Ordinary Time: January 23rd
Optional Memorial of St. Vincent of Saragossa, deacon & martyr
Old Calendar: St. Raymund of Penafort, confessor; St. Emerentiana, virgin and martyr; St. John the Almoner (hist)
St. Vincent of Saragossa, one of the greatest deacons of the Church, suffered martyrdom in Valencia in the persecution under Diocletian. He was born in Huesca, Spain.According to the 1962 Missal of St. John XXIII today is the feast of St. Raymond of Penafort which is now celebrated on January 7 on the General Roman Calendar. It is also the commemoration of St. Emerentiana whose veneration is connected with that of St. Agnes. She was venerated at Rome not far from the basilica of St. Agnes-Outside-the-Walls on the via Nomentana. The acts of St. Agnes make Emerentiana her foster sister; according to this source, while still a catechumen she was stoned at the tomb of the youthful martyr where she had gone to pray. The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity
St. Vincent of Saragossa
Vincent of Saragossa was one of the Church's three most illustrious deacons, the other two being Stephen and Lawrence. He is also Spain's most renowned martyr. Ordained deacon by Bishop Valerius of Saragossa, he was taken in chains to Valencia during the Diocletian persecution and put to death. From legend we have the following details of his martyrdom. After brutal scourging in the presence of many witnesses, he was stretched on the rack; but neither torture nor blandishments nor threats could undermine the strength and courage of his faith. Next, he was cast on a heated grating, lacerated with iron hooks, and seared with hot metal plates. Then he was returned to prison, where the floor was heavily strewn with pieces of broken glass. A heavenly brightness flooded the entire dungeon, filling all who saw it with greatest awe.
- Read this account of St. Vincent's martyrdom.
- Pray to St. Vincent for those ordained deacons in the Church, especially those in your own parish.
- Read Acts of the Apostles 6:1-7 to discover the role of deacons in the early Church.
- Cook a Spanish dish in honor of St. Vincent.
St. Emerentiana was a Roman virgin, the foster sister of St. Agnes who died at Rome in the third century. Already as a catechumen she was conspicuous for her faith and love of Christ. One day she boldly upbraided the idolaters for their violent attacks on the Christians. The enraged mob retaliated by pelting her with stones. She died in the Lord praying at the tomb of St. Agnes, baptized in her own blood.
St. John the Almoner
St. John was married, but when his wife and two children died he considered it a call from God to lead a perfect life. He began to give away all he possessed in alms, and became known throughout the East as the Almoner. He was appointed Patriarch of Alexandria; but before he would take possession of his see he told his servants to go over the town and bring him a list of his lords-meaning the poor. They brought word that there were seventy-five hundred of them, and these he undertook to feed every day.
- See Saint John the Merciful, Patriarch of Alexandria and The Life of St John the Almsgiver by Leontius
The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity
Day Six: God reconciled us to himself (2 Corinthians 5:18)
Reconciliation has two sides: it is fascinating and terrifying at the same time. It draws us in so that we desire it: within ourselves, with one another, and between our different confessional traditions. We see the price and it scares us. For reconciliation means renouncing our desire for power and recognition. In Christ God graciously reconciles us to himself even though we have turned away from him. God's action goes beyond even this: God reconciles not only humanity, but the whole of creation to himself.