Tag Archives: Emperor Decius

St. Agatha, Virgin & Martyr

St. Agatha

Today, February 5th, the universal Church honors St. Agatha, her name meaning “good,” one of the most highly honored virgin martyrs in Christian antiquity.

Agatha lived in the third century, having been born of a wealthy and noble family in Sicily.  At some time in her very early life, Agatha dedicated herself to Our Lord Jesus Christ.  At or about the age of 15, Agatha spurned the attempted amorous advances of Quintianus, the Roman prefect of Catania.  Because of this rejection, Quintianus made sure she was persecuted for her Christian faith.  St. Agatha prayed the following prayer before her persecution began:

Jesus Christ, Lord of all, thou seest my heart, thou knowest my desires.  Do thou alone possess all that I am.  I am thy sheep:  make me worthy to overcome the Devil.

Accordingly, he sent Agatha to Aphrodisia, the madame so to speak, of a house of prostitution.  Agatha refused to work and present herself as a prostitute because of her pledge to Jesus that she had devoted herself to Him.  Quintianus then had her come before him, putting her in prison.

We must keep in mind the fact that this occurred during the reign of the Roman Emperor Decius, who hated Christianity and Christians.  Not only was it his desire to eliminate all Christians by torture and/or death, he wanted to completely eliminate the religion of Christianity.  Of course then, this policy was also adopted by the officials of Rome.  Quintianus then subjected Agatha to interrogation, wherein all along, Agatha declared that she was the servant of Jesus Christ.  Therefore, Quintianus made sure that she was to experience the most hideous and cruel tortures, which included but was not limited to having her breasts cut out.  But St. Peter appeared to her consoling her wherein she was miraculously healed.  She nevertheless remained in prison.

Before she died, she said this beautiful prayer to Jesus:

Lord, my Creator, thou has always protected me from the cradle; thou has taken me from the love of the world and given me patience to suffer.  Receive now my soul.  

She died in prison in 253 A.D., succumbing to the continual torture and abuse.  Our dear St. Agatha is mentioned in the canon of the Mass.  In contemporary times, she is known as the patron saint of women who suffer from breast cancer.

Again, we study about a beautiful lady with nerves and a will of steel because she never abandoned her Faith in Our Lord Jesus Christ, no matter what the torture.  What she went through for Jesus we cannot ever imagine.  Her loyalty to Our Lord never ceased, which is a quality severely wanting in today’s society.  Because of your specific torture dear St. Agatha, I ask your intercession before the Triune God to help all women throughout the world who are suffering from breast cancer; please ask Our Lord to heal them and bring them rest and peace.  We honor you today dearest young lady, and pray that in our lives, we will live it with similar loyalty, courage, determination and love!

Respectfully,

Joan

Sources:  One Hundred Saints, Bulfinch Press; Vatican website; Butler’s Lives of the Saints, edited by Michael Walsh; Catholic Encyclopedia; Wikipedia

St. Felix of Nola

St. Felix of Nola

Today the universal Church celebrates a most courageous early Christian, St. Felix of Nola.

He was born at Nola, a place near Naples, Italy, wherein he lived in the third century.  After his father died, he distributed his goods to others and was ordained a priest by the Bishop of Nola, Maximus.

In the year 250, the Emperor Decius began his persecution of the Christians.  This particular Emperor did not just want to eradicate the Christian people, but he desired to fully eradicate the Christian religion, wherein, of course, he failed.  Bishop Maximus was forced to flee this persecution, but the persecutors seized Felix.  He was brutally scourged, tortured. loaded with chains and cast into prison.  One night, an angel informed him to help the Bishop.  He was completely freed of his chains and the doors opened.  Consequently, Felix went to help the Bishop whom he found helpless, being cold and hungry.

The Decian persecution ended the next year and Felix returned to his priestly duties.  Bishop Maximus died, and Felix was earnestly desired to serve as their new Bishop; but, he declined, desiring that one of the more senior priests take this position.

Felix rented three acres of land, tilling it with his own hands, giving to the poor as needed, being generous with his possessions.

He died on January 14th, but the actual year of his death is uncertain.  Five churches were built in his honor outside Nola, where his remains are kept.  St. Paulinus, a porter to one of these churches, testified that there were numerous pilgrimages made in honor of St. Felix.  Indeed and in fact, the poems and letters of St. Paulinus on St. Felix are the actual source from which St. Gregory of Tours, Venerable Bede and the priest, Marcellus, have drafted their biographies of St. Felix.

Have you ever heard of the phrase, “Put your money where your mouth is. . .?”  This is what St. Felix did:  he lived his Christian Faith to the fullest, notwithstanding any and all consequences, including being put into prison and tortured for his Faith.  He lived his faith completely, with a generous spirit, remembering to give to others and standing for the Truth, Our Lord Jesus Christ.  Let us remember his example of true love, generosity and bravery.

Respectfully,

Joan

Sources:  Catholic Encyclopedia; Wikipedia

The Devil and St. Cyprian

CyprianofCarthage

Last Wednesday, our Catholic Study Group read about St. Cyprian, who was a public orator, teacher of rhetoric and pleader in the courts who converted to Christianity in or about 246 A.D.  As a child and to the present day, I remembered that his name was commemorated in the Roman Canon of the Mass.

In 248 A.D., Cyprian was elected the Catholic Bishop of Carthage in North Africa, and in this capacity, this great Bishop as well as all Christianity endured a brutal persecution under the emperor Decius.  Not only did Decius want to murder all Christians, he desired to completely do away with this religion.  Of course, he failed miserably.  Nevertheless, because of this persecution, Cyprian was driven into exile, wherein he ruled his Diocese by correspondence.  I think of St. Paul who also guided the Christians during his various imprisonments through all of his letters to the Christian Churches.  At or about 251 A.D., St. Cyprian returned to Carthage; however, he found that many Christians denied their faith so that they might live, but seeing their betrayal, desired to be reconciled with the Church.

It is in this context that St. Cyprian wrote his famous work, The Unity of the Catholic Church, which has 27 points, to address in part, the issues of such betrayal, and to further address those individuals who were against such a reconciliation with the Church.

But in our study of this great man, we found what he said absolutely relevant to our current situation in history.  One of our group members said that it was as though St. Cyprian was writing to us right now.  Here is what he said about the devil that we must remember in our daily lives:

The devil’s wiles must be unmasked and overcome by obedience to Christ’s commands…

Our Lord solemnly warns us:  You are the salt of the earth, and bids us in our love of good to be not only simple but prudent as well.  Accordingly, dearest brethren, what else ought we to do but be on our guard and watch vigilantly, in order to know the snares of our crafty foe and to avoid them?  Otherwise, after putting on Christ who is the Wisdom of God the Father, we may be found to have failed in wisdom for the care of our souls.  It is not persecution alone that we ought to fear, nor those forces that in open warfare range abroad to overthrow and defeat the servants of God.  It is easy enough to be on one’s guard when the danger is obvious; one can stir up one’s courage for the fight when the Enemy shows himself in his true colours.  There is more need to fear and beware of the Enemy when he creeps up secretly, when he beguiles us by a show of peace and steals forward by those hidden approaches which have earned him the name of the ‘Serpent’.  Such is ever his craft:  lurking in the dark, he ensnares men by trickery.  That was how at the very beginning of the world he deceived and by lying words of flattery beguiled the unguarded credulity of a simple soul; that was how he tried to tempt Our Lord Himself, approaching Him in disguise, as though he could once more creep upon his victim and deceive Him But he was recognized and beaten back, and he was defeated precisely through being detected and unmasked. 

Here we are given an example how to break company with the ‘old man,’ how to follow in the steps of Christ to victory, so that we may not carelessly stumble again into the snare of death, but being alive to the danger, hold fast to the immortality given us.  And how can we hold fast to immortality unless we observe those commandments of Christ by which death is defeated and conquered?  He Himself assures us:  If thou wilt attain to life, keep the commandments; and again:  If ye do what I command you, I call you no longer servants but friends. . .

This is precisely why Dr. Eowyn founded the Fellowship of the Minds, to fight evil, to fight this devil, by detecting the evil and unmasking it, and then to follow through to fight by putting on the armor of God in all aspects of our lives.  Does St. Cyprian’s description of the devil and evil remind you of what is going on in our nation and in our world?

So Truth and Light go on, because all things are possible through Jesus Christ who strengthens us, and we fight together this ‘old man’ and all evil forever and ever!  In the meantime, my fellow warriors in the Fellowship, lead by our brilliant and holy Dr. Eowyn, detect and unmask evil in all of its many forms.  St. Cyprian ultimately was martyred, beheaded, during the reign of emperor Valerian because he refused to sacrifice to the pagan gods.  We remember what St. Cyprian said about the devil, about evil, as we go forth in our daily battles.  My motto is the same as St. Joan’s motto that was written on her banner, her favorite possession, “Jesu Maria” – forever and ever!

With the greatest respect and love,

Joan

Sources:

The Treasury of Catholic Wisdom, edited and with an introduction by John A. Hardon, S.J., Ignatius Press 1995;

Butler’s Lives of the Saints, Edited by Michael Walsh, first Harper Collins Edition Published in 1991.