Flavia Domitilla (saint)
Flavia Domitilla was daughter of
Domitilla the Youngerby an unknown father. She married her cousin, the consulTitus Flavius Clemens.
In Roman literature
Quintilian[Quintilian, [http://honeyl.public.iastate.edu/quintilian/4/intro.html#2 "Institutio Oratoria," iv. 1, § 2] ] reports that he had been entrusted with the tutelage of two of Domitian's grandsons. These should be the children of this Domitilla and Clemens.
Suetonius states that Domitian designated Clemens' children his successors whilst they were still very young, before their parents' fall, and renamed them Titus and Vespasian. [Suetonius, [http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Roman/Texts/Suetonius/12Caesars/Domitian*.html#15 "Life of Domitian", 12] ]
Dio reports [ [http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Roman/Texts/Cassius_Dio/67*.html#14 "Epitome" of Cassius Dio, 67.4] ] ::Domitian slew, along with many others, Flavius Clemens the consul, although he was a cousin and married to Flavia Domitilla, who was also a relative of the emperor's. The charge brought against them both was that of atheism (αθεοτση), a charge on which many others who drifted into Jewish ways were condemned. Some of these were put to death, and the rest were at least deprived of their property. Domitilla was merely banished to Pandateria (
Suetonius also states that Domitilla's steward Stephanus was involved in the final, successful plot against Domitian. [ [http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Roman/Texts/Suetonius/12Caesars/Domitian*.html#17 "Domitian", 17] ]
In Jewish tradition
According to the
Talmud, both she and her husband converted to Judaism, after having contact with the great Rabbincal Sage Rabbi Akiva ( Akiba ben Joseph). This may integrate with the tradition of her as a Christian (see below).
As a Christian saint
name=Saint Flavia Domitilla
Greek Orthodox Church
Roman Catholic Church
Santi Nereo e Achilleo
Flavia Domitilla is a saint in the
Greek Orthodox Church, which celebrates her feast day on 12 May. She was for some time treated also as a saint by the Roman Catholic Church, which honoured her on 12 Maytogether with Saints Nereus and Achilleus, in whose church of Santi Nereo e Achilleoin Rome, her supposed relics were housed. Her name was not linked with theirs in the Tridentine Calendarof Pope Pius V. It was added in 1595, and was removed in 1969 on the grounds that the honours paid to her had no basis in tradition. ["Calendarium Romanum" (Libreria Editrice Vaticana), p. 123] Eusebius of Caesarea["Historia Ecclesiae", III, 18; Chron. ad an. Abrahami, 2110] , the spurious acts of Nereus and Achilles, and St. Jerome [Ep., CVIII, 7.] represent Flavia Domitilla as the niece, not the wife of the consul Flavius Clemens, and say that her place of exile was Pontia, an island also situated in the Tyrrhenian Sea. These statements have given rise to the opinion that there were two Domitillas (aunt and niece) who were Christians, and latter generally referred to as Flavia Domitilla the Younger. Lightfoot has shown that this opinion, adopted by Tillemontand De Rossi and still maintained by many writers (among them Allard and Duchesne), is derived entirely from Eusebius who was led into this error by mistakes in transcription, or ambiguity of expression, in the sources which he used. He mentions only the conversion of Domitilla, saying that she was the daughter of Clemens' sister, and that she was deported to the island of Pontia(compare also his "Chronicle," year 98). Eusebius must refer to some other Flavia Domitilla.
When Domitian had decreed that in 30 days, the Senate would confirm an edict to kill all
Jews and Christians in the Roman Empire, Domitilla convinced her husband to stand up for the Jews. When there were 5 days left until the edict would be voted on by the Senate, she convinced him to commit suicide in order to postpone the Senate vote, in hopes that God would bring a miracle in the extra time. Since Clemens was the Roman Consul, if he were to die, another Consul would have to be elected before the Senate could pass any decisions. It took a long time to elect a new Consul, so this was one way he could help save the Jews. Domitianexecuted Titus Flavius Clemens the next day. She had two sons by him, whom Domitian made his own heirs, but they died as young teenagers. The plan worked, and her steward Stephanus was able to assassinate Domitianbefore the decree was finalized. She was banished by her uncle Domitianto the island Pandataria, where she died mourning her husband.
Heinrich Grätz, Die Jüdischen Proselyten im Römerreiche, pp. 28 et seq.
*idem, Gesch. 3d ed., iv. 403
*Lebrecht, in Geiger's Jüd. Zeit. xi. 273
*Berliner, Gesch. der Juden in Rom, p. 39
*Kraus, Roma Sotterranea, p. 41, Freiburg-in-Breisgau, 1873
*Reinach, Fontes Rerum, Judaicaram, i. 195
*Prosopographia Imperii Romani, ii. 81.
* [http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=198&letter=F&search=Flavia%20Domitilla Jewish Encyclopaedia]
* [http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/06098b.htm Catholic Encyclopaedia]
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