Thursday, March 8, 2012


Vatican City, 7 March 2012 (VIS) - During his general audience this morning Benedict XVI concluded a series of catecheses dedicated to the prayer of Jesus. Today he turned his attention to the theme of alternating words and silence which characterised Christ's earthly life, above all on the Cross, and which is also significant in two aspects of our own lives.
Addressing the 10,000 pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square, the Pope explained that the first of these aspects "concerns accepting the Word of God. Interior and exterior silence are necessary in order to hear that Word", he said. Yet, "our age does not, in fact, favour reflection and contemplation; quite the contrary it seems that people are afraid to detach themselves, even for an instant, from the spate of words and images which mark and fill our days".
However, "the Gospels often show us ... Jesus withdrawing alone to a place far from the crowds, even from His own disciples, where He can pray in silence". Moreover, "the great patristic tradition teaches us that the mysteries of Christ are linked to silence, and only in silence can the Word find a place to dwell within us".
"This principle", the Holy Father went on, "holds true for individual prayer, but also for our liturgies which, to facilitate authentic listening, must also be rich in moments of silence and of non verbal acceptance. ... Silence has the capacity to open a space in our inner being, a space in which God can dwell, which can ensure that His Word remains within us, and that love for Him is rooted in our minds and hearts, and animates our lives".
The Pope then turned to focus on the second important aspect of the relationship between silence and prayer. "In our prayers", he said, "we often find ourselves facing the silence of God. We almost experience a sense of abandonment; it seems that God does not listen and does not respond. But this silence, as happened to Jesus, does not signify absence. Christians know that the Lord is present and listens, even in moments of darkness and pain, of rejection and solitude. Jesus assures His disciples and each one of us that God is well aware of our needs at every moment of our lives".
"For us, who are so frequently concerned with operational effectiveness and with the results ... we achieve, the prayer of Jesus is a reminder that we need to stop, to experience moments of intimacy with God, 'detaching ourselves' from the turmoil of daily life in order to listen, to return to the 'root' which nourishes and sustains our existence. One of the most beautiful moments of Jesus' prayer is when, faced with the sickness, discomfort and limitations of his interlocutors, He addresses His Father in prayer, thus showing those around him where they must go to seek the source of hope and salvation".
Christ touches the most profound point of His prayer to the Father at the moment of His passion and death, Pope Benedict said. And citing the Catechism of the Catholic Church he concluded by noting that "His cry to the Father from the cross encapsulated 'all the troubles, for all time, of humanity enslaved by sin and death, all the petitions and intercessions of salvation history are summed up in this cry of the incarnate Word. Here the Father accepts them and, beyond all hope, answers them by raising His Son. Thus is fulfilled and brought to completion the drama of prayer in the economy of creation and salvation'".

Vatican City, 7 March 2012 (VIS) - At the end of his catechesis during this morning's general audience, the Holy Father addressed some words of greeting to His Beatitude Nerses Bedros XIX Tarmouni, patriarch of Cilicia of the Armenians, and to bishops of the Armenian Catholic Church who have come to Rome for a Synod. Benedict XVI spoke of his "sincere gratitude" for the patriarch’s faithfulness to his Christian traditions and to the Successor of the Apostle Peter.
"I accompany your Synod with my fervent prayers and with an apostolic blessing, in the hope that it may favour communion and understating among pastors, helping them to guide, with renewed evangelical fervour, Armenian Catholics along the path of generous and joyful witness to Christ and His Church. ... My prayerful thoughts also go to the regions of the Middle East, and I encourage pastors and faithful to persevere with hope amidst the great suffering which afflicts those dear peoples".
Finally the Pope addressed greetings in various languages to the pilgrims gathered before him in St. Peter's Square. Speaking Polish he mentioned the victims of a recent rail accident in the country. "I pray for the eternal repose of the deceased", he said, "and for the speedy return to health of the injured".

Vatican City, 7 March 2012 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in audience Wolfgang Schauble, federal minister of finance of the Federal Republic of Germany, accompanied by an entourage.

Vatican City, 7 March 2012 (VIS) - The Holy Father:
- Included as members of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches: Cardinal Angelo Scola, archbishop of Milan, Italy; Cardinal Marc Ouellet P.S.S., prefect of the Congregation for Bishops; Cardinal Andre Vingt-Trois, archbishop of Paris, France; Cardinal Reinhard Marx, archbishop of Munich and Freising, Germany, and His Beatitude Bechara Boutros Rai, patriarch of Antioch of the Maronites.
- Confirmed Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, archbishop of Genoa, Italy, as president of the Italian Episcopal Conference for the next five years.
- Appointed Archbishop Lorenzo Baldisseri, secretary of the Congregation for Bishops, also as secretary of the College of Cardinals.
- Appointed as members of the Pontifical Committee for International Eucharistic Congresses: Archbishop Salvatore Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelisation, and Archbishop Savio Hon Tai-Fai S.D.B., secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples.
- Appointed Bishop Paulo Mendes Peixoto of Sao Jose do Rio Preto, Brazil, as metropolitan archbishop of Uberaba (area 27,228, population 746,000, Catholics 539,000, priests 78, permanent deacons 21, religious 181), Brazil. He succeeds Archbishop Aloisio Roque Oppermann S.C.I., whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same archdiocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.


March 7, 2012. ( The Holy See has invited the most important Anglican Choir to the Vatican. The Choir of Westminster Abbey will sing alongside the Vatican's official choir of the Sistine Chapel. They will perform in St. Peter's Basilica on June 29th for the feast day of St. Peter and Paul.Fr. Federico Lombardi
Vatican Spokesperson

“It's a good sign of ecumenism, of moving in the direction of exchanging rich liturgical and cultural traditions of the Christian world.”

The Choir of Westminster abbey sings at many State events with the Royal Family, such as the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton last year.

The invitation was made to the Anglican choir after the pope's visit to the United Kingdom in 2010. He invited them in order to improve relations between the two Churches as well as celebrate St. Peter, who is the patron saint for the churches of both choirs. They will also sing chants from the Anglican tradition.
Fr. Federico Lombardi
Vatican Spokesperson

“There is nothing strange because we share our Christian faith in common, for this we look to the 'cantatas' of Bach that are always sung by our Church and it shows that they are a common treasure to all the Christian traditions.”

The two choirs will first sing together at First Vespers in Rome's Basilica of Paul Outside the Walls on June 28th, and then again the following morning at the Vatican Basilica.

In preparation, the two groups will offer a public concert in London's Westminster Cathedral on May 6th.


Agenzia Fides REPORT -The Bishops of NOA (Northwest Argentina) have called for a "credible and honest dialogue" between the political and social institutions, in particular, on issues related to the mining industry in the area.
The Bishops of NOA gathered in the town of Santa Maria in the region of Catamarca, of Prelature of Cafayate, Argentina, to discuss the proposals to celebrate in the region the Year of Faith and the issues that concern the Continental Mission, including the safeguarding of the Created, catechesis, the family and young people.
"The commitment to human ecology and the environment is a responsibility of every Christian", says the final document of the Assembly, sent to Fides. "The dignity of the person, the need to preserve creation, our common home, and the resources and people's lives, encourage us to give our opinion on issues related to investment in the mining, oil and agro-food sector".
In this sense, the Bishops consider that "the objective truth on behalf of who has the technical and scientific knowledge on the subject must be found, and not be involved with the parties concerned." Similarly, the text states that "the political and social institutions have to talk and discuss everything that this entails, in a sincere and honest manner."
At the end of the message, the Bishops expressed their "proximity to all brothers and sisters, especially the most vulnerable and those working for peace with justice and righteousness of heart".
In the area there remains strong tensions between the population and the various companies that manage the mining industry because, according to data collected by Fides, staff and suppliers used by them are not local suppliers or people and therefore not conducive to the mining production development of the region, plagued by high rates of unemployment and poverty.
(CE) (Agenzia Fides 07/03/2012)


Sunday 4 March 2012

By Kathleen McCarthy
President of the Friends of St Patrick's Cathedral

The city of Melbourne is fortunate in being the site of possibly the best example of 19th century Gothic Revival architecture in Australia. St Patrick's Cathedral more than rivals Sydney's St Mary's and St Patrick's Cathedral, Fifth Avenue, New York.

23-03-p12-Dan-OConnell-350How did this magnificent, outstanding example of 19th Gothic Revival church building come to be erected here in the city of Melbourne, in a colony less than 50 years old? In fact, that settlement was only 23 years old when Archbishop Alipius Goold made the bold, visionary decision to commission newly arrived architect William Wilkinson Wardell to design this grand cathedral. Within 40 years, it was finished, all but for the spires (another story there), paid for and consecrated.

St Patrick's Cathedral can be viewed as a barometer of the socio-economic history of Melbourne and of Victoria at large. Begun in October 1858, in the wake of the Victorian gold rushes and consecrated in 1897, its construction mirrors the transformation of Melbourne from a provincial town to the thriving metropolis of 'Marvellous Melbourne'. It also mirrors the evolution of the Catholic Church in Victoria from a virtually mono-ethnic Irish community to the multicultural church of today.

Renowned historian, Professor Oliver MacDonagh, titled his opening lecture in the series celebrating the centenary of the consecration of St Patrick's Cathedral in 1997, The Sharing of the Green. He was referring to the enormous Irish immigration to Australia, and more especially to the colony of Victoria, that occurred in the 19th century. Between 1801 and 1900, more than 7 million people emigrated permanently from Ireland, and a large number made their homes in Australia. The British response to the Irish potato famine beginning in 1845 and continuing for over a decade, was to open a few soup kitchens. Then in 1846, Charles Trevelyan, permanent head of the Treasury, told the British Parliament:

The only way to prevent people from becoming habitually dependent on government is to bring operations to a close. The uncertainty about the new crop only makes it more necessary ... Whatever may be done hereafter, these things should be stopped now, or you run the risk of paralysing all private enterprise and having this country on you for an indefinite number of years.

In his last speech in the House of Commons a few weeks before he died in 1847, Daniel O'Connell pleaded:

A nation is starving ... Ireland is in your hands ... if you do not save her, she cannot save herself ... a quarter of her population will perish unless you come to her relief.

23-03-p12-Dan-OConnell-2-350As we know the Irish did save themselves but not before an enormous loss of population from the famine and from emigration. For us in Melbourne, the wonder is that it was largely from the pennies and pounds of those Irish immigrants that this magnificent cathedral rose.

St Patrick's, the one cathedral for the whole of Victoria until the creation of the dioceses of Sandhurst and Ballarat in 1875, is attested by the inscriptions on the brass plates on the pillars in the cathedral nave. Indeed those plates give witness to the donations from the Catholics in 1861 of Richmond, Emerald Hill and Warrnambool, in 1862 of Bendigo, of the Catholic Irishmen of the Constabulary Force, and of Pleasant Creek (now Stawell), and in 1868 of Ararat. In December, 1862, a meeting of Catholic school teachers, held at St Francis', decided to erect a pillar, but as there is no pillar commemorating the teachers, it is likely that any money they collected went towards the chapel of the Irish saints, which acknowledges the Catholic Children of Victoria.

One pillar, erected in 1861, commemorates Sr Mary Austine (Collins), the first vocation to the Sisters of Mercy in Melbourne.

Sr Austine's father was a city merchant who died in 1861, and Mary was professed the following month; but she died at the age of 25 in July, 1864. Many other donors are commemorated on the brass plates on the pillars that border Our Lady's Chapel, while the truly major donors to the cathedral's centenary appeal of the 1990s are acknowledged on the west wall near the cathedral's entrance.

Still today, the Irish are there in the cathedral's name, St Patrick, their patron saint; in the stained glass windows of St Patrick, St Brigid and St Columba; in the chapel dedicated to the Irish saints; in the magnificent statues that grace the cathedral's grounds of the 'Liberator', Daniel O'Connell, and Archbishop Daniel Mannix; and in the Celtic cross that tops the cathedral's spire, a gift from the Government of Eire to the Archdiocese of Melbourne.

It was Archbishop Mannix who took the brave decision, despite the hardships of the Great Depression, to commemorate the centenary of the saying of the first Catholic Mass in Melbourne in 1838, by finishing the cathedral with the erection of its towers and spires, and in 1937 an appeal was launched. The central tower, which was to rise to 340 feet, a height beyond that planned by Wardell, was to be dedicated to Archbishop Thomas Carr, and the twin towers would be erected to the memory of the cathedral's first bishop and, after 1875, Archbishop, Alipius Goold.

In May, 1938, the Archbishop of Melbourne received this cablegram from Eamon de Valera, head of the Government of Eire:

Members of the Government and a few of your friends desire to donate a cross to surmount spire on the cathedral. May we have the pleasure?

De Valera

Archbishop Mannix sent the following cablegram in reply:

Mr de Valera, Dublin.

Deeply touched by generous offer; accept with much gratitude.

Archbishop Mannix

And the Irish were once again remembered when the new marble sanctuary floor was laid in 1996 with the beautiful mosaic inlays of the four Evangelists from the illuminated designs in the Book of Kells.

Today the statues one encounters on a walk round the cathedral grounds commemorate not only Daniel O'Connell and Daniel Mannix, but Sts Francis of Assisi and Catherine of Siena, the patron saints of Italy, recognising the enormous contribution to the Church in Australia of the Italian community; a bronze bust commemorates Cardinal Alojzije Stepinac (1898-1960), recognised by the Croatians in Australia as a saint and martyr; and a stone bust celebrates Malta's saint, George Preca, founder of the Society of Christian Doctrine.

A stone inlay in the cathedral's forecourt and an Aboriginal Message Stick inside the cathedral acknowledge the wrongs of the past done to the Indigenous people of this land, and highlights now the special place Aboriginal people occupy in the Church.

Our Melbourne cathedral is not only an architectural icon in the city of Melbourne, but is steeped in the history of this city and of its Catholic people. The Reverend Walter Ebsworth wrote in 1938 in the foreword to his history of the cathedral:

On ground which less than a century back was recovered from the Australian wilds, St Patrick's Cathedral stands today complete in every detail—a splendid monument to living faith ... It is proof—if proof be needed—that the vitality of the Church continues unimpaired and undiminished; that the Mystical Body of Christ is one and indivisible through the centuries; that the wonder of the Eucharist still inspires men with the same heroic virtues, the same artistic sense, as in other days called forth the glories of Canterbury, Amiens, Chartres, Antwerp, Cologne, Seville, Milan, Byzantium, and Rome.

(Rev. Walter A. Ebsworth, St Patrick's Cathedral Melbourne, Melbourne, Graphic Books, 1938)

Kathleen McCarthy is currently completing post graduate research for a M.Theol. in Art and Theology at CTC.

Photos: Top: Statue of ‘Liberator’ Daniel O’Connell in the grounds of the cathedral. Bottom: Mosaic inlay on the sanctuary floor of the cathedral. Photos by Fiona Basile.


Posted by admin in Cisa News
NAIROBI, March 06, 2012 (CISA) -Paa ya Paa Arts Centre in Nairobi, on Saturday March 03, 2012 concluded its Black History month exhibition themed: celebrating the daughters of Africa.
Black History began in the early 1920s, first as Negro day, then Negro week, and eventually became black history month. African history and contributions to world civilization are recognized and appreciated during this month worldwide not just in the United States.
Cultural performances and book launches, that has drawn young and old visitors, artists, poets and writers keen on improving their artistic skills, are some of the activities that marked the celebration that began on February 11, 2012 in Nairobi.
The centre’s Coordinator, Philda Njau in her remarks said, “Africa can celebrate black history with America through this event.”
Njau also said that the renovated art centre has become active in hosting events like that of black history month in recent years themed: A walk through Black History.
During the celebration, visitors and artists not only exhibited their works but also participated in discussions focused on improving writing skills. They shared the joys and achievements of iconic African women with the potential of mentoring the youth.
Elimo Njau the centre’s renowned painter, sculpture and muralist turning 80 this year, has his work on display throughout the grounds, in addition to artists pieces of Kibacia Gatu who created a beaded portrait of Nobel Peace Prize winner, late Wangari Maathai.
Paa ya Paa centre was established in the early 1960s. In recent times it has attracted both renowned local and international artists and writers such as Ngugi wa Thiong’o.
Over the years, the centre also attracted various artists from the Caribbean, United States, Germany, Switzerland, Austria and Mexico.


New jurisdiction overturns previous restrictions to operate only in Kerala state
March 7, 2012
Catholic Church News Image of Syro-Malabar Church gets new diocese
Cardinal Alencherry, at right, greets Msgr Kuriakose Bharanikulangara, the new head of Faridabad diocese
The Syro-Malabar Church (SMC) yesterday created a new diocese for its members in northern India.
The Vatican had previously limited the jurisdiction of the SMC to the southern state of Kerala, and the new diocese now allows the SMC to have a larger jurisdiction and the ability to create other dioceses wherever members need support.
Cardinal George Alencherry, head of the Oriental Church, said the new diocese – the rite’s 29th – would be based in Faridabad in Haryana state.
He also announced the appointment of Monsignor Kuriakose Bharanikulangara as the first prelate to head the diocese, which will have administrative control over Delhi, Haryana, Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh states.
Archbishop Vincent Concessao of Delhi said the Faridabad diocese would “definitely help provide more attention to the pastoral and spiritual needs of the Syro-Malabar community in metropolitan cities.”
He told that the Delhi archdiocese would cooperate with the new diocese and avoid occasions of rivalry and tension among the different Catholic rites in the country.
Fr Dominic Emmanuel, Delhi archdiocesan spokesperson, said it would help provide better administration to SMC Catholics in the national capital.
“Differences between the rites will only help the Church to grow,” he said today.
The Church in India comprises Latin, Syro-Malabar and Syro-Malankara rites. The Latin rite, the largest, follows the Roman liturgy, while the other two are Oriental rites based in the southern Indian state of Kerala follow Syrian Church traditions.
The move comes as SMC prelates have been asking for more administrative structures and dioceses across India, a move the Latin bishops have previously resisted.
Parishes in Delhi archdiocese had experienced tension when some SMC groups accused the archdiocesan systems of curtailing their rights to have SMC liturgies.
Ligi Thomas, an SMC Catholic, said the new diocese is a dream come true.
“This will help our children learn our traditions and practice the faith we were brought up in,” she said.


Matthew 20: 17 - 28
17 And as Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve disciples aside, and on the way he said to them,
18 "Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man will be delivered to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn him to death,
19 and deliver him to the Gentiles to be mocked and scourged and crucified, and he will be raised on the third day."
20 Then the mother of the sons of Zeb'edee came up to him, with her sons, and kneeling before him she asked him for something.
21 And he said to her, "What do you want?" She said to him, "Command that these two sons of mine may sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom."
22 But Jesus answered, "You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am to drink?" They said to him, "We are able."
23 He said to them, "You will drink my cup, but to sit at my right hand and at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father."
24 And when the ten heard it, they were indignant at the two brothers.
25 But Jesus called them to him and said, "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them.
26 It shall not be so among you; but whoever would be great among you must be your servant,
27 and whoever would be first among you must be your slave;
28 even as the Son of man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."


Sts. Perpetua & Felicity
Feast: March 7

Feast Day: March 7
Died: 7 March 202 or 203, Carthage, Roman Province of Africa
Patron of: Mothers, Expectant Mothers
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


No comments: