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Tag Archives: early Church

ST ERASMUS OF FORMIA, BISHOP AND MARTYR

ST ERASMUS OF FORMIA, BISHOP AND MARTYR

ST ERASMUS OF FORMIA, BISHOP AND MARTYR – FEAST: JUNE 2

Originally from Antioch, St Erasmus (St Elmo) became Bishop of Formia, Campagna, Italy. To lie low during Emperor Diocletian’s persecution of Christians (c. 303), he fled to Mount Lebanon, living a life of prayer and penance. Throughout this time he was miraculously fed by a raven.

The Bishop was tracked down and sent to Diocletian, imprisoned, and freed by an angel. After having converted many more souls he was discovered once more and martyred by being disemboweled. Some sources report that this was done by winding his intestines on a windlass.

“ST ELMO’S FIRE”

St Erasmus is one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers and invoked against gastrointestinal illnesses such as cancer and Crohn’s Disease. His intercession is asked by soldiers and sailors, too; the blue static electrical discharges which would sometimes appear on the masts or riggings of their ships (“St Elmo’s Fire”) was seen as a sign of his protection.

PRAYER:

O God, who gladden us each year by the feast of your holy Martyrs, Marcellinus, Peter and Erasmus, graciously grant that, as we rejoice in their merits, we may be inspired by their example. Through our Lord Jesus Christ…

 

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SS NEREUS, ACHILLEUS, DOMITILLA THE VIRGIN, AND PANCRATIUS

SS NEREUS, ACHILLEUS, DOMITILLA THE VIRGIN, AND PANCRATIUS

SS NEREUS, ACHILLEUS, DOMITILLA THE VIRGIN, AND PANCRATIUS, MARTYRS – MEMORIAL: MAY 12

The brothers Nereus and Achilleus were eunuchs who served Flavia Domitilla. They were baptised with Domitilla’s mother, Plautilla, by St Peter, and the brothers persuaded Domitilla to consecrate her virginity to God.

Because of this, Aurelian, who had been engaged to her, accused them of being Christians, and they were banished to the isle of Pontia.

THEY WERE ACCUSED OF BEING CHRISTIANS 

To force them to sacrifice to idols, they were scourged and then taken to Terracina where they were beheaded after being racked and burned. Their disciple Auspicius brought their bodies to Rome and they were buried on the Ardeatine Way.

Flavia Domitilla, who had received the veil from blessed Pope Clement, was also banished to Pontia. After a long imprisonment she was taken in chains to Terracina where the judge ordered her lodging set afire.

THE PAGAN JUDGE ORDERED HER LODGING TO BE SET ON FIRE

She and her foster sisters, the virgins Theodora and Euphrosyne, thus died gloriously on the Nones of May in the reign of Trajan. The deacon, Caesarius, buried them.

Pancratius [St Pancras], who was born in Phrygia of a noble family, was baptised at Rome when a boy of fourteen. In the reign of Diocletian and Maximian, he was apprehended, and after he firmly refused to sacrifice to the pagan gods, offered his neck to the executioner and was martyred. A lady named Octavilla secretly buried his body on the Aurelian Way.

PRAYER:

May the holy feast of your Martyrs, Nereus, Achilleus, Domitilla and Pancras, ever comfort us, we beseech you, O Lord, and make us worthy to serve you. Through our Lord Jesus Christ…

From: An Approved English Translation of the Breviarium Romanum, Burns & Oates, London, 1964

 

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SS. SOTER AND CAIUS, POPES AND MARTYRS

SS. SOTER AND CAIUS, POPES AND MARTYRS

SS SOTER AND CAIUS, POPES AND MARTYRS – MEMORIAL: APRIL 22

Born at Fondi in Campania, Soter passed the decree prohibiting consecrated virgins from touching the sacred vessels or acting as thurifer in the church. He also decreed that everyone except those in mortal sin should receive Holy Communion on Holy Thursday. He was martyred under Marcus Aurelius and buried in what was later called the cemetery of Callistus.

HE WAS BURIED IN THE CEMETERY OF CALLISTUS

Caius was a native of Dalmatia and a relative of Diocletian. He decreed that the office of bishop should be reached through the orders of porter, reader, exorcist, acolyte, subdeacon, deacon, and priest. He hid in a cave for a time to escape Diocletian’s cruel treatment of Christians, but after eight years he and his brother Gabinus were martyred and together were buried in the cemetery of Callistus.

PRAYER:

O Eternal Shepherd, look with favour upon your flock. Safeguard and shelter it forevermore through blessed Soter and Caius, your Martyrs and Supreme Pontiffs, whom you constituted shepherds of the whole Church. Through our Lord Jesus Christ…

– From: An Approved English Translation of the Breviarium Romanum, Burns & Oates, London, 1964

 

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ST CATHERINE OF ALEXANDRIA, VIRGIN AND MARTYR

ST CATHERINE OF ALEXANDRIA, VIRGIN AND MARTYR

ST CATHERINE OF ALEXANDRIA, VIRGIN AND MARTYR – MEMORIAL: NOVEMBER 25

Catherine, a noble virgin of Alexandria, joined an ardent faith to her studies of the liberal arts. When she saw many Christians seized for punishment by order of Maximin, she approached Maximin himself and boldly declared that faith in Christ is necessary for salvation.

HE TRIED TO TURN HER AWAY FROM CHRIST

Astonished at her wisdom, the tyrant ordered her to be kept in prison. Then he summoned learned men from everywhere to try to persuade her and to convert her to the worship of idols. But the opposite effect happened.

THE OPPOSITE EFFECT HAPPENED

For many of these men were convinced by the most wise arguments of Catherine, embraced the faith in Christ, and would not have hesitated to die for it. Wherefore Maximin tried, first by flattery, then by torments, to turn her away from her belief; but when he saw that these had no effect, he ordered her to be beheaded.

PRAYER:

O God, who gave the law to Moses on Sinai’s height and through your holy angels miraculously placed there the body of blessed Catherine, your Virgin and Martyr; grant, we beseech you, that by her merits and intercession we may reach that towering eminence which is Christ. Who with you…

– From: An Approved English Translation of the Breviarium Romanum, Burns & Oates, London, 1964

 

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ST CALLISTUS I, POPE AND MARTYR

ST CALLISTUS I, POPE AND MARTYR

ST CALLISTUS I, POPE AND MARTYR – MEMORIAL: OCTOBER 14

Callistus, a Roman, ruled the Church when Antoninus Heliogabulus was emperor. He instituted the four periods of the year which are known as Ember Days – days on which, in accordance with the apostolic tradition, fasting was to be observed by all. He built the basilica called St Mary across-the-Tiber and enlarged the ancient cemetery on the Appian Way, in which are buried many holy Priests and martyrs. For this reason, it is called the cemetery of Callistus. He reigned five years, one month and twelve days.

HE WAS CROWNED WITH MARTYRDOM

After a long imprisonment, during which he was starved and frequently scourged, he was thrown head-downward into a well. He was crowned with martyrdom under the Emperor Alexander and was buried in the cemetery of Calepodius on the Aurelian Way, at the third mile-stone from the City, on the day before the Ides of October [222]. Afterwards his body was carried to the basilica of St Mary across-the-Tiber, and was placed under the high altar, where it is venerated with the greatest devotion.

From: An Approved English Translation of the Breviarium Romanum, Burns & Oates, London, 1964

PRAYER:

God of mercy,

hear the prayers of your people

that we may be helped by Saint Callistus,

whose martyrdom we celebrate with joy.

Through our Lord…

 

 

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ST EPHREM THE SYRIAN

ST EPHREM THE SYRIAN

ST EPHREM THE SYRIAN; DEACON, CONFESSOR, AND DOCTOR OF THE CHURCH – MEMORIAL: JUNE 9

Ephrem was of Syrian descent and the son of a citizen of Nisibis. While yet a young man, he went to the holy Bishop James, by whom he was baptised. In a short while, he made such progress in holiness and learning that he was appointed teacher of a flourishing school at Nisibis, a Mesopotamian city. He was ordained deacon of the Church of Edessa, and refusing the priesthood out of humility, he was conspicuous with the splendour of every virtue and strove to acquire piety and religion by professing true wisdom.

HE WAS CONSPICUOUS WITH THE SPLENDOUR OF EVERY VIRTUE

His works, taken as a whole, are so infused with the bright light of his learning, that this holy man, even while yet living, was held in great honour and even considered a Doctor of the Church. He was noted, above all, for his great and tender devotion to the Immaculate Virgin. Full of merits, he died at Edessa in Mesopotamia on the fourteenth of the Calends of July [373], in the reign of Valens. Pope Benedict XV declared him, by a decree of the Congregation of Sacred Rites, to be a Doctor of the Universal Church.

PRAYER:

O God, who willed to enlighten your Church by the wondrous learning and glorious merits of the life of blessed Ephrem, your Confessor and Doctor, we humbly pray you that, by his pleading, you will shield her with your lasting power against the snares of error and evil. Through our Lord…

– From: An Approved English Translation of the Breviarium Romanum, Burns & Oates, London, 1964 [bold headings added]

 

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SS. NAZARIUS AND CELSUS, MARTYRS

SS. NAZARIUS AND CELSUS, MARTYRS

SS. NAZARIUS AND CELSUS, MARTYRS – MEMORIAL: JULY 28

Nazarius, baptised by the Pope St Linus, when he went into Gail, there baptised a boy named Celsus, whom he had first instructed in Christian doctrine. Afterwards they both went to Milan, where they spread the faith of Christ and, most courageously confessing Christ to be God, were beheaded by the prefect Anolinus. Their bodies were discovered by St Ambrose.

VICTOR I, POPE AND MARTYR

On the same day is commemorated Pope St Victor, who governed the Church in the time of the Emperor Severus. He confuted Theodotus Coriarius and wrote on the question of Easter. Crowned with martyrdom, he was buried on Vatican hill on the fifth day before the Calends of August.

INNOCENT I, POPE AND CONFESSOR 

On the same day there is recalled Pope St Innocent who, after condemning Pelagius and Caelestius, issued a decree against their heresy. His body was buried in the cemetery called “Ad Ursum pileatum” (Bear with the Cap).

PRAYER:

May the martyrdom of your Saints, Nazarius, Celsus, Victor and Innocent, give us courage, O Lord, and may it give us a help to counter-balance our weakness. Through our Lord…

From: An Approved English Translation of the Breviarium Romanum, Burns & Oates, London, 1964

 

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ST MARCELLUS I, POPE AND MARTYR

ST MARCELLUS I, POPE AND MARTYR

ST MARCELLUS I, POPE AND MARTYR – MEMORIAL: JANUARY 16

Marcellus, a Roman, was pope from the reign of Constantinus and Galerius to that of Maxentius. It was by his counsel that the Roman matron Lucina made the Church of God the heir of her property. On account of the increase in the number of the faithful, he established new titular churches in the city and rearranged their district boundaries. For this reason Maxentius was greatly angered and threatened severe punishments unless Marcellus gave up his pontifical office and offered sacrifice to the idols.

MAXENTIUS THREATENED SEVERE PUNISHMENTS

The pontiff strongly resisted him and was sent to a menagerie to take care of the beasts, which were kept at the public expense. Marcellus spent nine months there, visiting by his letters the churches he could not visit in person. From there he was rescued by some of his clerics and was given refuge by blessed Lucina, in whose house he dedicated a church, where he preached to the faithful.

HE WAS GIVEN REFUGE BY BLESSED LUCINA 

Then Maxentius ordered the wild beasts to be brought from the menagerie into the church and to be guarded by Marcellus. Sickened by the foul atmosphere and worn out by many hardships, he fell asleep in the Lord [A. D. 309]. His body was buried by blessed Lucina in the cemetery of Priscilla on the Salarian Way, on the sixteenth day of January.

PRAYER:

Eternal Shepherd, look with favour upon your flock. Safeguard and shelter it forevermore through blessed Marcellus, your Martyr and Supreme Pontiff, whom you constituted Shepherd of the whole Church. Through our Lord…

– From: An Approved English Translation of the Breviarium Romanum, Burns & Oates, London, 1964

 

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SERMON FROM THE AQUEDUCT

SERMON FROM THE AQUEDUCT

The word was made flesh and now dwells among us. He dwells in our memory, he dwells in our thoughts. He comes down even to our imagination.

“How?” you ask. By lying in a manner, by nestling at his mother’s breast, preaching on the mountain, praying throughout the night, hanging on the Cross, growing pallid in death, free among the dead, triumphant in hell. He does it by rising on the third day, by showing the Apostles the print of the nails, the marks of his victory, and finally by ascending before their very eyes into the mysterious heights of the heaven. Of which of these can we not think truly, lovingly, piously, holily?

Of whichever one I think, I think of God; and he is my God through them all. I call it wisdom to meditate upon them, I judge it prudent to recall the memory of their sweetness. From such seeds the priestly rod put forth buds; Mary, drawing their nurture from celestial depths, brought forth the flowers. She who received the Word from the heart of the Father himself, was on a supernal plane, higher even than the angels.

– From: An Approved English Translation of the Breviarium Romanum, Burns & Oates, London, 1964

 

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ST JEROME, CONFESSOR AND DOCTOR OF THE CHURCH

ST JEROME, CONFESSOR AND DOCTOR OF THE CHURCH

ST JEROME, CONFESSOR AND DOCTOR OF THE CHURCH – MEMORIAL: SEPTEMBER 30

Jerome was born in Strido in Dalmatia. As a youth, he was baptised at Rome and was educated in the liberal arts by Donatus and other very learned men. From a religious motive he travelled through all of Palestine. Then he retired into the vast desert of Syria. There he spent four years reading the divinely inspired books and meditating upon the blessedness of heavenly things.

HE MEDITATED UPON THE BLESSEDNESS OF HEAVENLY THINGS

After being ordained a priest by Paulinus, Bishop of Antioch, he returned to Palestine, to Bethlehem, to be close by the Crib of Christ the Lord. Here he drew up for himself a holy rule and overcame the snares of the devil by pious works and constant reading and writing. From all over the world he was called upon as an inspired authority to settle questions about the interpretation of Sacred Scripture.

AN EXPERT IN THE INTERPRETATION OF SACRED SCRIPTURE 

Pope Damasus and St Augustine consulted him often about very difficult passages of Scripture because of his singular knowledge and understanding not only of the Latin and Greek languages, but also of Hebrew and Chaldaic. He translated the Old Testament from the Hebrew. At the command of Pope Damasus, he made a faithful translation of the New Testament from the Greek and also wrote commentaries on many parts of Scripture. In his extremely old age, he passed [A. D. 420]. He was buried in Bethlehem, and was later transferred to Rome and entombed in the basilica of St Mary Major.

PRAYER:

O God, who graciously gave your Church blessed Jerome, your Confessor and peerless teacher, to explain the Holy Scriptures, grant, we beseech you, that, with the help of his merits and by your assistance, we may be able to put into practice what he has taught us by his life and works. Through our Lord.

– From: An Approved English Translation of the Breviarium Romanum, Burns & Oates, London, 1964 [bold headings added]

 

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