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Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Ss. Nereus, Achilleus, Domitilla, and Pancras, Martyrs

Ss. Nereus, Achilleus, Domitilla, and Pancras, Martyrs
Nereus and Achilleus, who were martyred late in the first century, have been venerated from the earliest times. For them holy Damasus wrote an inscription on this wise: The Martyrs Nereus and Achilleus had enrolled themselves in the army, and exercised the cruel office of carrying out the orders of the tyrant ; when ( O miracle of faith!) suddenly they threw away their bloodstained weapons, and rejoiced to give testimony to the Faith of Christ. * Tradition saith that they were eunuchs of Flavia Domitilla, whom they converted to Christ, and whose banishment they shared, which (according to Saint Jerome) was one long martyrdom of hardship and torture ; and finally they were beheaded, whilst Domitilla was burnt to death. And the Gospel at the Mass of this feast, in its story of the ruler whose entire household accepted Christ, is intended as an allusion to the spread of Christian Faith in the household of the imperial family of the Flavi. * Of Pancras, whose martyrdom is celebrated today, his story saith that he was a Phrygian orphan who was brought by his uncle to Rome, where they both were converted to Christ, and where the boy Pancras, who was only in his 14th year, was beheaded for his Master, probably about the year 304 under Diocletian. Saint Augustine dedicated to him the first Church he built at Canterbury, and thereafter veneration for him spread on all sides in England. Saint Gregory of Tours entitled him the Avenger-of Perjury, because God was believed to punish false oaths made in the presence of his relicks.

Grant, O Lord, that this holy festival of thy blessed Martyrs, Nereus, Achilleus, Domitilla and Pancras, may ever assist us in thy service: and that we may thereby be rendered worthy to walk after thy commandments, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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