SS. Nicasius and His Companions

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SS. Nicasius, Ninth Archbishop of Rheims, and His Companions, Martyrs

IN the fifth century an army of barbarians from Germany ravaging part of Gaul, plundered the city of Rheims. 1 Nicasius, the holy bishop, had foretold this calamity to his flock. When he saw the enemy at the gates and in the streets, forgetting himself, and solicitous only for his dear spiritual children, he went from door to door encouraging all to patience and constancy, and awaking in every one’s breast the most heroic sentiments of piety and religion. In endeavouring to save the lives of some of his flock, he exposed himself to the swords of the infidels, who, after a thousand insults and indignities, (which he endured with the meekness and fortitude of a true disciple of God crucified for us) cut off his head. Florens his deacon, and Jocond his lector, were massacred by his side. His sister Eutropia, a virtuous virgin, seeing herself spared in order to be reserved for wicked purposes, boldly cried out to the infidels, that it was her unalterable resolution rather to sacrifice her life, than her faith or her integrity and virtue. Upon which they despatched her with their cutlasses. St. Nicasius and St. Eutropia were buried in the church-yard of St. Agricola. Many miracles rendered their tombs illustrious, and this church was converted into a famous abbey, which bears the name of St. Nicasius, and is now a member of the congregation of St. Maur. The archbishop Fulco, in 893, translated the body of St. Nicasius into the cathedral, which the martyr himself had built, and dedicated to God in honour of the Blessed Virgin Mary. His head is kept in the abbey of St. Vedast at Arras. See St. Gregory of Tours, and Gall. Chr. Nov. t. 9. p. 6. The Acts of St. Nicasius in Surius (14 Dec.) were written before Hincmar, probably in the seventh century, but are of small importance, as Dom. Rivet observes. 1

Note 1. Tillemont thinks these barbarians were Goths, and that the Vandals were Arians before they left their own country in the north of Germany. But how could they there have received Christianity so early as in the beginning of the fifth century? How could Count Stilico, by birth a Vandal, hope to advance his pagan son Eucherius by the help of the Vandals, by opening the pagan temples and restoring idolatry, for which attempt he and his son were put to death, as Orosius relates, if they were not then idolaters in 407; though in the middle of the same fifth century they were Arians, as appears from Salvian, l. 7, and King Genseric in 428? Stilting shows that St. Nicasius suffered under the Vandals in 407, of which irruption of the Vandals St. Jerom speaks in his epistle to Ageruchio in 409. See Stilting in his life of St. Viventius, the immediate predecessor of St. Nicasius, on the 7th of September, t. 3, p. 65, and Gall. Christ. Nov. t. 9. p. 6.

Rev. Alban Butler (1711–73). Volume XII: December. The Lives of the Saints. 1866. December 14. 

Advent Embertide

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Advent Embertide

Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday after Gaudete Sunday (3rd Sunday of Advent) are known as “Advent Embertide,” and they come near the beginning of the Season of Winter (December, January, February). Liturgically, the readings for the days’ Masses follow along with the general themes of Advent, opening up with Wednesday’s Introit of Isaias 45: 8 and Psalm 18:2 :

Drop down dew, ye heavens, from above, and let the clouds rain the Just: let the earth be opened and bud forth a Savior. The heavens show forth the glory of God: and the firmament declareth the work of His hands.

Wednesday’s and Saturday’s Masses will include one and four Lessons, respectively, with all of them concerning the words of the Prophet Isaias except for the last lesson on Saturday, which comes from Daniel and recounts how Sidrach, Misach, and Abdenago are saved from King Nabuchodonosor’s fiery furnace by an angel. This account, which is followed by a glorious hymn, is common to all Embertide Saturdays but for Whit Embertide.

The Gospel readings for the three days concern, respectively, the Annunciation (Luke 1:26-28), Visitation (Luke 1:37-47), and St. John the Baptist’s exhorting us to “prepare the way of the Lord and make straight His paths” (Luke 3:1-6).

Octave of the Immaculate Conception

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Octave of the Immaculate Conception

“Thou art terrible as an army set in array.”–Cant. vi.

The Holy Ghost assures us that the life of man is a warfare. It began at the fall of our first parents, and rested upon all of Adam’s descendants, excepting her, whose Immaculate Conception. Yes, it is a severe struggle which we have to maintain against the powers of darkness; against Lucifer and his allies, the fallen angels; against the world and the flesh, which, enrolled under the standard of the fallen prince of angels, and swayed by his influence and direction, oppose us as the enemies of our salvation.

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