SAINTS BOOK – ORTHODOXY
Saint Verena of Switzerland, from Egypt (+320)
Saint Verena (Thebes, ca. 260 – Zurzach, ca. 320) according to tradition, she was associated with the Theban Legion and died on September 14, 320.
Tradition states that she was brought up in the 3rd century in the Theban region (modern day Luxor in Upper Egypt) in a noble Christian family.
The name Verena means „the good fruit“. According to tradition, Verena was of a noble Christian family from the village of Garagous, near Luxor. Her parents sent her to Sherimon, Bishop of Beni Suef, to be instructed in the Christian faith, after which he baptized her. She was a relative of Saint Victor (or alternately, Saint Maurice) of the Theban Legion. As soldiers‘ relatives were allowed to accompany them in order to look after them and take care of their wounds, Verena accompanied the legion on its mission to Rhaetia (part of modern-day Switzerland).
Verena was still in Milan when word was received that Saint Maurice, Saint Victor and the other members of the Theban Legion, who had proceeded north, were martyred. Verena went to Agaunum (modern Saint-Maurice) in Switzerland to venerate them. First, she led the life of a hermit in a place called Solothurn, from there she went to Koblenz, but later moved into a cave near present-day Zurich. As a hermit, Verena fasted and prayed continuously. Several miracles were attributed to her intercession. Verena was a spiritual counselor for young girls and due to her expertise as a nurse used to look after their physical health.
As a result of her fame, the local governor arrested her and sent her to jail, where Saint Maurice appeared to her to console and strengthen her. After she was released from jail, she continued her good works.
Due to her, many converted to Christianity. Saint Verena fed the poor and nursed the sick, especially those suffering from leprosy. She used to wash their wounds and put ointments on them, not fearing infection. She died in Switzerland in 320.
The Verena Minster church was built over the grave of Saint Verena in a Roman cemetery. She is one of the most revered saints in Switzerland.
She is often portrayed with either bread, or a jar of water in one hand, and a comb in the other, symbols of her care for the poor and lepers.