SS. The Forty Martyrs of Sebaste

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SS. The Forty Martyrs of Sebaste

A.D. 320.

THESE holy martyrs suffered at Sebaste, in the Lesser Armenia, under the emperor Licinius, in 320. They were of different countries, but enrolled in the same troop; all in the flower of their age, comely, brave, and robust, and were become considerable for their services. St. Gregory of Nyssa and Procopius say, they were of the thundering legion, so famous under Marcus Aurelius for the miraculous rain and victory obtained by their prayers. This was the twelfth legion, and then quartered in Armenia. Lysias was duke or general of the forces, and Agricola, the governor of the province. The latter having signified to the army the orders of the emperor Licinius, for all to sacrifice, these forty went boldly up to him, and said they were Christians, and that no torments should make them ever abandon their holy religion. The judge first endeavoured to gain them by mild usage; as by representing to them the dishonour that would attend their refusal to do what was required, and by making them large promises of preferment and high favour with the emperor in case of compliance. Finding these methods of gentleness ineffectual, he had recourse to threats, and these the most terrifying, if they continued disobedient to the emperor’s order, but all in vain. To his promises they answered, that he could give them nothing equal to what he would deprive them of: and to his threats, that his power only extended over their bodies, which they had learned to despise when their souls were at stake. The governor, finding them all resolute, caused them to be torn with whips, and their sides to be rent with iron hooks. After which they were loaded with chains, and committed to jail. 1 Continue reading

St. Dominic Savio 

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St Dominic Savio
Patron of First Holy Communicants
by J. J. Ryan, S.D.B., 1950

On March 5, of the Holy Year, 1950, crowds of youth from almost every country in the world stormed the great Basilica of Saint Peter’s Rome, to witness the beatification ceremony of an Italian Salesian school boy. Seventy thousand voices echoed through that mighty edifice as Our Holy Father was borne on the ‘Sedia Gestatoria’ into Saint Peter’s to venerate the Relic of this youthful Confessor. Twenty thousand more outside in the Square took up the cry of triumph and flung it along the piazza of Bernini out on to the timeless Tiber, across ancient Europe and over to the new lands of the Atlantic and the Pacific. So profoundly moving was this gigantic manifestation of youthful enthusiasm and joy that the Holy Father, Pius XII was heard to exclaim:

“Never was such a sight seen in Saint Peter’s before.”

It is worth while, then, to know something of this schoolboy, who has merited such glory and world-wide renown. Never before in the history of Catholic schools has school life been so exalted and dignified than in the Church’s recognition of the holiness of life of Dominic Savio, the Schoolboy Confessor. Continue reading

The Five Sacred Wounds

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The Five Sacred Wounds


The revival of religious life and the zealous activity of St. Bernard and St. Francis in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, together with the enthusiasm of the Crusaders returning from the Holy Land, gave a wonderful impulse to devotion to the Passion of Jesus Christ and particularly to practices in honour of the Wounds in His Sacred Hands, Feet, and Side. The reason for this devotion was well expressed at a later period in the memorial of the Polish bishops to Clement XIII:

“Moreover, the Five Wounds of Christ are honoured by a Mass and an Office, and on account of these wounds we venerate also the feet, hands and side of the most loving Redeemer, these parts of Our Lord’s most holy body being held more worthy of a special cult than the others, precisely because they suffered special pains for our salvation, and because they are decorated with these wounds as with an illustrious mark of love. Therefore, with living faith they cannot be looked upon without a special feeling of religion and devotion” (Nilles, “De rat. fest. SS. Cord. Jesu et Mariae”, I, 126). Continue reading

MY CATHOLIC FAITH: Existence of Purgatory

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LXXV. Existence of Purgatory

Both reason and faith tell us that there is a middle ground of expiation, where the soul is cleansed from all stain of sin before it can enter the glory of heaven. “There shall not enter into it anything defiled” (Apoc. 21:27). Christ said, “Amen, I say to thee, thou will not come out from it until thou hast paid the last penny” (Matt. 5:26). Even persons who deny the existence of purgatory instinctively pray for their loved ones who have died. This would be great inconsistency if their reason did not tell them that their prayers would do the dead good. Prayers are useless for those in heaven or hell.

What is purgatory? –Purgatory is a place of temporary punishment for those who die in the state of grace, but are guilty of venial sin, or have not fully satisfied for the temporal punishment due to their sins. Continue reading