Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Saints Faustinus and Jovita, Martyrs

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The two Brothers whom we are to honor today, suffered martyrdom in the beginning of the second century, and their memory has ever been celebrated in the Church. The glory of the great ones of this world passes away, and men soon forget even their very names. Historians have oftentimes a difficulty in proving that such heroes ever existed or, if they did exist, that they flourished at such a period, or achieved anything worth notice. Brescia, the capital of one of the Italian Provinces, can scarcely mention the names of those who were its governors or leading men in the second century; and yet here are two of her citizens, whose names will be handed down, with veneration and love, to the end of the world, and the whole of Christendom is filled with the praise of their glorious martyrdom. Glory, then, to these sainted Brothers, whose example so eloquently preaches to us the great lesson of our Season—fidelity in God’s service.

The sufferings which merited for them the crown of immortality are thus recorded in the Liturgy.

Faustinus et Jovita fratres nobiles Brixiani, in multis Italiæ urbibus quo vincti, sæviente Trajani persecutione, ducebantur, acerbissima supplicia perpessi, fortes in christianæ fidei confessione perstiterunt. Nam Brixiæ diu vinculis constricti, feris etiam objecti in ignemque conjecti, et a bestiis et flamma integri et incolumes servati sunt; inde very iisdem catenis colligati Mediolanum venerunt, ubi eorum fides tentata exquisitissimis tormentis, tanquam igne aurum, in cruciatibus magis enituit. Postea Romam missi, ab Evaristo Pontifice confirmati, ibi quoque crudelissime torquentur. Denique perducti Neapolim, in ea etiam urbe varie cruciati, vinctis manibus pedibusque in mare demerguntur: unde per Angelos mirabiliter erepti sunt. Quare multos et constantia in tormentis, et miraculorum vitute ad Christi fidem converterunt. Postremo reducti Brixiam, initio sucepti ab Adriano imperii, securi percussi, illustrem martyrii coronam acceperunt.

The two brothers, Faustinus and Jovita, were born of a noble family in Brescia. During the persecution under Trajan, they were led captives through various cities of Italy, in each of which they were made to endure most cruel sufferings, by reason of their brave confession of the Christian faith, which nothing could induce them to deny. At Brescia, they were for a long time confined in chains; then were exposed to wild beasts, and cast into fire, from neither of which tortures did they receive hurt or harm. From Brescia they were sent to Milan, still fettered with the same chains: and there their faith was put to the test of every torment that cruelty could devise; but, like gold that is tried by fire, their faith shone the brighter by these sufferings. After this, they were sent to Rome, where they received encouragement from Pope Evaristus; but there, also, were made to endure most cruel pains. At length, they were taken to Naples, and there, again, put to sundry tortures; after which, they were bound hand and foot, and cast into the sea; but were miraculously delivered by Angels. Many persons were converted to the true faith, by seeing their courage in suffering, and the miracles they wrought. Finally, they were led back to Brescia, at the commencement of the reign of the Emperor Adrian; there they were beheaded, and received the crown of a glorious martyrdom.

When we compare our trials with yours, noble Martyrs of Christ, and our combats with those that you had to fight—how grateful ought we not to be to our Lord for his having so mercifully taken our weakness into account! Should we have been able to endure the tortures wherewith you had to purchase heaven, we that are so easily led to break the law of God, so tardy in our conversion, so weak in faith in charity? And yet, we are made for that same heaven which you now possess. God holds out a crown to us also, and we are not at liberty to refuse it. Rouse up our courage, brave Martyrs! Get us a spirit of resistance against the world and our evil inclinations; that thus, we may confess our Lord Jesus Christ, not only with our lips, but with our works too, and testify, by our conduct, that we are Christians.

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