Saturday, November 29, 2008

Cool November; Another Year Over; St Saturnine

After my earlier fears of unpleasantly hot weather returning, for in the last part of October we had a heatwave with temperatures in the thirties five days running, November here in Perth has been pleasantly cool, with the hottest day so far - my birthday - a shade under 30°C, but quite comfortable as I recall, and the average for the month (23.5°C) several degrees cooler than usual.  This pleasant enough weather seems still to endure a while longer; while in Australia we generally count summer as starting on the 1st of December, I think that it may still be a little while till the really hot weather starts toward the second half of December - by which time I'll have moved back to Tasmania...

And in ecclesiastical news, to-day, the feast of St Saturnine, is the last day of the Church's Year of Grace, which segues into the first with Vespers of Advent Sunday to-night, which by God's grace I hope to sing.  My Advent plan this new year is to attend daily Mass (this will reaccustom me to the Novus Ordo, BTW).

Here is his short, straightforward and simple collect:

Deus, qui nos beati Saturnini Martyris tui concedis natalitio perfrui; ejus nos tribue meritis adjuvari.  Per...

(God, Who dost permit us to rejoice on the natal day of blessed Saturnine Thy Martyr, grant that we be aided by his merits.  Through...)

May we indeed rejoice at the triumph of this stedfast witness to Christ over the world, the flesh and the devil, and may his merits truly obtain for us assistance from the Lord, Who delights to work through secondary causes so as to work His works in us: for St Saturnine's "just deserts", far from being unspeakable torments as his evil tormentors thought and wrought, are those things he has deserved of God Himself for what he accomplished not of himself but of Him who strengthened him - supernatural rewards and benefits, not merely for himself, who won the everlasting crown of victory and rejoices and reigns evermore with God and His saints in heaven, but also for the whole Church militant, that we may not only profit by his example, but in the communion of saints all share in the graces won by this preëminent member of the Mystical Body.

But what of St Saturnine?  There are several of this name, such as the martyr-bishop of Toulouse (whose memory is also kept this day), or again the companion of SS Perpetua and Felicity; but the one commemorated in the Roman Mass is he that was a martyr at Rome, as the Golden Legend tells:

There was another Saturnine whom the provost of Rome held long in prison, and after, he raised him in the torment named Eculee [eculeus, the rack], and did do beat him with sinews, rods, and scorpions, and after, did do burn his sides, and then took him down and smote off his head, about the year of our Lord two hundred and ninety under Maximian.

The 2004 Martyrologium Romanum gives the following details about our saint:

Romæ in cœmeterio Trasonis via Salaria Nova, sancti Saturnini Carthaginensis, martyris, qui, ut sanctus Damasus papa refert, sub Decio imperatore pro Christo in patria in eculeo impositus est et Romam extorris missus, ubi, aliis atrocibus tormentis superatis, Gratianum tyrannum ad fidem convertit et capite obtruncato coronam martyrii adeptus est.

(At Rome, in the cemetery of Traso on the New Salarian  Way, [commemoration] of St Saturnine of Carthage, martyr, who, as Pope St Damasus tells, under the Emperor Decius for Christ in his fatherland [Carthage] was laid upon the rack and was sent, exiled, to Rome, where, triumphing over other atrocious torments, converted the tyrant Gratian to the Faith and by the chopping off his head won the martyr's crown. [c.250])

It also tells us of Saint-Saturnin, or Saint-Sernin, noble episcopal martyr of Toulouse:

Tolosæ in Gallia Narbonensi, commemoratio sancti Saturnini, episcopi et martyris, qui, ut fertur, ejusdem Decii temporibus, in Capitolio hujus urbis a paganis tentus est et de summa arce per gradus præcipitatus, ut, capite colliso et toto corpore dilaniato, Christo animam redderet.

(At Toulouse in Narbonensine Gaul, the commemoration of St Saturnine, bishop and martyr, who, 'tis said, in the times of the same Decius, was tried by the pagans at the Capitol [temple of idols] of this city and was thrown down the steps from the high gate [?], that, his head crushed and whole body rent, unto Christ he rendered up his soul.  [c. 250])

The Golden Legend supplies a rather forceful account of his sufferings: "And they took Saturnine which would not do sacrifice... and drew him unto the highest place of the capitol and cast him down the degrees and steps to the ground, so that his head was all to-broken and the brain sprang out, and so he accomplished his martyrdom."  

The 1738 Paris Missal provides the following Collect in stead of that of St Saturnine the Roman Martyr, both containing several references to Scripture in typical eighteenth century Gallican style, and finely alluding to the unshakeable faith of the Tolosan bishop's soul, despite the outrages committed upon his body, cast down and destroyed:

Deus, qui per beatum Saturninum Martyrem tuum atque Pontificem, infideles populos de tenebris ad lucem veritatis venire tribuisti; da nobis ejus intercessione, in fide stabiles, et a spe Evangelii quod prædicavit, immobiles permanere.  Per...

(God, Who through blessed Saturnine Thy Martyr and Pontiff, *didst grant unbelieving peoples to come from darkness to the light of truth*': †grant unto us at his intercession, to remain stedfast in faith, and immovable in the hope of the Gospel which he preached†'.  Through...)

*–*'   Cf. many passages in the New Testament, such as Acts xxvi, 17b-18: "...the nations, unto which now I send thee: to open their eyes, that they may be converted from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and a lot among the saints...".

†–†'  Cf. Col. i, 23: "...continue in the faith, grounded and settled, and immoveable from the hope of the gospel which you have heard, which is preached in all the creation that is under heaven, whereof I Paul am made a minister".

The other saints of the 29th of November are:

  1. St Philomenus, martyr at Ancyra in Galatia during the persecution of Aurelian under Felix the governor, who was thrown into the fire, then had his hands, feet and finally head pierced with nails, in the 3rd century [not to be confused with Philomenus, saintly martyr of Lyons, nor with the famous Philomena, whose cult remains somewhat uncertain].
  2. At Todi in Umbria [famously, Tuderti is misread as "Too dirty in Umbria"], St Illuminata the virgin, in the 4th Century [not to be confused with the unsaintly Illuminati of course!].
  3. St James (or Jacob), Bishop of Sarug, at Batnan in Osrhoene, whose sermons, homilies and letters illustrated the pure faith of the Church and is revered among the Syrians, together with St Ephræm, as a doctor and pillar of the Church, in 521.
  4. At Daventry in Frisia, the translation of St Radbod, bishop of Utrecht [Ultrajectum - more or less literally, "Thrown Out"?!], who, a teacher and pious pastor, died whilst visiting rustics, in 917.
  5. At York in England, Bl Edward Burden, priest and martyr, alumnus of the English College at Rheims, who dared to return as a priest to the dominion of wicked Queen Elizabeth I, and consummated his sufferings on the gibbet before a furious crowd, in 1588.
  6. In the same place, eight years later, BB George Errington, William Gibson and William Knight, who, when they but defended those proscribed as priests, by various torments were given over to martyrdom, in 1596.
  7. In Aceh in the island of Sumatra, the blessed martyrs Denis of the Nativity (Peter) Berthelot, priest, and Redemptus of the Cross (Thomas) Rodriguez, religious, both of the Discalced Carmelites, who were first enslaved by Mahometans and then slain with arrows by the sea shore, in 1638.
  8. At Luceria in Apulia, St Francis Antony Fasani, a priest of the Conventual Franciscans, who, a man by exquisite doctrine, preaching and penitential practice greatly supported, so consoled the poor and needy that he never stopped even to give away his habit, and to offer Christian aid to everyone, in 1742.
  9. At the place called El Saler near Valencia in Spain, Bl Alaphrid Simon Colomina, Jesuit priest and martyr, who in the persecution of the Church confirmed his fidelity to the Lord by his blood, in 1936.

Sancti Dei omnes, intercedere dignemini pro nostra omniumque salute!

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