St. Olivia of Palermo (+463)
Commemorated on June 10
According to the hagiographic legend, Olivia was the beautiful daughter of a noble Sicilian family, born around 448 AD. Local hagiographers state that she was born in the Loggia district of Palermo. From her early years she devoted herself to the Lord while declining honors and riches, and loved to give charity to the poor. In 454 AD Genseric, king of the Vandals, conquered Sicily and occupied Palermo, martyring many Christians. When she was thirteen Olivia began to comfort the prisoners and urged the Christians to remain steadfast in their faith. The Vandals were impressed by the strength of her spirit, seeing that nothing could prevail against her faith, and so in deference to her noble house, they sent her to Tunis where the governor would attempt to overcome her constancy.
In Tunis Olivia worked miracles and began to convert the pagans. The governor therefore ordered that she be relegated to a lonely place as a hermitess, where there were wild animals, hoping that the beasts would devour her or that she would die of hunger. However the wild animals lived peacefully around her. One day some men from Tunis who were hunting found her, and impressed by her beauty tried to abuse her; but Olivia converted them too with the word of the Lord and they were baptized. After miraculously curing many of the sick and suffering in the region, Olivia converted many pagans to the Christian faith. When the governor heard about these things he had her arrested and imprisoned in the city in an attempt to make her apostatize. She was scourged and she was stripped and submerged into a cauldron of boiling oil, but these tortures did not cause her any harm, nor did they make her renounce her faith. Finally she was beheaded on June 10 of the year 463, and her soul "flew to the sky in the form of a dove" (Italian: "sotto forma di colomba volò al cielo")