SS. Rufina and Secunda

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SS. Rufina and Secunda, Virgins, Martyrs

THEY were sisters, and the daughters of one Asterius, a man of a senatorian family in Rome. Their father promised them in marriage, the first to Armentarius, and the second to Verinus, who were then both Christians, but afterwards apostatized from the faith when the storm raised by Valerian and Gallien in 257, fell upon the church. The two virgins resisted their solicitations to imitate their impiety, and fled out of Rome; but were overtaken, brought back, and after other torments condemned by Junius Donatus, prefect of Rome, to lose their heads. They were conducted twelve miles out of Rome, executed in a forest on the Aurelian Way, and buried in the same place. It was then called the Black Forest, Sylva Nigra, but from these martyrs this name was changed into that of Sylva Candida or the White Forest. A chapel was built over their tomb, which Pope Damasus demolished, erecting a large church in its room. A town rose in the same place, which was called Sylva Candida, and made an episcopal see. But the city being destroyed by barbarians in the twelfth century, the bishopric was united by Calixtus II., to that of Porto, and the relics of the saints were translated at the same time, in the year 1120, to the Lateran basilic, where they are kept near the baptistery of Constantine. See their Acts abridged by Tillemont, t. 4, p. 5. Also the remarks of Pinius the Bollandist, t. 3, Julij, p. 28, and Laderchius, Diss. de Basilicis SS. Marcellini et Petri, c. 2, p. 6. 1

The Seven Brothers, Martyrs, and St. Felicitas Their Mother

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The Seven Brothers, Martyrs, and St. Felicitas Their Mother

In the Second Century.

THE ILLUSTRIOUS martyrdom of these saints has been justly celebrated by the holy fathers. It happened at Rome under the emperor Antoninus, that is, according to several ancient copies of the acts, Antoninus Pius. 1 The seven brothers were the sons of St. Felicitas, a noble pious Christian widow in Rome, who brought them up in the most perfect sentiments and practice of heroic virtue. After the death of her husband she served God in a state of continency 2 and employed herself wholly in prayer, fasting, and works of charity. By the public and edifying example of this lady and her whole family, many idolaters were moved to renounce the worship of their false gods, and to embrace the faith of Christ, which Christians were likewise encouraged by so illustrious a pattern only to profess. This raised the spleen of the heathenish priests, who complained to the emperor Antoninus that the boldness with which Felicitas publicly practised the Christian religion, drew many from the worship of the immortal gods who were the guardians and protectors of the empire, and that it was a continual insult on them; who, on that account, were extremely offended and angry with the city and whole state. They added, that in order to appease them, it was necessary to compel this lady and her children to sacrifice to them. Antoninus being himself superstitious was prevailed upon by this remonstrance to send an order to Publius the prefect of Rome, to take care that the priests should be satisfied, and the gods appeased in this matter. Publius caused the mother and her sons to be apprehended and brought before him. When this was done he took Felicitas aside, and used the strongest inducements to bring her freely to sacrifice to the gods, that he might not be obliged to proceed with severity against her and her sons; but she returned him this answer: “Do not think to frighten me by threats, or to win me by fair speeches. The spirit of God within me will not suffer me to be overcome by Satan, and will make me victorious over all your assaults.” Publius said in a great rage: “Unhappy woman, is it possible you should think death so desirable as not to permit even your children to live, but force me to destroy them by the most cruel torments?” “My children,” said she, “will live eternally with Christ if they are faithful to him; but must expect eternal death if they sacrifice to idols.” The next day the prefect, sitting in the square of Mars before his temple, sent for Felicitas and her sons, and addressing his speech to her said: “Take pity on your children, Felicitas; they are in the bloom of youth, and may aspire to the greatest honours and preferments.” The holy mother answered: “Your pity is really impiety, and the compassion to which you exhort me would make me the most cruel of mothers.” Then turning herself towards her children, she said to them: “My sons, look up to heaven where Jesus Christ with his saints expects you. Be faithful in his love, and fight courageously for your souls.” Publius being exasperated at this behaviour, commanded her to be cruelly buffeted, saying: “You are insolent indeed, to give them such advice as this in my presence, in contempt of the orders of our princes.” 1 Continue reading

The Precious Blood on Calvary

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Meditation on the Most Precious Blood of Jesus

The Precious Blood on Calvary

In old pictures and engravings ot the Crucifixion we often see Angels holding a chalice to catch the drops of the Precious Blood as they fell from the sacred wounds in the hands and feet of Jesus. It is also said that the angels collected all the Blood that our Lord had shed during his passion that not a drop might belost. How they must have counted each drop as a treasure of infinite value! What were all the treasures of earth compared with these drops, instinct with the God- head of Jesus! Pray that you may scorn all earthly things in comparison with the Precious Blood of Jesus.

The Angels not only treasure up the Precious Blood, but they pay to each drop their supreme homage. So we kneel and adore the Precious Blood in the chalice upon the altar. In each drop Christ is present whole and undivided. Make an act of faith in this wondrous miracle, and pray that you may adore with a reverent homage like that of the Angels present at the Crucifixion.

As the three hours advance, the Body of Jesus is more and more drained of the Precious Blood. Hence follows a thirst so agonizing that it forced from the lips of Jesus the cry, “I thirst” When our lips are parched and dry in sickness or in the agony of death, may we remember Thee, O Lord, and Thy Sacred Thirst, endured for us, and may we offer up our sufferings in union with Thy unspeakable and agonizing thirst upon the Cross!

The Martyrdom of St. John Fisher for his Defense of Marriage Against Divorce

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The Martyrdom of St. John Fisher for his Defense of Marriage Against Divorce

by The Rev. W. H. Cologan

(Much light has been thrown upon the subject of the present brief memoir through the research of the Rev. T. E. Bridget, C.SS.R., who in his Life of the Blessed John Fisher has. brought forward much that was hitherto unknown and has corrected much in the received biographies of the martyr that was unauthentic. Our own little biography has been revised in conformity with Father Bridgett’s excellent work.)

John Fisher was born at Beverley, Yorkshire, probably in the year 1459, and was the eldest son of Robert Fisher, a well-to-do merchant of that then flourishing town, and of Agnes his wife. After completing his early studies at the school attached to the Minster Church of Beverley, he was sent to Michael House, Cambridge, and placed under the care of William de Melton, a tutor of great ability. This was in 1484; in 1487 he took his degree of B.A., and was elected fellow of his College soon after, and in 1491 became M.A. in which year he was appointed Vicar of Northallerton in Yorkshire. He only held this benefice for three years, for in 1494 he was made Proctor of his University; and three years after that, was appointed Master of Michael House. In 1501 the degree of D.D. was conferred upon him, and he was elected Vice-Chancellor of Cambridge University. Continue reading