SS. John and Paul, Martyrs
THEY were both officers in the army under Julian the Apostate, and received the crown of martyrdom, probably in 362, under Apronianus, prefect of Rome, a great enemy of the Christians. These saints glorified God by a double victory: they despised the honours of the world, and triumphed over its threats and torments. They saw many wicked men prosper in their impiety, but were not dazzled by their example. They considered that worldly prosperity which attends impunity in sin is the most dreadful of all judgments; and how false and short-lived was this glittering prosperity of Julian, who in a moment fell into the pit which he himself had dug! But the martyrs, by the momentary labour of their conflict, purchased an immense weight of never-fading glory: their torments were, by their heroic patience and invincible virtue and fidelity, a spectacle worthy of God, who looked down upon them from the throne of his glory, and held his arm stretched out to strengthen them, and to put on their heads immortal crowns in the happy moment of their victory. An old church in Rome, near that of SS. Peter and Paul, bore the name of SS. John and Paul, as appears by the calendar published by F. Fronto. They have a proper office and mass in the sacramentaries of St. Gelasius and St. Gregory the Great; also in the ancient Gallican Liturgy. In England the council of Oxford, in 1222, ordered their festival to be kept of the third class; that is, with an obligation of hearing mass before work. How famous the names of SS. John and Paul have been in the church ever since the fifth century, is set forth at large by Rondininus. 1 1
The saints always accounted that they had done nothing for Christ so long as they had not resisted to blood, and by pouring forth the last drop completed their sacrifice. Every action of our lives ought to spring from this fervent motive, and consecration of ourselves to the divine service with our whole strength; we must always bear in mind that we owe to God by innumerable titles all that we are; and, after all we can do, are unprofitable servants, and do only what we are bound to do. But how base are our sloth and ingratitude, who in every action fall so much short of this fervour and duty! How does the blood of the martyrs reproach our lukewarmness! 2
Note 1. De SS. Joanne et Paulo, eorumque Basilica vetera monumenta, in 4ot. Romæ, 1707. See the hymns of Florus, deacon of Lyons, on SS. John and Paul in Mabillon, Annal. t. 1, p. 402.
Rev. Alban Butler (1711–73). Volume VI: June.
The Lives of the Saints. 1866.