Saint Theodore Tyro

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Saint Theodore Tyro

Martyr in Asia Minor
(† 304)

Saint Theodore Tyro, one of the most celebrated of the oriental martyrs, was born of a noble family in the East, and enrolled while still a youth in the imperial army. Early in 306, when he had just joined the legion and marched with its soldiers into the Pont, the Roman Emperor issued an edict requiring all Christians to offer sacrifice. The young man was faced with the choice between apostasy and death. He declared before his commander that he was ready to be cut in pieces and offer up every limb to his Creator, who had died for him. Wishing to conquer him by gentleness, the commander left him in peace for a while, that he might think over his resolution.

He profited from his liberty to fortify other confessors for martyrdom, and in his ardor for the downfall of idolatry he set fire to a temple dedicated to the goddess Cybel, called the mother of the gods. He did not attempt to conceal his act, but when arrested admitted at once that he was the author of it, and that he had undertaken it to prevent the sacrileges committed every day in that place of abomination. The judge could not persuade him to renounce this crime and adore the empire’s divinities; he therefore had him cruelly whipped and then shut up in a solitary cell with the order to give him nothing to eat and let him die of hunger.

Our Lord visited him during the night and consoled him, and He told his servant He Himself would nourish him invisibly. This visit filled him with such joy that he began to sing; and at the same moment, Angels in white robes appeared in his prison, to sing hymns of joy with him. The jailers and guardians all witnessed this spectacle, as did also the judge Publius who had condemned him, but none of them were touched by it. They gave him an ounce of bread and a flask of water every day, only to prolong his martyrdom. The Saint refused these offerings.

When the authorities made him fine promises and attempted to persuade him to conform, he protested that never would he say one word or make one gesture contrary to the fidelity he owed to his sovereign Lord. He was again beaten and tortured with iron hooks, then burnt with torches, and condemned finally to be burnt alive, to punish him for the fire he had ignited. He made the sign of the Cross, and filled with faith, hope and pure love of God, gave up to Him his beautiful soul, victorious and laden with merits. The year was 304. The Christians saw his soul rise to heaven like a flash of light and fire.

Les Petits Bollandistes: Vies des Saints, by Msgr. Paul Guérin (Bloud et Barral: Paris, 1882), Vol. 13; Little Pictorial Lives of the Saints, a compilation based on Butler’s Lives of the Saints and other sources by John Gilmary Shea (Benziger Brothers: New York, 1894).

The Dedication of the Church of Our Saviour

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The Dedication of the Church of Our Saviour, Called St. John Lateran

FROM the beginning of the world altars were erected for offering sacrifices to God, and the places which were deputed for this supreme act of religion were always looked upon as sacred. Abel, Noë, Abraham, and the other patriarchs raised altars in retired and sanctified places, where they sometimes assembled their families or tribes to pay to God the most solemn religious worship. Abraham, to make the place more awful and retired, planted a grove round his altar at Beersabe, 1 and went thither religiously with his family to offer prayers and sacrifices. Jacob erected an altar of stone at Bethel, pouring oil upon it, called the place the house of God, and vowed to pay to him the tithes of all his possessions. 2 When God gave to the Jews a complete law of religious rites and ceremonies, he commanded a moveable tabernacle to be built and consecrated with oil, 3and a golden altar for offering incense, and another altar (of holocausts) to be erected, and anointed with oil, by way of consecration. 4 By the divine appointment, a temple was afterwards built with the utmost religious respect. 5 Christians had from the beginning chambers or oratories in private houses, set apart for their religious assemblies and sacrifices, as appears from St. Paul, 6 and from the Upper Room, in which the apostles are frequently mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles to have assembled, 7 which seems to have been in the house of John Mark. 8 In the time of St. John the Evangelist, the place for the assembly of the faithful with the bishop is called the church, or Ecclesia. 9 St. Clement of Rome 10 says, that God had appointed places to be appropriated to his worship. St. Ignatius often mentions one altar in every church, and one bishop. 11Tertullian calls the place of the assembly in which the baptismal renunciations were made, the Eucharist offered, &c. Ecclesia, or the church, and the house of God. 12  Continue reading

Church Triumphant, Church Militant, Church Suffering

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Church Triumphant, Church Militant, Church Suffering

For as in one body we have many members, but all the members have not the same office: so we being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.–ROM. xii. 4, 5.

St. Paul frequently compares the various members of the Church to the different parts of the human body. Just as all the parts of the latter are more or less dependent one on another and lend mutual aid and assistance to one another, so all the members of the former are bound together in Christ, and should, by mutual charity and good offices, be of assistance one to another. The comparison of the Apostle beautifully illustrates the doctrine of the Communion of Saints which is expressed in the second part of the ninth Article of the Creed. This doctrine is consequent upon the first part of the same Article, which requires faith in the Holy Catholic Church; for the Communion of Saints results from the unity and holiness of the Church. Continue reading

The Four Crowned Brothers

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The Four Crowned Brothers, Martyrs

A.D. 304.

FOUR brothers in the persecution of Dioclesian, employed in offices of trust and honour at Rome, were apprehended for declaring against the worship of idols, and whipped with scourges loaded with plummets of lead, till they expired in the hands of their tormentors. They were buried on the Lavican Way, three miles from Rome, and were at first called the Four Crowned Martyrs: their names were, Severus, Severianus, Carpophorus, and Victorious. Pope Gregory the Great mentions an old church of the four crowned martyrs in Rome. Pope Leo IV. in 841, caused the church to be repaired, and the relies of these martyrs to be translated thither out of the cemetery on the Lavican Way. When this church had been consumed by fire Paschal II. rebuilt it; upon which occasion the relics of these martyrs were discovered under the altar in two rich urns, the one of porphyry, the other of serpentine marble, deposited in a stone vault. The new altar was built upon the same spot; and these relics were again found in the same situation under Paul V. This church is an ancient title of a cardinal-priest. Five other martyrs, called Claudius, Nicostratus, Symphorianus, Castorius, and Simplicius, who had suffered in the same persecution were buried in the same cemetery. Their precious remains were translated by Leo IV. into the same church, and are likewise honoured there to this day. These martyrs are named in the martyrology of Bede and others. These five are said to have been put to death, because, being carvers by profession, they refused to make idols. 1
The rage of tyrants, who were masters of the world, spread the faith which they vainly endeavoured, by fighting against heaven, to extinguish. The martyrs, who died for it, sealed it with their blood, and gave a testimony to Jesus Christ, which was, of all others, the strongest and most persuasive. Other Christians, who fled, became the apostles of the countries whither they went. Whence St. Austin compares them to torches, which, if you attempt to put them out by shaking them, are kindled, and flame so much the more. The martyrs, by the meekness and fervour of their lives, and their constancy in resisting evil to death, converted an infidel world, and disarmed the obstinacy of the most implacable enemies of the truth. But what judgments must await those Christians who, by the scandal of their sloth and worldly spirit, dishonour their religion, blaspheme Christ, withdraw even the faithful from the practice of the gospel, and tempt a Christian world to turn infidel?

Rev. Alban Butler (1711–73). Volume XI: November. The Lives of the Saints. 1866. November 8.


Octave of All Saints

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Octave of All Saints

The Catholic Church, which, every day in the year, places some Saints before our eyes to honor and imitate, represents them all to us today; hence today’s festival is called: The Feast of All Saints. The origin of it was as follows : There was, at Rome, a magnificent temple, which had been built before Christ, by Marcus Agrippa, and was called the Pantheon or Temple of all the gods, because they were all worshipped therein. This idolatrous temple had not been torn down like many others, but Pope Boniface IV. consecrated it according to Catholic usage, to the Virgin Mother and all the Saints. To the greater edification of the people, he had many relics of holy Martyrs placed in it with due magnificence, whence this Church received the name of the Church of the holy Martyrs. In after years, it was ordered by Pope Gregory IV. that, not only the festival of the holy Martyrs, but also that of all other Saints, should be celebrated in the above mentioned Church and in all Christendom. Continue reading