Tag Archives: martyr

Saint Cecelia, Virgin & Martyr

On this feast of an early woman martyr, Saint Cecelia, it is good to reflect on music and its impact on the heart. As she lay dying for three days, Cecelia sang of the Lord’s glory and extolled the singular devotion of one dedicated to the Lord as a virgin. Saint Cecelia is the patron saint of musicians. Benedict XVI writes about beauty and contemplative nature of music:

St Cecilia.jpgThe encounter with the beautiful can become the wound
of the arrow that strikes the heart and in this way opens our eyes, so that
later, from this experience, we take the criteria for judgment and can
correctly evaluate the arguments. For me an unforgettable experience was the
Bach concert that Leonard Bernstein conducted in Munich after the sudden death
of Karl Richter. I was sitting next to the Lutheran Bishop Hanselmann. When the
last note of one of the great Thomas-Kantor-Cantatas triumphantly faded away,
we looked at each other spontaneously and right then we said: “Anyone who
has heard this, knows that the faith is true.” The music had such an
extraordinary force of reality that we realized, no longer by deduction, but by
the impact on our hearts, that it could not have originated from nothingness,
but could only have come to be through the power of the Truth that became real in
the composer’s inspiration. (Message to Communion and Liberation, August 2002,
Rimini, Italy; text available May 2, 2005, Zenit.org)

Has the Catholic Church in Turkey been too neglected by us?

Archbishop Ruggero Franceschini, OFM Cap. of Izmir,
Turkey, and Administrator of the Apostolic Vicariate of Anatolia and President
of the Turkish Episcopal Conference, gave the following intervention today. The
point of noting the Archbishop’s intervention here is that I believe we have to be concerned with
the reality of the Catholic faithful in places outside our neighborhood. Catholics can’t simply concerned with matters that are near. The June murder of Capuchin Bishop Luigi Padovese‘s death has remained a key point in my prayer, interest
in ecumenical and inter-religious dialogue, the missionary aspect of the Church’s
preaching program and the extent to which one would lay down his life for the
Gospel of Jesus Christ. Is Luigi Padovese a martyr? Franceschini has been clear that Padovese’s death was premeditated by Islamic radicals with a hatred toward Christianity while the Turkish authorities insist the murder was personal and not politically or religiously motivated. I am not sure as I didn’t know the state of his soul or his true relationship with Christ. The designation of a person as a martyr is a matter for Mother Church to make, but I might be persuaded to think in that direction. Christians comprise less than one percent of the Turkish nation.

Bp Padovese.jpg

“The little Church of Turkey, at times ignored,
had her sad moment of fame with the brutal murder of Bishop Luigi Padovese
O.F.M. Cap., president of the Turkish Episcopal Conference. In a few words I
would like to close this unpleasant episode by erasing the intolerable slander
circulated by the very organisers of the crime. It was premeditated murder, by
those same obscure powers that poor Luigi had just a few months earlier
identified as being responsible for the killing of Fr. Andrea Santoro, the
Armenian journalist Dink and four Protestants of Malatya. It is a murky story
of complicity between ultra-nationalists and religious fanatics, experts in the
‘strategia della tensione’. The pastoral and administrative situation in the
vicariate of Anatolia is serious. … What do we ask of the Church? We simply
ask what we are lacking: a pastor, someone to help him, the means to do so, and
all of this with reasonable urgency. … The survival of the Church of Anatolia
is at risk. … Nonetheless, I wish to reassure neighbouring Churches –
especially those that are suffering persecution and seeing their faithful
become refugees – that the Turkish Episcopal Conference will continue to
welcome them and offer fraternal assistance, even beyond our abilities. In the
same way, we are open to pastoral co-operation with our sister Churches and
with positive lay Muslims, for the good of Christians living in Turkey, and for
the good of the poor and of the many refugees who live in Turkey”.

The September Martyrs: Blessed John du Lau & companions

September Martyrs.jpgThe Benedictines and Carmelites in some places in the USA, and of course in England and France, liturgically remember the September Martyrs, also called the Paris Martyrs; you will also see the memorial listed as “Blessed John du Lau and companions” after the Archbishop of Arles, the highest ranking prelate among the 191 martyrs. The Benedictine nuns of Stanbrook Abbey are connected with the Carmelite nuns and retain some of the relics. Historians tells us that about 1500 clergy and religious were killed in 1792. And this act of martyrdom inspired the writing of Georeges Bernanos’s “Dialogues of the Carmelites” and the famous opera of Francis Poulenc, by the same name.

The French “virtue” of liberty was not applied to the Church. In fact, quite the opposite. Just a few years after the French Revolution there was a purge of high and low clergy, religious and laity. The killing of the clerics happened because the republican government seized control of the Church, a matter that was (and, remains so today) unacceptable to Catholic ecclesiology. As the state has its duty and responsibility for civic order and leadership, the Church’s mandate is found in sacred Scripture, Tradition and the Magisterium and not in positive law; in short all things pertaining to the salvation of souls. Matters of state are not the same for the Church and vice versa unless these matters concern the moral law. This, however, was not the reigning ideology. The Republicans passed legislation that rejected the authority of the Church and it wanted the bishops and priests to uphold the new laws giving the state control over the Church. Something similar had with the Oath of Supremacy in England. Clergyman and religious weren’t the only one to offer their lives as a gift to the Lord. the laity lost their lives too, aristocrats and peasant alike. Refusing to take the oath got you the label: “non-jurors.”
Some of the 191 were killed in cold blood, others were asked a question and depending on how they answered determined if they lived or died. No mental reservation was kept when it came to following the wisdom of the Church or the wisdom of man.
One observer noted that common among those put to death was that all faced death in a happy manner as one who would’ve gone to a wedding. Indeed, the wedding feast the martyrs were going to was the Wedding Feast of the Lamb (see the Book of Revelation).
The names beatified by Pope Pius XI in 1926 are listed here.

Saint Lawrence

Martrdom of St Lawrence Fra Angelico.jpgAs blessed Lawrence lay on the gridiron, to which the
torturers held him fast with forks over the burning coals of fire, he cried out
to the wicked magistrate: “The roasting is done! turn now the carcass and
devour, for the rest of the substance of the church, which you desired, has
been garnered up into heaven by the hands of the poor!
(an antiphon)

In today’s Office of Readings of the Roman Divine Office the Church gives to us for meditation a piece written on the martyr Saint Lawrence by the great Saint Augustine of Hippo:

The Roman Church commends to us
today the anniversary of the triumph of Saint Lawrence. For on this day he
trod the furious pagan world underfoot and flung aside its allurements, and so
gained victory over Satan’s attack on his faith. As you have often heard, Lawrence
was a deacon of the Church at Rome. There he ministered the sacred blood of
Christ; there for the sake of Christ’s Name he poured out his own blood
. St.
John the Apostle was evidently teaching us about the mystery of the Lord’s
Supper when he wrote, “Just as Christ laid down His life for us, so we
ought to lay down our lives for the brethren
.” Lawrence understood this,
and, understanding, he acted on it. Just as he had partaken of a gift of self
at the table of the Lord, so he prepared to offer such a gift. In his life,
Lawrence loved Christ; in his death, he followed n Christ’s footsteps.

Saint Agrippina, martyr

The Church liturgically commemorates the feast of Saint Agrippina, a Roman martyr who lived at the time of Emperor Valerian (153-259). Not called to be married to a believer or unbeliever but called to fully dedicate her life to Christ, Agrippina confessed in public her faith in Christ as Savior for which she was tortured. After being beatened, tradition says, she was chained by the government yet released by an angel. She died from her torture. Initially, Saint Agrippina was buried in Sicily by three Christian women: Bassa, Paula and Agathonice; her relics were later transfered to Constantinople.
Saint Agrippina is often invoked by those who are suffering bacterial infections, evil spirits, leprosy and thunderstorms.
A liturgical hymn recalls Saint Agrippina:

With Your blood, O Christ, far beyond all price,

You redeemed us from our sin.
Bringing us new life, guarding us in strife,
Making us Your blood-brought kin.

St Agrippina.jpg

Praise to You, O Christ our Lord,
Both in heav’n and earth adored!
Let Your martyr’s praise
Echo through our days;
Hymning You with one accord!
Let us form a choir, take the heav’nly lyre,
To adorn Your martyr’s feast.
Faithful unto death, with her final breath
She proclaimed You King and Priest!
Praise to You, O Christ our Lord,
Both in heav’n and earth adored!
Let Your martyr’s praise
Echo through our days;
Hymning You with one accord!
In Your martyr, brave Agrippina,
You show forth Your boundless grace.
Grant that we, inspired, may like her be fired
With the zeal to see Your face!
Praise to You, O Christ our Lord,
Both in heav’n and earth adored!
Let Your martyr’s praise
Echo through our days;
Hymning You with one accord!

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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