CATHOLIC NEWS WORLD: MON. MAR. 7, 2011: HEADLINES-
REFLECTING ON THE MYSTERY OF THE DIVINE CALL
VATICAN CITY, 5 MAR 2011 (VIS REPORTS) - Yesterday afternoon, in keeping with an annual tradition, the Holy Father visited the Major Roman Seminary for the occasion of the feast of its patroness, Our Lady of Trust.
In the major chapel of the seminary, the Pope presided at a "lectio divina" for all seminarians in the diocese of Rome, focusing on the Letter of St. Paul to the Ephesians. (Image source: Radio Vaticana)
Commenting on the word "call" or "vocation" as used by St. Paul, Benedict XVI highlighted how "Christian life begins with a call and is itself always a response, until the end". In this context he affirmed that "the image of the Annunciation to Mary represents much more than that single evangelical episode: ... it contains the whole mystery of Mary, her entire story, her very being. At the same time it speaks of the Church, of her eternal essence, and of each individual believer in Christ, of each Christian soul which receives the call".
"The Lord", he went on, "has called each of us; each is called by name. God is so great that He has time for each of us. He knows me, He knows each of us by name, personally. ... I believe that we must meditate on this mystery again and again: God, the Lord, has called me, He calls me, He knows me and awaits my response as He awaited Mary's response, as He awaited the response of the Apostles".
Turning then to consider the Lord's humility, about which St. Paul speaks in his Letter to the Philippians, the Pope said: "the God Who came down to me, Who was so great as to become my friend and to suffer for me, Who died for me: this is the humility we must learn, the humility of God. It follows that we must always see ourselves in the light of God, so as to appreciate how great it is to be loved by Him and, at the same time, to see our own smallness, our poverty, and thus rightly comport ourselves not as masters but as servants".
After then highlighting how "the call of God is also a call in community, an ecclesial call", the Holy Father explained that "the Holy Spirit creates the body and unites us as a single body. ... In this way we are in union with Christ, accepting the corporeity of His Church, of the Spirit which is incarnated in the body".
"We also have to bear in mind how beautiful it is to be part of a company, ... having friends in heaven and on earth, experiencing the beauty of this body, being happy that the Lord has called us into a single body and given us friends all over the world".
In closing, Benedict XVI reflected on "the importance of always seeking communion in the one Christ, the one God".
"The unity of the Church", he concluded, "is the result of harmony, of a shared commitment to act like Jesus, by virtue of His spirit. ... In order to conserve unity of spirit, it is necessary to mould our own behaviour on the humility, sweetness and magnanimity to which Jesus bore witness in His Passion. Our hands and heart must be tied by that bond of love which He accepted for us, making Himself our servant".
VATICAN CITY, 5 MAR 2011 (VIS) - The Holy Father:
- Appointed Bishop Dieudonne Watio of Nkongsamba, Cameroon, as bishop of Bafoussam (area 13,000, population 1,917,000, Catholics 333,500, priests 125, religious 216), Cameroon.
- Appointed Bishop Dominic Kimengich, auxiliary of Lodwar, Kenya, as bishop of the same diocese (area 77,000, population 570,000, Catholics 73,585, priests 49, permanent deacons 1, religious 92). He succeeds Bishop Patrick Joseph Harrington S.M.A., whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, in accordance with canon 401 para. 2 of the Code of Canon Law.
- Accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the diocese of Orvieto-Todi, Italy, presented by Archbishop Giovanni Scanavino O.S.A., in accordance with canon 401 para. 2 of the Code of Canon Law, appointing Archbishop Giovanni Marra, emeritus of Messina - Lipari - Santa Lucia del Mela, Italy, as apostolic administrator "ad nutum Sanctae Sedis" of the same archdiocese.
- Appointed Fr. Jose Luis Mumbiela Sierra, rector of the major inter-diocesan seminary of Karaganda, Kazakhstan, as bishop of the diocese of the Most Holy Trinity in Almaty (area 711,600, population 6,400,000, Catholics 50,000, priests 18, religious 27), Kazakhstan. The bishop-elect was born in Lleida, Spain in 1969 and ordained a priest in 1995. He succeeds Bishop Henry Theophilus Howaniec O.F.M., whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.
- Appointed Fr. Atanaz Orosz, currently superior of the preparatory year at the central seminary of Budapest, Hungary, as apostolic exarch of Miskolc (Catholics 20,000, priests 31), Hungary. The bishop-elect was born in Nyiregyhaza, Hungary in 1960 and ordained a priest in 1985.
VATICAN CITY, 6 MAR 2011 (VIS) - At midday today, Benedict XVI appeared at the window of his study to pray the Angelus with faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square below.
"This Sunday's Gospel reading", he said, "presents the conclusion to the 'Sermon on the Mount' in which the Lord Jesus, using the parable of the two houses, one built on rock and the other on sand, invites the disciples to listen to His words and put them into practice".
"Jesus is the living Parable of God. ... In all times and places, those who have the grace of knowing Jesus ... remain fascinated by Him, recognising that ... He reveals the true face of God, at the same time revealing us to ourselves ... showing us the solid foundation upon which to build our lives.
"Yet often", the Holy Father added, "man does not build his actions and his life on this identity, preferring the sands of power, of success and of money, thinking that there he will find stability and the response to the irrepressible demand for happiness and fulfilment he carries in his soul. And we", the Pope asked, "upon what do we wish to build our lives? Who can truly respond to the disquiet of the human heart? Christ is the rock of our lives! He is the eternal and definitive word Who ensures we do not fear adversity, difficulty and discomfort".
"May the Word of God permeate all our life, thoughts and actions", the Pope concluded, exhorting everyone "to make space for the Word of God every day" because it helps "to protect us from superficial activism, which may fill a moment of pride but which in the end leaves us empty and dissatisfied".
VATICAN CITY, 6 MAR 2011 (VIS) - After praying the Angelus today, the Pope stated that he is "following with great concern the tensions which are currently being manifested in various countries of Africa and Asia.
"I ask the Lord Jesus that the moving sacrifice of the life of the Pakistani minister Shahbaz Bhatti may arouse in people's consciences the courage and commitment to defend the religious freedom of all men and, in this way, to promote their equal dignity.
"My thoughts also turn to Libya where recent clashes have left many dead and created a growing humanitarian crisis. To all the victims, and to all those who find themselves in harrowing situations, I give assurances of my closeness and prayers, while at the same time invoking aid and assistance for everyone affected".
VATICAN CITY, 7 MAR 2011 (VIS) - The Holy See Press Office today announced that Cardinal Attilio Nicora, president of the Financial Information Authority, has appointed Francesco De Pasquale as director of the same institution. The new director has, since 1990, been a member of the Italian delegation to the Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering (GAFI).
VATICAN CITY, 7 MAR 2011 (VIS) - Given below are extracts of a Vatican Radio interview with Marcello Condemi, associate professor of economic law at Rome's G. Marconi University and a Bank of Italy expert on money laundering.
Question: Some two months have passed since 30 December 2010, when the Holy See issued new laws concerning money laundering and the financing of terrorism, and published the Apostolic Letter "Motu Proprio data" signed by the Supreme Pontiff. Since then what important moves have been made, within the Holy See, to implement those dispositions?
Answer: "Within a very brief time the Pope identified and appointed the members of the administrative council of the Financial Information Authority. ... The people who make up the council, first and foremost Cardinal Attilio Nicora a figure well-known for his abilities, were appointed by an act of the Supreme Pontiff on 19 January; that is, just twenty days after the publication of the anti-money laundering law.
"This has enabled the authority - while waiting for law CXXVII concerning money laundering to come into effect, something due to take place on 1 April - to begin working in view of the delicate tasks that await it. Firstly, it has established a headquarters, which by the terms of the Statute is in Vatican City State, and specifically in Palazzo San Carlo. Furthermore, it is reviewing the bodies which, by virtue of their typological or organisational characteristics, are believed, in accordance with article two of the law, to be subject to the anti-money laundering norms therein contained.
"All this has been done using the professional qualities and great willingness of the members of the administrative council, though without failing to attend to the effective organisational structure of the authority through acquisition of the necessary professional resources. In this context, we must emphasise the selection ... of the director who has taken office today and who, in keeping with the Statute, has responsibility for 'the operational activities of the Authority'; in other words, for making the decisions and strategic goals adopted by the administrative council operational. This appointment has gone to an important professional figure who for many years has concerned himself with, among other things, the prevention and countering of money laundering and financing of terrorism. The new director has, since 1990, been a member of the Italian delegation to the Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering (GAFI) and is an expert in evaluating the degree to which the norms of the Statute conform to international anti-money laundering standards".
Q: In an interview you gave on 30 December, you highlighted the Holy See's determination to continue to adapt its legislation to international norms concerning money laundering, Have steps also been made in this direction?
A: "First of all, I would like to highlight that the anti-money laundering legislation published on 30 December represents a solid legal foundation for prevention and countering, something which has been recognised by various authorities. Suffice to mention the introduction of the crime of self-money laundering which cannot fail to produce important results also as concerns identifying any suspect operations. ... I would also point out that the Holy See, in communicating with MONEYVAL (an office of the Council of Europe linked to GAFI), has reiterated its determination to continue the journey it has begun and has expressed its readiness formally to adhere to the international organisations charged with countering money laundering and the financing of terrorism, and to the methods with which they work".
Q: In view of the proximity of 1 April do you believe the authority is capable of collecting and processing any suspect operations it may learn about, thus beginning its co-operation with other authorities?
A: "The authority is working hard towards this goal so that, on 1 April, it will be in a position to collect any suspect operations it may learn about, process them according to law and send them, if the necessary legal requirements exist, to the judicial authorities of Vatican City State".
VATICAN CITY, 7 MAR 2011 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in audience Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, archbishop of Genoa, Italy and president of the Italian Episcopal Conference.
On Saturday 5 March he received in separate audiences:
- Cardinal Marc Ouellet P.S.S., prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.
- Archbishop Leopoldo Girelli, apostolic nuncio to Singapore and East Timor, apostolic delegate to Malaysia and to Brunei, and non-residential pontifical representative for Vietnam.
- Six prelates from the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines on their "ad limina" visit:
- Bishop Guillermo V. Afable of Digos.
- Bishop Patricio H. Alo of Mati.
- Bishop Wilfredo D. Manlapaz of Tagum.
- Bishop Angelito R. Lampon O.M.I., apostolic vicar of Jolo.
- Bishop Warlito I. Cajandig, apostolic vicar of Calapan.
- Bishop Antonio Palang S.V.D., apostolic vicar of San Jose in Mindoro.
Riyadh (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Every jasmine revolution-like protest or rally is banned in Saudi Arabia, the Saudi Interior minister announced on TV. Security forces are prepared to use every means at their disposal to prevent actions that threatened public order. On Sunday, the country’s top religious leaders issued a statement, slamming as “unIslamic” calls for demonstrations and pro-reform petitions.
Both announcements come in the wake of a series of protests that broke out in Shia regions of the country, not far from Bahrain, and a wave of online appeals for a jasmine uprising similar to that of Egypt and Tunisia. The turn of events was sufficient for King Abdullah to adopt measures to reduce social dissatisfaction (see “Jasmine uprisings: Saudi Arabia fears contagion, contemplates reforms,” inAsiaNews, 21 February 2011).
"Regulations in the kingdom forbid categorically all sorts of demonstrations, marches and sit-ins, as they contradict Islamic Sharia law and the values and traditions of Saudi society," the Saudi Interior Ministry statement said. Police, it said, was "authorised by law to take all measures needed against those who try to break the law".
However, Shia clergyman Tawfiq al-Ahmar was released on Sunday. He had been arrested on 27 February after calling for a constitutional monarchy. Saudi Arabia is an absolute monarchy under wahhabi rule.
The ten-member Council of Senior Scholars, chaired by the Mufti of Saudi Arabia, issued a statement saying that “The council stresses that demonstrations are prohibited in this country, and that the Islamic way of realising common interest is by offering advice”.
“Reform and advice are the Islamic way and would carry benefits and prevent evil, and that does not happen through intimidating and seditious statements on which signatures are collected," the statement read.
The declaration was referring here to online appeals for demonstrations on 11 and 20 March, and to the requests addressed to King Abdullah made by intellectuals and human rights activists for changes to Saudi society and constitution.
(CCCB REPORT - Ottawa) – His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI today named the Most Reverend Peter Hundt, currently Auxiliary Bishop of Toronto, as the new Bishop of Corner Brook and Labrador. With this appointment, Bishop Hundt replaces the Most Reverend Douglas Crosby, O.M.I., who had been named to the Diocese of Hamilton, Ontario, on September 24, 2010.
Bishop Peter Joseph Hundt was born in Hanover, Ontario, on August 26, 1956. He attended St. Peter's Seminary in London and was ordained to the priesthood for the Diocese of Hamilton on May 8, 1982. Bishop Hundt completed graduate studies at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas in Rome, and in 1987 was awarded a licenciate in canon law. On returning to Canada, he served as Vice Chancellor of the Diocese of Hamilton from 1987 until 1990 and as Chancellor from 1990 to 1994.
He was appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Toronto by Pope Benedict XVI on February 11, 2006, and ordained Bishop on April 25, 2006. On May 2, 2006, he was appointed Vicar General, Regional Bishop for the Northern and Eastern Pastoral Regions and as Vicar for Religious for the Archdiocese of Toronto. He is currently the Chair of the Standing Committee on Canon Law of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, as well as liaison Bishop with the English Canadian Sector of the Pontifical Mission Societies. In addition he is Chairman of the Social Affairs Commission of the Assembly of Catholic Bishops of Ontario.
The Diocese of Corner Brook and Labrador has a Catholic population of 32,060 in 64 parishes and missions, served by 26 diocesan priests, five priests who are members of religious orders, 27 women religious and five lay pastoral assistants.
CATH NEWS REPORT- From a peak of one priest for every 518 Catholics in 1966, there is now one for every 1895 Catholics - if retired priests and those not in parish ministry are included, according to a new analysis of parish ministry reported in The Age.
The report, Catholic Parish Ministry in Australia: Facing Disaster?, is a statistical analysis by former priest Peter Wilkinson, a senior research fellow at the Australian Institute of Multicultural Affairs on behalf of an active lay group, Catholics for Ministry.
In New South Wales in 15 years, it could be one priest for as many as 22,000 Catholics, one for every 13,000 in Victoria.
The huge decline in parish priests - which will intensify as the boom clerical generation ordained between 1955 and 1975 retires or dies - comes as the Catholic population is rising rapidly, largely due to immigration, the Age adds.In 2010, based on Australian Bureau of Statistics figures, the Catholic population was 5.6 million, up 470,000 from the 2006 Census.
Already one in four Australian parishes is without a full-time priest. The Australian bishops - banned by Rome from even mentioning the possibility of married priests or women priests - are trying to meet the challenge by merging parishes and recruiting priests from overseas, often on short-term arrangements - a strategy, according to Dr Wilkinson, ''of despair and desperation''.
Since 1994 184 parishes have merged. Today 1282 Australian parishes have 1523 priests but by 2025, the report says, there may be as few as 600 home-grown priests for a Catholic population estimated to top seven million.
Sts. Perpetua & Felicity
Feast: March 7
EWTN- From their most valuable genuine acts, quoted by Tertullian, l. de anima, c. 55, and by St. Austin, serm. 280, 283, 294. The first part of these acts, which reaches to the eve of her martyrdom, was written by St. Perpetua. The vision of St. Saturus was added by him. The rest was subjoined by an eye-witness of their death. See Tillemont, t. 3, p. 139. Ceillier, t. 2, p. 213. These acts have been often republished; but are extant, most ample and correct, in Ruinart. They were publicly read in the churches of Africa, as appears from St. Austin, Serm. 180. See them vindicated from the suspicion of Montanism, by Orsi, Vindicae Act. SS. Perpetuae et Felicitatis.
A violent persecution being set on foot by the emperor Severus, in 202, it reached Africa the following year; when, by order of Minutius Timinianus, (or Firminianus,) five catechumens were apprehended at Carthage for the faith: namely, Revocatus, and his fellow-slave Felicitas, Saturninus, and Secundulus, and Vibia Perpetua. Felicitas was seven months gone with child; and Perpetua had an infant at her breast, was of a good family, twenty-two years of age, and married to a person of quality in the city. She had a father, a mother, and two brothers; the third, Dinocrates, died about seven years old. These five martyrs were joined by Saturus, probably brother to Saturninus, and who seems to have been their instructor: he underwent a voluntary imprisonment, because he would not abandon them. The father of St. Perpetua, who was a pagan, and advanced in years, loved her more than all his other children. Her mother was probably a Christian, as was one of her brothers, the other a catechumen. The martyrs were for some days before their commitment kept under a strong guard in a private house: and the account Perpetua gives of their sufferings to the eve of their death, is as follows: "We were in the hands of our persecutors, when my father, out of the affection he bore me, made new efforts to shake my resolution. I said to him: 'Can that vessel, which you see, change its name?' He said: 'No.' I replied: 'Nor can I call myself any other than I am, that is to say, a Christian.' At that word my father in a rage fell upon me, as if he would have pulled my eyes out, and beat me: but went away in confusion, seeing me invincible: after this we enjoyed a little repose, and in that interval received baptism. The Holy Ghost, on our coming out of the water, inspired me to pray for nothing but patience under corporal pains. A few days after this we were put into prison: I was shocked at the horror and darkness of the place, for till then I knew not what such sort of places were. We suffered much that day, chiefly on account of the great heat caused by the crowd, and the ill-treatment we met with from the soldiers. I was moreover tortured with concern, for that I had not my infant. But the deacons, Tertius and Pomponius, who assisted us, obtained, by money, that we might pass some hours in a more commodious part of the prison to refresh ourselves. My infant being brought to me almost famished, I gave it the breast. I recommended him afterwards carefully to my mother, and encouraged my brother, but was much afflicted to see their concern for me. After a few days my sorrow was changed into comfort, and my prison itself seemed agreeable. One day my brother said to me: 'Sister, I am persuaded that you are a peculiar favorite of Heaven: pray to God to reveal to you whether this imprisonment will end in martyrdom or not, and acquaint me of it.' I, knowing God gave me daily tokens of his goodness, answered, full of confidence, 'I will inform you tomorrow.' I therefore asked that favor of God, and had this vision. I saw a golden ladder which reached from earth to the heavens; but so narrow, that only one could mount it at a time. To the two sides were fastened all sorts of iron instruments, as swords, lances, hooks, and knives; so that if any one went up carelessly he was in great danger of having his flesh torn by those weapons. At the foot of the ladder lay a dragon of an enormous size, who kept guard to turn back and terrify those that endeavored to mount it. The first that went up was Saturus, who was not apprehended with us, but voluntarily surrendered himself afterwards on our account: when he was got to the top of the ladder, he turned towards me and said: 'Perpetua, I wait for you; but take care lest the dragon bite you.' I answered: 'In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, he shall not hurt me.' Then the dragon, as if afraid of me, gently lifted his head from under the ladder, and I, having got upon the first step, set my foot upon his head. Thus I mounted to the top, and there I saw a garden of an immense space, and in the middle of it a tall man sitting down dressed like a shepherd, having white hair. He was milking his sheep, surrounded with many thousands of persons clad in white. He called me by my name, bid me welcome, and gave me some curds made of the milk which he had drawn: I put my hands together and took and ate them; and all that were present said aloud, Amen. The noise awaked me, chewing something very sweet. As soon as I had related to my brother this vision, we both concluded that we should suffer death.
"After some days, a rumor being spread that we were to be examined, my father came from the city to the prison overwhelmed with grief: 'Daughter,' said he, 'have pity on my gray hairs, have compassion on your father, if I yet deserve to be called your father; if I myself have brought you up to this age: if you consider that my extreme love of you, made me always prefer you to all your brothers, make me not a reproach to mankind. Have respect for your mother and your aunt; have compassion on your child that cannot survive you; lay aside this resolution, this obstinacy, lest you ruin us all: for not one of us will dare open his lips any more if any misfortune be fall you.' He took me by the hands at the same time and kissed them; he threw himself at my feet in tears, and called me no longer daughter, but, my lady. I confess, I was pierced with sharp sorrow when I considered that my father was the only person of our family that would not rejoice at my martyrdom. I endeavored to comfort him, saying: 'Father, grieve not; nothing will happen but what pleases God; for we are not at our own disposal.' He then departed very much concerned. The next day, while we were at dinner, a person came all on a sudden to summon us to examination. The report of this was soon spread, and brought together a vast crowd of people into the audience-chamber. We were placed on a sort of scaffold before the judge, who was Hilarian, procurator of the province, the proconsul being lately dead. All who were interrogated before me confessed boldly Jesus Christ. When it came to my turn, my father instantly appeared with my infant. He drew me a little aside, conjuring me in the most tender manner not to be insensible to the misery I should bring on that innocent creature to which I had given life. The president Hilarian joined with my father, and said: 'What! will neither the gray hairs of a father you are going to make miserable, nor the tender innocence of a child, which your death will leave an orphan, move you? Sacrifice for the prosperity of the emperor.' I replied, 'I will not do it.' 'Are you then a Christian?' said Hilarian. I answered: 'Yes, I am.' As my father attempted to draw me from the scaffold, Hilarian commanded him to be beaten off, and he had a blow given him with a stick, which I felt as much as if I had been struck myself; so much was I grieved to see my father thus treated in his old age. Then the judge pronounced our sentence, by which we were all condemned to be exposed to wild beasts. We then joyfully returned to our prison; and as my infant had been used to the breast, I immediately sent Pomponius, the deacon, to demand him of my father, who refused to send him. And God so ordered it that the child no longer required to suck, nor did my milk incommode me." Secundulus, being no more mentioned, seems to have died in prison before this interrogatory. Before Hilarian pronounced sentence, he had caused Saturus, Saturninus, and Revocatus, to be scourged; and Perpetua and Felicitas to be beaten on the face. They were reserved for the shows which were to be exhibited for the soldiers in the camp, on the festival of Geta, who had been made Caesar four years before by his father Severus, when his brother Caracalla was created Augustus. St. Perpetua relates another vision with which she was favored, as follows: "A few days after receiving sentence, when we were all together in prayer, I happened to name Dinocrates, at which I was astonished, because I had not before had him in my thoughts; and I that moment knew that I ought to pray for him. This I began to do with great fervor and sighing before God; and the same night I had the following vision: I saw Dinocrates coming out of a dark place, where there were many others, exceeding hot and thirsty; his face was dirty, his complexion pale, with the ulcer in his face of which he died at seven years of age, and it was for him that I had prayed. There seemed a great distance between him and me, so that it was impossible for us to come to each other. Near him stood a vessel full of water, whose brim was higher than the statue of an infant: he attempted to drink, but though he had water he could not reach it. This mightily grieved me, and I awoke. By this I knew my brother was in pain, but I trusted I could by prayer relieve him: so I began to pray for him, beseeching God with tears, day and night, that he would grant me my request; as I continued to do till we were removed to the damp prison: being destined for a public show on the festival of Caesar Geta. The day we were in the stocks I had this vision: I saw the place, which I had beheld dark before, now luminous; and Dinocrates, with his body very clean and well clad, refreshing himself, and instead of his wound a scar only. I awoke, and I knew he was relieved from his pain.
"Some days after, Pudens, the officer who commanded the guards of the prison, seeing that God favored us with many gifts, had a great esteem of us, and admitted many people to visit us for our mutual comfort. On the day of the public shows my father came to find me out, overwhelmed with sorrow. He tore his beard, he threw himself prostrate on the ground, cursed his years, and said enough to move any creature; and I was ready to die with sorrow to see my father in so deplorable a condition. On the eve of the shows I was favored with the following vision. The deacon Pomponius, methought, knocked very hard at the prison-door, which I opened to him. He was clothed with a white robe, embroidered with innumerable pomegranates of gold. He said to me: 'Perpetua, we wait for you, come along.' He then took me by the hand and led me through very rough places into the middle of the amphitheatre, and said: 'Fear not.' And, leaving me, said again: 'I will be with you in a moment, and bear a part with you in your pains.' I was wondering the beasts were not let out against us, when there appeared a very ill-favored Egyptian, who came to encounter me with others. But another beautiful troop of young men declared for me, and anointed me with oil for the combat. Then appeared a man of prodigious stature, in rich apparel, having a wand in his hand like the masters of the gladiators, and a green bough on which hung golden apples. Having ordered silence, he said that the bough should be my prize, if I vanquished the Egyptian: but that if he conquered me, he should kill me with a sword. After a long and obstinate engagement, I threw him on his face, and trod upon his head. The people applauded my victory with loud acclamations. I then approached the master of the amphitheatre, who gave me the bough with a kiss, and said: 'Peace be with you, my daughter.' After this I awoke, and found that I was not so much to combat with wild beasts as with the devils." Here ends the relation of St. Perpetua.
St. Saturus had also a vision which he wrote himself. He and his companions were conducted by a bright angel into a most delightful garden, in which they met some holy martyrs lately dead, namely, Jocundus, Saturninus, and Artaxius, who had been burned alive for the faith, and Quintus, who died in prison. They inquired after other martyrs of their acquaintance, say the acts, and were conducted into a most stately place, shining like the sun: and in it saw the king of this most glorious place surrounded by his happy subjects, and heard a voice composed of many, which continually cried: "Holy, holy, holy." Saturus, turning to Perpetua, said: "You have here what you desired." She replied: "God be praised, I have more joy here than ever I had in the flesh." He adds, Going out of the garden they found before the gate, on the right hand, their bishop of Carthage, Optatus, and on the left, Aspasius, priest of the same church, both of them alone and sorrowful. They fell at the martyr's feet, and begged they would reconcile them together, for a dissension had happened between them. The martyrs embraced them, saving: "Are not you our bishop, and you a priest of our Lord? It is our duly to prostrate ourselves before you." Perpetua was discoursing with them; but certain angels came and drove hence Optatus and Aspasius; and bade them not to disturb the martyrs, but be reconciled to each other. The bishop Optatus was also charged to heal the divisions that reigned among several of his church. The angels, after these reprimands, seemed ready to shut the gates of the garden. "Here," says he, "we saw many of our brethren and martyrs likewise. We were fed with an ineffable odor, which delighted and satisfied us." Such was the vision of Saturus. The rest of the acts were added by an eye-witness. God had called to himself Secondulus in prison. Felicitas was eight months gone with child, and as the day of the shows approached, she was inconsolable lest she should not be brought to bed before it came; fearing that her martyrdom would be deferred on that account, because women with child were not allowed to be executed before they were delivered: the rest also were sensibly afflicted on their part to leave her alone in the road to their common hope. Wherefore they unanimously joined in prayer to obtain of God that she might be delivered against the shows. Scarce had they finished their prayer, when Felicitas found herself in labor. She cried out under the violence of her pain: one of the guards asked her, if she could not bear the throes of childbirth without crying out, what she would do when exposed to the wild beasts. She answered: "It is I that suffer what I now suffer; but then there will be another in me that will suffer for me, because I shall suffer for him." She was then delivered of a daughter, which a certain Christian woman took care of, and brought up as her own child. The tribune, who had the holy martyrs in custody, being informed by some persons of little credit, that the Christians would free themselves out of prison by some magic enchantments, used them the more cruelly on that account, and forbade any to see them. Thereupon Perpetua said to him: "Why do you not afford us some relief, since we are condemned by Caesar, and destined to combat at his festival? Will it not be to your honor that we appear well fed?" At this the tribune trembled and blushed, and ordered them to be used with more humanity, and their friends to be admitted to see them. Pudens, the keeper of the prison, being already converted, secretly did them all the good offices in his power. The day before they suffered they gave them, according to custom, their last meal, which was called a free supper' and they ate in public. But the martyrs did their utmost to change it into an Agape, or Love-feast. Their chamber was full of people, whom they talked to with their usual resolution, threatening them with the judgments of God, and extolling the happiness of their own sufferings. Saturus smiling at the curiosity of those that came to see them, said to them, "Will not tomorrow suffice to satisfy your inhuman curiosity in our regard? However you may seem now to pity us, tomorrow you will clap your hands at our death, and applaud our murderers. But observe well our faces, that you may know them again at that terrible day when all men shall be judged." They spoke with such courage and intrepidity, as astonished the infidels, and occasioned the conversion of several among them.
The day of their triumph being come, they went out of the prison to go to the amphitheatre. Joy sparkled in their eyes, and appeared in all their gestures and words. Perpetua walked with a composed countenance and easy pace, as a woman cherished by Jesus Christ, with her eyes modestly cast down: Felicitas went with her, following the men, not able to contain her joy. When they came to the gate of the amphitheatre the guards would have given them, according to custom, the superstitious habits with which they adorned such as appeared at these sights. For the men, a red mantle, which was the habit of the priests of Saturn: for the women, a little fillet round the head, by which the priestesses of Ceres were known. The martyrs rejected those idolatrous ceremonies; and, by the mouth of Perpetua, said, they came thither of their own accord on the promise made them that they should not be forced to any thing contrary to their religion. The tribune then consented that they might appear in the amphitheatre habited as they were. Perpetua sung, as being already victorious; Revocatus, Saturninus, and Saturus threatened the people that beheld them with the judgments of God: and as they passed over against the balcony of Hilarian, they said to him; "You judge us in this world, but God will judge you In the next." The people, enraged at their boldness, begged they might be scourged, which was granted. They accordingly passed before the Venatores, or hunters, each of whom gave them a lash. They rejoiced exceedingly in being thought worthy to resemble our Saviour in his sufferings. God granted to each of them the death they desired; for when they were discoursing together about what kind of martyrdom would be agreeable to each, Saturninus declared that he would choose to be exposed to beasts of several sorts in order to the aggravation of his sufferings. Accordingly he and Revocatus, after having been attacked by a leopard, were also assaulted by a bear. Saturus dreaded nothing so much as a bear, and therefore hoped a leopard would dispatch him at once with his teeth. He was then exposed to a wild boar, hut the beast turned upon his keeper, who received such a wound from him that he died in a few days after, and Saturus was only dragged along by him. Then they tied the martyr to the bridge near a bear, but that beast came not out of his lodge, so that Saturus, being sound and not hurt, was called upon for a second encounter. This gave him an opportunity of speaking to Pudens, the jailer that had been converted. The martyr encouraged him to constancy in the faith, and said to him: "You see I have not yet been hurt by any beast, as I desired and foretold; believe then steadfastly in Christ; I am going where you will see a leopard with one bite take away my life." It happened so, for a leopard being let out upon him, covered him all over with blood, whereupon the people jeering, cried out, "He is well baptized." The martyr said to Pudens, "Go, remember my faith, and let our sufferings rather strengthen than trouble you. Give me the ring you have on your finger." Saturus, having dipped it in his wound, gave it him back to keep as a pledge to animate him to a constancy in his faith, and fell down dead soon after. Thus he went first to glory to wait for Perpetua, according to her vision. Some with Mabillon,1 think this Prudens is the martyr honored in Africa, on the 29th of April.
In the meantime, Perpetua and Felicitas had been exposed to a wild cow; Perpetua was first attacked, and the cow having tossed her up, she fell on her back. Then putting herself in a sitting posture, and perceiving her clothes were torn, she gathered them about her in the best manner she could, to cover herself, thinking more of decency than her sufferings. Getting up, not to seem disconsolate, she tied up her hair, which was fallen loose, and perceiving Felicitas on the ground much hurt by a toss of the cow, she helped her to rise. They stood together, expecting another assault from the beasts, but the people crying out that it was enough, they were led to the gate Sanevivaria, where those that were not killed by the beasts were dispatched at the end of the shows by the confectores. Perpetua was here received by Rusticus, a catechumen, who attended her. This admirable woman seemed just returning to herself out of a long ecstasy, and asked when she was to fight the wild cow. Being told what had passed, she could not believe it till she saw on her body and clothes the marks of what she had suffered, and knew the catechumen. With regard to this circumstance of her acts, St. Austin cries out, "Where was she when assaulted and torn by so furious a wild beast, without feeling her wounds, and when, after that furious combat, she asked when it would begin? What did she, not to see what all the world saw? What did she enjoy who did not feel such pain. By what love, by what vision, by what potion was she so transported out of herself, and as it were divinely inebriated, to seem without feeling in a mortal body?" She called for her brother, and said to him and Rusticus, "Continue firm in the faith, love one another, and be not scandalized at our sufferings." All the martyrs were now brought to the place of their butchery. But the people, not yet satisfied with beholding blood, cried out to have them brought into the middle of the amphitheatre, that they might have the pleasure of seeing them receive the last blow. Upon this, some of the martyrs rose up, and having given one another the kiss of peace, went of their own accord into the middle of the arena; others were dispatched without speaking, or stirring out of the place they were in. St. Perpetua fell into the hands of a very timorous and unskillful apprentice of the gladiators, who, with a trembling hand, gave her many slight wounds, which made her languish a long time. Thus, says St. Austin, did two women, amidst fierce beasts and the swords of gladiators, vanquish the devil and all his fury. 'the day of their martyrdom was the 7th of March, as it is marked in the most ancient martyrologies, and in the Roman calendar as old as the year 354, published by Bucherius St. Prosper says they suffered at Carthage, which agrees with all the circumstances. Their bodies were in the great church of Carthage, in the fifth age, as St. Victor2 informs us. Saint Austin says, their festival drew yearly more to honor their memory in their church, than curiosity had done to their martyrdom, They are mentioned in the canon of the Mass
|Mark 12: 1 - 12|
|1||And he began to speak to them in parables. "A man planted a vineyard, and set a hedge around it, and dug a pit for the wine press, and built a tower, and let it out to tenants, and went into another country.|
|2||When the time came, he sent a servant to the tenants, to get from them some of the fruit of the vineyard.|
|3||And they took him and beat him, and sent him away empty-handed.|
|4||Again he sent to them another servant, and they wounded him in the head, and treated him shamefully.|
|5||And he sent another, and him they killed; and so with many others, some they beat and some they killed.|
|6||He had still one other, a beloved son; finally he sent him to them, saying, `They will respect my son.'|
|7||But those tenants said to one another, `This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.'|
|8||And they took him and killed him, and cast him out of the vineyard.|
|9||What will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and destroy the tenants, and give the vineyard to others.|
|10||Have you not read this scripture: `The very stone which the builders rejected has become the head of the corner;|
|11||this was the Lord's doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes'?"|
|12||And they tried to arrest him, but feared the multitude, for they perceived that he had told the parable against them; so they left him and went away.|