St. Dorothea: A Necklace in Gold and Red

Awhile back my mom had a request: “Make me a red necklace”…having received no further information (casual, dressy, full, sparse, gold, silver, whatever), I took a look at what red beads I had available, and let inspiration take over…

Still drawn to those filigree-type discs I’d purchased awhile back and which I’d used for San Marco, I got to work, and ended up with the following:

Using mostly small floral disks and red glass beads, I created the main necklace….then, using bent and beaded eyepins and one large central disk, I created the pendant component:

Because the gold disks still reminded me of St. Mark’s basilica in Venice, I thought I’d look to its beautiful gold mosaics for this piece’s final touch: its name. While perusing the listing of saints that are depicted in the basilica, I came across St. Dorothea – the patron saint of florists – with red flowers and red detailing on her robes. The fit couldn’t be better.

It got me wondering, though. Who was she? So I decided to look her up in an extremely un-scholarly way to discover the following:

Dorothea lived in the Roman province of Turkey in the early fourth century AD, during the reign of the Emperor Diocletian. As it happens, Diocletian was a real nasty bugger when it came to persecuting Christians (he had a whole era named after him: the Diocletian persecution). After executing her parents, Dorothea was tortured, and then offered leniency if she would only renounce Christianity, worship the Roman gods, and take a husband.

She politely declined the offer, stating “Do what you have to do, that I may see the One for whose love I fear neither death nor torments, Jesus Christ….It is He who invites us to the garden of His delights, where at all times the trees are covered with fruits, the lilies are perpetually white, the roses ever in their freshness….”

Since she wouldn’t give in, Dorothea was sentenced to death. On the way to her execution she was mocked, and asked by the lawyer Theophilus to “… send him apples or roses from the garden…” She promised to do just that, and then was promptly beheaded. Afterward, an angel is reputed to have fulfilled her promise – bringing three apples and three roses to the lawyer; an event which shocked him into converting to Christianity, and ultimately led to his being martyred as well. [ source 1 2 ]

…as a result, she is always depicted with roses.

Huh. I kinda just liked that she was wearing red.


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