MOSCOW, JANUARY 25 (RIA Novosti corr. Olga Lipich) - The Russian Orthodox Church is commemorating St. Tatiana of Rome today.

Tatyana's Day is especially popular with Russia's student community: it was January 25, 1755, that Empress Elizabeth signed a decree establishing Moscow University. A church commemorating St. Tatiana was built on the university grounds, and the students came to regard her as their patron saint.

As legend has it, St. Tatiana lived at a time of fierce persecution of Christians in Rome. Her father, a patrician, covertly preached Christianity, instilling Christian values in his daughter. Tatiana never got married, but devoted herself to God.

The powerful Roman jurist Ulpian ordered his men to catch Tatiana and have her make a sacrifice to a pagan idol. When she was brought into Apollo's Temple, Tatiana offered a prayer to Christ instead. An earthquake then hit the temple, breaking the idol apart and burying the priests under the rubble.

Tatiana was subjected to severe torture to make her give up Christian faith, but she never succumbed, and ended up executed together with her father.

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