The headline for St. Matrona of Thessalonika’s death would have read “Domestic Servant Dies in Domestic Violence Incident in Mistress’s Closet”. As a slave of a Jewish noblewoman (a well-established community in the 4th century) Matrona had to bear the nagging of her mistress not only in terms of housework but in terms of conversion. Her mistress would refuse to let her practice her faith, but tried to force her into accepting Judaism. One time when her mistress learned she had attended Church, and when she “talked back” to her by saying she does not attend a synagogue because God had departed from there, she beat her, tied her and locked her in a dark closet without food or water. The next morning Matrona was found at her usual chores; she had been released from bondage and the closet.
The mistress kept putting her in the closet with more extreme acts of starvation. One day, two days, four days went by without food and drink. But somehow, when she opened the door she would find Matrona released from the ropes and in prayer. This would put her into more rage until that one fateful day when she flogged her so much her skin was cut in strips. Alas, she gave up the ghost in the closet.
To get rid of the body, the mistress flung it from her roof top (sure, that was a great way to get rid of evidence in those days). Fellow Christians collected her badly broken body and eventually a church was erected in her honor. As for the evil Jewish mistress, she got her just deserts. She stumbled at the very place she had flung Matrona’s body on the roof and broke her body and died on the spot. What goes around, comes around.