9 Days for Life begins today . . .
~ St. Prisca
Prisca, who is also known as Priscilla, was a child martyr of the early Roman Church. Born to Christian parents of a noble family, Prisca was raised during the reign of the Roman emperor Claudius. While Claudius did not persecute Christians with the same fervor as other Roman emperors, Christians still did not practice their faith openly. In fact, Prisca's parents went to great lengths to conceal their faith, and thus they were not suspected of being Christians.
...Prisca, however, did not feel the need to take precaution. The young girl openly professed her dedication to Christ, and eventually, she was reported to the emperor. Claudius had her arrested, and commanded her to make a sacrifice to Apollo, the pagan god of the sun.
According to the legend, Prisca refused, and was tortured for disobeying. Then, suddenly, a bright, yellow light shone about her, and she appeared to be a little star.
Claudius ordered that Prisca be taken away to prison, in the hopes that she would abandon Christ. When all efforts to change her mind were unsuccessful, she was taken to an amphitheatre and thrown in with a lion.
As the crowd watched, Prisca stood fearless. According to legend, the lion walked toward the barefoot girl, and then gently licked her feet. Disgusted by his thwarted efforts to dissuade Prisca, Claudius had her beheaded.
Seventh-century accounts of the grave sites of Roman martyrs refer to the discovery of an epitaph of a Roman Christian named Priscilla in a large catacomb and identifies her place of interment on the Via Salaria as the Catacomb of Priscilla.
— Excerpted from Ordinary People Extraordinary Lives.
Today's Readings . . .
~ St. Anthony
Anthony "the Great", the "Father of Monks", ranks with those saints whose life exercised a profound influence upon succeeding generations. He was born in Middle Egypt (about 250) of distinguished parents. After their untimely deaths, he dedicated himself wholly to acts of mortification.
One day while in church he heard the words of the Gospel: "If you wish to be perfect, go, sell what you have, and give it to the poor" (Matt. 19:21). It seemed as if Christ ha...
Today's Readings . . .
~ St. Marcellus
Diocletian's terrible persecution had taken its toll. It was reported that within a period of thirty days, sixteen thousand Christians were martyred. The Church in Rome was left scattered and disorganized, and the Holy See remained vacant for over two years. It wasn't until the ascension of Emperor Maxentius and his policy of toleration that a pope could be chosen. Marcellus, a Roman priest during the reign of Marcellinus, was elected.
The new pope was confron...ted with enormous problems. His first challenge was to reorganize the badly shaken Church. He is said to have accomplished this by dividing Rome into twenty-five parishes, each with its own priest. The next task was more challenging. Once again a pope was faced with the problem of what to do with the many brethren who had compromised their faith during the reign of Diocletian. Marcellus upheld the doctrine of required penance before absolution. The apostates keenly desired readmission to communion, but they violently opposed the harshness of the penance demanded by the rigorist, Marcellus. Riots broke out throughout the city, and even bloodshed, to the point that Emperor Maxentius intervened. He believed that the pontiff was the root of the problem, and in the interest of peace, he banished Marcellus; the pope died a short time later. Apart from persecution, this was the first time that the secular government was known to have interfered with the Church. There is some confusion whether his body was brought back to Rome or whether he was allowed to return to the Holy See before his death. There is no doubt, however, that he was buried in the cemetery of Priscilla on the Via Salaria.
Todays Readings . . .
~ St. Paul, the first hermit
St. Paul is called "the first hermit" in the Missal and Breviary, a rare distinction, for such titles are seldom appended. Our saint was the standard-bearer of those courageous men who for the love of Christ left the world and entered the wilderness to dedicate themselves wholly to contemplation amid all the privations of desert life. The hermits were the great men of prayer in those difficult times when the Church was locked in fierce struggle wi...th heresy after heresy. For centuries the example of their lives served as the school of Christian perfection. Their action set the background for the rise of monasticism and religious orders in the Church.
The Breviary retains an edifying legend concerning today's saint. One day St. Anthony, then ninety, was divinely inspired to visit the hermit Paul. Though they had never met previously, each greeted the other correctly by name. While they were conversing at length on spiritual matters, the raven that had always brought Paul half a loaf of bread, came with a whole loaf. As the raven flew away, Paul said: "See, the Lord, who is truly good and merciful, has sent us food. Every day for sixty years I have received half a loaf, but with your arrival Christ sent His servants a double ration." Giving thanks, they ate by a spring.
After a brief rest, they again gave thanks, as was their custom, and spent the whole night praising God. At daybreak Paul informed Anthony of his approaching death and asked him to fetch the cloak he had received from St. Athanasius, that he might wrap himself in it. Later, as Anthony was returning from his visit, he saw Paul's soul ascending to heaven escorted by choirs of angels and surrounded by prophets and apostles. Further traditional matter may be found in The Life of Paul the Hermit, written by St. Jerome about the year 376.
Today's Readings . . .