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Ordinary Time: January 19th
Saturday of the First Week of Ordinary Time
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Old Calendar: Sts. Marius, Martha, Audifax, and Abachum, martyrs; St. Canute, martyr
According to the 1962 Missal of Bl. John XXIII the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, today is the feast of Sts. Marius, Martha, Audivax and Abachum, a group of Roman martyrs of the third century. St. Canute was king of Denmark; he was put to death out of hatred of his faith and his zeal in working for its extension in his kingdom. He was killed in St. Alban's Church in Odense.The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity
St. Marius and Family
Their feast does not appear in the Roman calendar until the twelfth century. The Acts of these martyrs are wholly legendary. They give the following details. Marius was a Persian of noble extraction. With his wife, who was also noble-born, and his two sons, Audifax and Abachus, he came to Rome during the reign of Emperor Claudius II (268-270) to venerate the graves of the martyrs. They visited the Christians in prison, encouraged them by word and deed, and shared with them their goods. And like Tobias of old, they buried the bodies of the saints.
It was not long before they themselves were arrested; and when neither threats nor allurements could make them offer sacrifice to the idols, they were savagely flogged. Martha was the first to die, but not before she had fervently exhorted her husband and sons to endure steadfastly whatever tortures might be inflicted for the faith. All were beheaded in the same place and their bodies thrown into the fire. Felicitas, a saintly Roman woman, succeeded in recovering the half-burnt bodies and buried them on her estate.
St. Canute, king of Denmark, was murdered in St. Alban's Church, Odense, July 10, 1086. The Martyrology confuses him with his nephew, St. Canute the Duke, who died on January 7, 1131, and was canonized November 8, 1169, by Pope Alexander III. St. Canute is also called Canute the holy, or Danish Knut, or Knud, Den Hellige, or Sankt Knut, or Knud.
The son of King Sweyn II Estrithson of Denmark, Canute succeeded his brother Harold Hen as king of Denmark. Canute opposed the aristocracy and kept a close association with the church in an attempt to create a powerful and centralized monarchy.
In ecclesiastical matters, Canute generously patronized several churches, including the Cathedral of Lund, Denmark's archbishopric; established a Benedictine abbey at Odense; and supported apostolic preaching throughout Denmark. In temporal matters, he attempted an administrative reform, particularly an enforced levying of tithes that incurred the wrath of the rural aristocracy. In 1085 he reasserted the Danish claims to England and, with the count of Flanders and King Olaf III of Norway, prepared a massive invasion fleet that alarmed the Norman-English king William I the Conqueror.
Canute's plan, however, had to be abandoned suddenly, for those aristocrats who opposed his tax policy revolted as he was preparing to embark for England. He fled from the rebels, led by his brother Prince Olaf, to St. Alban's Church, Odense, which he had founded, and was assassinated there with the entire royal party.
Canute was buried in St. Alban's, renamed c. 1300 St. Canute's Cathedral. Miracles were recorded at his tomb, and, at the request (1099) of King Erik III Evergood of Denmark, he was canonized (1101) by Pope Paschal II. Patron:
Zeeland, Denmark. Symbols:
Knight with a wreath, lance, and ciborium.
The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity
Day Two: Tired of the journey, Jesus sat down facing the well (John 4:6)
Gracious God, Often our churches are led to choose the logic of competition. Forgive our sin of presumption. We are weary from this need to be first. Allow us to rest at the well. Refresh us with the water of unity drawn from our common prayer. May your Spirit who hovered over the waters of chaos bring unity from our diversity.