Regali Solio Fortis Iberiae

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Regali Solio Fortis Iberiae

The royal throne of heroic Iberia counts thee, Hermenegild, as one of its glories: so, too, do the Martyrs, whose love of Christ has numbered them among the Blessed of heaven.

How courageously didst thou keep thy promised allegiance to God! He was dear to thee above all things else; and as to the dangerous pleasures of this world, thou warily didst reject them.

Thou restrainedst the passions, which excite and foster vice. Thou marchedst onwards, with unfaltering step, to where the path of truth directs.

Thy father’s promises could not seduce thee. The luxuries of a life of ease and wealth, the glitter of diamonds, the prospect of a throne,–they could not allure thee.

Thou wast not affrighted by the threat of a cruel death, or by the executioner’s merciless rage; for the everlasting joys of heaven were dearer to thee than those of time.

Do thou now kindly protect us from thy heavenly throne, and graciously receive the prayers we present to thee whilst celebrating the palm made thine by martyrdom.

To the Father, the Lord of all things, be eternal honour! Let the Faithful assembled here in prayer, glorify the Son; let them sing forth endless praise to the Holy Ghost. Amen.

Prayer:

We offer thee, O brave witness to the truth of holy Faith! our admiration and gratitude. Thy courageous death was proof of the love thou hadst for Christ; and thy contempt of earthly honours teaches us to despise them. Heir to a throne, a prison was thy abode here below. It was from thy prison that thou ascendedst to heaven, wearing on thy brow the laurels of Martyrdom,–a crown far brighter than that which was offered thee on condition of thy apostatising from the Faith. Pray now for us: the Church asks it of thee, by inserting thy name in the Calendar of her Saints. The Pasch was the day of thy triumph: obtain for us that this may be a true Pasch to us,–a real resurrection, which may lead us to the heaven above, where we may enjoy, with thee, the sight of our Risen Jesus. Intercede for us, that we may be firm in the Faith, obedient to the teachings of holy Church, and enemies to every error and innovation. Protect Spain, thy fatherland, which owes to thy Martyrdom long centuries of loyalty to the true Faith. Pray for her, that she may ever continue to merit her glorious title of The Catholic Kingdom.

Saint Hermenegild

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Saint Hermenegild

Martyr
(† 586)

Leovigild, Arian King of the Visigoths, had two sons, Hermenegild and Recared, who were reigning conjointly with him. All were Arians, but Hermenegild married a zealous Catholic, the daughter of Sigebert, King of France, and by her holy example was converted to the faith. His father, on hearing the news, denounced him as a traitor, and marched to seize his person. Hermenegild tried to rally the Catholics of Spain in his defense, but they were too weak to make any stand; and after a two years’ fruitless struggle, Hermenegild surrendered on the assurance of a free pardon. Once he was safely in the royal camp, the king had him loaded with fetters and cast into a foul dungeon at Seville.

Tortures and bribes were in turn employed to shake his faith, but Hermenegild wrote to his father that he regarded the crown as nothing, and preferred to lose scepter and life rather than betray the truth of God. At length, on Easter night, an Arian bishop entered his cell, and promised him his father’s pardon if he would receive Communion from his hands. Hermenegild indignantly rejected the offer, and knelt with joy for his death-stroke, praying for his persecutors. The same night a light streaming from his cell told the Christians keeping vigil nearby that the martyr had won his crown and was celebrating the Resurrection of the Lord with the Saints in glory.

King Leovigild, on his death-bed, was changed interiorly. He had been witness to the miracles that had occurred after his son’s cruel death, and he told his son and successor Recared to seek out Saint Leander, whom he himself had persecuted. Recared should follow Hermenegild’s example, said the king, and be received by the bishop into the Church. Recared did so; and although his father himself had not had the courage to renounce the false faith publicly, after his father’s death the new king labored so earnestly for the extirpation of Arianism that he brought over the whole nation of the Visigoths to the Church. Nor is it to be wondered, says Saint Gregory, that he came thus to be a preacher of the true faith, since he was the brother of a martyr, whose merits helped him to bring so many into the haven of God’s Church.

Reflection. The victory of Saint Hermenegild teaches us that constancy and sacrifice are the best arguments for the faith, and the surest way to win souls to God.

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).