Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Invention of St Stephen

Don't you love suppressed feasts? While I'm nowadays adhering to the Little Office of Our Lady, in the '62 Breviary yesterday (Monday) was a feria - but had previously been the feast of the Discovery of the Relics of St Stephen, who happens to be my confirmation patron.

A holy priest, Lucian, of the bishopric of Jerusalem, received a vision in 415: it was Gamaliel, communicating to him the burial place of himself, and with him his son, Abibas, and also Nicodemus and St Stephen, bidding him summon Bishop John, that the relics of all these be uncovered for the glory of God and the comfort of the Church. The buried bodies of the saints again saw the light of day, the wonders they worked and the veneration they inspired presaging their coming glorification at the General Resurrection, on the 26th of December that year (hence the date of the main feast of St Stephen); the feast of the Invention of the Relics of St Stephen (and of St Gamaliel and St Nicodemus) was later fixed on the 3rd of August, probably in memory of the dedication of a church in his honour.

These sacred relics were very soon dispersed throughout the Church of God: St Augustine records the triumphal reception of portions of St Stephen's relics in North Africa, where, as at Jerusalem, it pleased the Lord to work miracles through them, and of many St Augustine himself was eye-witness: public cures abounded - at Hippo alone, seventy miracles were attested, including three raised from the dead, and the same happened elsewhere. It is interesting that what the Fathers beheld proven beyond doubt is scoffed at by the mistrustful blind guides of our present age.

To Rome relics of St Stephen came also - God willing, come September I shall visit them, where they are buried beside St Lawrence the great Martyr-Deacon of Rome, at his basilica without the Walls.

I refer interested readers to an earlier posting of mine (for St Stephen's Day, 2007), giving Collects, Sequences, Antiphons and such in his honour. The Collect for the Discovery is as follows:

Da nobis, quæsumus, Domine, imitari quod colimus: ut discamus et inimicos diligere; quia ejus inventionem celebramus, qui novit etiam pro persecutoribus exorare Dominum nostrum Jesum Christum Filium tuum: Qui tecum vivit et regnat...

(Grant us, we beseech Thee, O Lord, to imitate what we worship: that we may learn to love even our enemies: for we celebrate his finding, who thought to pray even for his persecutors to Our Lord Jesus CHrist Thy Son, Who with Thee liveth and reigneth...)


Patricius said...

I MCd a '62 Rite Mass yesterday, a boring feria Mass. I mentioned in passing to Mgr Reid afterwards that had we done things properly, it would have been the feast of...and he answered it for me! I'd rather have had a daily Mass of the Dead than a boring feria Mass to be honest, but that idea met with some fierce opposition from the choir, who had practiced for the feria Mass.

Anonymous said...

I have an Ordo from a traditional group that says 'feria, or Invention of St Stephen', and gives the options for both. Wasn't there some obscure rubric somewhere that allowed for so-called suppressed Feasts on bare, IV class, feriae?

Patricius said...

Mark, I am not sure. You can commemorate suppressed Octaves on Ferial days though, such as Corpus Christi.

Joshua said...

Yes, there is such a rubric (the Latin Mass priest back in Perth, W.A., where I used to live, invokes it all the time) - and yes, ferial Masses are so boring; but I do sing with the choir on this one: you can only have a Missa cantata if the choir has practised the music, so they have the last word.