The Lord has truly risen, alleluia.
Year: B(I). Psalm week: 1. Liturgical Colour: White.
Saints Marcellinus and Peter (- 304)
Pope St Damasus I dedicated his life to establishing and strengthening the Church after the great persecutions, and took much care over the restoration of the Roman catacombs and the proper burial of the martyrs there, including Marcellinus and Peter.
As a boy, Damasus had heard the story of these martyrs from their executioner. Marcellinus was a priest, Peter was not. They were beheaded during the emperor Diocletian’s persecution, and buried on the Via Labicana outside Rome.
After the persecutions, a basilica was built over the site of their tomb.
Other saints: Saints Pothinus and Blandina (- 177)
All that is known of these martyrs comes from a celebrated letter from the church of Lyon to the church in Asia and reproduced by Eusebius of Caesarea in his Ecclesiastical History.
Pothinus was the first bishop of Lyon, and thus the first Bishop in Gaul, and was arrested in 177 during the reign of Marcus Aurelius, together with Blandina and forty-five other Christians. Pothinus is known to have been very old: the letter says 90 years old.
Many of the martyrs died in prison or were beheaded, as befitted Roman citizens, but six of them were sentenced to be thrown to the wild beasts in the arena, among them Blandina, a slave.
The beasts did not touch Blandina, so she was beaten, then burned, then tossed on the horns of a bull, and finally, after having witnessed the martyrdom of her companions (calmly except in the case of her friend Ponticus, whose faith and perserverance she had doubted) was strangled by the public executioner.
Pothinus was succeeded as bishop by St Irenaeus, one of the great Fathers of the early Church.
About the author of the Second Reading in today's Office of Readings:
Second Reading: The Letter to Diognetus
A 13th-century manuscript of the Letter from the Disciple to Diognetus was discovered in Constantinople in 1436, where it was being used as wrapping-paper in a fishmonger’s shop. It found its way to the abbey of Munster, and the first edition of it was published in 1592. The suppression of religious communities by the French Revolution in 1793 led to it being deposited in the municipal library at Strasbourg, where it was destroyed in 1870 by a fire started by German artillery. Two copies of the manuscript survive which were made in the 16th century.
The Letter to Diognetus is a Christian apologetic work dating from the 2nd century, probably from late in that century. It was initially attributed to Justin Martyr but is now agreed to be by an unknown author. Whoever it was by, the letter seems to have passed out of general knowledge very early, since none of the standard authorities such as Eusebius mention it. The identity of the recipient is equally unknown. It is valuable as showing the nature of Christian belief in those very early days, and it is different from other Christian apologies in that it seems not to be a spontaneous work of explanation or justification, but a detailed response to a detailed series of questions.
Liturgical colour: white
White is the colour of heaven. Liturgically, it is used to celebrate feasts of the Lord; Christmas and Easter, the great seasons of the Lord; and the saints. Not that you will always see white in church, because if something more splendid, such as gold, is available, that can and should be used instead. We are, after all, celebrating.
In the earliest centuries all vestments were white – the white of baptismal purity and of the robes worn by the armies of the redeemed in the Apocalypse, washed white in the blood of the Lamb. As the Church grew secure enough to be able to plan her liturgy, she began to use colour so that our sense of sight could deepen our experience of the mysteries of salvation, just as incense recruits our sense of smell and music that of hearing. Over the centuries various schemes of colour for feasts and seasons were worked out, and it is only as late as the 19th century that they were harmonized into their present form.
|Mid-morning reading (Terce)||(Romans 4:24-25) ©|
We believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead, Jesus who was put to death for our sins and raised to life to justify us.
|Noon reading (Sext)||1 John 5:5-6 ©|
Who can overcome the world? Only the man who believes that Jesus is the Son of God. Jesus Christ came by water and blood: not with water only, but with water and blood.
|Afternoon reading (None)||(Ephesians 4:23-24) ©|
Let your spirits be renewed so that you can put on the new self that has been created in God’s way, in the goodness and holiness of the truth.