Today in the Latin Calendar we celebrate the Feast Day of S. Venantius of Camerino, Martyr. A story about this Feast Day can be found by Clicking Here.
Saint Venantius, born at Camerino in Italy, during the persecution of Decius was taken into custody at the age of fifteen years as a Christian who was preaching Christ to others. His history is one of the most miraculous in the annals of the early martyrs.
Having learned that he was about to be arrested, he presented himself to the governor of Camerino, Antiochus, at the city gates, and said to him that the lives of the gods were filled with every kind of crime, that there was only one God, whose unique Son had become a man to deliver his fellow humans from the tyranny of sin. When it was found impossible to shake his constancy either by threats or promises, he was condemned to be scourged, but was miraculously saved by an Angel. He was then burnt with torches and suspended over a low fire that he might be suffocated by the smoke. The judge's secretary, while admiring the steadfastness of the Saint, saw an Angel robed in white, who stamped out the fire and again set free the youthful martyr. This man proclaimed his faith in Christ and was baptized with his whole family. Shortly afterwards he won the martyr's crown.
Venantius was summoned to appear before Antiochus. Unable to make him renounce his faith, the governor cast him into prison with an apostate soldier, who strove in vain to tempt him. Antiochus, furious, then ordered his teeth and jaws to be broken and had him thrown into a furnace, from which the Angel once more delivered him. The Saint was sent to a city magistrate to be condemned, but this judge after hearing his defense of Christianity, fell headlong from his seat and expired, saying, The God of Venantius is the true God; let us destroy our idols.
When this circumstance was told to Antiochus, he ordered Venantius to be thrown to the lions. These brutes, however, forgetting their natural ferocity, crouched at the feet of the Saint. Then, by order of the tyrant, the young martyr was dragged through a heap of brambles and thorns and retired half-dead, but the next day he was cured; God had manifested the glory of His servant once more. On behalf of soldiers who had dragged him outside the city over stones and rocks, and were suffering from thirst, the Saint knelt on a rock and signed it with a cross; immediately a jet of clear, cool water welled up from the spot. This miracle converted many of those who beheld it. The rock remained imprinted by his knees and was placed in a church in Camerino, where it still remains.
The governor finally had Venantius and his converts beheaded on the same day, in the year 250. The bodies of these martyrs are kept in the same church at Camerino. The Acts of Saint Venantius' martyrdom have been carefully studied and declared authentic by the Church.
Reflection. Love of suffering marks the most perfect degree in the love of God. Our Lord Himself was consumed with the desire to suffer, because He burnt with the love of God. We must begin with patience and detachment, and eventually we shall learn to love the sufferings which conform us to the Passion of our Redeemer.
St. John I
Pope John I inherited the Arian heresy, which denied the divinity of Christ. Italy had been ruled for 30 years by an emperor who espoused the heresy, though he treated the empire’s Catholics with toleration. His policy changed at about the time the young John was elected pope.
When the eastern emperor began imposing severe measures on the Arians of his area, the western emperor forced John to head a delegation to the East to soften the measures against the heretics. Little is known of the manner or outcome of the negotiations—designed to secure continued toleration of Catholics in the West.
When John returned to Rome, he found that the emperor had begun to suspect his friendship with his eastern rival.
On his way home, John was imprisoned when he reached Ravenna because the emperor suspected a conspiracy against his throne. Shortly after his imprisonment, John died, apparently from the treatment he had received.
We cannot choose the issues for which we have to suffer and perhaps die. John I suffered because of a power-conscious emperor. Jesus suffered because of the suspicions of those who were threatened by his freedom, openness and powerlessness. “If you find that the world hates you, know it has hated me before you” (John 15:18).
“Martyrdom makes disciples like their Master, who willingly accepted death for the salvation of the world, and through it they are made like him by the shedding of blood. Therefore, the Church considers it the highest gift and supreme test of love. And while it is given to few, all however must be prepared to confess Christ before humanity and to follow him along the way of the cross amid the persecutions which the Church never lacks” (Vatican II, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, 42, Austin Flannery translation).
The astounding variety of moral imperfections continually reminds me of how our selfish natures constantly try to assume control of our hearts and minds. We must learn how to handle the confrontation with the truth about ourselves and then invite God in for some spiritual surgery.
Quote by S. Padre Pio:
Run, then, without growing weary, and may the Lord direct and guide your steps so that you may not fall.