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St. Dorothy & the Basket of Roses

Hugh O’Reilly
The glorious virgin and martyr St. Dorothy was born of noble lineage of the senators of Rome. In that time the persecution of the Christian people was great about Rome, wherefore this holy virgin St. Dorothy, her father, her mother and her two sisters forsook their riches and fled into the realm of Cappadocia.

.st dorothy, virgin and martyr

Her great beauty caught the attention of the provost Fabricus

The great beauty of Dorothy attracted the attention of the provost Fabricius, who sought to have her as his wife, promising her great riches and worldly goods. But the holy virgin refused his suit. She boldly proclaimed she was a Christian and that she had vowed her virginity to Jesus Christ, Whom she had chosen as her Spouse, and would never have other.

Dorothy is tormented

When Fabricius the judge heard this, he commanded that Dorothy should be put in a cask of burning oil, but she was preserved by the power of her Spouse Jesus.

Then the tyrant put her in a deep prison nine days long without meat or drink, but all that while the Angels brought her food. When she appeared before Fabricius she was fairer than ever. Infuriated, the judge ordered she suffer the torment of the gibbet, with her feet set upward and the head downward. Then her body was torn with hooks of iron and beaten with rods and scourges, and her breasts burnt with hot fiery brands. Half dead she was removed from the gibbet and placed in prison.

But when she was brought before Fabricius the next day, she was all whole without any wounds or hurt.

Then he said to the virgin Dorothy: “How long wilt thou trouble us with thy witchcraft? Sacrifice to our gods or else your head shall be smitten off.”

Then said the holy virgin with a glad semblance said: “Do to me whatever you will, for I am ready to suffer all for the love of my Spouse Jesus Christ, in whose garden full of delights I have gathered roses, spices and apples.”

When the tyrant heard that he trembled with anger, and commanded that her fair visage should be beaten with stones so that there should appear no beauty there, but only disfigurement. Yet, on the next day she came forth from the prison once again whole and sound, and more fair to behold than she was before.

‘All you have prayed for is granted to you’

And then this cursed judge commanded her head be smitten off. As she was led to the place assigned where it should be done, a scribe of the realm, named Theophilus, said to her in scorn: "I pray thee to send me some of thy roses and apples that you boast you have gathered in the garden of your Spouse." And she granted to him his desire.

Martyrdom of St Dorothy

St. Dorothy suffers the martyrdom

When she came to the place where she should be beheaded, she knelt down on her knees in the bitter cold – for it was dead of winter – and made this prayer to Our Lord Jesus Christ: She beseeched him that all who call on her name might be steadfast in the faith and suffer their tribulations patiently, and especially to be delivered from all shame, great poverty and false slander, and at their last end to have contrition, confession and remission of their sins. And also that women with child should call to her for help to have good deliverance, the child be christened and the mother purified.

Also she prayed to God that wherever her life was written or read in any house, that it should be kept from all peril of lightning, thunder, fire, thieves and sudden death, and that those persons might receive the Sacraments of the Holy Church at their last end for their defense against the enemy the Devil.

And when she had ended her prayer there was a voice heard from Heaven that said: “Come to me, my dear spouse and true virgin, for all that you have prayed for is granted to you.”

And the holy virgin bowed down her head, and the cruel tyrant smote it off. And thus she suffered death on the 6th day of February, the year of Our Lord 288.

The basket of roses

Roses given to Theophilus

The boy delivers the roses & apples to Theophilus

But a little before she was beheaded, there appeared before her a fair child, barefoot and clothed in a purple garment adorned with bright stars, bearing in his hand a little gold basket filled with roses and apples. The virgin addressed the child: "I pray thee, bear this basket to Theophilus the scribe. Tell him, 'Here is what you asked the Spouse of Dorothy the Virgin to send you from Paradise.'"

Theophilus was at that moment in the palace of the Emperor, making joke about his request to the virgin Dorothy. This child thus came before him and presented to him the basket, saying: “Here are the roses and apples that my sister Dorothy has sent to you from Paradise, the garden of her Spouse.”

And then the child vanished away.

Theophilus, marveling at the work of God in this holy virgin, thereupon praised the God of Dorothy for that great miracle which was shown to him of roses and apples. And then he was converted to the Faith of Jesus Christ, and with him also many of the people of the city.

When Fabricius learned this, he tormented Theophilus the scribe with many diverse torments, and at last hewed him into small pieces, and the pieces were cast to birds and beasts to be devoured. But he was first baptized and thus he followed the holy virgin Dorothy into the bliss of Heaven.


Blason de Charlemagne
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Adapted from The Golden Legend,
Posted March 11, 2023

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