Sunday, September 23, 2018

Saint Linus, Pope and Martyr; Commemoration of Saint Thecla, Virgin and Martyr

Red
Semidouble

The lives of the first Vicars of Christ are buried in a mysterious obscurity; just as the foundations of a monument built to defy the ravages of time are concealed from view. To be the supports of the everlasting Church is a sufficient glory: sufficient to justify our confidence in them, and to awaken our gratitude. Let us leave the learned to discuss certain points in the following short Legend; as for ourselves, we will rejoice with the Church on this feast, and pay our loving veneration to the humble and gentle Pontiff, who was the first laid to rest beside St. Peter in the Vatican crypts.

Linus Pontifex, Volaterris in Etruria natus, primus post Petrum gubernavit Ecclesiam. Cujus tanta fides et sanctitas fuit, ut non solum dæmones ejiceret, sed etiam mortuos revocaret ad vitam. Scripsit res gestas beati Petri, et ea maxime quæ ab illo acta sunt contra Simonem magum. Sancivit, ne qua mulier, nisi velato capite in ecclesiam introiret. Huic Pontifici caput amputatum est ob constantiam christianæ fidei, jussu Saturnini impii et ingratissimi consularis, cujus filiam a dæmonum vexatione liberaverat. Sepultus est in Vaticano prope sepulchrum principis Apostolorum, nono calendas octobris. Sedit annos undecim, menses duos, dies viginti tres, creatis bis mense decembri episcopis quindecim, presbyteris decem et octo.

Pope Linus was born at Volterra in Tuscany, and was the first to succeed St. Peter in the government of the Church. His faith and holiness were so great, that he not only cast out devils, but even raised the dead to life. He wrote the acts of blessed Peter, and in particular what he had done against Simon Magus. He decreed that no woman should enter a church with her head uncovered. On account of his constancy in confessing the Christian faith, this Pontiff was beheaded by command of Saturninus, a wicked and ungrateful ex-consul, whose daughter he had delivered from the tyranny of the devils. He was buried on the Vatican, near the sepulcher of the Prince of the Apostles, on the ninth of Kalends of October. He governed the Church eleven years, two months, and twenty-three days. In two ordinations in the month of December he consecrated fifteen bishops and eighteen priests.

Simon Bar-Jona was invested with the sovereign Pontificate by our Lord in person, and openly before all; thou, O blessed Pontiff, didst receive in secret, yet nonetheless directly from Jesus, the keys of the kingdom of heaven. In thy person began the reign of pure faith; henceforth the Bride, though she hears not the Man-God repeat his injunction to Peter: feed my lambs, nevertheless acknowledges the continuance of his authority in the lawfully appointed representative of her Divine Spouse. Obtain by thy prayers, that the shadows of earth may never cause us to waver in our obedience; and that hereafter we may merit, with thee, to contemplate our Divine Head in the light of eternal day.

While honoring the first successor of St. Peter, Rome commemorates the protomartyr of the female sex. Together with holy Church, then, let us unite in the concert of praise unanimously lavished upon Thecla by the Fathers of East and West. When the martyr pontiff Methodius gave his “Banquet of Virgins” to the Church, about the end of the third century, it is on the brow of the virgin of Iconium that he placed the fairest of the crowns distributed at the banquet of the Spouse. And justly so; for had not Thecla been trained by Paul, who had made her more learned in the Gospel than she was before in philosophy and every science? Heroism in her kept pace with knowledge; her magnanimity of purpose was equalled by her courage; while, strong in the virginal purity of her soul and body, she triumphed over fire, wild beasts, and sea monsters, and won the glory of a triple martyrdom.

A fresh triumph is hers at the mysterious “Banquet”. Wisdom has taken possession of her and, like a divine harp, makes music in her soul, which is echoed on her lips in words of wondrous eloquence and sublime poetry. When the feast is over and the virgins rise to give thanks to the Lord, Thecla leads the chorus, singing: “For thee, O Bridegroom, I keep myself pure; and with burning lamp I come to meet thee.

“I have fled from the bitter pleasures of mortals, and the luxurious delights of life and its live; under thy life-giving arms I desire to be protected, and to gaze forever on thy beauty, O blessed One.

“For thee, O Bridegroom, I keep myself pure; and with burning lamp I come to meet thee.

“I have contemned union with mortal man; I have left my golden home for thee, O King; I have come in undefiled robes, that I may enter with thee into thy happy bridal chamber.

“For thee, O Bridegroom, I keep myself pure; and with burning lamp I come to meet thee.

“Having escaped the enchanting wiles of the serpent, and triumphed over the flaming fire and the attacks of wild beasts, I await thee from heaven.

“For thee, O Bridegroom, I keep myself pure; and with burning lamp I come to meet thee.

“Through love of thee, O Word, I have forgotten the land of my birth; I have forgotten the virgins my companions, and even the desire of mother and of kindred; for thou, O Christ, art all things to me.

“For thee, O Bridegroom, I keep myself pure; and with burning lamp I come to meet thee.”

Prayer

Da, quæsumus omnipotens Deus: ut qui beatæ Theclæ Virginis et Martyris tuæ natalitia colimus, et annua solemnitate lætemur, et tantæ fidei proficiamus exemplo. Per Dominum.

Grant, we beseech thee, Almighty God, that we, who celebrate the festival of blessed Thecla, thy virgin and martyr, may rejoice in her annual solemnity, and make progress by the example of such great faith. Through our Lord.

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