In Tyre, on Lake Bolsena in Tuscany, St. Christina, Virgin and Martyr. This virgin broke up her father's idols of silver and gold and gave them to the poor because she believed in Christ. On her father's orders her flesh was torn with lashes, she suffered other cruel tortures, and she was thrown into the sea weighted down with a great stone. She was saved by an angel, however. A second judge succeeded her father in ordering even more severe torments. Finally, under the prefect Julian, after five days in a burning furnace and after overcoming an attack of snakes with the aid of Christ, she achieved martyrdom when her tongue was cut out and she was pierced by darts. – Roman Martyrology for July 24
St. Christina's most common attribute is a dart, as in the picture at right. In her Passio a judge tries to force her to recant her faith with a number of torments, and when they all fail he throws two darts at her, one of which pierces her heart and ends her life.1
Other attributes arise from the many tortures she endures on the orders of her father and then of two judges in succession. The father is incensed that she has broken his gold and silver idols into pieces and given the pieces to the poor (image), so he has her tied to a great wheel set above a flaming fire. The wheel often appears in her portraits, as in the second picture at right.
The wheel often has the look of a millstone. This may be due to a confusion with the next torment in the story, when the father orders his men to tie her to a stone weight and throw her into the sea, although in the Latin the weight is specifically a field stone (saxum), not a millstone (mola).
In the Passio an angel comes and breaks up the stone for Christina so she can return to shore, but the images always picture an unbroken wheel, thus distinguishing it from the wheel that is St. Catherine of Alexandria's attribute.
A less common attribute is a snake, as in the third picture at right. In the Passio the judge has St. Christina confined to a fiery furnace (which appears in the lower left of the first picture at right). When the fires fail to harm her he engages a sorcerer to have snakes beset her. The snakes attach themselves to her breasts, but when she prays for deliverance the snakes turn on the sorcerer and he dies.
Prepared in 2018 by Richard Stracke, Emeritus Professor of English, Augusta University.