St. Onesimus

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St. Onesimus, Disciple of St. Paul

HE was a Phrygian by birth, slave to Philemon, a person of note of the city of Colossæ, converted to the faith by St. Paul. Having robbed his master, and being obliged to fly, he providentially met with St. Paul, then a prisoner for the faith at Rome, who there converted and baptized him, and sent him with his canonical letter of recommendation to Philemon, by whom he was pardoned, set at liberty, and sent back to his spiritual father, whom he afterwards faithfully served. That apostle made him, with Tychicus, the bearer of his epistle to the Colossians, 1 and afterwards, as St. Jerom 2 and other fathers witness, a preacher of the gospel, and a bishop. The Greeks say, he was crowned with martyrdom under Domitian, in the year 95, and keep his festival on the 15th. Bede, Ado, Usuard, the Roman and other Latin martyrologists mention him on the 16th of February. 3 1
Baronius and some others confound him with St. Onesimus, the third bishop of Ephesus, after St. Timothy, who was succeeded first by John, then by Caius. This Onesimus showed great respect and charity to St. Ignatius, when on his journey to Rome, in 107, and is highly commended by him. 4 2
When a sinner, by the light and power of an extraordinary grace, is snatched like a firebrand out of the fire, and rescued from the gates of hell, we cannot wonder if he be swallowed up by the deepest and most lively sense of his own guilt, and of the divine mercy; if such a one love much, because much has been forgiven him; if he endeavour to repair his past crimes by heroic acts of penance and all virtues, and if he make haste to redeem his lost time by a zeal and vigilance hard to be imitated by others. Hence we read of the first love of the church of Ephesus 5 as more perfect. The ardour of the compunction and love of a true penitent, is compared to the unparalleled love of Judah in the day of her espousal. 6 This ardour is not to be understood as a passing sally of the purest passions, as a short-lived fit of fervour, or desire of perfection, as a transient taste or sudden transport of the soul: it must be sincere and constant. With what excess of goodness does not God communicate himself to souls which thus open themselves to him! With what caresses does he not often visit them! With what a profusion of graces does he not enrich and strengthen them! It often happens that, in the beginning, God, either to allure the frailty of a new convert, or to fortify his resolution against hazardous trials, favours him with more than usual communications of the sweetness of his love, and ravishes him by some glances, as it were, of the beatific vision. His tenderness was not less, when, for their spiritual advancement, their exercise in heroic virtues, and the increase of their victories and glory, he conducted them through severe trials. On the other side, with what fidelity and ardour did these holy penitents improve themselves daily in divine love and all virtues! Alas! our coldness and insensibility, since our pretended conversion from the world and sin, is a far greater subject of amazement than the extraordinary fervour of the saints in the divine service. 3

Note 1. Colos. iv.
Note 2. Ep. 62. c. 2.
Note 3. Tillem. t. 1. p. 294. and note 10 on St. Paul.
Note 4. Ep. ad Ephes.
Note 5. Apoc. 11. 4.
Note 6. Jerem. 11. 2.

Rev. Alban Butler (1711–73). Volume II: February.
The Lives of the Saints. 1866.


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“Transgressors shall all of them be plucked up as thorns, and they shall be set on fire.” [2 Kings 23: 5]

1. These are words of inspiration, and refer to the thorny crown of our blessed Lord. They were uttered by holy David in his old age, and are a portion of the last words which this holy king, and prophet pronounced under a special inspiration of the Holy Ghost. David the son of Isai said: “The man to whom it was appointed concerning the Christ of the God of Jacob … The spirit of the Lord hath spoken by me and His words by my tongue. The God of Israel said to me … Trangressors shall all of them be plucked up as thorns.” These words of inspiration evidently refer to the Crown of Thorns of our Divine Savior and indicate the causes, which induced Him to wear upon His adorable Head, this terrible crown of pain and ignominy. This will form the subject matter of this present chapter. Continue reading

Feast of the Crown of Thorns

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Feast of the Crown of Thorns

The first feast in honour of the Crown of Thorns (Festum susceptionis coronae Domini) was instituted at Paris in 1239, when St. Louis brought thither the relic of the Crown of Thorns, which was deposited later in the Royal Chapel, erected in 1241-8 to guard this and other relics of the Passion. The feast, observed on 11 August, though at first special to the Royal Chapel, was gradually observed throughout the north of France. In the following century another festival of the Holy Crown on 4 May was instituted and was celebrated along with the feast of the Invention of the Cross in parts of Spain, Germany, and Scandinavia. It is still kept in not a few Spanish dioceses and is observed by the Dominicans on 24 April. A special feast on the Monday after Passion Sunday was granted to the Diocese of Freising in Bavaria by Clement X (1676) and Innocent XI (1689) in honour of the Crown of Christ. It was celebrated at Venice in 1766 on the second Friday of March. In 1831 it was adopted at Rome as a double major and is observed on the Friday following Ash Wednesday. As it is not kept throughout the universal Church, the Mass and Office are placed in the appendices to the Breviary and the Missal. The hymns of the Office, which is taken from the seventeenth-century Gallican Breviary of Paris, were composed by Habert. The “Analecta hymnica” of Dreves and Blume contains a large number of rhythmical offices, hymns, and sequences for this feast.

ROHAULT DE FLEURY, Instruments de la Passion (Paris, 1870); NILLES, Kalendarium manuale (Innsbruck, 1897); GROTEFEND, Zeitrechnung, II, 2, 88.

APA citation. Holweck, F. (1912). Feast of the Crown of Thorns. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.

MLA citation. Holweck, Frederick. “Feast of the Crown of Thorns.” The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 14. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1912.

Ecclesiastical approbation. Nihil Obstat. July 1, 1912. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York.