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Ordinary Time: July 10th

Friday of the Fourteenth Week of Ordinary Time

MASS READINGS

July 10, 2015 (Readings on USCCB website)

COLLECT PRAYER

O God, who in the abasement of your Son have raised up a fallen world, fill your faithful with holy joy, for on those you have rescued from slavery to sin you bestow eternal gladness. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

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Old Calendar: Saint Felicity and her Seven Sons, martyrs and Sts. Rufina and Secunda, virgins and martyrs; St Amalberge of Mauberge

According to the 1962 Missal of St. John XXIII for the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, today is the feast of the Seven Brothers and Sts. Rufina and Secunda. The Roman widow Felicitas and her seven sons were martyred in about the year 162. Pope Gregory the Great said of this widow, "She was more than a martyr, for seeing her seven children martyred before her eyes, she was in some sort a martyr in each of them." A century later, Rufina and Secunda, daughters of a wealthy Roman, refused to marry two suitors who had apostatized from the Christian religion. They were scourged and beheaded.


Saint Felicity and her Seven Sons
Saint Felicity was a noble Roman matron, distinguished above all for her virtue. This mother of seven children raised her sons in the fear of the Lord, and after the death of her husband, served God in continence, concerning herself only with good works. Her good examples and those of her children brought a number of pagans to renounce their superstitions, and also encouraged the Christians to show themselves worthy of their vocation. The pagan priests, furious at seeing their gods abandoned, denounced her. She appeared with her pious sons before the prefect of Rome, who exhorted her to sacrifice to idols, but in reply heard a generous confession of faith.

Wretched woman, he said to her, how can you be so barbarous as to expose your children to torments and death? Have pity on these tender creatures, who are in the flower of their age and can aspire to the highest positions in the Empire! Felicity replied, My children will live eternally with Jesus Christ, if they are faithful; they will have only eternal torments to await, if they sacrifice to idols. Your apparent pity is but a cruel impiety. Then, turning to her children, she said: Look towards heaven, where Jesus Christ is waiting for you with His Saints! Be faithful in His love, and fight courageously for your souls.

The Judge, taking the children one by one, tried to overcome their constancy. He began with Januarius, but received for his answer: What you advise me to do is contrary to reason; Jesus, the Saviour, will preserve me, I hope, from such impiety. Felix, the second, was then brought in. When they urged him to sacrifice, he answered: There is only one God, and it is to Him that we must offer the sacrifice of our hearts. Use all artifices, every refinement of cruelty, you will not make us betray our faith! The other brothers, when questioned, answered with the same firmness. Martial, the youngest, who spoke last, said: All those who do not confess that Jesus Christ is the true God, will be cast into a fire which will never be extinguished.

When the interrogation was finished, the Saints underwent the penalty of the lash and then were taken to prison. Soon they completed their sacrifice in various ways: Januarius was beaten until he died by leather straps capped with lead; Felix and Philip were killed with bludgeons; Sylvanus was thrown headfirst from a cliff; Alexander, Vitalis and Martial were beheaded. Felicity, the mother of these new Maccabees, was the last to suffer martyrdom.

Excerpted from Lives of the Saints

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Sts. Rufina and Secunda
Rufina and Secunda were sisters and virgins of Rome. Their parents had betrothed them to Armentarius and Verinus, but they refused to marry, saying that they had consecrated their virginity to Jesus Christ. They were, therefore, apprehended during the reign of the Emperors Valerian and Gallienus. When Junius, the prefect, saw he could not shake their resolution either by promises or by threats, he first ordered Rufina to be beaten with rods. While she was being scourged, Secunda thus addressed the judge: "Why do you treat my sister thus honorably, but me dishonorably? Order us both to be scourged, since we both confess Christ to be God." Enraged by these words, the judge ordered them both to be cast into a dark and fetid dungeon; immediately a bright light and a most sweet odor filled the prison. They were then shut up in a bath, the floor of which was made red-hot; but from this also they emerged unhurt. Next they were thrown into the Tiber with stones laid to their necks, but an angel saved them from the water, and they were finally beheaded ten miles out of the city on the Aurelian Way. Their bodies were buried by a matron named Plautilla, on her estate, and were afterwards translated into Rome, where they now repose in the Basilica of Constantine near the baptistery.

Excerpted from The Liturgical Year, Abbot Gueranger O.S.B.

Symbols: Broken images or pottery.

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St. Amalberga
St. Amalberga, otherwise Amelia, was born at Brabantrelated, and was in some way related to Pepin of Landen. Whether she was a sister or niece, the Bollandists are not sure. She was married to Witger and became the mother of three saints: Gudila, Reinelda, and Emembertus.

The Norman chroniclers speak of her as having been married twice, which seems to be erroneous. Nor are Pharailda and Ermelende admitted by the Bollandists to have been her children. She and her husband ultimately withdrew from the world; he becoming a monk, and she a nun. There is very great confusion in the records of this saint, and of a virgin who came a century after. To add to the difficulty a third St. Amalberga, also a virgin, appears in the twelfth century. The first two are celebrated simultaneously on July 10.

She died in 690 and is buried beside her husband at the Lobbes monastery. Her relics have been in Saint Peter's abbey church in Ghent, Belgium since 1073. She is known to protect people against arm pain, bruises, and fever.

Excerpted from Catholic News Agency

Symbols: In art she is represented holding a palm and open book with a crown at her feet, standing on a giant sturgeon or other fish.

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