Wednesday, June 27, 2007

St. Joanna the Myrrh-bearer

On June 27 is commemorated St. Joanna the Myrrh-bearer. Her life is recorded in the Prologue of Ohrid:
Joanna was the wife of Chuza, Herod's steward: "Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod's steward" (St. Luke 8:3). When Herod beheaded John the Baptist he disposed of his head in an unclean place. Joanna removed the head of the Baptist and buried it honorably on the Mount of Olives on Herod's estate. Later, during the reign of Constantine the Great, the head of John the Baptist was discovered. St. Joanna is also remembered as being present both at the suffering and at the resurrection of the Lord. She died peacefully.
and with a different emphasis, in the OCA Lives of the Saints:
Saint Joanna the Myrrh-bearer, wife of Chusa, the household steward of King Herod, was one of the women following and attending the Lord Jesus Christ during the time of His preaching and public ministry. She is mentioned in Luke 8:3 and 24:10. Together with the other Myrrh-bearing Women, St. Joanna went to the Sepulchre to anoint the Holy Body of the Lord with myrrh after His death on the Cross, and she heard from the angels the joyful proclamation of His All-Glorious Resurrection. According to Tradition, she recovered the head of St. John the Baptist after Herodias had disposed of it (February 24).
St. Joanna is a relatively minor saint and barely makes it into the list commemorated at the end of vespers, but as a Myrrh-bearer, she gets a full Sunday of hymns each year, two weeks after Pascha. This includes three Stichera in the Second Tone, from the AOA Liturgical Guide On-Line:
Early, at dawn, the ointment-bearing women arose, and carrying ointments, came to the Lord's tomb. And not attaining their desire, the pious women pondered the removal of the stone, addressing one another and saying, Where are the seals of the grave? Where are Pilate's watchmen and the security of his great care? And lo, an angel, radiant as lightning, proclaimed to them that of which they were ignorant, addressing them and saying, Why, wailing, seek ye the Living who produceth life for mankind? Christ our God hath risen from the dead, since He is Almighty, bestowing on all, life, incorruptibility, illumination, and the Great Mercy.

Why mingle ye tears with the ointment, O women Disciples? Behold, the stone hath been rolled away, and the sepulchre is empty. Behold corruption trodden under of Life the seals bearing clear witness, the guards of the rebellious fast asleep, the dead saved by the body of God, and hades mourning. Hasten ye with joy, and tell the Disciples that Christ, who is First-born of the dead, who caused death to die, shall go before you into Galilee.

The ointment-bearers, O Christ, rose up early and hastened to thy tomb, seeking to anoint with oils thine incorruptible body. But when the glad tidings were brought to them by the words of the angel, with signs of joy they proclaimed to the Apostles that the Element of our salvation had risen, leading death captive, and granting the world life eternal and the Great Mercy.
and one in the Sixth Tone:
The ointment-bearing women, O Savior, came to thy tomb; and when they beheld the seals, not finding thy body, they hurried anxiously, wailing and saying, Who hath stolen our Hope? Who hath taken away a naked, embalmed corpse, the only consolation to his Mother? Woe! How hath the dead-reviving One died? And how was he buried who spoiled hades? But arise thou by thine own power after three days, as thou didst say, and save our souls.
Exaposteilarion in the Second Tone:
Hear the voice of gladness, O women; for I have trodden down rebellious hades, and raised the world from corruption. Wherefore, hasten ye and proclaim the glad tidings to my beloved; for I desire that joy shall break forth thence upon my creation, whence first came forth sorrow.
Eothinon in the Second Tone:
They who were with Mary came and brought with them ointments; and as they were at a loss how to achieve their desire, they saw that the stone had been rolled, and a divine young man removed all anxiety and trouble from their souls by saying, The Lord Jesus hath risen. Wherefore, they proclaimed to His Disciples, that they should hasten to Galilee and behold Him, risen from the dead; for He is the Lord, the Giver of life.
Kontakion in the Second Tone, from the OCA Lives of the Saints:
You did command the myrrh-bearers to rejoice, O Christ!
By Your Resurrection, You did stop the lamentation of Eve, O God!
You did command Your apostles to preach: The Savior is Risen!
Troparion in the Second Tone:
The angel came to the myrrhbearing women at the tomb and said:
Myrrh is meet for the dead;
But Christ has shown Himself a stranger to corruption!
So proclaim: the Lord is risen,
Granting the world great mercy!
Lord willing, Julie and I are expecting a daughter sometime in the next month or so. Her name will be Jenna, a later form of Joanna (both derived from Ioann/John). From the time we were first told that she would be a girl and settled on the name, I have prayed for her every night in St. Joanna's name. I know most of my Evangelical friends and family, including my wife, think such things are foolish or downright Satanic. I can't blame them--I used to think the same way myself, and it's still one of those areas where I don't quite feel comfortable yet, but I do it anyway.

I don't really know how to explain it in a way that's going to convince anyone--you either believe in the intercession of saints, or you don't. But something about this particular situation seems logical to me. I've never seen Jenna, other than some fuzzy, sonographic images; never spoken to her in any way that I could know experientially that she hears or responds or knows I exist. But she is part of me--my flesh and blood--and for that reason I love her and pray for her. I've only seen St. Joanna in icons, never met her, never heard a response from her. But we are joined by a bond stronger than biological family--we are both part of Christ; a bond stronger than death, I might add, since he has conquered death. If this communion of love does not result in her prayers for struggling sinners like me, what sense does that make?


Anonymous said...

first comment! joanna is an awsom nmae! go us joannas!

Anonymous said...

Was told of a joanna in the bible, only yesterday heard on the god channel she is mentoned in the book of luke. My name is joanna and im facinated to learn more. Thankyou for this information, where did you find it?

Trevor said...

I link to the various sources throughout the post. If you click on any of the underlined text, you should be able to see where the information came from.

Michelle said...

wow i learned a lot thanks im choosing this name 4 my confermation thanks again :)

Anonymous said...

St. Joanna is my patron. I asked for her name because of these things:

1. She did what she could. She couldn't stop the beheading of John the Baptist, but she could give his head a decent burial, and she did that.

2. She went where Christ was--the cross and the tomb. She didn't go alone--she was part of a group. I want to go where Christ is, and I need to go with the Church.

3. She had a name we can pronounce in English.

4. She died peacefully.

You keep asking her to bless your family.

Anonymous said...

WOW i really am happy i found dis web site and site joanna is my patroon and i just need to know where she was bore but thanks for the rest of teh information

Anonymous said...

thanks alot ur information is da best

Ma o' MAW said...

Where did you find the icon of St. Joanna? It's a great one.

Trevor-Peter said...

The icon is actually a direct link to the OCA site, where I found it.

Anonymous said...

Thanks 4 all of this information! i learned a lot about her. she was such a good woman to follow. joanna is my conformation name and i just learned so many good things about the name i picked. thanks again. n_n!

MNI follower said...

The name came in me to call my unborn child was Joanna. I have no idea why I chose it and never was convinced to changed it. She is now 5 years old. I am so happy that her name is a saint and experienced the presence of Jesus Christ.

Anonymous said...

im gimel from the philippines, im a devotee of st. joanna, and im looking for a prayer or novena for her, if you have any, can i have a copy of it.. thank you so much!!!

Trevor-Peter said...

Sorry--what I posted here is all that I've found.

Ann Nichols said...

I don't know whether you will see this comment since your post is from 2007 but I just wanted you to know that I linked this page to my blog - It's about St. Nicholas and his association with Christmas! Do you blog elsewhere now? Hope your little daughter - who must be three now - is growing strong and beautiful in the Lord!
Please come and visit me if you get the chance!