St. Vincent, deacon of Saragossa
St. Vincent, deacon of Saragossa in Spain, suffered martyrdom in the persecution of Diocletian A.D. 304.
Vincent was archdeacon of the church at Saragossa. Valerian, the bishop, had an impediment in his speech; thus Vincent preached in his stead, and answered in his name when both were brought before Dacian, the president, during the persecution of Diocletian. When the bishop was sent into banishment, Vincent remained to suffer and to die. First of all, he was stretched on the rack; and, when he was almost torn asunder, Dacian, the president, asked him in mockery “how he fared now.” Vincent answered, with joy in his face, that he had ever prayed to be as he was then. It was in vain that Dacian struck the executioners and goaded them on in their savage work. The martyr’s flesh was torn with hooks; he was bound in a chair of red-hot iron; lard and salt were rubbed into his wounds; and amid all this he kept his eyes raised to heaven, and remained unmoved. He was cast into a solitary dungeon, with his feet in the stocks; but the angels of Christ illuminated the darkness, and assured Vincent that he was near his triumph. His wounds were now tended to prepare him for fresh torments, and the faithful were permitted to gaze on his mangled body. They came in troops, kissed the open sores, and carried away as relics cloths dipped in his blood. Before the tortures could recommence, the martyr’s hour came, and he breathed forth his soul in peace.
SAINT VINCENT, DEACON AND MARTYR
The Liturgical Year – Ven. Dom Guéranger, O.S.B.
Vincent, the Victorious, vested in the sacred dalmatic, and holding his palm in his hand, comes, today, to his Jesus’ Crib, and right welcome is he to Stephen, the Crowned, his leader and his brother. Spain is his country. He is a Deacon of the glorious Church of Saragossa, and, by the strength and warmth of his faith, he is a type of that land, which is, by excellence, the Catholic Kingdom. But he does not belong to Spain only: like Stephen, and like Laurence, Vincent is the favourite and hero of the whole Church. Stephen, the Deacon, preached the divinity of Jesus amidst the shower of stones which were hurled upon him as a blasphemer; Vincent, the Deacon, confessed his faith in Jesus upon his red-hot gridiron, as did that other Deacon, Laurence. This triumvirate of Martyr-Deacons cluster together in the sacred Litany, and when we hear their three grand names, the Crown, the Laurel, and the Conqueror, we hail them as the three bravest Knights of our most dear Lord. Vincent triumphed over the torture of fire, because the flame of divine love which burned within his soul, was keener than that which scorched his body. He was comforted, in the most miraculous manner, during his great sufferings; but God worked these prodigies, not to deprive Vincent of his crown, but to show his own power. The holy Deacon had but one thought in the midst of all his pains—he was ambitious to make a return, by the gift of his own life, for that sacrifice whereby his divine Master had died for him and for all men. And now, that so generous a lover of God should be at the Crib of this same Jesus—is it not right and just? Oh! how he urges us, every Christmas, to love this Divine Infant! He that hesitated not, when called on to give himself to his Lord, even though it was to cost him such cruel pains—what cowards would he not call us, who can come so many Christmases to Bethlehem, and have nothing to give, but cold and divided hearts His sacrifice was to be burnt alive, and torn, and cut, and he smiled as he gave it : what are we to say of ourselves, who take years to think before we will give up those childish things, which prevent us from ever seriously beginning a new life, with our new-born Jesus! Would that the sight of all these Martyrs, in whose company the Church has made us live during these few last days, would touch our hearts, and make them resolute and simple There is an ancient Christian tradition, which makes St. Vincent the patron of vineyards and labourers in vineyards. This was, no doubt, suggested by the Saint’s having held the office of Deacon; for the Deacon has to pour wine into the chalice during the holy Sacrifice of the Mass, and that wine is to be changed into the Blood of Christ. A few days ago, we assisted at the mystery of the Feast at Cana Jesus then offered us the sacred cup, the wine of his love: to-day, again, he offers it to us by the hand of his Martyr Vincent. To make himself worthy of his high office, the holy Deacon mingled his own blood, as a generous wine, in the cup that holds the price of the world’s salvation. It is thus that we are to understand that expression of St. Paul, which says, that the Saints fill up, in the flesh, by the merit of their sufferings, those things that are wanting, not in their efficacy, but in their fullness, of the sufferings of Christ, whose members the Saints are.
St. Vincent, Martyr
We will now give the abridged account of the martyrdom of St Vincent, as it is related in the Lessons of his Feast.
Vincent was born at Huesca, a town of northern Spain, and. when quite a child, applied himself to study. He was taught the sacred sciences by Valerius, the Bishop of Saragossa. This prelate intrusted him with the duty of preaching the Gospel, on account of himself not being able to discharge that office, by reason of an impediment in his speech. This having reached the ears of Dacian, who had been made governor of that province by Diocletian and Maximian, Vincent was apprehended at Saragossa, and was led in chains to Valencia, before the judgment-seat of Dacian. There he was tortured by lashes and the rack, in the presence of many people; but neither the violence of the torments, nor the harsh or bland speeches addressed to him, could induce him to swerve from his resolution. He was therefore laid on a gridiron, which was set upon burning coals; his flesh was torn off with iron hooks, and red-hot plates were laid over him. After this he was led back to prison, the floor o which had been strewed with broken potsherds, in order that when he lay down to sleep, his body might be tortured by their sharp edges. But, whilst he was shut up in this dark prison, a most bright light penetrated the place. They who were present, were astonished beyond measure, and the gaoler informed Dacian of what had occurred. Vincent was then ordered to be taken out of prison, and put on a soft bed; for the governor thought to gain over by such comforts as this, him whom he had failed to seduce by tortures. But Vincent’s invincible spirit, strengthened by its faith and hope in Christ Jesus, overcame all their efforts; and after triumphing over fire, and sword, and all his tortures, took his flight to heaven, there to receive the crown of martyrdom, on the eleventh of the Calends of February (January 22). His body was thrown on a marsh, and denied burial; but a crow miraculously defended it, by its claws, beak, and wings, against birds of prey and a wolf. Dacian, hearing this, ordered it to be thrown into a deep part of the sea but by a fresh prodigy, it was washed to the shore, and the Christians gave it burial.
The Gothic Church of Spain, in her Mozarabic Liturgy, is magnificent in her praises of St Vincent. The first and second of the following Prayers are taken from the Breviary, the third is from the Missal, of that Rite.
O God, who didst wonderfully, with manifold sufferings, crown thy servant Vincent, and didst deliver him from the effects of his torments, to the end that he might gloriously trample upon each cruel punishment with those feet of his, that had never trod in the mire of vice, who didst, moreover, save him from the deep waters, to the end that he, whose spirit had despised the world, might be near to his heritage in heaven: grant unto us, by the prayers of this so great a Martyr, that we may never be defiled by the mire of sin, nor be plunged in the deep pool of despair, but may be presented to thee, on the day of judgment, beautified with a spotless freedom of conscience. Amen.
We bless thee, O Almighty God, for that thou didst deliver thy most blessed Martyr Vincent, as heretofore the three children, from the flames of fire ; for when his body was laid on the fire, it burned, but could not conquer, him. Hear his grayer for us, and pour into our innermost spirit the dew of thy mercy, that so, the fire of our carnal passions being slaked, the flame of sin that is within us may smoulder, and though, by nature, it cease not to molest us, permit not, we beseech thee, that our weakness, while passing through the fire, should ever be burnt; but grant, that grace may in such manner assist nature, as that we may be able to quench by thy gift what originated without us. Amen.
O Jesus! by whose great power the body of thy Martyr Vincent, which the mad fury of Dacian had cast into the sea, was borne to the shore on the bosom of the waves, that it might receive honour from man: do thou, by this thy Martyr’s praying for us, stretch out thy hand of pity, and raise us, from the stormy sea of this world, to the heavenly country above; that thus, we, who were driven, by the impulse of the enemy, to burden ourselves with guilt and so fall into the gulf, may at length, by charity, which covereth sin, arrive at the port of salvation, and rejoice in the company of all these, who out of love for thee, are assembled on this Feast of thy Martyr. Amen.
Hail, Victorious Deacon! How beautiful art thou, with the Chalice of salvation in thy brave hands! It was thine office to offer it at the Altar, in order that the wine it contained might be changed by the sacred words, into the Blood of Christ; and, when the Mystery was accomplished, thou hadst to take this same Chalice, and present it to the Faithful, to the end that they who thirsted after their God, might drink at the source of eternal life. But, on this day, thou offerest it thyself to Jesus, and it is full to the brim with thine own blood. Oh! how faithful a Deacon! giving even thy very life in testimony to the Mysteries or which thou wast the dispenser. Three centuries had elapsed since Stephen’s sacrifice; sixty years had gone by since the sweet incense of Laurence’s martyrdom had ascended to the throne of God; and now, it is the last persecution—peace is dawning on the Church—and a third Deacon comes to prove that time had not impaired the Order—it was the Deacon of Saragossa—thyself, dear Saint!
Bright is thy name in the list of Martyrs, O Vincent! and the Church is proud of thy triumph. It was for the Church, after Jesus, that thou didst combat:—have pity on us, therefore, and signalize this day of thy Feast by showing us the effects of Ages, whose battle thou didst fight on earth, and thou gazest, with a loving yet dazzled eye, on his eternal beauty. We, also, we, who are in this valley of tears, possess him, and see him, for he calls himself our Emmanuel, God with us. But, it is under the form of a weak Babe that he shows himself to us, for he fears to overpower us with the splendour of his majesty. Pray for us, O holy Martyr Vincent! for, at times, we tremble at the thought that this sweet Jesus is, one day, to be our Judge. When we reflect on what thou didst and suffer for him, we have scarcely courage to think upon ourselves, for, what good works can we show? or who can say of us, that we were ever warm in defending the cause of our Divine Master? Oh! that thy Feast might shame us into the earnest uncalculating simplicity, which this sweet Babe of Bethlehem is come to teach us—the simplicity which springs from humility and confidence in God, and which made thee go through all thy martyrdom with a brave, but oh ! with such a calm spirit ! Pray for us, that we may, at length, obey the God who teaches us by his own example, and, with hearts ambitious for naught but the pleasing Him, accomplish his will, whatever that may ask of us; and all this with the calm cheerfulness of devoted service.
Pray Vincent, for all Christians, for all are called to fight against the world, and their own passions. We are all invited to a palm, a crown, a Victory. Jesus will admit none but conquerors to the banquet of eternal glory, where he has promised to drink with us the new wine, in the Kingdom of his Father. The wedding-garment, which all must have on who enter there, must be washed in the Blood of the Lamb—we must all be Martyrs, at least in heart, for we have all to triumph over self, and that is the harshest of tyrants.
Fly to the assistance of the Martyrs who, in distant countries, are dying for the true Faith; obtain for them such courage, that they may be the Vincents of our age. Protect Spain, thy country. Beseech our Emmanuel to send her heroes of thy stamp; that so, the Catholic Kingdom, which has ever been so jealous of purity of Faith, may speedily triumph over the trials, which are at present heavy upon her. Shall the illustrious Church of Saragossa — founded by St. James the Apostle, visited by the Blessed Mother of God, and sanctified by the ministry of thy deaconship—shall such a country as this ever grow indifferent about Faith, or suffer the bond of unity to be broken !—And since the devotion of the Christian people looks upon thee as the protector of the Vine, bless this portion of creation, which God has destined for man s use, and which he has deigned to make both the instrument of the deepest of his Mysteries, and the symbol of his love of mankind.
St. Anastasius, Martyr
St. Anastasius was a monk of Persia, was put to death with seventy other Christians under Chosroes A.D. 628.
Originally a Persian called Magundat, a magician. Anastasius was a soldier in the army of King Khusrow II, ruler of Persia, when that ruler carried the Holy Cross from Jerusalem to Persia. He was so impressed with the relic and with the demeanor of the Christians that he left the army, became a Christian, and then a monk in Jerusalem. After seven years, Anastasius went to Persia to convert his own people. He was taken prisoner and promised honors by King Khusrow if he denied Christ. Remaining constant in the faith, Anastasius was strangled and beheaded with 68 or 70 other Christians on January 22, 628. His remains were taken to Palestine, and later Rome.
Friday of the Second Week after the Epiphany
St. Vincent & St. Anastasius, Martyrs
Semi-double – Red vestments
Missa ‘Intret in conspectu’
INTROIT – Psalm 78: 11,12,10
Intret in conspectu tuo, Domine; gemitus compeditorum: redde vicinis nostris septuplum in sinu eorum: vindica sanguinem sanctorum tuorum, qui effusus est. Ps. Deus venerunt gentes in hereditatem tuam: polluerunt templum sanctum tuum: postuerunt Jerusalem in pomorum custodiam. Gloria Patri.
Let the sighing of the prisoners come in before Thee, O Lord; render to our neighbors sevenfold in their bosom; revenge the blood of Thy Saints, which hath been shed. Ps. O God, the heathens are come into Thine inheritance: they have defiled Thy holy temple: they have made Jerusalem as a place to keep fruit. Glory be to the Father.
O Lord, listen to our supplications: that we who acknowledge the guilt of our sins, may be delivered through the intercession of Thy blessed Martyrs Vincent and Anastasius. Through our Lord.
EPISTLE – Wisdom 3: 1-8
The Lesson is taken from the Book of Wisdom
The souls of the just are in the hand of God, and the torment of death shall not touch them. In the sight of the unwise they seemed to die: and their departure was taken for misery: and their going away from us, for utter destruction: but they are in peace. And though in the sight of men they suffered torments, their hope is full of immortality. Afflicted in few things, in many they shall be well rewarded: because God hath tried them, and found them worthy of Himself. As gold in the furnace He hath proved them, and as a victim of a holocaust He hath received them, and in time there shall be respect had to them. The just shall shine, and shall run to and fro like sparks among the reeds. They shall judge nations, and rule over people, and their Lord shall reign forever.
GRADUAL – Exodus 15: 11,6
God is glorious in His Saints, wonderful in majesty, doing wonders. Thy right hand, O Lord, is glorified in strength; Thy right hand hath broken the enemies.
ALLELUIA – Exodus 44: 14
Alleluia, alleluia. Thy bodies of Thy Saints are buried in peace, and their name liveth unto generation and generation. Alleluia.
GOSPEL Luke 21: 9-19
The continuation of the holy Gospel according to St. Luke.
At that time, Jesus said to His disciples: When you shall hear of wars and seditions, be not terrified: these things must first come to pass, but the end is not yet presently. Then He said to them: Nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there shall be great earthquakes in divers places, and pestilences, and famines and terrors from Heaven, and there shall be great signs. But before all these things, they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and into prisons, dragging you before kings and governors for My name’s sake; and it shall happen unto you for a testimony. Lay it up therefore in your hearts, not to meditate before how you shall answer. For I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to resist and gainsay. And you shall be betrayed by your parents and brethren and kinsmen and friends, and some of you they will put to death: and you shall be hated by all men for My name’s sake; but a hair of your head shall not perish. In your patience you shall possess your souls.
OFFERTORY – Psalm 67: 36
God is wonderful in His Saints: the God of Israel is He Who will give power and strength to His people: blessed be God. Alleluia.
We offer unto Thee, O Lord, the gifts of our devotion: may they please Thee as honoring Thy just ones, and through Thy mercy profit us unto salvation. Through our Lord.
It is truly meet and just, right and for our salvation that we should at all times and in all places, give thanks unto Thee, O holy Lord, Father almighty, eternal God: through Christ our Lord. Through Whom the Angels praise Thy Majesty, Dominations worship, Powers stand in awe. The Heavens and the Heavenly hosts together with the blessed Seraphim in triumphant chorus unite to celebrate it. Together with them we entreat Thee, that Thou mayest bid our voices also to be admitted, while we say in lowly praise:
Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus Dominus Deus Sabaoth. Pleni sunt coeli et terra gloria tua. Hosanna in excelsis. Benedictus qui venit in nomine Domini. Hosanna in excelsis.
COMMUNION – Wisdom 3: 4-6
And though in the sight of men they suffered torments, God hath tried them: as gold in the furnace He hath proved them, and as a victim of a holocaust He hath received them.
We beseech Thee, almighty God, that we, who have received this heavenly food, may at the intercession of Thy blessed Martyrs Vincent and Anastasius, thereby be defended against all adversities. Through our Lord.