Tag Archives: Roman Martyrology

Saint Sylvester

St SylvesterOn this final day of the civil year Mother Church honors the memory of Pope Saint Sylvester, who guided the Church with his teaching and life during the persecutions of Diocletian, and during the period of Arianism and the Council of Nicæa. That his feast day is so close to Christmas ought to indicate to us that he had concern for the Christology of Catholic belief and life.

Pope Sylvester’s pontifical ministry saw the construction of great churches in Rome by Constantine, namely the basilica and baptistery of the Lateran near the former imperial Lateran palace where the pope lived (he now resides at the Vatican), the basilica of the Sessorian palace (the Basilica of Santa Croce where the relics of the holy passion are located), the first Church of St. Peter on Vatican Hill, and several cemeterial churches over the graves of martyrs.

More to the point for this blog, and the desire to live in a theology of communion, the sainted Pope contributed to the development of the sacred Liturgy of the Roman Church and drew together the first martyrology of Roman martyrs. Moreover, Sylvester established of the Roman school of chant and music.

Pope Saint Sylvester is buried at the Church connected with the Catacomb of Priscilla.

Feast of the Dispersion of the Apostles

On any number of occasions I’ve spoken about the various local commemorations of saints; not all liturgical calendars are the same due to the presence of locally venerated saints and blesseds. Saint Kateri Tekawitha is not on the liturgical calendar of Hong Kong, for example. A friend of mine brought to my attention an unusual feast, that of the Dispersion of the Apostles. It’s an Irish feast with no analogue in the USA. This is a clear example of the richness of local church. Moreover, one can say that the Catholic Church is not monolithic or hegemonic. Here’s the note of my friend:

Jesus-ApostlesOn July 15, Canon O’Hanlon notes the recording, in the Martyrology of Aengus, of The Feast of the Dispersion of the Apostles. This feast marks the dispersal of the Holy Apostles to their various missionary destinations, but in some of the copies of Saint Aengus’s calendar, a list of not only the biblical Twelve Apostles is appended, but also a list of the ‘Twelve Apostles of Ireland’. This was a name given to a group of early saints, students of Saint Finnian of Clonard, who themselves dispersed to various parts of Ireland to evangelise this country, some of them are also credited with founding missions outside of Ireland. In the account below I have transferred the actual quotations from the Martyrology out of the footnotes and into the main body of Canon O’Hanlon’s text. I have also added some notes on the identities of the Irish Twelve:

Festival of the Twelve Apostles

In the ancient Irish Church, on the 15th day of July, was celebrated the Festival of the Twelve Apostles, as we read in the “Feilire” of St. Aengus. In the “Leabhar Breac” copy is the following Irish rann, translated into English, by Whitley Stokes, LL.D.

“The twelve Apostles who excel every number, before a countless host Jesus distributed them among Adam’s seed.”

There is an Irish stanza annexed, in which those Twelve Apostles are severally named. Thus translated into English.

“Simon, Matthaeus and Matthew, Bartholomew, Thomas, Thaddaeus, Peter, Andrew, Philip, Paul, John and the two Jameses.”

And succeeding it, there is another, enumerating the Twelve Apostles of Ireland. This is headed “XII. Apostoli Hiberniae,” and then follow these lines, thus translated into English:

“The Twelve Apostles of Ireland”:

“Two Finnens, two chaste Colombs, Ciaran, Caindech, fair Comgall, Two Brenainns, Ruadan with splendour, Nindid, Mobii, son of Natfraech.”

This ancient Festival, styled the Separation of the Apostles of Christ for their Missions in various parts of the old world, has been often alluded to by the early Greek and Latin Fathers. The Bollandists, who place it at the 15th of July, have a learned disquisition on its origin and history, to which the reader is referred.

Notes on the Twelve Apostles of Ireland:

Two Finnens – the two great Saint Finnians – Finnian of Clonard, ‘tutor of the saints of Ireland’ and Finnian of Moville.

Two Chaste Colombs – Saint Columba of Iona and Saint Columba of Terryglass.

Ciaran – Some lists include two Ciarans, both Saint Ciaran the Elder (of Saighir) and Ciaran the Younger (of Clonmacnoise).

Caindech – Saint Canice or Kenneth of Kilkenny.

Fair Comgall – Saint Comgall of Bangor.

Two Brenainns – Saints Brendan the Elder (of Birr) and Brendan the Younger (the Navigator) of Clonfert.

Ruadan with splendour – Saint Ruadhan of Lorrha.

Nindid – Saint Ninnidh of Inismacsaint.

Mobii – Saint Mobhí of Glasnevin.

Son of Natfraech – Molaise of Devenish

Finally, it may be noted that the list of the Twelve Apostles of Ireland is preserved in various manuscripts which do not always tally. Some of the saints, not present on this list, can include Saints Senan and Sinell.

Saint Jeremiah

Holy Prophet Jeremiah.jpg

The Catholic Church places the Old Testament prophets, like Jeremiah, for example, as saints. The Roman Martyrology is the Church’s official book listing the saints (the entry is below); typically the OT prophets are not commemorated at the altar.


Saint Jeremiah’s Prayer for Protection

Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed. Save me, and I shall be saved, for You are my boast. Behold they say to me,”Where is the word of the Lord? Let it come.” But I have not grown weary in following after You, nor have I desired the day of man. You know the words of my lips are before Your face. Do not be as a stranger to me, and spare me in the evil day. Let those who persecute me be put to shame, but I may not be ashamed. May they , but not I, be terrified. Bring upon them an evil day and crush them with a double destruction.


From the Roman Martyrology (2005), we read, 


Commemoratio sancti Ieremiae, prophetae, qui, tempore Ioachim et Sedeciae, regum Iudae, Civitatis Sanctae eversionem populique deportationem monens, multas persecutiones passus est, quam ob rem Ecclesia eum habuit ut Christi patientis figuram.  Novum aeternumque insuper Testamentum in ipso Christo Iesu consummandum praenuntiavit, quo Pater omnipotens legem suam in imo filiorum Israel corde scriberet, ut esset ipse iis in Deum et essent illi ei in populum.


A translation:

The Commemmoration of Saint Jeremiah the prophet, who in the days of Joachim and Zedekiah, Kings of Judah, warned of the sack of the Holy City and the expulsion of its people. He suffered such persecution that the Church holds him as a figure of the suffering Christ. He, moreover, prophesied the the new and everlasting testament would be perfected in Christ Jesus Himself in Whom the almighty Father would write His law in the very hearts of the sons of Israel, that He might be their God and they His people.

Saint Isaiah, Prophet

St Isaiah prophet.jpeg

In the Roman Martyrology we read that today the Church liturgically recalls Saint Isaiah, a major prophet in the Old Testament. A translation of the entry found in the Martyrology:

Commemoration of holy Isaiah, the prophet, who, in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, was sent to reveal that the Lord was faithful and a savior to an unfaithful and sinful people, and to fulfill the promise swear by God to David. It is said that he met death as a martyr at the hands of the Jews under king Manassah.

Blessing of Basil on the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross

I am giving emphasis these days on knowing what we believe as Catholics by looking at the liturgical sources. We first go to the sacred Liturgy to study and pray the prayers prayed by the priest for Mass, Lauds, Vespers, or those smaller rites such as the Blessing of Basil that you would find on today’s feast of the Holy Cross, also called the Roodmas. Ours is a richly endowed sacramental faith.

“The Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, which,
the day after the dedication of the Basilica of the Resurrection raised over
the tomb of Christ, is exalted and honored, in the manner of a memorial of His
paschal victory and the sign which is to appear in the sky, already announcing
in advance His second coming” (from the Roman Martyrology)


The Blessing of Basil

V. Our help is in the
name of the Lord.

R. Who made heaven and earth.

Let us pray.

Almighty and
merciful God, deign, we beseech You, to bless Your creature, this aromatic
basil leaf. + Even as it delights our senses, may it recall for us the triumph
of Christ, our Crucified King and the power of His Precious Blood to purify and
preserve us from evil so that, planted beneath His Cross, we may flourish to
Your glory and spread abroad the fragrance of His sacrifice. Who is Lord
forever and ever.

R. Amen.

The bouquets of basil leaf are sprinkled with Holy

Read more ...

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.
coat of arms



Humanities Blog Directory