthodox Church celebrates the memory of Saints Aquila and Priscilla on 13 February and they are honored as holy spouses in the Christian religion. Apostle Paul mentions the holy couple in many of his Epistles, who contributed greatly to his missionary action.
What is the feast of lovers for the Orthodox Church: The counterproposal on Valentine's Day
The feast of Saints Aquila and Priscilla precedes the commercial celebration of lovers on 14 February, the famous Valentine's Day. Although there is no clear information about Saint Valentine, the feast is widely known and has been associated with commercial consumption and the purchase of material gifts as a sign of love.
The Orthodox Church considers that St. Valentine is "non-existent...a fiction of Western origin" and sets as a counterproposal the feast of the couples in love on February 13 of Saints Aquila and Priscilla.
The life of Saints Aquila and Priscilla
Saint Aquila and Saint Priscilla were Jews and in the early years they lived in Rome. After their persecution by Rome because of religious unrest over the synagogues of Jesus Christ, they emigrated to Corinth. There, they used to work in the manufacture of special fabrics for tents.
During his second apostolic tour, Apostle Paul arrived in Corinth where he met the holy couple in a synagogue. This meeting is mentioned in chapter 18 1-4 of «Acts of Apostles»:
“...he (Paul) left Athens and came to Corinth. There he found a Jew from Pontus, whose name was Aquila. He had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had ordered all the Jews to leave Rome. Paul came to them, and because they had the same art, he stayed with them and worked. Their art was to make tents. Every Sabbath he discussed in the synagogue and tried to persuade Jews and Greeks.”
According to the tradition, Saints Aquila and Priscilla hosted Apostle Paul in their home for 16 months and became his important collaborators. It seems that the couple contributed significantly to the Apostle's action, since through them he pushed the Jews to the Christian faith and created one of the most powerful apostolic churches.
When Apostle Paul decided to visit Ephesus, a city in Asia Minor, Saint Aquila and Saint Priscilla followed him with devotion. They became preachers of the Gospel in a pagan city where the pagan priests were fiercely opposed to the Christian faith. As Apostle Paul reports (Rom 16,3), the holy couple had a difficult time because of the fury of the pagans and the Jews.
Then, the holy partners returned to Rome to continue teaching the Word of God. Many Jews were even convinced by their word and believed in Christ.
According to ancient tradition, Saints Aquila and Priscilla stayed together until the last moment, until they were martyred. At the morning Service of the Church (matins) it is said that when St. Aquila saw his wife martyred he said: "Can I not appear a man myself, in proportion to my wife, brave and willing to be beheaded for the Faith of Christ?" . Then, he was martyred too.
What do the holy spouses, Saint Aquilas and Saint Priscilla symbolize
Our Church discerned in the faces of the two Saints, the model of the ideal married couple. The holy couple of Aquila and Priscilla is a model of an ideal and blessed union of a married couple.
What are Aquila and Priscilla the patron saint of
Saint Aquilas and Saint Priscilla shared the same love for each other and for Jesus Christ. This love united them and rejuvenated them. They are protectors of spouses and can be an example in the eyes of modern wives and husbands.
“Greet Priscilla and Aquila my helpers in Christ Jesus: Who have for my life laid down their own necks: unto whom not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles.” (Rom.16,3-4)