GREATER DOUBLE / WHITE
I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband.
Ps. 44:2. My heart overflows with good tidings; I sing my song to the king.
V. Glory Be . . .
EPISTLE Apoc. 11:19; 12:1, 10 And the temple of God was opened in heaven: and the ark of his testament was seen in his temple. And there were lightnings and voices and an earthquake and great hail. And a great sign appeared in heaven: A woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying: Now is come salvation and strength and the kingdom of our God and the power of his Christ: because the accuser of our brethren is cast forth, who accused them before our God day and night.
GRADUAL Cant. 2:12, 10, 14 The flowers have appeared in our land, the time of pruning has come, the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land.
V. Arise, my love, my beautiful one, and come: my dove in the clefts of the rock, in the hollow places of the wall.
TRACT Judith 15:10; Cant. 4:7 You are the glory of Jerusalem, you are the joy of Israel, you are the honor of our people.
V. You are all fair, O Mary, and there is no stain of original sin in you.
V. Truly happy are you, O holy Virgin Mary, and most worthy of praise, for with your virgin heel you have crushed the head of the serpent.
GOSPEL Luke 1:26-31 At that time, the angel Gabriel was sent from God into a city of Galilee, called Nazareth, To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David: and the virgin's name was Mary. And the angel being come in, said unto her: "Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women." Who having heard, was troubled at his saying and thought with herself what manner of salutation this should be. And the angel said to her: "Fear not, Mary, for thou hast found grace with God. Behold thou shalt conceive in thy womb and shalt bring forth a son: and thou shalt call his name Jesus."
OFFERTORY ANTIPHON Luke 1:28
Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women.
You have visited the earth and watered it; You have greatly enriched it.
|SS. Saturninus, Dativus, and Others, |
Martyrs of Africa
From their contemporary acts, received as authentic by St. Austin, Brevic. Coll. die 3. c. 17. The Donatists added a preface to them and a few glosses, in which condition they are published by Baluzius, t. 2. But Bollandus and Ruinart give them genuine.
THE EMPEROR Dioclesian had commanded all Christians under pain of death to deliver up the holy scriptures to be burnt. This persecution had raged a whole year in Africa; some had betrayed the cause of religion, but many more had defended it with their blood, when these saints were apprehended. Abitina, a city of the proconsular province of Africa, was the theatre of their triumph. Saturninus, priest of that city, celebrated the divine mysteries on a Sunday, in the house of Octavius Felix. The magistrates having notice of it, came with a troop of soldiers, and seized forty-nine persons of both sexes. The principal among them were the priest Saturninus, with his four children, viz.: young Saturninus, and Felix, both Lectors, Mary, who had consecrated her virginity to God, and Hilarianus, yet a child; also Dativus, a noble senator, Ampelius, Rogatianus, and Victoria. Dativus, the ornament of the senate of Abitina, whom God destined to be one of the principal senators of heaven, marched at the head of this holy troop. Saturninus walked by his side, surrounded by his illustrious family. The others followed in silence. Being brought before the magistrates, they confessed Jesus Christ so resolutely, that their very judges applauded their courage, which repaired the infamous sacrilege committed there a little before by Fundanus, the bishop of Abitina, who in that same place had given up to the magistrates the sacred books to be burned: but a violent shower suddenly falling, put out the fire, and a prodigious hail ravaged the whole country.
The confessors were shackled and sent to Carthage, the residence of the proconsul. They rejoiced to see themselves in chains for Christ, and sung hymns and canticles during their whole journey to Carthage, praising and thanking God. The proconsul, Anulinus, addressing himself first to Dativus, asked him of what condition he was, and if he had assisted at the collect or assembly of the Christians? He answered, that he was a Christian, and had been present at it. The proconsul bid him discover who presided, and in whose house those religious assemblies were held: but without waiting for his answer, commanded him to be put on the rack and torn with iron hooks, to oblige him to a discovery. They underwent severally the tortures of the rack, iron hooks, and cudgels. The weaker sex fought no less gloriously, particularly the illustrious Victoria; who, being converted to Christ in her tender years, had signified a desire of leading a single life, which her pagan parents would not agree to, having promised her in marriage to a rich young nobleman. Victoria, on the day appointed for the wedding, full of confidence in the protection of Him, whom she had chosen for the only spouse of her soul, leaped out of a window, and was miraculously preserved from hurt. Having made her escape, she took shelter in a church; after which she consecrated her virginity to God, with the ceremonies then used on such occasions at Carthage in Italy, Gaul, and all over the West. 1 To the crown of virginity, she earnestly desired to join that of martyrdom. The proconsul, on account of her quality, and for the sake of her brother, a pagan, tried all means to prevail with her to renounce her faith. He inquired what was her religion? Her answer was: “I am a Christian.” Her brother Fortunatianus undertook her defence, and endeavoured to prove her lunatic. The saint, fearing his plea might be the means of her losing the crown of martyrdom, made it appear by her wise confutations of it, that she was in her perfect senses, and protested that she had not been brought over to Christianity against her will. The proconsul asked her if she would return with her brother? She said: “She could not, being a Christian, and acknowledging none as brethren but those who kept the law of God.” The proconsul then laid aside the quality of judge to become her humble suppliant, and entreated her not to throw away her life. But she rejected his entreaties with disdain, and said to him: “I have already told you my mind. I am a Christian, and I assisted at the collect.” Anulinus, provoked at this constancy, reassumed his rage, and ordered her to prison with the rest to wait the sentence of death which he not long after pronounced upon them all.
The proconsul would yet try to gain Hilarianus, Saturninus’s youngest son, not doubting to vanquish one of his tender age. But the child showed more contempt than fear of the tyrant’s threats, and answered his interrogatories: “I am a Christian: I have been at the collect, and it was of my own voluntary choice without any compulsion.” The proconsul threatened him with those little punishments with which children are accustomed to be chastised, little knowing that God himself fights in his martyrs. The child only laughed at him. The governor then said to him: “I will cut off your nose and ears.” Hilarianus replied: “You may do it; but I am a Christian.” The proconsul, dissembling his confusion, ordered him to prison. Upon which the child said: “Lord, I give thee thanks.” These martyrs ended their lives under the hardships of their confinement, and are honoured in the ancient calendar of Carthage, and the Roman Martyrology, on the 11th of February, though only two (of the name of Felix) died on that day of their wounds.
The example of these martyrs condemns the sloth with which many Christians in this age celebrate the Lord’s Day. When the judge asked them, how they durst presume to hold their assembly against the imperial orders, they always repeated, even on the rack: “The obligation of the Sunday is indispensable. It is not lawful for us to omit the duty of that day. We celebrated it as well as we could. We never passed a Sunday without meeting at our assembly. We will keep the commandments of God at the expense of our lives.” No dangers nor torments could deter them from this duty. A rare example of fervour in keeping that holy precept, from which too many, upon lame pretences, seek to excuse themselves. As the Jew was known by the religious observance of the Sabbath, so is the true Christian by his manner of celebrating the Sunday. And as our law is more holy and more perfect than the Jewish, so must our manner of sanctifying the Lord’s Day. This is the proof of our religion, and of our piety towards God. The primitive Christians kept this day in the most holy manner, assembling at public prayer, in dens and caves, knowing that, “without this religious observance, a man cannot be a Christian,” to use the expression of an ancient father.
[From Rev. Alban Butler (1711–73). Volume II: February.
The Lives of the Saints. 1866.]