SS. Tiburtius, Valerian, and Maximus, MM.
See the acts of St. Cecily, and the remarks of Henschenius, ad 14 Aprills, t. 2, pp. 203, 220.
A. D. 229.
These holy martyrs have always been held in singular veneration in the church, as appears from the ancient calendar of Fronto, the sacramentary of St. Gregory, St. Jerom’s Martyrology, that of Thomasius, &c. Valerian was espoused to St. Cecily, and converted by her to the faith; and with her he became the instrument of the conversion of his brother Tiburtius. Maximus, the officer appointed to attend their execution, was brought to the faith by the example of their piety: and received with them the crown of martyrdom, in the year 229. The theatre of their triumph seems to have been Rome, though some have imagined they suffered in Sicily. They were interred in the burying-place of Prætextatus, which, from them, took the name of Tiburtius. It was contiguous to that of Calixtus. In that place pope Gregory III. repaired their monument in 740; and Adrian 1. built a church under their patronage. But pope Paschal translated the remains of these martyrs, of St. Cecily, and the popes SS. Urban and Lucius, into the city, where the celebrated church of St. Cecily stands. These relics were found in it in 1599, and visited by the order of Clement VIII., and approved genuine by the cardinals Baronius and Sfondrate. The Greeks vie with the Latins in their devotion to these martyrs.
Most agreeable to the holy angels was this pious family, converted to God by the zeal and example of St. Cecily, who frequently assembled to sing together, with heavenly purity and fervor, the divine praises. We shall also draw upon ourselves the protection, constant favor, and tender attention of the heavenly spirits, if we faithfully imitate the same angelical exercise. Mortification, temperance, humility, meekness, purity of mind and body, continual sighs toward heaven, prayer, accompanied with tears and vehement heavenly desires, disengagement of the heart from the world, a pure and assiduous attention to God and to his holy will, and a perfect union by the most sincere fraternal charity, are virtues and exercises infinitely pleasing to them. The angels of peace are infinitely delighted to see the same perfect intelligence and union, which makes an essential part of their bliss in heaven, reign among us on earth, and that we have all but one heart and one soul Happy are those holy souls which have renounced the world, in order more perfectly to form in their hearts the spirit of these virtues, in which they cease not, day and night, to attend to the divine praises, and consecrate themselves to Jesus Christ, by employing their whole life in this divine exercise. Their profession is a prelude to, or rather a kind of anticipation of, the bliss of heaven. The state of the blessed indeed surpasses it in certain high privileges and advantages. First, They praise God with far greater love and esteem, because they see and know him much more clearly and as he is in himself. Secondly, They praise him with more joy, because they possess him fully. Thirdly, Their praises have neither end nor interruption. Yet our present state has also its advantages. First, If our praises are mingled with tears, compunction, watchfulness, and conflicts, they merit a continual immense increase of grace, love, and bliss for eternity. Secondly, Our praises cost labor, difficulty, and pain they are a purgatory of love; those of the blessed the reward and the sovereign bliss. Thirdly, We praise God in a place where he is little loved and little known: we celebrate his glory in an enemy’s country, amidst the contradiction of sinners. This obliges us to acquit ourselves of this duty with the utmost fidelity and fervor. A second motive to excite us to assiduity in this exercise is, that it associates us already to the angels and saints, and makes the earth a paradise: it is also, next to the sacraments, the most powerful means of our sanctification and salvation. With what delight do the holy angels attend and join us in it! With what awe and fervor, with what purity of heart, ardent love, and profound sentiments of humility, adoration, and all virtues, ought we in such holy invisible company to perform this most sacred action! We should go to it penetrated with fear and respect, as if we were admitted into the sanctuary of heaven itself, and mingled in its glorious choirs. We ought to behave at it as if we were in paradise, with the utmost modesty, in silence, annihilating ourselves in profound adoration with the seraphim, and pronouncing every word with interior sentiment and relish. From prayer we must come as if we were just descended from heaven, with an earnest desire of speedily returning thither, bearing God in our souls, all animated and inflamed by him, and preserving that spirit of devotion with which his presence filled us at prayer.
SS. Carpus, B. of Thyatira, in Asia Minor,
papylus his deacon, and agathodorus their servant, mm.
In the persecution of Decius, in 251, they were apprehended and brought before Valerius, governor of Lesser Asia, who resided sometimes at Thyatira, sometimes at Sardis. The martyrs suffered much in dungeons in both those cities, and underwent three severe examinations; in the third, to intimidate the masters, Agathodorus was, in their presence, scourged to death with bull’s sinews. When the proconsul went to Pergamus, which city was the birthplace both of the bishop and his deacon, the two saints were dragged thither, and first the bishop, then the deacon, was beaten with knotty clubs, their sides burnt with torches, and the wounds rubbed over with salt. Some days after they were laid on iron spikes, their sides were again torn, and at length both were consumed by the flames, together with Agathonice, a sister of Papylus. See their acts, quoted by Eusebius b. 4, c. 15; Tillemont, t. 3, p. 346.
SS. Antony, John, and Eustachius, MM.
They were three noblemen of Lithuania, and the two first brothers, commonly called in that country, Kukley, Mihley, and Nizilo. They were all three chamberlains to Olgerd, the great duke of Lithuania, who governed that country from the year 1329 to 1381,1 and was father of the famous Jagello. They also attended on the great duchess, and were worshippers of fire, according to the idolatrous superstition of that country, till they had the happiness to be converted to the Christian faith, and baptized by a priest called Nestorius. For refusing to eat forbidden meats on fast-days, they were cast into prison, and, after many trials, put to death by order of Olgerd, the great duke; John, the eldest of them, on the 24th of April, his brother Antony on the 14th of June, Eustachius, who was then young, on the 13th of December. This last had suffered many other torments before his execution, having been beaten with clubs, had his legs broken, and the hair and skin of his head violently torn off, because he would not suffer his hair to be shaved, according to the custom of the heathens. They suffered at Vilna, about the year 1342, and were buried in the church of the Holy Trinity, of the Russian-Greek rite, united in communion to the Roman Catholic church. Their bodies still remain in that church, which is served by Basilian monks; but their heads were translated to the cathedral. The great oak tree on which they were hanged had long been the usual place of execution of malefactors; but, after their martyrdom, the Christians obtained a grant of it from the prince, and built a church upon the spot. These martyrs were ordered to be honored among the saints by Alexius, patriarch of Kiow, of the Catholic communion. Their feast is kept at Vilna on the 14th of April, and they are regarded as the particular patrons of that city. See Kulcimus, in Specim. p. 12, and Albertus Wijuk Kojalowicz, in his Miscellanea rerum ad statum Eccles. in magno Lithuaniæ Ducatu pertinentium. Henschenius, t. 2, Apr. p. 265. Jos. Assemani, in Kalend. Univ. t. 6, p. 254, ad 14 Apr.
St. Benezet, or Little Bennet,
patron of avignon
He kept his mother’s sheep in the country, being devoted to the practices of piety beyond his age; when, moved by charity to save the lives of many poor persons, who were frequently drowned in passing the Rhone, and being inspired by God, he undertook to build a bridge over that rapid river at Avignon. He obtained the approbation of the bishop, proved his mission by miracles, and began the work in 1177, which he directed during seven years. He died when the difficulty of the undertaking was over, in 1184. This is attested by public monuments drawn up at that time, and still preserved at Avignon, where the story is in everybody’s mouth. His body was buried upon the bridge itself, which was not completely finished till four years after his decease, the structure whereof was attended with miracles, from the first laying the foundations till it was completed in 1188. Other miracles, wrought after this at his tomb, induced the city to build a chapel upon the bridge, in which his body lay near five hundred years: but, in 1669, a great part of the bridge falling down, through the impetuosity of the waters, the coffin was taken up, and being opened, in 1670, in presence of the grand vicar, during the vacancy of the archiepiscopal see, it was found entire, without the least sign of corruption; even the bowels were perfectly sound, and the color of the eyes lively and sprightly, though, through the dampness of the situation, the iron bars about it were much damaged with rust. The body was found in the same condition by the archbishop of Avignon, in 1674, when, accompanied by the bishop of Orange, and a great concourse of nobility, he performed the translation of it, with great pomp, into the church of the Celestines, (a house of royal foundation,) who had obtained of Louis XIV. the honor to be intrusted with the custody of his relics, till such time as the bridge and chapel should be rebuilt. See the description of this pompous translation in the Bollandists. April, t. 2, pp. 958, 959, and Papebroke’s remarks on his life, p. 255.
B. Lidwina, Commonly Called Lydwid, V.
Was born at Schiedham, or Squidam, in Holland, near the mouth of the Meuse, in 1380. From seven years of age, she conceived an extraordinary devotion to the Blessed Virgin; and, when she was sent abroad by her mother on an errand, would go to the church to salute the Mother of God, by a Hail Mary, before her image there. At twelve years of age she made a vow of virginity. At fifteen, amusing herself with skating with her companions, according to the custom of that country, she fell on rough broken pieces of ice, and broke a rib. From this hurt, accompanied with an inward bruise, and from a great imposthume which was formed in the womb, she suffered extremely, taking very little nourishment, and struggling night and day under great pains. An ulcer also consumed her lungs, and she sometimes vomited up great quantities of purulent matter. She had also three exterior ulcers, besides a complication of other distempers from the inward bruises, which brought on a dropsy, under which she labored nineteen years; for the last seven years, she was not able to stir herself in bed, nor even to move any part of her body, except her head and left arm. When moved by others, she was bound with cloths to keep the parts of her body together, so much was it torn and emaciated. She lived a considerable time almost without either nourishment or sleep, and had many sores on her face, legs, and other parts, like scorbutic inflammations and ulcers. For the thirty last years of her life, she never quitted her bed. The three or four first years of her sickness she was obliged to use violence, and to make continual efforts to maintain her soul constantly in the perfect sentiments of patience and resignation. After this term, by the advice of her confessarius, the devout John Pot, she employed herself continually in meditating on our Saviour’s sacred passion, which she divided into seven parts, to correspond to the seven canonical hours of prayer; in which she occupied herself day and night. By this practice and meditation, she soon found all her bitterness and affliction converted into sweetness and consolation, and her soul so much changed, that she prayed God would rather increase her pains, together with her patience, than suffer them to abate. She was even ingenious, by private mortifications, to add to her sufferings, in which she found a hidden manna. She lay on a poor straw bed, like a true sister of the suffering Lazarus, yet would strive to make it more uneasy to her under her other pains. Whatever was given her in alms, above the little which served for her own support, she distributed among the poor, not suffering any of her family, though indigent, to partake of it. After the death of her pious parents, she gave to the poor all the goods they bequeathed to her. Before she had, by constantly meditating on our Lord’s passion, by assiduous prayer and self-denial, acquired a love and relish of the cross, patience was more difficult to her, and less perfect: but when filled with the Spirit of Christ, she found a comfort in her pains, and it appeared how God had, in his tender mercy, visited her only to purify her heart to himself, and to fill it with his graces. She spoke of God with such unction, that her words softened and converted hardened sinners. Her patience was recompensed a hundredfold in this world by the extraordinary spiritual consolations with which she was often favored and by the grace of the Holy Ghost, accompanied with a wonderful gift of miracles, and many divine revelations. She sometimes had trials of spiritual dryness, but these served only more perfectly to purify her soul, and prepare her for sweeter visits of her heavenly Comforter. The holy sacrament of the eucharist was, above all other means, her principal strength, comfort, and happiness on earth; it renewed in her breast the burning flame of divine love, and nourished in her a continual source of tears and compunction. Her humility made her desire nothing so much as obscurity, and to be unknown and contemned by all men. After a severe martyrdom of thirty-eight years, in painful sickness, she was called to a crown of glory on Easter-Tuesday, the 14th of April, 1433, being fifty-three years old. God honored her by miracles, to some of which Thomas à Kempis was an eye-witness. The chapel in which her body lay, in a marble tomb, in the parish church of Schiedham, begun to bear her name in 1434; and her father’s house, in which she died, was, after her death, converted into a monastery of Gray Sisters, of the third order of St. Francis. The Calvinists demolished the above-mentioned chapel; but changed the monastery into a hospital for orphans. Her relics soon after were conveyed to Brussels, and enshrined in the collegiate church of St. Gudula. The infanta Isabella procured a partition of them to be made, and placed one moiety in the church of the Carmelite nuns, of which she was the foundress. She was never beatified; but a mass on the B. Trinity was sung in her chapel at Schiedham on her festival, with a panegyric on the holy virgin. See her life compiled by John Gerlac, her cousin, and John Walter, her confessor: and by John Brugman, provincial of the Franciscans, who were all personally acquainted with her. Also from her life, abridged by Thomas à Kempis. See Papebroke the Bollandist, 14th April, t. 2, p. 287; Molanus, &c.
1 See the history of his reign, by Albertus Wijuk Kojalowicz, Hist. Lithuan. l. 8.
Butler, A., The Lives of the Fathers, Martyrs and Other Principal Saints (New York 1903) II, 85-89.