The iron gate slammed, and Dorothy was alone. Down the white road strode the senator's son, his toga flying in the wind.
For the first time in her life the little maid was afraid. Her face was as white as the snowflakes now whirling about her.
She drew her cloak closer with a little shiver, not wholly from the cold. Her eyes followed the fast disappearing figure of the angry boy. She had refused to marry him because she had promised herself to Jesus Christ, and all her sweet, pure love was given to the Heart of God. Theophilus would tell the Emperor that she was a Christian, then would come terrible tortures and death. Oh, would she be brave enough to suffer then, when now she was trembling at the mere thought of the flames and sword? Tears came to her eyes. She was only a weak girl, and the soldiers were so strong.
Then a thought quieted her. The name, Dorothy, meant "Gift of God." Her life was the dear Lord's gift. If she offered it back to Him bravely for His sake, would He not be with her even in the midst of the flames, to give her strength and courage? Her lips smiled, her arms fell apart. "Dear God, I am not afraid now," she whispered, her face upturned to the gray skies.
A few months later a crowd without a prison waited for a sight of the girl martyr. Because she would not bow before the idols, Dorothy had that very day been condemned to death. As they watched, the gates swung wide, and Dorothy, her wrists bound, and guards on either side, came forth. Her step was firm, her sweet lips smiling, but her eyes modestly cast down. Theophilus was among the watching throng. As she passed him, he cried mockingly, You are going to die for God, you say. I will believe that there is a God if you send me roses and apples from His garden. Dorothy raised her eyes for a fleeting instant, then dropped them again. "I will send them," she answered simply.
That night, while Theophilus was trying to drown the memory of Dorothy's death in a gay banquet, a little child stood suddenly by his side. On one arm was a basket of crimson roses, and nestled deep down in the dark green leaves were apples, too fair to have been grown in the gardens of earth. "Dorothy bade me give these to you," a sweet voice whispered. Theophilus turned, startled, but the boy had disappeared. Only the basket with its fragrant burden of fruit and flowers remained.
"Here, catch that boy," he cried to the servants.
"What boy?" they asked. "We have seen no one."
Theophilus waited not to answer, but sped out into the night. White-faced, he sought the city streets. Glaring lamps flashed at intervals along the dark ways, and by their light he peered wildly into hidden places. But no sign of the little one. Terror lent wings to his feet. Men turned to look after him, but he cared not. Dorothy s face, pure and sweet,
gleamed before him, and urged him on. If the wee messenger were an angel of God, and the roses had come from His eternal home, then the faith for which the martyr had died was true. All the long night he searched in vain, and the still hours of dawn found him prostrate in the open fields outside of the city gates. He pressed his hot face to the cool, green grass, and the first prayer of his life sprang to his lips.
"O God of Dorothy, have mercy on me" he sobbed. "I believe, I believe!"
One by one he remembered the words she had spoken to him, their sweetness and earnestness, and above all, her generous forgiveness, when she knew he had sought her life. Ah, the God whom she loved so dearly must be the true God. A few brief months, and his new-born faith was strangely tested. As Dorothy had done, he stood before the great tribunal, thrilled by the thought that she had listened to her sentence, perhaps, on
that very spot. Bravely he confessed Christ, and won the martyr's crown. The prayers of the girl martyr had been answered in heaven.
- Feast, February sixth
A coloring picture of St. Dorothy can be found here.
-Children of the Kingdom, Imprimatur 1914 -