Tuesday, June 9, 2009

SS Primus and Felician

It's quite hard to get used to the season after Pentecost, given the great length of time the Church has had us celebrate feasts and holy seasons (wot, no Alleluia?)...

This morning at Lauds occurs the commemoration of two early Martyrs, SS Primus and Felician; according to my St Andrew's Missal's notes, they were brothers, and their relics are preserved at the church of St Stephen on the Cælian Hill; my Juergens edition of the Missal further details that after severe torment they were beheaded for the Faith in 286, at Rome.

The modern Martyrology records them on this day as follows: "On the Nomentine Way at Arcas by the fifteenth milestone from the City of Rome, of the holy Primus and Felician, martyrs."  (In the index to the Martyrology, there is a note that the century of their death is now considered uncertain; presumably they suffered during one of the Roman persecutions.)  Nomentum, whither led the Nomentine Way, was a town fourteen miles north-east of Rome, so they appear to have been put to death outside the town limits.  This must be in the Sabine Hills (as the old Martyrology relates); a further detail given in the pre-Conciliar Martyrology is that they were executed by order of Promotus, who was the official in charge at Nomentum.  Furthermore, but perhaps in a melodramatic manner, the older edition had them living long in Christ's service, yet enduring sundry tortures both together and separately.

Primus, "the first, the best", and Felician, whose name derives from felicitas, "fertility, happiness, good fortune, success" - how well their names become them.  Though in the eyes of a scoffing world they perished for nought, the faithful recognize in them men who knew the true estimation of things, and rather died for Christ that they might live with Him evermore: far from vanquished, they are conquerors with Christus Victor, having by His power trodden down the devil, overcome all evil, kept faithful unto death; and thus obtained the palm, won the crown of life (cf. Apoc. ii, 10), and merited - imagine! - to sit victorious with Christ Himself upon His throne (Apoc. iii, 21).  

May they pray for us who devoutly revere their triumphant sufferings in the cause of Christ our God, that they obtain for us who still strive to stand and fight the Divine gifts that alone will protect us and give us the victory:

Fac nos, quæsumus, Domine, sanctorum Martyrum tuorum Primi et Feliciani semper festa sectari: quorum suffragiis protectionis tuæ dona sentiamus.  Per...

(Make us, we beg, Lord, ever eagerly to attend upon the feast of Thy holy Martyrs Primus and Felician: by whose suffrages may we feel the gifts of Thy protection.  Through...)

[Sector is the intensified form of the verb sequor, to follow.]

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