Author Topic: Victories of the Martyrs.  (Read 555 times)

Offline Xavier

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Victories of the Martyrs.
« on: February 17, 2020, 07:15:36 AM »
The Holy Martyrs of Japan were mentioned on another thread. We can learn so much from these Martyrs. They have witnessed in their own blood. Here is St. Alphonsus:

"THE CENTENARY EDITION.

THE COMPLETE WORKS OF
SAINT ALPHONSUS DE LIGUORI,
DOCTOR OF THE CHURCH,
BISHOP OF SAINT AGATHA, AND FOUNDER OF THE CONGREGATION OF THE MOST HOLY REDEEMER.

TRANSLATED FROM THE ITALIAN.
EDITED BY
REV. EUGENE GRIMM,
PRIEST OF THE CONGREGATION OF THE MOST HOLY REDEEMER.

THE ASCETICAL WORKS.
VOLUME IX.
VICTORIES OF THE MARTYRS;
OR,
THE LIVES OF THE MOST CELEBRATED MARTYRS OF THE CHURCH

THE CENTENARY EDITION.

VICTORIES OF THE MARTYRS;
OR,
THE LIVES OF THE MOST CELEBRATED MARTYRS OF THE CHURCH.

BY

ST. ALPHONSUS DE LIGUORI,
DOCTOR OF THE CHURCH.

EDITED BY
REV. EUGENE GRIMM,
PRIEST OF THE CONGREGATION OF THE MOTT HOLY REDEEMER,

NEW YORK, CINCINNATI, AND CHICAGO:
BENZIGER BROTHERS,
PRINTERS TO THE HOLY APOSTOLIC SEE.

R. WASHBOURNE,
18 PATERNOSTER ROW, LONDON.

M. H. GILL & SON,
50 UPPER O’CONNELL STREET, DUBLIN,

APPROBATION.

By virtue of the authority granted me by the Most Rev. Nicholas Mauron, Superior General of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, I hereby sanction the publication of the work entitled the “Victories of the Martyrs,” which is Vol. IX. of the new and complete, edition in English of the works of Saint Alphonsus de Liguori, called “The Centenary Edition.”

Elias Fred. Schauer,
Sup. Prov. Baltimorensis.
Baltimore, Md, Feast of St. Michael,
September 29, 1887.

Copyright, 1888, by Elias Frederick Schauer.

CONTENTS.

Approbation

Notice

VICTORIES OF THE MARTYRS.

Introduction. — Useful reflections by which we may derive great fruit from the reading of the combats and the victories of the martyrs. I. Virtues practised by the holy martyrs in the combats that they had to sustain against their persecutors, II. The advantages of devout meditation on the virtues that the martyrs practised during their sufferings, Prayer to the holy martyrs to obtain their protection, III. The various tortures to which the martyrs were subjected.

Preface

PART I.

MARTYRS OF THE FIRST AGES.

I. St. Ignatius, bishop of Antioch

II. SS. Julitta, and Quiricus, her son

III. St. Vincent, deacon

IV. SS. Agricola and Vitalis of Bologna

V. St. Vitalis of Ravenna

VI. St. Polycarp, bishop of Smyrna

VII. SS. Theodora, virgin, and Didymus

VIII. SS. Philip, bishop of Heraclea, and his two companions, Severus and Hermes

IX. St. James, surnamed Intercisus

X. St. Afra, penitent

XI. St. Sabinus, bishop of Spoleto, and his companions

XII. St. Euplius, deacon

XIII. St. Theodotus, vintner

XIV. SS. Trypho and Respicius

XV. SS. Romanus, deacon, and Barulas, the infant martyr

XVI. St. Crispina

XVII. SS. Dionysia, Majoricus, her son, and other holy martyrs or confessors in the persecution raised in Africa by the Vandals

XVIII. SS. Phileas, bishop of Thmuis, and Philoromus, tribune

XIX. St. Dionysia, virgin, with SS. Andrew and Paul of Lampsacus

XX. St. Febronia, virgin

XXI. St. Arcadius

XXII. St. Justin, philosopher

XXIII. St. Agatha, virgin

XXIV. SS. John Chrysostom, archbishop of Constantinople; Tygrius, priest; and Eutropius, lector

XXV. St. Pionius, priest

XXVI. St. Adalbert, bishop of Prague

XXVII. SS. James, deacon; Marianus, lector; and companions

XXVIII. St. Lucy, virgin

XXIX. SS. Theodorus and Nicholas, abbots of Studius

XXX. SS. Eulalia and Julia, virgins

XXXI. St. Pollio, lector

XXXII. SS. Apian and jEdesius, brothers

XXXIII. St. Gordius, centurion

XXXIV. SS. Chrysogonus, priest, and Anastasia, widow

XXXV. SS. Fructuosus, bishop of Tarragona, and his two deacons, Augurius and Eulogius

XXXVI. St. Irenaeus, bishop of Sirmium

XXXVII. SS. Cecilia, virgin; Valerian, her husband; Tiburtius, her brother-in-law; and Maximus, officer

XXXVIII. St. Agnes, virgin

XXXIX. SS. Simeon, archbishop of Seleucia; Usthazades and and Pusikius; and their companions

XL. SS. Lucius, Montanus, Flavian, and their companions, disciples of St. Cyprian

XLI. SS. Epipodius and Alexander of Lyons

XLII. St. Leo of Patara

XLIII. St. Basil of Ancyra, priest

XLIV. SS. Pothinus, bishop of Lyons; Sanctus, deacon; Alexander, physician; Veitius Epagathus, Maturus, Attalus of Pergamus, Biblis, Blandina, and their companions

XLV. St. Alban, first martyr of Great Britain

XLVI. St. Peter of Lampsacus

XLVII, St. Cyril, child

XLVIII. SS. Potamiena, virgin; Marcella, her mother; and Basilides, soldier

XLIX. SS. Nicander and Marcian, soldiers

L. St. Gallican, a Roman general, with SS. John and Paul, officers

LI. St. Theodore of Amasea, called the young soldier

LII. SS. Perpetua and Felicitas of Carthage, with SS. Revocatus, Saturninus, Secundulus, and Saturus

LIII. SS. George, deacon; Aurelius, Natalia, Felix, Liliosa of Corduba

LIV. SS. Tarachus, Probus, and Andronicus, martyred in Cilicia

LV. St. Quirinus, bishop of Siscia

LVI. St. Blase, bishop of Sebaste

LVII. SS. Anastasia, virgin, and Cyril of Rome

LVIII. SS. Victor, officer; Alexander, Felicianus, Longinus, soldiers, of Marseilles

LIX. SS. Peter, Dorotheus, and Gorgonius, chamberlains. 261

LX. SS. Timothy, lector, and Maura, his wife

LXI. SS. Sixtus II., Pope; Laurence, deacon; Romanus, soldier

LXII. St. Sebastian, officer; and the two brothers, Marcus and Marcellianus

LXIII. SS. Cyriacus, Largus, and Smaragdus

LXIV. SS. Mammas; Theodotus, his father; Rufina, his mother; and Amya

LXV. SS. Januarius, bishop of Benevento; Sosius, Proculus, Festus, deacons; Didier, lector; Eutychius, Acutius

LXVI. SS. Faith, virgin, Caprais, Primus, and Felician

LXVII. St. Genesius, comedian

LXVIII. St. Hippolytus, priest

LXIX. St. Symphorian

LXX. SS. Bonosius and Maximilian, officers

LXXI. SS. Liberatus, abbot; Boniface, deacon; Servus, Rusticus, subdeacons; Rogatus, Septimus, and Maximus, religious

LXXII. SS. Seraphia, virgin, and Sabina, widow

LXXIII. SS. Cyprian, magician, and Justina, virgin

LXXIV. SS. Hermolaus, priest; and Pantaleon, physician

LXXV. St. Felix, bishop of Abbir, and other holy martyrs and confessors of the Vandalic persecution

PART II.

THE MARTYRS OF JAPAN

Notice

I. Miraculous cross found near Arima. PersecutionJ in the Kingdom of Bungo. Joram Macama. Courage of the Christians

II. Persecution by the Emperor Taicosama. Great zeal of the Christians. Twenty-six martyrs crucified at Nangasaki

III. Persecution in the Kingdom of Fingo. John Minami; Magdalen, his wife, and Louis, their adopted son; with Simon Taquenda; Jane, his mother; and Agnes, his wife

IV. Persecution in the Kingdom of Saxuma and d’Amanguchi. James Sacoiama, Melchior Bugendono, Damian, the blind man. Leon Xiquemon

V. New persecution in Fingo. Joachim Girozaiemo, Michael Faciemon and his son Thomas, John Tingoro and his son Peter

VI. Persecution in the Kingdom of Firando. Caspar Nixiguenca; Ursula, his wife; and John, their son

VII. Death of the King of Arima and persecution raised by his son. Thomas Onda and his family. Francis and Matthew, young princes. Eight martyrs burnt alive. The tyrant punished

VIII. General persecution ordered by the Emperor Daifusama. Firmness of the Christians of Meaco

IX. Persecution in the Kingdoms of Aqui and Bungo. Benedict, a converted bonze. Two families that were put to the test. Michael; Lin, his brother; and Maxentia, his wife

X. Joachim and Thomas of Facata. Adam of the Island of Xiqui. Paul of the Kingdom of Jamaxiro

XI. Persecution at Nangasaki and at Omura. Brother Leonard Guimura and his companions. Lin Toiepaon

XII. In the Kingdom of Bungo, James Faito, Balthasar and his son James

XIII. Fifty-two martyrs burnt alive at Meaco

XIV. Ignatius Xiquiemon, martyred at Fucimo. Conversion of a bonze who had led a bad life. Matthias, of the Kingdom of Arima

XV. Simon Bocusai and his companions, in Bungo. John Ciu and Joseph Ito, at Nangasaki. Leo Nonda, in Fingo

XVI. Persecution in the Kingdom of Oxu. A father reclaimed by the example of his child. Joachim and Ann of Mizusama

XVII. Great execution at Nangasaki. Justa, her daughter Mary, and her daughter-in-law Agatha. Paul Gazaiemon. Constancy of a child

XVIII. Many victims of the persecution at Jedo. Mary Jagesa ami her companions. Massacre of children

XIX. Francis Sintaro and Matthias Squiraiemon at Firoxima. John Cuffroi in the Kingdom of Zio

XX. In the island of Nancaia, Isabella, mother of Damian, and his family; Mary, widow of John Sucamota, and his four sons

XXI. In the Kingdom of Firando, Michael Fiemon and his family

XXII. Five religious burnt alive at Omura. Leo Misaqui and his three sons, at Bungo

XXIII. Caius and James Coici, burnt at Omura

XXIV. Organtin Tanxu, and Lucy, his wife, burnt at Funai

XXV. Monica Oiva, killed by her relatives at Cubota. Thirty-two martyrs burnt alive

XXVI. Peter Cabioieand Susanna, John Naisen and Monica, young Louis, and their companions, executed at Nangasaki

XXVII. Frightful persecution in the Kingdom of Arima. Joachim Minesuiedai, Caspar Nagaiosan, Louis Xinsaburo, John Tempei, Bartholomew Sanuiemon, Simon Keisaiemon, Paul Uchibori, Leonard Massudadeuzo, and their companions

XXVIII. Persecution in the principality of Jonezava. Louis Yemondono and his family, Paul Xiquibu, Anthony Anazava, and their companions

XXIX. Persecution pushed to;he last degree of violence at Nangasaki. Isabella and Simeon. Father Anthony Iscida

XXX. James Cufioie; Mary, his mother; Leo Tasuque, his father-in-law; and his family

XXXI. Extreme cruelties exercised in the Kingdom of Arima. Thomas Quichibioie and his companions. Remarkable punishment of the tyrant

XXXII. Last efforts of the missionaries. Father Sebastian Vieyra. End of the mission

Conclusion

Hymns

On the tomb of Alexander the Great. Eternal Maxims. Paraphrase on the words of St. Aloysius. Affections to Jesus and to Mary. Lines sung during the

missions

Cantoncine Spirituali

Sopra la Sepoltura d’ Alessandro il Grande. Sopra le Massime Eteme. Canzoncina di San Luigi Gonzaga. Affetti verso Gesu Sacramentato

Appendix: Japan and the Holy See

Table of the Holy Martyrs according to the order in which they are given in the calendar

Chronological Table for Part I

Alphabetical Index
« Last Edit: February 17, 2020, 07:17:25 AM by Xavier »
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Offline Xavier

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Re: Victories of the Martyrs.
« Reply #1 on: February 17, 2020, 07:18:08 AM »
NOTICE.

St. Alphonsus was in his eightieth year when he wrote the Victories of the Martyrs, which appeared in the year 1776. He had just been relieved by Pope Pius VI. of the burden of the episcopate, which weighed so heavily upon him, but not of the burden of his Congregation, which furnished him with a retreat that was most laborious. Moreover, he had to compose this work in the midst of the greatest sufferings, says Father Tannoia [1]. The kingdom of Naples, he adds, received this new fruit of the zeal of our saint with general satisfaction; and in the opinion of Canon Fabius Massa, the Church was to derive the greatest profit from it, nothing being better suited, especially in those calamitous times, to strengthen the faith and to enkindle piety.

But the reading of such a book is not less useful in our age, and will be so in every age. The constancy of the faithful will always be tried, piety will always be persecuted, by the enemies of Jesus Christ: All that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution [2]. Other sufferings will also not be wanting; for the road leading to heaven is sown with all kinds of tribulations: Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God [3]. Such was the way in which our divine Saviour walked: Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and so to enter into his glory [4]? And he himself informs us that his disciples and his servants should be treated as he was treated: The disciple is not above the master, nor the servant above his Lord [5]. But he assures us that the trial will never be above our strength, and that he is ready to aid those that call upon him: And God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that which you are able but will also make with temptation issue, that you may be able to bear it [6]. Hence he wishes us to have unshaken confidence while we are in the midst of the most cruel anguish, since beforehand he has made sure our victory: In the world you shall have distress: but have confidence, I have overcome the world [7]. He even wishes that at such a time we should be filled with joy while considering the eternal reward that he has prepared for the pains of a moment: Be glad and rejoice, for your reward is very great in heaven [8]. And when we think of the love that our Saviour has shown us in all that he has done and suffered for us, our hearts are inflamed with gratitude and love towards him; we, then, desire to labor and to suffer yet more for his glory; we desire to sacrifice for him our lives, finding no other happiness than that of suffering and dying for God.

Such are the sentiments that we admire in the athletes of the faith — sentiments with which we feel ourselves sweetly penetrated while reading the Victories of the Martyrs. This volume is a selection of the most beautiful examples drawn from the history of the martyrs of every age and place, after the time of the apostles, and taken from the best sources. We have carefully revised these sources in order to be able to establish the correctness of the narrative according to the intention expressed by the author in his preface. We have at times found it necessary, as was the case in the preceding works, to make certain corrections; we have even here and there added the name of a place or of a person, a date or some trifling circumstance, which the clearness and the interest of the narration seemed to us to demand. When, however, we did not follow the author literally, we only did so in order to render his thought more clear; and when the matter appeared to us to be of some importance, we added a note, so as to give to this good book all the accuracy that the readers might desire. In a word, we have done what we think the author would himself have done, and have written for our time and for those for whom our work is intended, without, however, confounding what is the translator's with what belongs to the author, whose every word has always been sacred to us.

This volume completes the first series of the Ascetical Works, comprising the volumes that are suitable for persons of every age and every state of life. We began the series by the Preparation of Death, and we finish it by the Victories of the Martyrs, who are our principal models after Jesus and Mary, the King and the Queen of martyrs. The other saints had only to follow them; it is thus that they have acquired the same glory. “St. John beheld all the saints clothed in white, and with palms in their hands: Clothed with white robery and palms in their hands (9). The palm is the symbol of martyrs; and yet all the saints did not suffer martyrdom; — why, then, do all the saints bear palms in their hands? St. Gregory replies, that all the saints have been martyrs either of the sword or of patience; so that he adds, ‘We can be martyrs without the sword, if we keep patience.’” [10] We can even obtain many times the merit of the martyrs and increase the value of our crown by acts of a good-will, as is explained in the Introduction. [11]

But our revered author was not satisfied with telling us how we may imitate the heroes of faith; he shows us this much better in his wonderful life, which was a prodigy of patience and long martyrdom. There are but few saints who suffered as much as he suffered.

He was his own tyrant and his own executioner. Although he had never committed a grievous sin from his youth, yet, impelled by his ardent love for Jesus Christ, he gave himself up to the most cruel penances, and God permitted that he could continue them to the age of nearly ninety-one years. He regarded himself as a victim that was to be entirely immolated to divine love without the least reserve; and convinced that this love is manifested by labor and suffering, as he himself teaches us [12], he thought only of laboring and suffering as much as possible for God. But obedience being better than sacrifice, he bound himself by a vow to follow in all things the advice of the director of his conscience, in which he recognized the divine will. By renouncing all worldly hopes, he condemned himself to a life of extreme poverty; his garments, his furniture, and everything that he used, even when he was a bishop, bore the impress of this virtue, and reduced him to what was strictly necessary. At night he took his short repose on a simple straw mattress, and sometimes on a plank; and when travelling, if he could not go on foot, he would use only a donkey for riding. He took but little nourishment, and was careful to mix it with bitter herbs so as to render its taste very disagreeable; and this he often ate on his knees or sitting on the floor. Besides the ordinary fast and abstinence, he fasted on bread and water on all Saturdays and vigils of the principal feasts When he studied or wrote, he would stand with small stones in his shoes in order to suffer. He severely scourged himself everyday, and frequently to blood; he used, besides, little chains, hair-cloth, and other instruments for the purpose of continually tormenting his flesh. One evening, worn out with fatigue, he fell down in his room, having swooned away, and remained unconscious the whole night and the greater part of the following day; the doctor ordered him to be disrobed, and on him was found a hair-shirt that covered his whole body. From this we may form an idea of his austerities, which he strove so much to conceal from the eyes of men. To these self-inflicted penalties must be added his great labors in the midst of pain, solicitude, and continual trials.

Our saint had at one time conceived the idea to devote himself to the Chinese missions, and he was anxious to know God's holy will in regard to this matter; but the Lord deigned to call him to another apostolate. Obedient to the voice of Heaven, he generously undertook the work of his Institute, notwithstanding numerous obstacles. When, after having laid the foundation, he saw himself all at once abandoned by his first companions, far from yielding to the efforts of hell to discourage him, he bound himself by a formal vow, under pain of grave sin, to persevere in his vocation, should he have to remain alone, and to offer himself as a sacrifice for the salvation of souls. Wishing to consecrate himself unreservedly, during his whole life, to the service of God, he made another vow, which the Bull of his canonization declares to be very difficult, and till that time unheard of, namely, never to allow a moment to pass without employing it in some useful work. Heaven blessed these magnanimous acts. The devil, however, although always conquered by him, never ceased to excite against him a thousand contradictions, unjust prejudices, perfidious accusations, endless intrigues, law-suits, threats, and odious attacks. His enemies went so far as to bribe an infamous creature to sully his reputation and that of the missionaries. A man of influence, who was leading a scandalous life, took with him one day a troop of assassins for the purpose of murdering him; but he was arrested on the way. The saint, on learning the danger that threatened him, quietly said: “He may take my life if he pleases; in this way I shall obtain the crown of martyrdom.”

It was a remarkable thing that his own friends were the cause of affliction to him no less than his enemies. As soon as they heard of the design that he had formed of founding a new Congregation of missionaries, nearly all of them turned against him. Those who but recently admitted his talents and his virtues allowed a change to come over them in their conduct towards him, looking upon him as an extravagant and fanatical man, a visionary filled with self-conceit, the sport of a foolish illusion; without consideration they heaped upon him, both in public and private, the most humiliating reproaches; everywhere there were persons that vied with one another to decry him; and men in authority that were secretly his guides and his support did not dare to permit him to use their testimonials that he might defend himself. His associates of the Propaganda wished even to exclude him from their society and to deprive him of a benefice that was his only support. Those that had declared themselves against him triumphed, especially when it became known that his first attempt had failed, and that he now found himself abandoned by his companions; he was regarded as one that was irretrievably lost; no one dared to take up his defence; and he was even referred to from the pulpit as a melancholy instance. The confusion and the anguish of our saint reached their highest point. Yet the most cruel trial to which his heart had to submit came from the excessive tenderness of his father when it became necessary for him to tear himself away from his gentle embraces in order to proceed to the place whither God was calling him.

The Lord, moreover, reserved for his virtue many other assaults, and these came from his own children, and from the common Father of the faithful, by whom he was loved and venerated, and to whom he was always perfectly devoted. Alphonsus had known how to avoid the episcopate, of which the thought alone made him tremble. He had already thought himself free from all danger, when, at the age of sixty-six and under the burden of grave infirmities, he found it suddenly imposed upon him by the irrevocable command of Clement XIII. This was for the poor old man like a thunderbolt, which he appeared only to survive by a miracle. After having carried this heavy burden for thirteen years, with a courage that was truly heroic, he was finally relieved of the episcopate owing to the infirmities that were overwhelming him. It was then believed that he would finish his days in peace among his own children, but he was really going to empty the cup of bitterness that was yet far from being empty. The enemies of his Congregation never ceased to compass his ruin by all imaginable proceedings. His Congregation was continually hovering between life and death; but they were unsuccessful in their criminal designs. When this violent storm appeared to have subsided and peace was restored, the devil succeeded in stirring up, in the Institute itself, a domestic war that shook it in its very foundation.

This was caused by some subjects that abused the confidence of the holy Founder, and turned against him. He was shamefully calumniated at Rome in the midst of such a concourse of circumstances that it was impossible for him to defend himself. He was accused of having infringed his Rule, and consequently the authority of the Holy See that had approved it. He was judged and was treated as the author of a culpable act of which he was only the principal victim. Pius VI., prepossessed by false reports and deceived by every appearance of truth, believed it to be his duty to condemn him, to depose him from his office of Superior-General, and even to exclude him from his dear Congregation. Our saint, aged eighty-four years, suffering and powerless, received this news without being able to answer; his heart was, moreover, filled with great sorrow in being obliged to see his most worthy children involved in his own disgrace, and the great injury to souls that would be the result. There was no one left to console him; humble and resigned, he profoundly bent his head, and said: “It is only God whom I desire; it is sufficient if his grace is not wanting to me. The Pope wishes it so; may God be praised! The will of the Pope is the will of God.” He was for several years suffering under this fatal blow, the hardest that could have been inflicted upon him; and it was only after his death that the Holy Father learned the entire truth, and became fully convinced of his innocence.

God permitted this event in order to give his servant an occasion to exercise till the end his great virtue, and to acquire very great merits. But this was not all: he still had to suffer a long and painful martyrdom, both in his body and in his soul.

At the beginning of his apostolic career he was affected by two mortal illnesses in consequence of his excessive labors; his recovery was obtained only through the particular help of the Blessed Virgin. In his fifty-second year he was taken with a violent asthma that endangered his life; he was relieved of this trouble, but continued to suffer from it ever after. The violence that he had to do to himself in order to accept the episcopal charge again reduced him to extremity; he rallied with great difficulty, and had a relapse during the first visitation of his diocese, about two years after. Each time his case was despaired of, the last sacraments had to be administered to him, and preparations were made for his funeral; but his course was not yet finished. It was in the seventy-second year of his age, in 1768, that he was attacked by his most cruel malady. An extremely painful rheumatism, which at first was thought to be sciatica, gradually encroached upon all his joints and ended by affecting the vertebrae of his neck. His head was very much bent over, so that his chin rested on his breast, where the pressure of the beard produced a painful wound. As the sick man suffered without complaint, this wound was only perceived when the vitiated eruption flowing from it attracted the attention of the doctors. All his members were contracted, and the body, when viewed from behind, appeared to be without a head. The holy bishop had to remain painfully seated in an arm-chair, during the night as well as during the day, and could not lie down, nor dress, nor move, nor rest. However, at the end of a few months he became convalescent; but he continued to suffer, and it was no longer possible for him to raise his head during the nineteen years that he still lived. Nothing was more wonderful than his patience and his resignation during this painful sickness; and yet great was the constancy of his zeal to perform the exercises of piety, to mortify himself, to apply himself to the duties of his charge, notwithstanding all his sufferings.

And to all this we must add his interior trials with which the others cannot be compared. Alphonsus was a little more than thirty-three years old when God subjected him to this terrible cross. His life was then only a life of aridity and desolation. At the altar he found himself without devotion; prayer had become to him most irksome. “I go to Jesus Christ,” he used to say, “and he repels me; I have recourse to Mary, and she is deaf to my voice.” A most sensible privation fora soul that has tasted heavenly delights, and that now, plunged into darkness, sees only misery, and fears to have made itself unworthy of the presence of its Beloved! But it was, above all, during the last period of his life that our saint had to undergo the most frightful combats. It seems that God had given to the devil the power to afflict him as he afflicted Job. After having struck him in his body and in his religious family, having made him fall into disgrace with the Sovereign Pontiff, the tempter represented to him these evils as the punishment of his sins, and wished to persuade him that God had abandoned him. The poor old man was then heard to cry out in a heart-rending voice: “Help me; the devil wishes to make me despair. Help me; I do not wish to offend God.” The enemy being repulsed, returned again and again to the charge, seeking to take him by surprise. He attacked him in different ways — by darkness, scruples, fears, perplexities, horrible temptations. He even appeared to him under the form of different persons, and now flattered him to inspire him with the sentiment of vanity, now endeavored to make him believe that he was a reprobate. But in his distress the saint never omitted to invoke Jesus and Mary, and assistance was given to him.

We give but a cursory view of what Alphonsus suffered during his long career. Would it not have been much more agreeable to him to shed his blood by the hand of the executioner, in the midst of the most cruel tortures, with the consolation of sacrificing his life for Jesus Christ as he desired to do? and would not his merits have been proportionate to his trials and to his fidelity? We should, therefore, be convinced that he bears a brilliant palm in the assembly of the celestial conquerors.

O great saint, who hast done so much to draw us to God, to show us the way to salvation, and to conduct us to it by thy example! now that thou dost occupy so high a rank in glory, assist us from the heights of heaven; obtain for us the grace to follow thee at least from afar; or rather, obtain for us the grace generously to walk in thy footsteps. Obtain for us great humility, great confidence in the divine mercy, great faith, great patience in trials, great love, great courage, great devoted ness until the last breath. Obtain for us by thy prayers that we may reach a place near to thee, so that thou mayest present us as thy conquest for Jesus Christ. Amen.

Ed.

1. Book iv. Chap. 3 (7).

2. “Omnes qui pie volunt vivere in Christo Jesu, persecutionem patientur.” — 2 Tim. iii. 12.

3. “Per multas tribulationes oportet nos intrare in regnum Dei.” — Acts, xiv. 21.

4. “Nonne haec oportuit pati Christum, et ita intrare in gloriam suam 7” — Luke, xxiv. 26.

5. “Non est discipulus super magistrum, nec servus super dominum suum.” — Matt. x. 24.

6. “Fidelis autem Deus est, qui non patietur vos tentari supra id quod potestis; sed faciet etiam cum tentatione proventum, ut possitis sustinere.” — 1 Cor. x. 13.

7. “In mundo pressuram habebitis; sed confidite, ego vici mundum.” — John, xvi. 33.

8. “Gaudete et exsultate, quoniam merces vestra copiosa est in coelis.” — Matt, v. 12.

9. “Amicti stolis albis, et palmis in manibus eorum.” — Apoc. vii. 9.

10. Practice of the Love of Jesus Christ, vol. vi. page 308 or 309.

11. See Introduction IV, VI.

12. Sure Signs of Divine Love, vol. ii. page 492.

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Re: Victories of the Martyrs.
« Reply #2 on: February 17, 2020, 07:19:03 AM »
Introduction.

USEFUL REFLECTIONS

BY WHICH WE MAY DERIVE GREAT FRUIT FROM THE READING OF THE COMBATS AND THE VICTORIES OF THE MARTYRS.

I. Virtues Practised by the Holy Martyrs in the Combats that they had to Sustain against their Persecutors.

If the reading of the Lives of the Saints is a great means to preserve piety, as is said by St. Philip Neri,[1] and as is taught by all the masters of spiritual life, we shall find it yet more useful to read about the victories that the holy martyrs gained by sacrificing their lives amid torments. Hence, before relating their individual triumphs, we shall consider, to our spiritual advantage, the principal virtues of which they gave proofs in their combats.

There is no doubt that the martyrs are indebted for their crown to the power of the grace which they received from Jesus Christ; for he it is that gave them the strength to despise all the promises and all the threats of tyrants, and to endure all the torments till they had made an entire sacrifice of their lives. So that all their merits, as St. Augustine writes,[2] were the effects of the grace that God in his mercy imparted to them. But it is also certain, and even of faith, that on their part the martyrs co-operated with the grace which enabled them to obtain their victory. Innovators have blasphemed against this truth, saying that all the crimes of the wicked and all the good works of the just are the offspring of necessity; but the same St. Augustine gives them the lie when he says that in this case no reward or punishment would be just.[3]

The martyrs, therefore, acquired great merits, because the virtues of which they gave proofs in their combats were great and heroic. We shall briefly describe these virtues in order that we may imitate them in the tribulations to which we may be exposed in this life.

We at first remark that the martyrs were firmly attached to all the dogmas of the Christian faith. In the first ages of the Church two false religions specially opposed ours: these were the religion of the Gentiles and that of the Jews. The religion of the Gentiles, by admitting several gods, furnished itself the proof of its falsity; for if the world had been under the dominion of several masters, it could not have maintained that regular and constant order which we see has been preserved for so many centuries up to the present time. This is evident even to the eyes of natural reason; for every kingdom divided against itself shall be destroyed. [4] Moreover, the very words of the idolatrous priests clearly demonstrated the falsity of their worship, since the actions that they attributed to their gods represented the latter as filled with passions and vices. This was the way in which the holy martyrs reproached the tyrants when the latter exhorted them to sacrifice to their idols: “How can we,” they said, “adore your gods, if, instead of offering us models of virtue, they exhibit us only examples of vice?” The religion of the Jews, although formerly holy and revealed by God, was at that time not less manifestly obsolete and false. In fact, in the Scriptures themselves which they had received from God, had preserved with so much care, and had transmitted to us, it was predicted that at a certain time the Son of God was to come down upon earth, to become man, and to die for he salvation of the world; that they themselves would put him to death on the Cross as they actually did, and that in punishment of this impiety they would be driven from their own kingdom, and without a king, without a temple, without a country, they would live scattered, and be vagabonds throughout the world, abhorred and despised by all nations. These were predictions that were manifestly realized in every particular after the death of the Saviour.

What rendered still more certain the truth of our faith was the formation of a new people of God by the conversion of the Gentiles: this was known to have been announced beforehand in the Scriptures, and this was seen to be realized as soon as the apostles spread through, out the world in order to promulgate the New Law preached by Jesus Christ. This event was an evident proof of the protection that God gave to the Christian religion; for how could these poor sinners or these publicans, such as the apostles were — men devoid of instruction, of wealth, of every human assistance, and even persecuted by the magistrates and the emperors, have induced, without divine assistance, so many Christians to renounce all their property, all their honors, and generously to sacrifice their lives amid tortures the most excruciating that the power and the cruelty of the tyrants could invent?

But what was still more marvellous was to behold so many Gentiles embrace a religion difficult to believe and difficult to practise. It was difficult to believe on the part of the intellect, for this religion teaches mysteries beyond the reach of human reason; namely, the Trinity of one God in three distinct persons, who have but one nature, one power, and one will; the Incarnation of the Son of God come upon earth to die for the salvation of mankind; and many other articles regarding original sin, the spirituality and the immortality of the soul, the sacraments, especially the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. It was difficult to practise on the part of the will, because it commands things contrary to the inclinations of nature corrupted by sin and repugnant to the libertinism in which the pagans were living, who were accustomed to follow their passions and to give themselves up to the pleasures of the senses. Notwithstanding these obstacles, the Christian religion saw itself embraced by so many nations! From this universal consent of the nations St. Augustine argues the divinity of our religion, saying that had not God illuminated by his powerful grace so many people — civilized and barbarian, learned and illiterate, noble and plebeian, all immersed in the superstitions of their country, imbued from their earliest years with maxims so opposed to the sanctity of faith — how could they have embraced it?

Besides the interior lights of grace, there were many other causes that induced the people to embrace Christianity and to remain firm in professing it. Miracles contributed much to inflame their zeal; for from the moment in which the apostles began to preach, the Lord caused miracles to abound in testimony of the faith, as St. Mark says: They preached everywhere, the Lord working withal, and confirming the word with signs that followed.[5] It is certain that the great miracles that had been wrought by the apostles and their disciples contributed largely to the conversion of the world. In vain the adherents of idolatry tried to make believe that these prodigies were the effect of magical incantations: every one well understood that God would never permit them if they were to serve the purpose of giving support to diabolical agency or to a false religion. The proof of miracles was therefore a truly divine proof, by which the Lord confirmed the Christian religion and the faith of believers.

The faith became further strengthened by the constancy of martyrs of both sexes, of every age and condition: men and women, the aged and the young, the noble and the plebeian, the rich and the poor, the learned and the unlearned, married and single. They were seen to renounce their homes, their parents, their titles, their fortunes, and everything they possessed, to embrace scourges, racks, fire, torture, and to encounter death under its most horrible shapes; and all this not only with courage, but with joyfulness and thanksgiving to God, who made them worthy to suffer and die for his love. St. Justin, who was himself a martyr, confessed that this heroic virtue of the Christians had been to him a powerful stimulus to embrace the faith![6]

The martyrs received great courage in their sufferings from the desire of quickly arriving at the fruition of the promises made by Jesus Christ to his followers: Blessed are ye when they shall revile you and persecute you. ... Be glad and rejoice, for your reward is very great in heaven.[7] Every one therefore that shall confess me before men I will also confess him before my Father who is in heaven.[8]

But what above all filled the martyrs with courage and ardor and made them wish to die was their great love for their divine Master, whom St. Augustine [9] calls the King of Martyrs, who wished to die on the Cross in pain and in desolation for the love of us, as St. Paul says: He loveth us, and hath delivered himself for us.[10] Actuated by this love, they went with joy to suffer and to die for Jesus Christ; so that, not content to endure the pains that were inflicted upon them, they besought, they provoked the executioners and the tyrants, to obtain from them an increase of torture, in order that they might show themselves more grateful to God who died for love of them.

Hence it came to pass, according to St. Justin, that in the course of three centuries the whole earth was filled with Christians and martyrs. “There is no nation, Greek or barbarian,” writes the holy martyr to Trypho, “that does not offer prayers and thanksgivings to the Creator of the universe by invoking the name of Jesus Christ.”[11] St. Irenaeus,[12] in like manner, attests that at his time the faith of Jesus Christ was extended over the entire world. Pliny, in his celebrated letter to the Emperor Trajan,[13] declared that the Christian faith was extended to such a degree that the temples of the gods were abandoned, and that victims were no longer offered to the idols. And Tiberian also wrote to the same emperor that it would be unwise to put to death all the Christians, since the number of those who were anxious to die for Jesus Christ was incalculable.[14]

From these facts Clement of Alexandria [15] subsequently inferred, that if God himself had not upheld the Christian faith, it never could have withstood the efforts of so many philosophers who endeavored to obscure it with sophisms, or the violence of so many kings and emperors who labored to extinguish it by persecution. The number of Christians, far from having been diminished by the slaughter of the saints, became so wonderfully increased, that Tertullian said: “Our number grows in the same measure that you decimate us; the blood of the Christians is a sort of seed.”[16] He used the word seed because the blood of the martyrs was that which multiplied the faithful. Tertullian, indeed, boasted of this, and upbraided the tyrants with their impotency; since, notwithstanding all their endeavors to exterminate the followers of the Gospel, the streets, the forum, and even the senate, were filled with Christians. Origen likewise writes: “It is a thing worthy to be observed, and eminently calculated to excite wonder, to behold the steady progress of the Christian religion, in spite of the most untiring persecution and continual martyrdoms.” “Greeks and barbarians,” continues this celebrated writer, “the wise and the unlearned, voluntarily embraced it; from which we may conclude that its propagation was due to a power superior to the human.”[17]

Before the end of the second century, we are assured by Tertullian, all nations (universa gentes) had embraced the faith of Jesus. He makes special mention of the Parthians, Medes, and Elamites, the inhabitants of Mesopotamia, of Armenia, and of Phrygia, of Cappadocia, Pontus, Asia, Pamphylia, Egypt, Cirenasia, and Palestine; the Gethuli, the entire of Spain, many of the Gallic tribes, Bretagne, the Sarmatians, the Dacians, the Scythians, and many remote nations, provinces, and islands.[18] Arnobius,[19] who died a hundred years after Tertullian, adds to the list of those converted to the faith, the Indians, the Sarii, the Persians, and the Medes; Arabia, Syria, Gallacia, Acaja, Macedonia, and Epirus, with all the islands and provinces from the rising to the setting sun.” Besides those regions enumerated by Tertullian, St. Athanasius, half a century afterwards, mentions others. Writing to the Emperor Jovinian, he says: “Know that this faith has been preached from the beginning, approved by the Nicene Fathers, and professed by all the Churches of the world — in Spain, in England, and in Gaul; throughout the entire of Italy, in Dalmatia, Dacia, Mysia, and Macedonia; in all Greece, and in all Africa; in Sardinia, Cyprus, Crete, Pamphylia, Lysia, and Isauria; in Egypt and Lybia, in Pontus and Cappadocia. With the exception of a few of the Arian faction, we may add all the nearer Churches, as well as those of the East.”

Thus we see that, after the ten persecutions of the Roman emperors, which lasted for more than two hundred years, beginning from the first under Nero, the greater part of the human race, having abandoned the worship of false deities, had embraced the doctrines of Christianity. Finally, after so many struggles, it pleased the Almighty Disposer of events to grant peace to his Church under Constantine. This emperor was, after a miraculous manner, chosen by Heaven for the carrying out of the merciful dispensations of divine Providence. Having first overcome Maxentius, and afterwards Licinius, in the strong arm of the Lord, — for, as Eusebius relates, in whatever direction the Labarum, or standard of the cross, appeared, the enemy either fled or surrendered, — after peace had been established he forbade the Gentiles to sacrifice any longer to their idols, and caused magnificent temples to be erected to the honor of Jesus Christ. And oh, how glorious did not the Church then appear! still more widely extending her blessed influence, and, with every new conquest, bringing additional joy to the hearts of her once persecuted children! Then ceased the torments of the martyr, and with them the bitter calumnies of the idolater. Busy multitudes of zealous converts were to be seen in every city destroying the idols which they once adored, pulling down the ancient shrines of superstition, and erecting new altars to the worship of the true God! The confines of so vast an empire were too narrow a limit for the active zeal of the great Constantine. He labored to propagate the saving doctrines of religion in Persia and among the barbafous nations he had subdued; nor would he, according to Eusebius [20] and Socrates,[21] grant them the amity of the Roman Empire, except upon the condition of their becoming Christians.

True it is that from time to time divers heresies have sprung up in the Church, which have been productive of much evil; but the hand of the Lord hath not been shortened.[22] Even in these latter days we have had authentic accounts of many considerable acquisitions made by the Church, both among heretics and pagans. A learned author writes that ten thousand Arians have recently been converted in Transylvania. In Prussia an additional number of Catholic churches have been erected. In Denmark the public profession of the Catholic religion is now tolerated. The missions in England are being carried on with very happy results. We have been assured by persons of authority and undoubted veracity, that in the East forty thousand Armenian and other oriental heretics have been received into the communion of our holy Church; that in Syria, Palestine, Egypt, and Chaldea the number of Catholics is every day increasing; and that during the last few years several Nestorian Bishops have abjured the errors of that sect. Finally, during the present century a considerable number of Pagans have been converted in India and China.[23]

But to return to the martyrs. The number of Christians who had received the crown of martyrdom, previous to the accession of Constantine, was almost incredible. Many authors calculate the number of those who had laid down their lives for the faith to have been nearly eleven millions! So that if this number were equally distributed in the course of one year, thirty thousand would be allotted to each day.

Oh, the beautiful harvest of holy martyrs that paradise has reaped since the preaching of the Gospel! But, O God! what will be, on the day of general judgment, the confusion of the tyrants and of all the persecutors of the faith, at the sight of the martyrs once so despised and so maltreated by them, when these celestial heroes shall appear in glory, extolling the greatness of God, and armed with the sword of divine justice to avenge themselves for all the injuries and cruelties exercised against them, as was foretold by David: The high praises of God in their mouths, and two-edged swords in their hands to execute vengeance upon the nations; to bind their kings in fetters, and their nobles in manacles of iron.[24] Then shall the martyrs judge the Neros, the Domitians, and other persecutors, and shall condemn them; yea, as we read in the Gospel of St. Matthew, even to the exterior darkness, where there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth:.[25]

But it will be for us a subject of more profitable meditation to reflect upon another scene which the great day of general and irrevocable doom will present — the despair of so many Christians who, having died in mortal sin, will behold with unavailing anguish the triumph of so many martyrs, who, rather than lose God, suffered themselves to be despoiled of all things, and underwent the most horrid torments that hell could suggest or tyrants inflict; while they, rather than yield a point of honor or forego a momentary gratification, despised the suggestions of divine grace, and lost their souls forever!

1. Bacci, 1. 2, ch. 5.

2. Conf. Book 9, c. 13. — S. 131, it. 3.

3. “Sive autem iniquitas, sive justitia, si in potestate non esset, nullum praemium, nulla poena justa esset.” — Contra Faust. 1. 22, c. 78.

4. “Omne regnum in seipsum divisum desolabitur.” — Luke, xi. 17.

5. “Praedicaverunt ubique, Domino cobperante et sermonem confirmante sequentibus signis.” — Mark, xvi. 20.

6. Apolog. 1.

7. “Beati estis, cum maledixerint vobis, ct persecuti vos fuerint… Gaudete et exsultate, quoniam merces vestra copiosa est in coelis.” — Matt. v. 11.

8. “Omnis ergo qui confitebitur me coram hominibus, confitebor et ego eum coram Patre meo, qui in coelis est.” — Matt. x. 32.

9. In Ps. lxiii.

10. “Dilexit nos, et tradidit semetipsum pro nobis.” — Eph. v. 2.

11. Dial, cum Triph.

12. Adv. Hares. 1. 3, c. 11.

13. Lib. 10, Ep. 97.

14. Suidas, Hist. v. Trajanus.

15. Strom. 1. 6.

16. Apologet. c. 50.

17. Dc Princip. 1. 4, c. 1.

18. Adv. Judæos.

19. Adv. Gent. 1. 2.

20. Vita Const. 1. 2, c. 7, 45, 46.

21. Hist. 1. 1, c. 18.

22. Is. lix. 1.

23. No, certainly, “the hand of the Lord hath not been shortened. We see this at all times displaying itself with a new lustre. At the time when St. Alphonsus wrote this sketch, more than a century ago, one of the most terrible trials to which the Church had to submit began by the suppression of the Jesuits, and ended in the French Revolution. The altar and the throne were overturned; the last trace of them was to be effaced; the blood of the martyrs flowed in torrents; the Sovereign Pontiff, despoiled of his States, was dragged into exile, where he died. The Church appeared annihilated in the eyes of her enemies, when she rose again with Pius VII., who, chosen miraculously at Venice, proceeded without hindrance to Rome and sat triumphantly on his throne in sight of an astonished world. His invincible patience, resting only on God, overcame all the artifices and all the violence of a tyrant who was then all-powerful, of whom God made an illustrious example of his justice and mercy. At the present day we see that three things are lying in the abyss opened by impiety to ingulf religion. These three things are Josephism, Gallicanism, and Jansenism. Not only is divine worship re-established in France, but this fertile land, notwithstanding the efforts of hell, produces a multitude of new institutions, fruits of the noblest zeal, such as the admirable work of the Propagation of the Faith. The same religious movement signalizes itself in other parts of Europe by many remarkable conversions, notably in Germany, Sweden, and England. The Catholic missions make progress nearly everywhere — in Africa, Asia, America, and Australia, and as far as the innumerable islands of Oceanica, where horrible cannibals become exemplary Christians. Corea counts more than ten thousand followers of Christ and one hundred and forty martyrs before it has even seen a priest; something nearly similar took place among the Indians of the Rocky Mountains in northern Oregon. The pontificate of Pius IX., troubled as was that of Pius VII., is not less fertile in wonders of every kind; thus, among other things, at the moment of peril, a devoted band of young men came from different Catholic countries, closed around the Vicar of Jesus Christ, and did not hesitate to shed their blood in defence of the rights of the Holy See; and when the Holy Father was deprived of necessary resources there was established the Peter’s pence, which extended from Belgium to all other countries, to assist in overcoming falsehood, hypocrisy, and brutal force that had conspired against the Church. The Church of God on earth is always militant; but each of her combats furnishes a new proof of the truth of the infallible words: “The gates of hell shall not prevail against her” (Matt. xvi. 18). — Ed.

24. “Exaltationes Dei in gutture eorum, et gladii ancipites in manibus eorum, ad faciendam vindictam in nationibus, increpationes in populis, ad alligandos reges eorum in compedibus et nobiles eorum in manicis ferreis, ut faciant in eis judicium conscriptum.” — Ps. cxlix. 6.

25. “Ligatis manibus et pedibusejus, mittite eum in tenebras exteriores; ibi erit fletus et stridor dentium.” — Matt, xxii. 13.

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Re: Victories of the Martyrs.
« Reply #3 on: February 17, 2020, 08:12:28 AM »
Marked for later reading. Thanks, brother.
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Re: Victories of the Martyrs.
« Reply #4 on: February 17, 2020, 08:57:07 AM »
Why is this in the Non-Catholic Discussion area?
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Re: Victories of the Martyrs.
« Reply #5 on: February 18, 2020, 01:55:21 PM »
Why is this in the Non-Catholic Discussion area?

My question, too.
 
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Re: Victories of the Martyrs.
« Reply #6 on: February 18, 2020, 02:52:03 PM »
Why is this in the Non-Catholic Discussion area?

For some of the reasons mentioned by St. Alphonsus, and the other Saints he quotes, if you read them. For e.g. that it greatly confirmed them in the Faith, and that it was for others a reason for them to come to embrace it.

See for e.g. this portion "The faith became further strengthened by the constancy of martyrs of both sexes, of every age and condition: men and women, the aged and the young, the noble and the plebeian, the rich and the poor, the learned and the unlearned, married and single. They were seen to renounce their homes, their parents, their titles, their fortunes, and everything they possessed, to embrace scourges, racks, fire, torture, and to encounter death under its most horrible shapes; and all this not only with courage, but with joyfulness and thanksgiving to God, who made them worthy to suffer and die for his love. St. Justin, who was himself a martyr, confessed that this heroic virtue of the Christians had been to him a powerful stimulus to embrace the faith![6]

The martyrs received great courage in their sufferings from the desire of quickly arriving at the fruition of the promises made by Jesus Christ to his followers: Blessed are ye when they shall revile you and persecute you. ... Be glad and rejoice, for your reward is very great in heaven.[7] Every one therefore that shall confess me before men I will also confess him before my Father who is in heaven.[8]

But what above all filled the martyrs with courage and ardor and made them wish to die was their great love for their divine Master, whom St. Augustine [9] calls the King of Martyrs, who wished to die on the Cross in pain and in desolation for the love of us, as St. Paul says: He loveth us, and hath delivered himself for us.[10] Actuated by this love, they went with joy to suffer and to die for Jesus Christ; so that, not content to endure the pains that were inflicted upon them, they besought, they provoked the executioners and the tyrants, to obtain from them an increase of torture, in order that they might show themselves more grateful to God who died for love of them.

Hence it came to pass, according to St. Justin, that in the course of three centuries the whole earth was filled with Christians and martyrs. “There is no nation, Greek or barbarian,” writes the holy martyr to Trypho, “that does not offer prayers and thanksgivings to the Creator of the universe by invoking the name of Jesus Christ.”[11] St. Irenaeus,[12] in like manner, attests that at his time the faith of Jesus Christ was extended over the entire world. Pliny, in his celebrated letter to the Emperor Trajan,[13] declared that the Christian faith was extended to such a degree that the temples of the gods were abandoned, and that victims were no longer offered to the idols. And Tiberian also wrote to the same emperor that it would be unwise to put to death all the Christians, since the number of those who were anxious to die for Jesus Christ was incalculable.[14]

From these facts Clement of Alexandria [15] subsequently inferred, that if God himself had not upheld the Christian faith, it never could have withstood the efforts of so many philosophers who endeavored to obscure it with sophisms, or the violence of so many kings and emperors who labored to extinguish it by persecution"

To continue,

"II. The Advantages of Devout Meditation on the Virtues that the Martyrs Practised during their Sufferings.

From an earnest consideration of the illustrious examples of virtue which the saints have given us during their martyrdom, oh, how much is to be learned!

I. By beholding, in devout meditation, the utter contempt in which they held the world and all the allurements of its pompous vanities, we are taught to despise the fleeting and unsubstantial pleasures which it offers to its deluded votaries. Many of them, previously to having been put to torture, had been offered by the tyrants immense rewards, posts of honor, and noble marriages, to induce them to abandon the faith. Yet they not only indignantly refused them, but willingly renounced the riches and honors which they already held, and offered themselves up to tortures the most excruciating and deaths the most ignominious, in order not to lose those heavenly graces which benign Providence fails not to impart to the servants of the Lord, as the earnest of the eternal blessings which shall be the recompense of their fidelity. To St. Clement of Ancyra the tyrant offered a great quantity of gold and precious stones if he would deny the name of the Lord Jesus; but the saint, raising his eyes to heaven, exclaimed: “And is it thus, O my God, that men treat Thee! — to compare Thee to dust and dross!” The pontifical dignity was offered to St. Theodore of Amasea, as the reward of his apostasy. The holy martyr, ridiculing the proposal, replied: “Pontifical dignity! I am about to enjoy God forever in heaven; and is it likely, think you, that I should prefer remaining on earth, to follow the trade of a cook and a butcher to your false gods?”

II. From the example of the martyrs we learn also to place our confidence only in God, and to become daily more enamoured of the excellence of our faith: since in their constancy we cannot help admiring the wonderful power of God which enabled them to encounter torments and death with heroic fortitude and ecstatic joy.

For without the interposition of the most powerful assistance from heaven, how could the delicate constitution of nervous persons, the tottering decrepitude of age, the timorous disposition of tender virgins, the recklessness of adolescent manhood, or the inconsideration of boyhood years, be equal to tortures, the bare recital of which fills us with horror? Caldrons of boiling oil and liquid pitch, red-hot coats of mail, hooks to pull out the eyes and teeth, iron combs to tear off the flesh; fires quickly to consume, or tediously to torture; scourging until bones and bowels appeared; beheading, quartering, lacerating, impaling — these were only some of the ingredients of the martyr’s cup.

St. Barlaam, a poor laborer of a village in Antioch, having evinced extraordinary fortitude during his sufferings, and having been scourged until the executioners had exhausted their strength, was obliged by the tyrant to hold his hand over the flame that burned before the shrine of an idol. At the same time burning coals and incense were placed upon his hand, in the hope that he might be obliged by the pain to let them fall upon the altar, and thus afford them the opportunity of asserting that he had sacrificed to the idols; but the constancy of the saint was greater than their malice — he allowed his flesh to be burned to the bone, and expired in the effort.

St. Basil and St. John Chrysostom have eulogized this martyr.

St. Eulalia affords another instance of the wonderful aid which the Almighty gives to those who are devoted to his service. She was a youthful virgin, of only twelve years; the tyrant ordered her to be cruelly scourged, and then caused boiling oil to be poured into the wounds, and burning torches to be applied to her breasts and sides. During these tortures she ceased not to praise the Lord. Her joints were entirely dislocated, the flesh torn from her bones with iron hooks, and she was finally burned alive, having baffled the ingenuity of her inhuman executioners.

The martyrdom, also, of St. Vitus and St. Agapitus shows us the wonderful assistance of grace, which never fails the servants of the Lord. The former, when only fourteen years of age, was scourged, racked, and torn with irons. His father, who was a Gentile, wept with anguish to see hisson expire in such torments. “No, father!” exclaimed the boy, “I do not die: I go to live with Christ forever” St. Agapitus, also a youth, evinced the same fortitude: the tyrant threatened that he would place upon his head a red-hot helmet: “And what better fortune could await me,” said the saint, “than to exchange your instrument of torture for a heavenly crown?” Then the emperor ordered that red-hot coals should be placed on his head, that he be scourged, and be suspended by the feet over a thick smoke; he afterwards had boiling water poured over his breast, and finally had him beheaded.

The triumph of divine grace in the aged was manifested in St. Simeon, who at the age of one hundred and twenty endured the most excruciating tortures and expired on a cross, as is related by Eusebius of Caesarea. St. Philip, Bishop of Heraclea, at a most decrepit old age, was dragged by the feet through the city, scourged till his bowels appeared, and afterwards burned alive. The venerable martyr, till his last breath, ceased not to return thanks to the Lord, who had made him worthy to die for his glory.

III. From the patience which the martyrs evinced during their tortures, we should learn to suffer with holy resignation the crosses and afflictions of this life; poverty, sickness, persecution, contumely, injustice, and all other evils, are but trifling when compared with their sufferings. The reflection that it was the will of God that they should suffer for his love, was their only solace. We also in our tribulations should remember the necessity of resignation to the divine will; and, calling to mind the more grievous sufferings of the martyrs, should blush to complain. St. Vincent de Paul used to say: “Conformity to the divine will is a sovereign remedy for all evils.”[1]

It may be useful here to remark, with St. Augustine, that it is not the torture but the cause which maketh the martyr.[2] Whence St. Thomas [3] teaches that martyrdom is to suffer death in the exercise of an act of virtue. From which we may infer that not only he who by the hands of the executioner lays down his life for the faith, but whoever dies to comply with the divine will, and to please God, is a martyr, since in sacrificing himself to the divine love he performs an act of the most exalted virtue. We all have to pay the great debt of nature; let us therefore endeavor, in holy prayer, to obtain resignation to the divine will — to receive death and every tribulation in conformity with the dispensations of his Providence. As often as we shall perform this act of resignation with sufficient fervor, we may hope to be made partakers of the merits of the martyrs. St. Mary Magdalene de Pazzi, in reciting the doxology in the office, always bowed her head in the same spirit as she would have done in receiving the stroke of the executioner.[4]

IV. The examples of the martyrs teach us also to have immediate recourse to the assistance of God, by earnest supplication, when we feel ourselves disconsolate or weak under affliction. Thus did the holy martyrs. As their torture increased, they multiplied their prayers and secured the victory. St. Theodore, after a long endurance of his tortures, was stretched upon burning tiles; feeling the pain penetrating to his very heart, he besought the Lord to mitigate the torture, and persevered to the end. There have, on the contrary, been examples of Christians, who, failing to invoke the assistance of the Almighty, have fallen off from the confession of the faith, and forfeited the glorious crown. An example is found in the acts of the martyrs of Japan. An aged man, having been condemned to a protracted martyrdom, endured the torture for a considerable time, but failing to invoke heavenly aid, denied his faith a few moments before he expired — a startling warning to all, that perseverance in prayer, in times of temptation and distress, is that which alone can insure us the victory.

V. But the most important lesson which we learn from the martyrs is the necessity of the love of God: He who loveth not abideth in death.[5] We cannot manifest our love of God so well by a multitude of actions performed for his glory, as by a willingness to suffer for his sake. St. Gordianus replied to the tyrant, who threatened to put him to death if he did not deny the name of Jesus: “You threaten death! but my greatest regret is, that I can die but once for Jesus Christ.” In a similar manner, St. Procopius exclaimed to the tyrant, who was directing further tortures: “Torment as much as thou wilt, but know that to one who truly loves Jesus Christ, nothing is dearer than to suffer for his sake.” “And did the saints speak thus,” says St. Bernard, “because they were insensible to torments? No,” continues the holy Doctor, “they were neither frantic nor insensible, but their love of Jesus Christ caused them to esteem it all joy to suffer and to die for his glory.” [6] This ardent love of God is certainly the greatest spiritual advantage to be derived from the perusal of the acts of the martyrs; the recollection of their conduct will make us ashamed to repine under the tribulations which divine Providence sends us, and will strengthen us to receive them with resignation.

VI. I add that death, which is the tribute that every one must pay, is the greatest of all our tribulations, and that makes not only sinners but the just tremble. Our Saviour himself as man wished to show the fear that he felt in the face of death, so that he began to pray to his Father to free him from it. But at the same time he teaches us to accept death according to the good pleasure of God by saying: Nevertheless, not my will but thine be done.[7] The following is the way in which we acquire the glory of martyrdom: It is by accepting death to please God and to conform to his will; for, as we have remarked above with St. Augustine, not the pain, but the cause of death, or the end for which one submits to it, is that which makes martyrs. It follows that he who dies, in courageously accepting death and all the pains that accompany it, to accomplish the divine will, though he does not receive death by the hands of the executioner, dies, however, with the merit of martyrdom, or at least with a very similar merit. It also follows that as often as any one offers himself to undergo martyrdom for the love of God, so often he gains the merit of martyrdom. We have seen above [8] the example of St. Mary Magdalene of Pazzi, who when she inclined the head at the Glory be to the Father, imagined that at the same moment she was receiving the stroke of the executioner. Hence we shall see in heaven a great number of saints doubly crowned with the merit of martyrdom without having been martyred.

VII. Finally, we should be moved to recommend ourselves every day, with great confidence, to the intercession of the holy martyrs, whose prayers are most efficacious with God. When we suffer some grievous pain, or when we desire a special favor, let us make a novena or a triduum in honor of the holy martyrs, and we shall easily obtain the grace. Let us not fail to honor them, says St. Ambrose; for they are our princes in the faith and our powerful intercessors.[9] If the Lord promises a reward to him who gives a drink of water to a poor man, [1] what will he not do for those who sacrificed their lives in the midst of torments! Let us here observe that the martyrs, before receiving the mortal blow, without doubt prepared themselves many times for the many tortures and for death, so that when they closed their earthly career they died with the merit not only of one martyrdom, but with the merit of all those martyrdoms that they had already accepted and offered sincerely to God. Hence we may imagine with what abundance of merits they entered heaven, and how valuable is their mediation with God.

A Prayer to the Holy Martyrs to obtain their Protection.

O ye blessed Princes of the heavenly kingdom! ye who sacrificed to the Almighty God the honors, the riches, and possessions of this life, and have received in return the unfading glory and never-ending joys of heaven! ye who are secure in the everlasting possession of the brilliant crown of glory which your sufferings have obtained! — look with compassionate regards upon our wretched state in this valley of tears, where we groan in the uncertainty of what may be our eternal destiny. And from that divine Saviour, for whom you suffered so many torments, and who now repays you with so unspeakable glory, obtain for us that we may love him with all our heart, and receive in return the grace of perfect resignation under the trials of this life, fortitude under the temptations of the enemy, and perseverance to the end. May your powerful intercession obtain for us that we may one day in your blessed company sing the praises of the Eternal, and, even as you now do, face to face, enjoy the beatitude of his vision!

1. Abelly, 1. 3, ch. 9.

2. “Martyres veros, non poena facit, sed causa.” — Epist. 89, E. B.

3. 2. 2, q. 124, a. 5.

4. The same idea is repeated, page 39.

5. “Qui non diligit, manet in morte.” — 1 John, iii. 14.

6. “Neque hoc facit stupor, sed amor.” — In Cant. s. 6i.

7. “Verumtamen, non sicut ego volo, sed sicut tu.” — Matt. xxvi. 39.

8. Page 37.

9. “Honoremus beatos Martyres, principes fidei, intercessores iriundi.” — Serm. 92.

10. Matt, x. 42,"
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Re: Victories of the Martyrs.
« Reply #7 on: February 18, 2020, 02:55:56 PM »
III. The Various Tortures to which the Martyrs were Subjected.

The Rev. Father Mamachi, in his erudite and labored work entitled “Manners and Customs of the First Christians,”[1] gives an account of all these tortures suffered by the martyrs, from the works of ancient writers who were their contemporaries, as St. Justin, Tertullian, Athenagoras, Origen, Eusebius of Caesarea, Clement of Alexandria, and others. This author describes at much length the various species of torture employed against the servants of Jesus Christ during the ten persecutions of the Roman emperors; we shall be more brief, as our intention is merely to show how rich in merit those sainted heroes closed their earthly career.

I. THE MARTYRDOM OF THE CROSS.

Some were crucified in an erect posture, as was our Lord Jesus Christ; others with the head downwards, as St. Peter, according to Eusebius, who relates this on the authority of Origen; others in the manner in which the martyrdom of St. Andrew is represented. Many were made to pass their arms under the transverse beam of the cross, and had their hands nailed upon the upper part. Some were suspended from a tree by the hands, their arms having been first tied behind their backs, and heavy weights attached to their feet. Women were hung up by the hair, the agony of which torture was sufficient to cause death; others were hung by one or both feet, with the head downwards, and in many cases a large stone tied round the neck; finally, many had their hands nailed to a beam, with enormous weights at their feet.

2. THE MARTYRDOM OF FIRE.

Some were placed upon gridirons, others plunged into caldrons of boiling oil or pitch. Many were suffocated with smoke, or dressed in a garment smeared with some combustible matter, and so burned at a stake. Some were cast into fiery furnaces; more were crowded into a ship, which was set on fire at sea; others were inclosed in a brazen bull and roasted alive; more were tortured by red-hot plates of iron applied to their sides; some, finally, were thrown upon the earth, and molten lead poured over them, or were impaled upon a spit, and roasted before a slow fire.

3. THE TORTURE OF THE SCOURGE.

Scourges were of various kinds — of leather, of cane, of the tendons of oxen, of iron links, and sometimes of rods of iron, shaped like thorns, which were called scorpions. The martyrs were generally tied to a post, or between four posts, to increase their punishment; but some were placed in a kind of stock. This stock consisted of two large pieces of wood, one above the other, between which the feet of the sufferers [1] were confined, and in this torture they were sometimes scourged, others were thrown with their backs on a table filled with large nails, then struck with sticks or rods.

4. THE TORTURE OF THE IRONS.

These were iron hooks on which the Christians were suspended, and iron claws that served to tear them to the bone and to their very entrails. Other instruments were destined to pull out all their teeth, one after the other. Their flesh was lacerated with iron combs, or they were flayed. They were tied to the ground and were cut with blows of the hatchet, or their members were gradually cut to pieces, from the toes till their thighs, and from the fingers to the breasts, so that nothing was left but the trunk. They were stretched with their backs against a wheel that made them move on sharp irons fixed in the ground; or they were tied upon a table, then disembowelled, and their intestines taken out.

5. OTHER TORTURES.

The martyrs were also tortured on the rack, and with other torments. Sometimes they were exposed to the sun, their bodies being rubbed with honey so that they might be stung by the flies and wasps. They were made to die in different ways. They were stoned, beheaded, strangled, drowned. There were some who were tied to two trees that had been bent by main force, which when released would tear them to pieces. Others tied in a bag were thrown into the sea, or thrown to the dogs or wild beasts. Some were made to die under the press; others perished from hunger.[2]

1. L. 2, ch. 6,

2. There was another instrument of torture which is called in Latin Nervus. It was a wooden machine destined to confine the feet, and sometimes the neck and the hands; it had several holes at different distances from one another. Hence it is said of certain martyrs that their feet were stretched as far as the fourth or fifth hole. — Ep,

3. In Part II. we shall see several other tortures invented by the refined cruelty of the Japanese, — Ed.

PREFACE.

It is not our intention to give, in this work, a history of all the martyrs who have glorified the Church; but, without subjecting ourselves to any order of time or of persons,[1] merely to relate the victories of some saints who showed the greatest courage in their combats, and suffered the most horrible tortures that could have been invented by the tyrants.

In some of our narrations the reader may find himself at a loss to account for such barbarity and fierceness as the tyrants practised upon the martyrs, whose innocence and meekness might be expected to save them from persecution. Let us consider whence this fury came.

It at first originated in the hatred which the Pagans bore towards, Christians, whose virtues were the strongest censure upon their infamous lives.

It was also caused by the instigation of the devils who vehemently abhorred these pious athletes, the more their example served to propagate the faith and induced the rest to imitate them.

The principal reason of this persecution was the hatred that these tyrants conceived against the martyrs in seeing themselves overcome by children, by tender virgins, by simple and ignorant men, who upbraided them with their insanity in following a false religion, which authorized every vice, and called upon them to worship as gods men who, during their lives, had given the most horrid examples of turpitude and crime that ever human nature revolted at.

Their rage was yet more increased at the sight of the very many miracles wrought through the servants of the true God; — they saw wild beasts cast themselves at the feet of the martyrs; they perceived that red-hot coals, molten lead, did not burn them, and witnessed other similar prodigies. In vain did they cry out: “This is magic; these are incantations;”[2] the people were converted in the presence of these miracles, and thousands of them embraced the faith; and this redoubled the irritation of the judges.

They believed that they were frightening the Christians by inventing new tortures, and flattered themselves that they were extinguishing the faith by putting to death all Christians. But the more they multiplied tortures and immolated victims, the more did the number of the faithful increase. Tertullian [2] relates that a certain governor in Asia, named Arrius, was putting to death those who confessed the name of the Lord Jesus, when such a multitude presented themselves before his tribunal as caused him to shudder at the thought of shedding so much blood; he therefore contented himself with putting a few of them to death, and to the rest he said: “If your desire of death be so irresistible, there are precipices enough from which to fling yourselves. Begone!”

As I have already remarked, I do not intend to give a general history of the martyrs: I wish only to describe the heroic acts of some of the most remarkable of them. No one should be astonished that at times I do not relate all the circumstances that are found in other books; I have only taken care to mention most authenticated facts, drawn from trustworthy authors, omitting a few particulars which I do not reject as being false, but which appear to me to be doubtful, as they are taken from uncertain and suspected acts. According to Cardinal Baronius,[3] “it is better to relate a few facts of undoubted certainty, than to risk the introduction of any dubious circumstances, by indulging in lengthy details, because the few facts given upon respectable authority will always be received with satisfaction by the reader, while the detection of any dubious matter would make him suspect even that which is in reality true.”

In compliance with this excellent advice, we shall endeavor to select the best authenticated facts, while we intend to avoid, on the other hand, the extreme of scepticism. For such it would be to reject the testimony of an author whose authority is generally received, or who has the characters of antiquity, probity, learning, and exactness.

I say this because there are certain writers who seem to take merit to themselves by doubting everything. An accurate discrimination in the selection of facts and authorities is a homage due to truth; but even this may be carried to an excess bordering on scepticism; for as it is a weakness to put faith in everything we find recorded, without the concurrent testimony of competent authority, so, on the other hand, it is rashness to receive everything with doubt. We should not refuse belief to the wonderful acts of the martyrs; but on the contrary, we should be persuaded that God can work in his saints more wondrous effects than the weakness of our understandings can comprehend.

In describing the following triumphs of the martyrs I have with the utmost diligence consulted the most learned and accurate authors. I have retrenched all superfluous words as well as certain unimportant details, and have endeavored to present clearly and concisely only the substance of the facts, selecting those that most abound in generous traits and in useful instruction; in a word, those that are most conducive to spiritual edification.

1. This holds good only of Part I.; in Part II. the author has followed a chronological order, but we may everywhere fee that he has taken care to vary the subjects, according to the condition of persons, of their country, of their manner of death; for instance, a distinguished old man, the Bishop of Antioch, is transported to Rome to be devoured by beasts; now a young woman with her child is beheaded in Asia Minor; then a generous deacon undergoes various tortures in Spain; etc. — Ed.

2. Ad Scapul.

3. Ann. 307.

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Offer your Life to Jesus and Mary: TEXT OF THE LIFE OFFERING, adapted: Dear Lord Jesus, before the Holy Trinity, Our Heavenly Mother, and the whole Heavenly Court, united with Your most Precious Blood and Your Sacrifice on Calvary, We hereby Offer our whole Lives to the Intention of Your Sacred Heart and to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Together with our life, we place at Your disposal all Holy Masses, all our Holy Communions, all Rosaries, all acts of consecration, all our good deeds, all our sacrifices, and the suffering of our entire life for the Adoration and Supplication of the Holy Trinity, for Unity in our Holy Mother Church, for the Holy Father, Pope Francis the First; and for His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI. For His Eminence Patriarch Kirill of Moscow, His Excellency Metropolitan Hilarion, as well as His Eminence Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, that they may re-unite their flocks with the Roman Catholic Church, and there may soon be but One Fold and One Shepherd. For all the 220+ Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church, for all 6000+ Bishops of the Universal Church that they may be true Apostles and Shepherds; and for the 400,000+ Priests, the 700,000+ Nuns, 50,000+ Monks, 100,000+ seminarians, that they may all become the Saints the Divine Will wishes them to be; for all the 1.35 Billion Members of the Church, the Millions of Catholic Catechumens and Children to be born and baptized in this Decade; we pray for good Priestly and Religious Vocations, for All Lay Apostolates, and All Souls until the end of the world. O my Jesus, please accept our life Sacrifice and our offerings and give us Your grace that we may all persevere obediently until death. Amen." https://marianapostolate.com/life-offering/

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Re: Victories of the Martyrs.
« Reply #8 on: February 18, 2020, 02:57:34 PM »
PART I.

MARTYRS OF THE FIRST AGES.

CHAPTER I.

ST. IGNATIUS, BISHOP OF ANTIOCH.

February 1.

St. Ignatius, also called Theophorus, that is, one that carries God, lived in the first century of the Church. He was a disciple of the apostles, particularly of St. John; by them he was baptized, and subsequently ordained Bishop of the Church of Antioch which had the honor of having been founded by the Apostle St. Peter, and as the place where the disciples of Jesus Christ were first called Christians.

St. Ignatius undertook the government of this church after the death of Evodius, the successor of St. Peter, which occurred in the year of the Lord 69; although Cardinal Orsi [1] cites the opinion of some who would have it that St. Ignatius was the immediate successor of St. Peter. Our saint governed his flock with such zeal that all the churches of Syria consulted him as an oracle. In the persecution of Domitian he had to suffer much, and labored, at the risk of his life, for the preservation of the faith, animating his flock to be faithful to the death. He longed for the glory of martyrdom, frequently saying that he could not be persuaded of his love for Christ till he had testified it with his blood.

Upon the death of Domitian in the year 96, the tempest abated under Nerva, his sucessor. But during this time heretics did not cease to trouble the Church; this is the reason why the saint, writing to the faithful of Smyrna, recommended them not to have any communication with them: “Be satisfied” he said to them, “with merely praying to God for those who abstain from the Eucharist, because they deny it to be the flesh of Jesus Christ, who died for our sins.”

In the year 105 the persecution was renewed by the Emperor Trajan. This prince, after his conquest of the Scythians and the Dacians, published an edict which obliged all, under pain of death, to offer sacrifice to the gods. Marching afterwards against the Parthians, he arrived at Antioch; and, hearing with how much zeal and success St. Ignatius propagated the Chiistian religion, he called him to his presence and thus addressed him: “Art thou that wicked demon called Theophorus, who taketh pleasure in violating our edict of sacrificing to the gods, and dost continue to seduce the inhabitants of this city by preaching the law of Christ?” Ignatius replied: “Yes, prince, I am called Theophorus; by no one can Theophorus be called a demon, because the devils fly from the servants of God. If thou callest me a devil because I endeavor to defeat the machinations of the devil, I well deserve the name.” Trajan asked him the signification of the term Theophorus; the saint replied, “It signifies ‘the bearer of God.' “The emperor replied: “Thou carriest God in thy heart; and we, have we not also in ourselves the gods that assist us?” The saint answered with enthusiasm: “It is an error, O prince! to give the name of gods to the demons that you adore: there is only one true God, the Creator of heaven and earth and Jesus Christ, His only begotten Son.” The emperor replied, “Dost thou speak of Him who was crucified under Pontius Pilate?” “Yes,” answered the saint, “of Him I speak who has confounded the malice of devils, and placed them beneath the feet of those Christians who carry God in their hearts.” He added that Trajan would be more happy, and his empire more prosperous, if he would believe in the Lord Jesus; but the emperor, heedless of these exhortations, offered to make him a priest of Jupiter and a member of the senate if he would sacrifice to the gods. The saint replied that he was content to be a priest of Jesus Christ, for whom he ardently desired to shed his blood. Trajan, filled with anger, then pronounced sentence upon the saint — that he should be conducted in chains to Rome, and devoured by wild beasts at the public games.

St. Ignatius having heard the sentence, raised his eyes to heaven, and exclaimed: “I thank Thee, O Lord, because that Thou hast vouchsafed to make me worthy of giving Thee a proof of my love by sacrificing my life for Thy faith; I desire, O Lord, that the beasts may hasten to devour me, that I may make to Thee the sacrifice of myself.” He then stretched forth his hands to be chained, kissing the manacles as they bound him; and with tears recommending his church to God, he was conducted by the soldiers to Seleucia, and thence to Smyrna, accompanied by two of his deacons, Philo and Agathopodus, who are believed to be the authors of his acts. Wherever the saint passed, he ceased not his exhortations to the faithful to persevere in faith and prayer, to be enamoured of the riches of heaven, and to despise those of this earth. The Christians came, in great numbers, to meet him and to receive his blessing, especially the bishops and priests of the churches of Asia, who, as they perceived him going so joyfully to martyrdom, wept in the tenderness of affection. Having arrived at Smyrna, he embraced St. Polycarp, and they mutually consoled each other; he thence wrote to the churches of Ephesus, Magnesia, and Trallia. Amongst other things, he says to the Ephesians: “I carry my chains for Christ, which are to me spiritual pearls, more prized than all the treasures of the world.” Knowing that from Smyrna some Ephesians had to go to Rome by a route shorter than his, he conveyed by them his celebrated letter to the Romans; the letter is long, but a few passages are particularly worthy of being transcribed; they are as follows:

“Suffer me to be the food of wild beasts, whereby I may attain unto God. I am the wheat of God, and am to be ground by the teeth of wild beasts, in order that I may be found the pure bread of Christ. ... I earnestly wish for the wild beasts that are prepared for me, whom I heartily desire may soon dispatch me; I will entice them to devour me entirely and suddenly, that they may not spare me as they have others whom they feared to touch; but, if they are unwilling to meddle with me, I will even compel them to it. Pardon me, my children, I know what is good for me; I now commence to be a disciple of Christ, since I have no desire for anything visible or invisible, so that I may attain to Jesus Christ. Let fire or the cross, or the concourse of wild beasts — let cutting or tearing of the flesh — let breaking of bones and cutting off limbs — let the shattering in pieces of my entire body, and all the torments invented by the devil, come upon me, so I may but attain unto Jesus Christ. ... It is better for me to die for the sake of Jesus Christ, than to rule to the ends of the earth… Pardon me, brethren; be not my hindrance in attaining to life, for Jesus Christ is the life of the faithful; whilst I desire to belong to God, do not ye yield me back to the world… Permit me to imitate the Passion of Christ my God; let none of you who are present attempt to succor me — be rather on my side, that is, on God’s; entertain no desire of the world; having Jesus Christ in your mouths, let no envy find place in your breasts. Even were I myself to entreat you, when present, do not obey me, but rather believe what I now signify to you by letter… My love is crucified! ... I take no pleasure in the food of corruption, nor in the enjoyment of this life. I desire the bread of God, which is the flesh of Jesus Christ, and for drink his blood… Pray for me, that I may possess God. If I consummate my sacrifice this will be a sign that you have given your consent, and that ye truly love me.”

He next arrived at Troas, whence he wrote epistles to the churches of Philadelphia and Smyrna, and to his friend St. Polycarp, to whom he recommended the church of Antioch. The soldiers fearing that they would arrive too late at Rome, because the public games were nearly at an end, hastened their march, to the great satisfaction of the holy martyr, who ardently desired to be at the place of execution. When he was near Rome, the Christians came in great numbers to meet and salute him. They thought, as Fleury relates, [2] to induce the people to solicit his pardon, but the saint repeated what he had stated in his letters, and prevented all interference. On entering Rome, he knelt down with the other Christians to offer himself to God, and fervently prayed that peace might be restored to the Church. He was then conducted to the amphitheatre, where immense numbers were assembled; and, hearing the bellowings of the wild beasts, he repeated the memorable words of his epistle to the Romans: I am the wheat of God, and am to be ground by the teeth of wild beasts, in order that I may be found the pure bread of Christ.” The saint was instantly devoured by lions, as he had desired to be, and at the moment of his death he was heard to invoke the adorable name of Jesus.

Only the larger bones of his body were left; these were collected and brought to Antioch by his two deacons, to whom he appeared on the following night, resplendent with glory. His martyrdom took place on the 20th December, of the year 107. After the destruction of Antioch by the Saracens, his relics were removed to Rome, and placed in the Church of St. Clement where at the present day they are venerated with great devotion. His name has been inserted in the canon of Mass.

The acts of the martyrdom of St Ignatius are found in the collection of Ruinart, entitled: Acta Pritnorum Martyrum Sincera.

1. Istor. eccl. 1. 3, n. 9.

2. Hist. eccl. 1. 3, n. 12.

Please join my Rosary Crusade to end Abortion: https://rosarycrusadingarmytoendabortion.home.blog/ Pray the 1000 Hail Marys Rosary Frequently. You can Save 1000 Souls!

Offer your Life to Jesus and Mary: TEXT OF THE LIFE OFFERING, adapted: Dear Lord Jesus, before the Holy Trinity, Our Heavenly Mother, and the whole Heavenly Court, united with Your most Precious Blood and Your Sacrifice on Calvary, We hereby Offer our whole Lives to the Intention of Your Sacred Heart and to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Together with our life, we place at Your disposal all Holy Masses, all our Holy Communions, all Rosaries, all acts of consecration, all our good deeds, all our sacrifices, and the suffering of our entire life for the Adoration and Supplication of the Holy Trinity, for Unity in our Holy Mother Church, for the Holy Father, Pope Francis the First; and for His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI. For His Eminence Patriarch Kirill of Moscow, His Excellency Metropolitan Hilarion, as well as His Eminence Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, that they may re-unite their flocks with the Roman Catholic Church, and there may soon be but One Fold and One Shepherd. For all the 220+ Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church, for all 6000+ Bishops of the Universal Church that they may be true Apostles and Shepherds; and for the 400,000+ Priests, the 700,000+ Nuns, 50,000+ Monks, 100,000+ seminarians, that they may all become the Saints the Divine Will wishes them to be; for all the 1.35 Billion Members of the Church, the Millions of Catholic Catechumens and Children to be born and baptized in this Decade; we pray for good Priestly and Religious Vocations, for All Lay Apostolates, and All Souls until the end of the world. O my Jesus, please accept our life Sacrifice and our offerings and give us Your grace that we may all persevere obediently until death. Amen." https://marianapostolate.com/life-offering/

"Mother of God, Co-Redemptrix of the world, pray for us" [Promise: 1000 Souls from Purgatory]"This short prayer, this insistent prayer, every time it is said, sets free from Purgatory 1000 Souls, who reach the Eternal Joy, the Eternal Light"(!). http://www.jesusmariasite.org/jesus-pray-my-children-that-the-fifth-marian-dogma-be-proclaimed/