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Saturday, December 8, 2012

December 8th, Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary

December 8th, Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary

From a Sermon by Saint Jerome the Priest.

The Angel, divinely inspired, declared who and what the blessed and glorious Virgin Mary is when he said : Hail, thou that art highly favored with a fulness of grace, the Lord is with thee, blessed art thou among women. For surely it was fitting that a fulness of grace should be poured into that Virgin who was to give glory to heaven and the Saviour to the world ; whereby she brought peace to earth, death to sin, law to life, and faith to the Gentiles ; thus making plain before our face the straight and narrow way to perfection. It is well said of her that she is full of grace. To others grace cometh measure by measure. On Mary grace was poured out once, in all fulness. It is well said : Full of grace, We believe that the holy Fathers and Prophets had grace, but they were not full of grace. But into Mary cam a fulness of all grace which is in Christ, although it came otherwise than it did to him. Therefore is it said : Blessed art thou among women : that is, Blessed art thou above all women. The fulness of the blessing of Mary utterly neutralized in her any effects of the curse of Eve. As if in praise of her, it is said in the Song of Solomon : Rise up, my dove, my fair one, for the winter is past, the rain is over and gone. And again : Come from Lebanon, my spouse ; come, thou shalt be crowned.

Not unfitly is it said : Come from Lebanon. For Lebanon is so named on account of its stainless and glistering whiteness. The earthly Lebanon is white with snow, but the lonely heights of Mary’s holiness are white with purity and grace, brilliantly fair, whiter far than snow, sparkling with the gifts of the Holy Ghost. Again it is said : Rise up, my dove. Fore like a dove, she is clean, and in her is simplicity. Thus she is full of grace and truth, for the heavens dropped down from above, and the skies poured down righteousness upon her. And therefore she is immaculate, because in her hath never been any corruption. She hath compassed a man in her womb, as saith holy Jeremiah, but she conceived not by the will of fallen man. The Lord, saith the Prophet, hath created a new thing in the earth ; a woman shall compass a man. Verily, it is a new thing, a thing of power greater than all other works, when God,(whom the world cannot compass nor carry, and whom no man shall see and live,) entered the hospice of her womb, breaking not the blissfull cloister of her virgin flesh. And in her womb he dwelt, the Infinite inclosed within her finiteness.

And from her the Infinite One came forth, so that thereby was fulfilled what was spoken by the Prophet Ezekiel : This gate shall be shut, it shall not be opened, and no man shall enter in by it ; because the Lord, the God of Israel, hath entered in by it, therefore it shall be shut. Hence also in the Song of Songs it is said : A garden inclosed is my sister, my spouse, a spring shut up, a fountain sealed, an orchard with pleasant fruits, with trees of frankincense, and all the chief spices. Verily she was a garden of delights, filled with the sweet savour of graces. She was a garden inclosed in such wise that never did Satan enter therein to sully the blossoms. She was a spring shut up, a founain sealed, yes, sealed with the seal of the Trinity.

O God, who in the foreknowledge of thy Son’s most precious death didst consecrate for him a dwelling-place by the spotless Conception of the Blessed Virgin : mercifully grant that she who was preserved from all defilement, may evermore pray for us until we attain unto thee in purity of heart, through the same Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Saint Ambrose, Bishop, Confessor, & Doctor

Saint Ambrose, Bishop, Confessor, & Doctor December 7

Ambrose was born when his father was Prefect of Gaul, about the year 340. He received a liberal education at Rome, and was afterwards made governour of the province of which Milan was the capital. Now when Auxentius died,(who was the Arian who had been intruded into the Bishoprick of Milan,) the most violent of disputes arose about the choice of successor, and Ambrose urged upon the factions the necessity of keeping the public ; whereupon a child suddenly cried out : Ambrose, Bishop : and the whole assembly took it up, and unanimously called for his election.

Ambrose refused the office, but when the will of the Emperor was added to the desire of the people, he yielded, and received Baptism,(for hitherto he was only a Catechumen,) Confirmation, and Communion, and then the several Orders on successive days, till on the eighth day, which was the seventh of December, in the year 374, the weight of the Episcopate was laid upon his shoulders. Therein he ever shewed himself a stout upholder of Catholic faith and discipline, and turned to the truth great numbers of Arians and other hereticks. Among them, he begat in Christ Jesus that burning and shining light of the Church, the holy Doctor Augustine.

After the massacre which the Emperor Theodosius had commanded at Thessalonica, in 390, he refused to permit that prince to enter a church. The Emperor pleaded that he was no worse than David, who had been guilty of adultery and murder, to which Ambrose answered : As thou hast followed him in sin, follow him also in repentance : whereupon Theodosius humbly did public penance. At length, worn out with his continual labours, this holy bishop knew that death was near. After he had received the Body and Blood of Christ, and with his hands stretched out the form of a cross, he gave his spirit to God, namely, on April 4th in the year of Christ 397, but his feast is kept in most places on December 7th, which is the anniversary of his consecration. He was the author of many hymns for the liturgy, and many homilies and treatises. He is regarded as one of the best-beloved bishops of all time, and is honored as one of the first four western Doctors of the Church.

O God, by whose providence Saint Ambrose was sent to guide thy people in the way of everlasting salvation, grant, we beseech thee, that as we have learned of him the doctrine of life on earth, so we may be found worthy to have him for our advocate in heaven, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Saturday, May 19, 2012


St. Pudentiana, Virgin.


Pudentiana (also called Potentiana) is with good reason believed to be a sainted Virgin, and perhaps a Martyr, of the first or second century. She was sister to holy Praxedes, and daughter to holy Pudens the Roman Senator, of whom the Apostle maketh mention to blessed Timothy, saying : Eubulus greeteth thee, and Pudens. After she, with her sister Praxedes, had distributed to the poor the money which they had obtained by the sale of their inheritance, she gave herself continually to fasting and prayer, and brought he whole household, being ninety-six persons on all, to Christ. And whereas the Emperor Marcus Aurelius Antoninus had forbidden the Christians to offer sacrifice in public, Saint Pope Pius I used to meet with them in Pudentiana’s house, to celebrate the holy rites. Where she was gracious hostess to them, and ministered to them in such things as were needful for the body. She thus busied herself in works of Christian godliness until she passed from this present life to a better, and was buried in her father’s sepulcher in the cemetery of Saint Priscilla on the Salarian Way upon May 19th.


Graciously hear us, O God of our salvation, that, like as we do rejoice in the festival of blessed Pudentiana thy holy Virgin, so we may learn to follow her in all godly and devout affections, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Saint Dunstan, Bishop and Confessor

Saint Dunstan, Bishop and Confessor

This Dunstan was born of a noble family. He was expelled from the king’s court through the efforts of his enemies, whereupon he bade farewell to the world, and betook himself to Glastonbury. As there were then no monks there, he got together some, of whom he was made Abbot. He was a great favourite of the Kings Edmund and Edred, but was peculiarly obnoxious to Edwy, because he had the courage often to rebuke this King for his perverse doings, and feared not to oppose his wishes. In consequence of his line of conduct, the King took proceedings against him, from which he was obliged to abscond. And he went and lived abroad at Ghent, in Flanders. * In the reign of Edgar he was called home again, with great popular applause, and soon afterwards promoted to the Archbishoprick of Canterbury. He was excessively severe in using Church discipline, and never spared one who had erred. He ejected all the married clergy from their churches, and put monks in their places, and forced the King himself to do penance for seven years of sins which he had committed. * Dunstan’s strictness caused him to be regarded with fear by many, but all admired him as a Saint, so that he got among the lower classes the name of being a good archbishop. After the death of Kings Edgar and Edward, he put the crown of Etheldred, the next heir, to whom he is said to have foretold an unhappy reign, and no cessation from trouble.

He died full of days, and was buried in his own Church, towards the end of the tenth century. He is reckoned the patron of gold-and silver-smiths, and also musicians, in that he ever laboured much and well, even with his own hands, for ecclesiastical decencies in worship.

O God, who didst exalt blessed Dunstan thy Bishop to thy heavenly kingdom, grant, we beseech thee, that by his glorious merits we may attain to everlasting felicity, through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord. Amen.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Saint Patrick, Bishop and Confessor, Enlightener of Ireland

Saint Patrick, Bishop and Confessor, Enlightener of Ireland.

Patrick, called the Apostle of Ireland, was born about the year 389, of Roman and British parentage. Blessed Martin of Tours is said to have been among his kin. When Patrick was a lad he was taken prisoner by slavers and carried to Ireland, whence he escaped after six years. Meanwhile he learned to serve God well, for whilst attending the flock of his master he would rise before the light, in snow and frost and rain, to make his prayers. * Having been finally raised to the priesthood, Saint Germanus of Auxerre consecrated him bishop, and sent him back to Ireland, in succession to Saint Palladius the first Christian missionary, who, after twelve months of labour there, had gone to Scotland and then died. Patrick travelled to every part of Ireland, converting many of the people and their chiefs by his preaching and example. And everywhere his preaching of the Word was confirmed by wonders and signs following. He washed many of the Irish folk in the laver of regeneration, ordained many bishops and clerks, and decreed rules for virgins and for widows living in continency. And he established Armagh as the primatial See of all Ireland.
* Besides that which came upon him daily, the care of all the churches of Ireland, he never suffered his spirit to weary in constant prayer. It is said that is was his custom to repeat daily the whole Book of Psalms, together with certain other hymns and prayers, and that he took his short rest lying on a bare stone. He was a great practiser of lowliness, and after the pattern of the Apostle, always continued work with his own hands. At last he fell asleep in the Lord in extreme old age, according to some authorities about the year 461, glorious both in word and deed. His body was translated to the Cathedral of Down in Ulster in 1185.

O God, who didst send forth blessed Patrick, thy Confessor and Bishop, to preach unto the Gentiles the glory of thy Name : grant that by his merits and intercession, we may of thy mercy be enabled to fulful all such things as thou commandest, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

March 1, Saint David of Wales, Bishop and Confessor

March 1, Saint David of Wales, Bishop and Confessor

A Homily by St. Gregory the Great, Patriarch of Rome

Dearly beloved brethren, this Lesson from the Holy Gospel warneth us to beware lest we, who have received more in this world than others, should on that account be judged the more severely by the Maker of this world. To whom much is given, of the same is much required. Therefore let him that receiveth much, humble himself much, and be ready to do God much service, according to the much that he hath received, knowing that he will be obliged to render a strict account thereof. Behold how the man, traveling into a far country, calleth his own servants, and delivereth unto them talents, to the end that they may trade therewith. But after a long time, the Lord of those servants cometh, and reckoned with them. And to them that have done well, he rendereth a reward of their labours. But to that servant which was careless of his master’s work he hath nothing to render save retribution.

Now who is this man traveling into a far country, if not our Redeemer, who is gone up from us into heaven in that very flesh of ours whereof he is partaker? For the earth is rightly the home of the flesh, which was taken as it were into a far country when our Redeemer took it up into heaven. And of this man traveling into a far country, we read that he delivered unto his servants his goods. So doth our Redeemer give spiritual gifts unto his faithful people. Unto one we read that he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one. There are five bodily senses ; that is, sight, hearing, taste, smell, and touch. By the five talents, therefore we are minded of the five senses, which are the several wits whereby we take knowledge of outward things. And in like manner, by the two talents we are minded of with and work. And thus the one talent becometh a figure of will alone.

Now he that received five talents, gained other five talents. For some there be who have little with for things inward and mystic and yet, with hearts intent on our fatherland above, do teach well all whom they can concerning those outward things which they have the with to understand. So do they make double gain, for they keep themselves clean form the wantonness of the flesh, and the lust of the world, and the delight of things which are seen, and by their preaching do also keep other men clean from all these things. And some there are who receive, as their two talents, the power to think and the power to work. These are they which inwardly understand dark things, and outwardly work wonders. And these also, since in their preaching they trade unto others both their understanding and their works, gain as it were double by their trading, since those unto whom they preach do thereby add to themselves the talent for with and work.


Holy David, Patron of Wales, is one of the most celebrated of the British Saints. He lived in the latter part of the sixth century, and is said to have been the son of a Welsh chieftain. He was ordained priest, and studied for a while, perhaps on the Isle of Wight, under the direction of a disciple of that Saint Germanus who later became Bishop of the Isle of Man. Thereafter David was a most active missionary, and taught the Faith and built churches in very many places. Finally he settled in the southwest corner of Wales, at Menevia, and founded a monastery, wherein he and his monks lived a life of extreme austerity, in imitation of the cenobites of the Thebaid. And because they never drank anything stronger than water, Saint David got the nick-name Waterman. * There is an old story that he made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land and that he was there consecrated Archbishop of Wales by the Patriarch of Jerusalem. However it may have happened, it is certain that he was made Bishop of Menevia, which same was afterwards called Saint David’s in his honour, and was the chief See of Wales. His death is supposed to have occurred about the year 601. Giraldus saith that he was a great ornament and example to his age, and that he continued his rule as bishop until he was a very old man, when he went to God.


Grant, we beseech thee, Almighty God: that the devout prayers of blessed David, thy Confessor and Bishop, may in such wise succour and defend us, that we which on this day observe his festival, may follow his constancy in the defence of thy true religion, through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Saint Finan, Bishop and Confessor, Feb 17

Saint Finan, Bishop and Confessor

Finan was an Irish monk from Iona, who succeeded Saint Aidan as Bishop of Lindisfarne. It should be remembered that news of Christ was brought to England from two quarters. Kent and all the south received the Gospel from Rome through the mission of Saint Augustine ; whereas the whole of the northeast, that is Northumbria, in which was included Durham and Yorkshire, was taught through the mission of Saint Columba, which was first established on the holy island of Iona, and afterwards spread to the Island of Lindisfarne. Finan for ten years governed his great Diocese with vigor and holiness. He baptized King Peada of the Middle English, and King Sigbert of the East Angles, and sent missionaries into their territories. And in 661 he went to God, t receive the reward for his diligent teaching of the word of God.

Chapter at Lauds:
Ecclus. 44:16  Behold a great priest who in his days pleased the Lord, and was found righteous; * and in the time of wrath he was taken in exchange for the world.


We beseech thee, O Lord, graciously to hear the prayers which we offer unto thee on this feast of blessed Finan, thy Confessor and Bishop, that, like as he was found worthy to do thee faithful service, so by the succour of his merits, we may be delivered from the chastisement which we have deserved, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Ss. Faustinus and Jovita, martyrs, Feb. 15

Saint Faustinus & Saint Jovita

Ss. Faustinus and Jovita, martyrs, Feb. 15

Faustinus and Jovita were brothers, nobly born, and were zealous professors of the Christian religion, which they preached without fear in their city of Brescia in Lombardy, during the persecution of Adrian. Their remarkable zeal excited the fury of the heathens against them, and procured them a glorious death for their faith.

Faustinus, a priest, and Jovita, a deacon, were preaching the Gospel fearlessly in the region when Julian, a pagan officer, apprehended them. They were commanded to adore the sun, but replied that they adored the living God who created the sun to give light to the world. The statue before which they were standing was brilliant and surrounded with golden rays. Saint Jovita, looking at it, cried out: “Yes, we adore the God reigning in heaven, who created the sun. And you, vain statue, turn black, to the shame of those who adore you!” At his word, it turned black. The Emperor commanded that it be cleaned, but the pagan priests had hardly begun to touch it when it fell into ashes.

The two brothers were sent to the amphitheater to be devoured by lions, but four of those came out and lay down at their feet. They were left without food in a dark jail cell, but Angels brought them strength and joy for new combats. The flames of a huge fire respected them, and a large number of spectators were converted at the sight. Finally sentenced to decapitation, they knelt down and received the death blow. The city of Brescia honors them as its chief patrons and possesses their relics, and a very ancient church in that city bears their names.


O God, which makest us glad with the yearly festival of blessed Faustinus and Jovita, thy holy martyrs, grant, we beseech thee, that as we do rejoice in their merits, so we may be enkindled to follow them in all virtuous and godly living, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Saint Valentine, priest and martyr, Feb. 14

Saint Valentine, priest and martyr, Feb. 14

From the Book on Ecclesiastical Writers by St. Jerome the Priest

ON this day is commemorated blessed Valentine, a priest of Rome who was martyred for Christ, probably in the persecution of Claudius the Goth, about the year 259. He was buried on the Flaminian Way ; and about 350 a church was built over his tomb, and later a catacomb was constructed there under, wherein were buried the remains of many Martyrs. This church, with its cemetery, was the first to greet the eyes of pilgrims coming to Rome to visit the sepulchres of the ancient heroes of the Faith, and therefore his cultus grew, and spread through the world. But in the early years of the ninth century, his body was transferred to the basilica of St. Praxedes lest, being outside of the walls of the city, it should be desecrated by the Saracens. The popular story is that holy Valentine was cajoled with promises in order to wean him from Christ ; and that when these failed he was beaten with clubs, and finally beheaded. In England, from the time of Chaucer onwards, there was a belief that on his feast-day the birds began to choose their mates. From which arose the custom of arranging betrothals in Saint Valentine's Tide ; and in honour of the fidelity of the servant of God, those who were betrothed called each other Valentine, as a pledge of their mutual fidelity, in token that those who wed are united together in Christ, of whose unbreakable union with humanity in his Church, the Sacrament of Marriage is ever an outward and visible sign.

St. Valentine

Grant, we beseech thee, Almighty God : that we who observe the heavenly birthday of blessed Valentine thy Martyr, may by his intercession be delivered from all evils that beset us. Through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Saint Cyril of Alexandria, Bishop, Confessor & Doctor

St. Hilary of Poitiers

Saint Cyril of Alexandria, Bishop, Confessor & Doctor

A homily by Saint Hilary the Bishop

There is, to my thinking, no such thing as salt of the earth. How then can the Apostles be called the salt of the earth? We must seek out the true meaning of these words, and the same will be made plain when we consider the office of the Apostles, and the nature of salt itself. Now salt is a compound of elements, for it joineth in itself a certain weakness like unto water, and a certain power like unto fire, so that it hath a double nature.

Salt is therefore able to serve the use of men in divers ways, for wherever it is added, it both preserveth from corruption and giveth savour. And to the Apostle was given a similar two-fold power. For the words which they scattered upon the world, as preachers of the kingdom of heaven, do act as a preservative unto immorality ; that is, as preachers they do confer a savour of sweetness, even unto life everlasting, upon those who receive their teaching.

Then the nature of salt is to be ever the same, and unchanging. Man, on the other hand, hath this weakness, to be changeable. He alone is called blessed who hath persevered unto the end and in all the works of God. Therefore doth the Lord warn them whom he calleth the salt of the earth, that they are to remain strong in that strength which he hath given unto them, lest, becoming themselves savourless, they have no power to season anything. Once having lost the freshness of their saltness, they are unable to stop the corruption round about them ; and so the Church must needs cast them out of her buttery. Thus both they and those whom they should have salted, will be altogether trodden under foot of such as enter in.

Hagiography of Cyril

Cyril of Alexandria hath been styled the Doctor of the Incarnation. For he was concerned with the Nestorian heresy from its inception, and denounced the same to Saint Pope Celestine I, and at the Council of Ephesus in 431, at which the heresy was solemnly condemned , he presided as the representative of the Roman See. And the rest of his life was given over the defence of the truth that in Christ Jesus there is one divine Person. * Cyril was born of distinguished parents, and was the nephew of Theophilus, Patriarch of Alexandria, whom he succeeded in that office. He was a man of learning, and of much vigor and determination, and he turned all his powers to the extirpation of heresy and unbelief. His sternness in these matters made him many enemies, even amongst those of orthodox practice, but chiefly he was assailed by the followers of Nestorius, who at one time secured a sentence of excommunication against him as a troublemaker, to which many even of the orthodox bishops assented, which same was later declared null and void. * He wrote much regarding the Faith, and was emphatic in his teaching concerning the Eucharist, whereof he said : We receive it, not as common flesh (which God forbid), nor as the flesh of a man sanctified and associated with the Word, but as indeed the lifegiving and very Flesh of the Word himself. But chiefly he is remembered for his teaching that Mary is the Mother of God, which title the Council of Ephesus acceded to her. At length he died a holy death, in June of the year 444, and the 32nd of his episcopate, but in the west his feast is kept in February.


O God, who didst strengthen thy blessed confessor and Bishop Saint Cyril, invincibly to maintain the divine motherhood of the blessed Virgin Mary : vouchsafe that at his intercession we, believing her to be indeed the Mother of God ; may as her children rejoice in her protection, through the same Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Saint Romuald, Abbot, February 7

Saint Romuald, Abbot, February 7

A homily by St. Jerome the Priest

Peter doth speak with a mighty self-confidence! He was but a fisherman ; he was not rich ; he earned his bread only as a skilled labourer ; yet was he bold enough to say : We have forsaken all. And because to forsake things, and to do nothing more, is not enough, he addeth that which maketh all forsaking to be perfect : And we have followed thee. We have done what thou commandest ; how wilt thou reward us? And Jesus said unto them : Verily I say unto you, that ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of Man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. Jesus saith not : Ye which have forsaken all,(for even Crates the Philosopher did this, and many others also have despised riches,) but : Ye which have followed me : which words apply only to the Apostles and the rest of the faithful.

In the regeneration (saith the Lord) when the Son of Man shall sit on the throne of his glory, and when from corruption the dead shall be raised in incorruption, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones of judgement, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And why? Because ye believed in me, whereas they would not. And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my Name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life. This passage is in agreement with that other where the Saviour saith : I came not to send peace, but a sword ; for I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law ; and a man’s foes shall be they of his own household. Everyone, therefore, that for Christ’s Faith’s sake, and the preaching of the Gospel, hath set no sore by natural affection, and the riches and pleasures of this world, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life.

By reason of these words : And hundredfold : some will have it that there shall be a thousand years after the resurrection, wherein they that have forsaken all things shall receive an hundredfold of those things that they have forsaken, and shall inherit everlasting life. But it should be noted that even if this could be said of most things, of wives it could not be said. For it is unseemly to say that he that hath forsaken one wife in this world , shall receive an hundred wives in that which is to come. Rather, the meaning is this, that every one who for the Saviour’s sake hath forsaken earthly things, shall receive spiritual things. Which things, being rightly weighed against earthly things, are as though an hundredfold were weighed against one.

Hagiography of St. Romuald.

Romuald was born of the family of Onesti, Dukes of Ravenna, and though he grew up a worldly youth and the slave of his passions, he occasionally experienced aspirations toward a holy life. Now it happened that his father killed a kinsman in a duel fought because of a dispute about property rights. And Romuald, who had been ordered by his father to be present at the duel under pain of disinheritance, was thereupon so horrified that he felt obliged to do penance for his father and himself, to which end he withdrew for forty days of retreat to a neighboring Benedictine Monastery. During this time he became more and more penetrated with the love of God, partly because of the lay-brother who waited on him, which same proved to be such a humble man of God as to give Romuald to think. He therefore asked permission to be clothed in the habit of blessed Benedict, which was granted, and in due time he was professed. * He was ever inclined to harshness in dealing with sins of himself and others, but it is said that the joy which beamed from his face drew all men to him. With the Abbot’s consent, he betook himself to a holy hermit, Marinus by name ; and thither also came Peter Orseoli, a famous admiral and former Doge of Venice, who also became a monk ; and they with some others founded a new religious family of hermit-monks. Romuald’s dedication of himself made a lasting impression on many nobles ; and even on his own father, who likewise became a monk. And it was an edifying sight to see noblemen and princes, who had been remarkable for their luxurious way of life, now living a life of penance, and earning their bread in the sweat of their brow at the monasteries which Romuald reformed or founded. * The best known of his foundations was that of the Camaldolese, which began the revival of the eremitical life at Camaldoli, near Arezzo, in 1oo9. A near kinsman of the Emperor Otto (which prince had himself been turned from a course of sin by Romuald) became a monk here under the direction of holy Romuald, and afterwards was sent as a missionary to Prussia, and was martyred there after he became Bishop, namely, the holy Boniface of whom mention is made in the Martyrology on June 19th. After having served God in a life of great penance, whereby he turned many other men to God, not so much by what he preached as what he himself did, he passed to heaven on June 19th, in 1027. But his feast kept on the day his holy body was translated to its present shrine at Fabiano.


Grant, we beseech thee, O Lord, that the prayers of thy holy Abbot, blessed Romuald may commend us unto thee, that we, who have no power of ourselves to help ourselves, may by his advocacy find favour in thy sight, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

February 5th, Saint Agatha, Virgin and Martyr

February 5th, Saint Agatha, Virgin and Martyr

Agatha was early recognized by the Church as one of the most illustrious of virgin Martyrs. Therefore, along with Lucy, Agnes, and Cecilia, her name is mentioned in the Gregorian Canon. She was martyred in about 251, in Sicily and soon filled Christendom with her praises. According to her Acts, (which were compiled long after her death), the Praetor of Sicily, Quintianus, conceived a passion for Agatha, who was of noble birth and of great beauty. And when he could not make her consent to his wicked desires, he had her arrested as a Christian, and turned her over to an evil woman, named Aphrodisia, to be corrupted. Of such methods for breaking down Christian hardihood, Tertullian wrote to the pagans : Ye, by condemning the Christian maid to the lewd youth, rather than to the brute lion, do acknowledge that we more dread a stain to purity than any torment or death ; but your cruel cunning availed only to gain men over to our holy religion.

But the companionship of Aphrodisia in the brothel made Agatha only the more determined to live faithful to Christ. Whereat the Praetor ordered her brought before him, that he might try to turn her from Christian living, which he declared to be fit only for slaves. Then the Praetor gave her the choice of sacrificing to the gods or undergoing torture. And when beatings, the rack, and branding with white-hot metal failed to shake her constancy to Christ, he ordered her breasts cut off. Whereat Agatha cried, and said that he who had suckled at a mother’s breasts should feel shame to order such cruel indignity done to a woman. But that night, after she had been returned in irons and pain to prison, the Apostle Peter appeared to her, and healed her wounds.

The following day she was subjected to new tortures. But an earthquake, from Mount Aetna, shook the town and terrified the people. Whereupon the Praetor, fearing a riot, ordered Agatha to be returned quietly to prison. And there, in the town of Catania, she died at peace, in prayer, on February 5th, and her body was taken and buried by the Christians. She is invoked against earthquake and fire and molten lava, and is accounted patroness of bell-founders.


O God, who among the manifold works of thine almighty power hast bestowed even upon the weakness of women the strength to win the victory of martyrdom : grant, we beseech thee ; that we, who on this day recall the heavenly birth of Saint Agatha thy Virgin and Martyr, may so follow in her footsteps, that we may likewise attain unto thee, through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, and the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Candlemas : Feb. 2, The Presentation of Christ in the Temple, or The Purification of the BVM

Feb. 2, The Presentation of Christ in the Temple, or The Purification of the BVM

Also known as Candlemas

From a Sermon by St. Augustine the Bishop

Concerning that time it was written : And of Sion it shall be reported that he was born in her, and the Most High shall establish her. O how blessed is the omnipotence of him that was born! Yea, how blessed is the glory of him that came from heaven to earth! Whist he was yet in his Mother’s womb, he was saluted by John the Baptist. And when he was presented in the temple, he was recognized by the old man Simeon, a worthy who was full of years, proved and crowned. The ancient one, as soon as he knew him, worshipped and said : Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, for mine eyes have seen thy salvation.

He had lingered in the world to see the birth of him who made the world. The old man knew the Child, and in that Child became a child himself, for in the love wherewith he regarded the Father of all, he felt his own years to be but as yesterday. The ancient Simeon bare in his arms the new-born Christ, and all the while, Christ ruled and upheld the old man. Simeon had been told by the Lord the he should not taste death before he had seen the birth of the Lord’s Christ. Now that Christ was born, all the old man’s wishes on earth were fulfilled. He that was come into a decrepit world now also came to an old man.

Simeon wished not to remain long in the world, but with great desire he had desired to see Christ in the world, for he had sung with the Prophet : Shew us thy mercy, O Lord, and grant us thy salvation. And now at last, that ye might know how that, to his joy, his prayer was granted, he said : Now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, for mine eyes have seen thy salvation. The Prophets have sung that the Maker of heaven and earth world converse on earth with men. An Angel hath declared that the Creator of flesh and spirit would come in the flesh. The unborn John, yet in the womb, hath saluted the unborn Saviour yet in the womb. The Old man Simeon hath seen God as a little Child.

Antiphon on the Benedictus:

And when his parents brought in the Child Jesus, then Simeon took him up in his arms, and blest God, saying, * Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace.


Almighty and everliving God, we humbly beseech thy Majesty, that, as thy only-begotten Son was this day presented in the temple in substance of our flesh; so we may be presented unto thee with pure and clean hearts, by the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Antiphon on the Magnificat:

Today the blessed Virgin Mary presented the Child Jesus in the temple, * and Simeon, filled with the Holy Spirit, received him into his arms, and began to bless God, whom he blesseth unto all eternity.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Saint Martina, Virgin and Martyr, January 30th

Saint Martina, Virgin and Martyr, January 30th


A Homily by St. Gregory the Pope

Dearly beloved brethren : oftentimes do I warn you to flee evil, and to keep yourselves unspotted from the world. But today’s reading form the holy Gospel moveth me to warn you even further, namely, to exercise prudence when ye attempt to do good. Look ye well to your motives lest, when ye work righteousness, ye do it for the praise and admiration of men. For if we do things to obtain praise of men, what appeareth so fair outwardly hath nothing inwardly which deserveth reward. Behold how the Redeemer speaketh of these ten virgins.

He calleth them all virgins. Yet not all of them were received within the gates of blessedness. For some of them sought outwardly the honour of virginity, but had no substance of virginity within, for they took no oil wherewith to sustain the lamp of purity.

But first of all, it is for us to ask, What is the kingdom of heaven? And wherefore shall the same be likened unto ten virgins, whereof five were wise and five were foolish? For in the Apocalypse we read of the kingdom of heaven : There shall in no wise enter into it anything that worketh abomination, or maketh a lie. How then can it be likened unto five virgins which were foolish? But we should know that in language of holy scripture, the kingdom of heaven doth oftentimes signify the Church as she now is, touching the which the Lord saith in another place : The Son of Man shall send forth his Angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend. Then the Church will become that kingdom of blessedness, wherein peace shall have her perfect reign, and after that nothing that offendeth will be found for the Angels to gather out.

Now everyone hath five bodily senses, and thus the number five remindeth us of human nature. Five being doubled is ten. Forasmuch therefore as the whole body of faithful doth consist of two sexes, the whole Church may be likened unto ten virgins. And forasmuch as in the Church the good are for the present mingled with the bad, and the reprobate with the elect, it is rightly said that, of the ten virgins, five are wise and five are foolish. Many have self-control, and do keep themselves from lusting after things outward, who chastise their flesh, and are moved by homesickness for our heavenly fatherland. All such do seek an eternal reward, and scorn to receive for their labours the praise of men. These are they who reckon their glory, not in the mouths of men, but in the testimony of their own conscience. But also there are many who afflict the body by self-control, and yet, in that very self-control, do seek only the applause of men.

+ + +

Saint Martina was the virgin daughter of an illustrious Roman family, and after the death of her parents, she distributed all her wealth to the poor. Whereupon the Emperor Alexander commanded her to sacrifice to imaginary gods, and on her refusal, subjected her to unspeakable brutalities, such as scourging, putting her at the mercy of savage beasts, torturing her with fire, and other such like terrible sufferings ; and at last caused her to be beheaded. Her martyrdom occurred sometime between 226 and 228 in the Patriarchate of Pope Urban I. Her relicks were discovered on 25 Oct., 1634, in the crypt of an ancient church situated near Mamertine prison and dedicated to the saint.
Mamertine Prison


O God, who among the manifold works of thine almighty power hast bestowed even upon the weakness of women strength to win the victory of martyrdom : grant, we beseech thee, that we, who on this day recall the heavenly birth of blessed Martina thy Virgin and Martyr ; may so follow in her footsteps, that we may likewise attain unto thee, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Saint John Chrysostom, Bishop, Confessor & Doctor

Saint John Chrysostom, Bishop, Confessor & Doctor, January 29, 2012

Nocturn III of Matins

A Homily by Saint Augustine the Bishop

The Lord would have us understand how that men do lose their power of savoring others with righteousness when they are willing to place their eternal welfare in jeopardy for the sake of any temporal advantage, like as attainment of ease of luxury, or escape from suffering or toil. For that which is eternal, unlike things of this world, can neither be bestowed by men, nor by them taken away. Hence, when he asketh : If the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted : he would have us understand the question to be : If ye, by whom mankind is preserved from corruption, be willing to lose the kingdom of heaven so as to escape trials or persecutions in this world, who is there to preserve you from corruption, seeing ye are they that God hath chosen to preserve all others from corruption?

Those that should be the salt of the earth, but have lost heir savour, are thenceforth good for nothing, saith the Lord, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. But no one that suffered persecution is truly said to be trodden under foot of men. Rather, that one is truly trodden under foot of men who through fear of persecution hath lost the savour of righteousness. For no one can be trodden upon, unless he be beneath him which treadeth upon him. And certainly no one who hath his heart in heaven, no matter how grievously he doth suffer in his body on earth, is rightly said to be beneath anyone who misuseth him.

Ye are the light of the world, saith the Lord. And we are to understand the word: World : in the same sense as the word : Earth : when he spoke above of the salt of the earth, that is, not that earth whereupon we walk with our bodily feet, but the men which dwell upon the earth ; in other words, sinners, for the sweetening and correction of whose corruption, the Lord hath sent his Apostles, as it were, as so much salt. And so by the world we are to understand, not the heaven and the earth, but the men who are in the world and love the world, for the enlightening of whom the Apostles have been sent. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid : that is, what is founded whereof the mountain upon which the Lord gave this discourse was itself a figure, is magnificent in the eyes of all men.


Hagiography of Saint John Chrysostom

This John was born at Antioch, and in manhood developed such a gift of eloquence that he came to be called Chrysostom, that is, Golden-mouth. He became a monk, and set about to subdue his quick temper, and other passions, none of which he found so difficult to conquer as vainglory. He was made Archbishop of Constantinople against his will in 398, and undertook the reform of that vast diocese, recalling Christians to their first fervour, founding hospitals for the sick and poor, and sending missionaries to the Goths, and even settling the troubles of the Church of Ephesus. The principal liturgy of the Eastern Church is named for him because of the contributions which he made to it.

His great Christian learning and zeal earned him many enemies, one of whom was the Empress Eudoxia, who sent him into exile. But the people so much rebelled at his that he was recalled. Whereat he ceased not to rebuke the laxity of manners amongst high and low, which so annoyed a faction of bishops that these same procured of the Emperor Arcadius to have him exiled to Armenia, and then driven thither and yon. During which time it passeth belief how much he suffered, and how many he won to Christ. Thus in his old age, from the hardships of his forced journeys, he died in Pontus, on September 14th in 407.

But in 434, the then Emperor Theodosius and his sister Pulcheria, children of Arcadius and Eudoxia, caused the body of the Saint to be brought from Pontus to Constantinople, and on January 27th laid it with magnificent honours in a tomb, beside the which they prayed for the forgiveness of their father and mother. His relicks were later translated to the Vatican Basilica at Rome. Saint Chrysostom is esteemed as one of the first four Eastern Doctors of the Church, of whom he was by far the most prolific preacher, and his writings are one of the treasures of Christendom.


O Lord, who didst vouchsafe to illumine thy Church with the wondrous righteousness and doctrine of thy blessed Confessor and Bishop Saint Chrysostom: grant, we beseech thee, that the bounty of thy heavenly grace may evermore increase and multiply the same, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Saints Vincent and Anastatius, Martyrs, January 22nd

Saints Vincent and Anastatius, Martyrs, January 22nd

Vincent was a deacon of Saragossa in Spain, who suffered great tortures and death in the year 304 at Valencia, supposedly on January 22nd. At a very early date his fame spread abroad through Christendom, and he hath ever since been honored as one of the noblest of the early Martyrs. The Acts of blessed Vincent were already extant by the time of Saint Augustine, who said in a sermon on this Martyr that they lay before him as he preached ; and the poet Prudentius wrote of him. From such written Acts and poetry his history took its present form, which is one of the treasures of Christian culture. * The history of St. Vincent runs thus. The Bishop of Saragossa had an impediment in his speech, for which reason the Deacon Vincent did the preaching. And in the persecution of Dacian, Vincent spake for the Bishop and his followers at the judgement seat, whereat he was scourged, tormented on the rack, blistered on a grating over burning coals, torn with iron hooks, and his wounds cauterized with hot metal. He was then laid on potsherds, lest he should sleep from exhaustion. But as he lay in his dark cell, it was suddenly filled with glorious light. Then Dacian tried to seduce him from Christ by pretended kindness, and had him laid in a soft bed. But Vincent, who had suffered beyond human endurance, thereupon passed at once to his Master whom he had loved so bravely. Whereat his body was thrown out unburied. But a raven came and guarded it, and by beak, claws, and wings kept off other birds, and even a wolf. Dacian then had the body thrown into the sea, which washed it up again. Then it was reverently buried by the Christians. His relicks are still venerated at Saragossa. * Anastasius was martyred on January 22nd, in 628. The holy Cross carried away in Persia by Chosroes had this Anastasius as one of its trophies. He was a Persian, the son of a Magian and a soldier in the Persia army, who was made inquisitive regarding Christ by the controversies over the Cross, and so went to Jerusalem and learned Christ and became a monk. He was tortured at Caesarea, and then brought to Chosroes who was in Assyria, by whose orders he was strangled, then beheaded. His relicks were later taken to Rome, and laid in the Monastery of Saints Vincent and Anastasius.

Assist us mercifully, O Lord, in these our supplications, that whereas we are tied and bound by the chain of our sins, the intercession of thy blessed Martyrs Vincent and Anastatius may speedily help and deliver us, through Jesus Christ, thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Saint Agnes, Virgin and Martyr, January 21

Saint Agnes, Virgin and Martyr, January 21

Antiphon on Benedictus:

Lo what I desired I now do see; what I did hope for I now possess ; * now am I unite in heaven to him whom I loved with my whole heart upon earth.

From the Treatise on Virgins by St. Ambrose the Bishop

+This is the virgin’s birthday. Let us therefore resolve to follow the example of her chastity. It is a martyr’s birthday. Let us therefore resolve to offer sacrifice. It is the feast of holy Agnes. Let men therefore be filled with wonder, and children with hope, and married women with awe, and the unmarried with a desire to emulate her. What can we say worthy of her whose very name hath become a praise? To me it seemeth as if this little maiden, holy beyond her years, and courageous beyond human nature, received the name of Agnes, not as an earthly designation, but as a revelation from God as to what she was to be. For the word Agnes is from the Greek, and signifieth pure. Thus this holy maiden is named Chastity, and when I have added thereto the word Martyr, I have said enough. She needeth not the praise which we could utter, but do not. None is more praiseworthy than she, whose praise all mouths do speak. For everyone that uttered he name doth praise her, and she is exalted whenever she is given the noble title of Martyr.

Tradition saith that she suffered martyrdom at the age of thirteen. Let us pass by the profane cruelty which did not spare her tender years, to contemplate the great power of her faith, whereby she overcame the weakness of childhood, and witnessed a good confession. She was hardly big enough for their sword-thrusts. But if her little body could scarce sheathe their swords, it was mighty enough to endure each blade that smote her. For she feared not the bloody hands of the executioners. When they dragged her with clanking chains, she was unmoved. Hardly entered on life, she stood ready to die, and quailed not when the weapons of enraged swordsmen were pointed at her breast. If they forced her against her will to approach the altars of devilish gods, she could even then stretch forth her hands to Christ amid the very flames which consumed the idolatrous offerings, and make the victorious Sign of the Cross of the Lord over the heathen shrine. She was ready to submit her neck and hands to the iron shackles, but they were too big to clasp her slender limbs. Behold a strange Martyr! She was not grown of stature sufficient to fight the battle, and yet was she ripe for the triumph! Too weak was she to run in the race, and yet she was clearly entitled to the prize! Unable from her age to be aught but a learner, she nonetheless is found to be a teacher.

She went to the place of execution a virgin, more willing and joyful than others go to the nuptial chamber as a bride. Bystanders wept, but she was tearless. Many wondered that she held so cheap that life whose sweets she had scarcely tasted, and was so ready to cast away, as a cup drained to the dregs. All men were amazed when they saw her, not yet old enough to be a legal witness in her own affairs, yet made by God a witness unto himself. Consider how many threats her executioner used to excite her fears, how many arguments to shake her resolution, how many promises to bribe her to accept his offers of marriage. But she answered him : It is an insult to my Betrothed to expect that I could favour another ; he that first chose me, his alone will I be ; headsman, why waitest thou? Kill the body which draweth the admiration of eyes form which I shrink! She stood, prayed, and then bent her neck for the stroke. Then mightest thou have seen the executioner trembling as though he himself were the criminal. Thou mightest have seen his hands shaking, and the bystanders become pale with fear, whilst she alone stood fearless. Here, then, we recognize one victim, but a double offering to God, that of her purity, and that of her faith. She preserved virginity by achieving martyrdom.


Almighty and everlasting God, who dost choose the weak things of this world to confound those things that are strong, mercifully grant that we who keep the feast of blessed Agnes thy Virgin and Martyr, may feel the succour of her intercession in thy sight, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Saint Fabian, Pope, & Saint Sebastian, Martyrs, January 20th

Saint Fabian, Pope, & Saint Sebastian, Martyrs,

Martyrdom of St. Fabian, Pope

Fabian was a Roman, and sat as Pope from the year 236, in the reign of the Emperor Maximin, till 250, in that of Decius. He is said to have appointed a deacon to each of the seven districts of Rome to look after the poor, and the same number of subdeacons to collect the Acts of the Martyrs from the records kept by the seven district notaries ; and to have ordained that every Maundy Thursday the old chrism should be burnt and the new consecrated. He was crowned with martyrdom on the 20th of January, in the year 250, during the persecution of Decius, and buried in the cemetery of Saint Callistus on the Appian Way, having sat in the throne of Peter fifteen years and four days. By the Pontifical Book he is said to have held five Advent ordinations, in which he ordained twenty-two p0riests, seven deacons and eleven bishops for divers Sees. * The holy Martyr Sebastian was once a great favourite of the Emperor Diocletian, both on account of his noble birth and his personal bravery, and was Captain of the First Company of the Praetorian Guards, albeit he was in secret a Christian, and often assisted other Christians by his good offices and by Alms. When these things became known, Diocletian sent for Sebastian and, after violently rebuking him, used every means to turn him from his faith in Christ. But as neither promises nor threats availed, he ordered him to be tied to a post and shot to death with arrows. * Sebastian was treated accordingly and left for dead. But when in the night a holy widow Irene went to bury him, he was found still alive. And Irene nursed him in her own house till his health was restored. Then went he, and rebuked Diocletian for his wickedness. Which same ordered him to be beaten to death with rods, under which torments the Martyr yielded his blessed soul to God, on January 20th, 288. His body was thrown into a sewer, but was later found and buried in those Catacombs over which a famous Church hath since been built, called Sebastian’s-without-the-Walls.

Protect us, O Lord, we beseech thee: who observe the feast of blessed Fabian and Sebastian, thy holy Martyrs, and grant that by their meritorious supplication we may ever find favour in thy sight, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Saints Maris, Martha, Audifax, and Habakkuk, Martyrs

Saints Maris, Martha, Audifax, and Habakkuk, Martyrs, January 19

Maris was a Persian of high rank, who came to Rome in the reign of the Emperor Claudius, with his wife Martha, who was equally noble, and their two sons Audifax and Habakkuk, to pray at the graves of the martyrs. Here they comforted the Christians who were in prison, (whom they relieved by their ministrations and alms,) and buried the bodies of the Saints. For these good deeds they were all arrested, but no threats or terrors could move them to sacrifice to idols. They were accordingly beaten with clubs, dragged about with ropes, burnt with red-hot metal, and mangled with metal hooks. Lastly their hands were all cut off, and they were fastened together by the neck, in which state they were driven through the City to the Thirteenth Milestone on the Cornelian Way, a place now called Santa Ninfa, where they were to die. There Martha addressed a moving exhortation to her husband and sons to hold out bravely to the last, for the love of Jesus Christ, and was then herself drowned. The other three martyrs were next beheaded, and thrown into a fire. The lady Felicity of Rome collected the half burnt remains, and caused them to be buried at her won farm. The date of their death was in the year 270.

O Lord, we pray thee, graciously to hear thy people that call upon thee with the assistance of thy Saints, that we may obtain of thee peace in this our temporal life, and likewise thy succour unto life eternal, through Jesus Christ thy Son, our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Saint Prisca, Virgin and Martyr, January 18

St. Prisca, Virgin & Martyr
Saint Prisca, Virgin and Martyr, January 18

This Saint Prisca hath been venerated in Rome from the very earliest times as a Virgin and Martyr. She was a maiden of noble lineage who, at the age of thirteen, was accused before the Emperor Claudius, but remained faithful to Christ in spite of the most barbarous tortures inflicted on her pure body. And that finally she was beheaded, namely, about the year 250, and buried by the Christians on January 18th, at the Tenth Milestone from the City. The basilica erected in her honour came later to bear the title : Saints Aquila and Priscilla : which Saints are commemorated in the Martyrology on July 8th, and are mentioned several times in the New Testament, and were friends of the Apostle Paul. But it was the practice of early days to draw together, for commemoration on the same date, the memories of those blessed ones who had the same name, for which reason in some places the holy Priscilla, who was the friend of Saint Paul, is honored on this day, and holy Aquila as well.

Grant, we beseech thee, Almighty God, that we, who this day observe the heavenly birthday of blessed Prisca thy Virgin and Martyr, may in such wise rejoice in her yearly festival, that we may learn to follow rightly the pattern of her faith, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

St. Peter’s Chair at Rome, January 18th

St. Peter’s Chair at Rome, January 18th

From a Sermon by St. Leo the Pope

When the twelve holy Apostles had received from the Holy Ghost the power to speak all languages, they divided the whole world into districts, which they severally allotted to themselves as fields for their Gospel labours. Then was Peter, the Prince of the Apostles, sent to the capital city of the Roman Empire, that he might cause the light to shine thence throughout the whole body of the civilized nations. At that time what race was there that had none of their folk dwelling in Rome? Or, when Rome had learnt, what people that did not learn?

In Rome were many dreams of an unbelieving philosophy awaiting to be destroyed. In Rome were many empty utterances o f earthly wisdom awaiting to be confuted. In Rome was much idolatry awaiting to be overcome. In Rome was great profanities awaiting to be put down. For here in this city the activity of superstition had gathered together from the whole earth every error which it could find. O most blessed Apostle Peter! This was the city to which thou didst not shrink to come. The Apostle Paul, thy comrade in glory, was yet occupied in founding the churches, and thou didst enter alone into that forest of wild beasts roaring furiously ;thou didst commit thyself to that stormy ocean, more boldly that when thou didst walk upon the waters to come to Jesus.

Thou, O Peter, hadst already taught those of the Circumcision who had turned to Christ. Thou hadst founded the Church of Antioch, the first Church that bore the noble name of Christian. Thou hadst published the law of the Gospel throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia. And thou didst not fear the hardness of thy work, nor turn back because of thine old age, but didst boldly set up the trophy of the Cross of Christ upon these Roman walls, where the providence of God had appointed the throne of thine honour, and the glorious scene of thy passion.


O God, who through the preaching of thy blessed Apostle Saint Paul hast caused the light of the Gospel to shine forth upon the Gentiles : grant, we beseech thee, that we, who this day call him to remembrance, may feel the effectual benefit of his intercession, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Saint Marcellus, Pope and Martyr, January 16

St.Marcellus in a stable
Saint Marcellus, Pope and Martyr, January 16,

This Marcellus was a Roman, and was believed to have held his brief pontificate in the reign of Constantius and Galerius, and in that of Maxentius. According to the Pontifical Book, it was through his persuasion that the Roman Lady Lucina left the whole of her property to the Church of God, which same was made into a church bearing his name. An epitaph by Pope Saint Damasus saith that because of his enforcement of the penitential canons, he excited the wrath of Maxentius, who threatened him with punishment. * The servant of God treated with contempt the mad cries of this man, who (so it is said) sent him to a menagerie, to take care of the beasts which were fed at the public cost, where Marcellus remained in continual fasting and prayer. And, as he could not visit the parishes of Rome in person, he wrote letters to them, until some of his clergy rescued him. * Maxentius, it is said, thereupon had the wild beasts brought from the menagerie and located in a church, where Marcellus was made to feed them. And the noisomeness of the place and the filthiness of his occupation soon broke down a constitution already enfeebled by many ailments, and he fell asleep in the Lord in 309, on January 16, and for his sufferings is accounted a Martyr.

O Lord, we beseech thee favorably to hear the prayers of thy people, that, as we do rejoice in the passion of thy blessed Bishop and Martyr, Saint Marcellus, so his merits may be our succour and defence, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Saint Hilary of Poitiers

Saint Hilary of Poitiers, Bishop, Confessor & Doctor

Hilary was born of a most illustrious family in Aquataine, and of him blessed Jerome saith : He was a man of mighty eloquence, the Latin Trumpet against the Arians. He was born of pagan parents , and brought up in idolatry, but in due time was found of Christ and became God’s servant. In early life he had married, but at his ordination he and his wife chose to live in continence. And because of the fame he made for himself by his wisdom and eloquence as a priest, he was chosen to be Bishop of Poitiers, in which office he gained the universal praise of the faithful. At that time the Emperor Constantius was persecuting the Catholics by every species of cruelty, in order to make them yield to the Arian heresy. Against the Arians Hilary set himself up as a brazen wall, and thereby turned upon himself the fierceness of their anger. When they procured his banishment to Phrygia, he used his exile to write a work in twelve books, on the Trinity, against these hereticks. * In the year 359, the fourth of his exile, he was obliged to attend the Council of Selucia in Isauria, which was largely composed of Arians, whom he there publicly withstood. And afterwards he withdrew to Constantinople, where he demanded leave from the Emperor to hold a public disputation in his presence. However, the Arian Bishops Ursacius and Valens, whom Hilary had already confuted in writing, were afraid to meet him in debate, and therefore induced Constantius, under pretence of pardon, to send him back to his bishoprick. And he was followed to Poitiers by Martin, afterwards Bishop of Tours, whose growth in holiness was a fruit of his teaching. * Henceforth he ruled the Church of Poitiers in great peace. His wonderful learning is seen in his numerous written works. And his tenderness of heart is well manifested in a letter, still extant, which during his exile he wrote to his daughter, urging upon her to become a nun, which same by this letter she was moved to do. He passed from earth to heaven upon January 13th, about the 368, during the reign of the Emperors Valentian and Valens. He has been called an Illustrious Doctor of the Church by many Fathers and Councils.

The Collect:
O GOD, who hast enlightened thy Church with the wondrous learning of blessed Hilary thy Confessor and Doctor: mercifully grant to us thy servants; that we, being in all things enlightened by his wisdom, may at all times feel the effectual succour of his righteousness. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.