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Advent: December 10th
Thursday of the Second Week of Advent
Other Commemorations: St. Melchiades, pope and martyr; St. Eulalia (Hist)
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St. Melchiades "who suffered much during the persecution of Maximianus; when at last peace was restored to the Church, died in the Lord." He was an African whom St. Augustine calls "the true child of the peace of Jesus Christ." He ruled the Church of God in the last period of the Christian persecution from 311-314; hence the title of martyr is applied to him in a wider sense. His was the good fortune of witnessing the beginning of an era of peace, for in 312 the Emperor Constantine granted freedom to the Church. Today is his feast on the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite calendar.
Historically today is the feast of the martyr, St. Eulalia who was a native of Merida, in Spain. Jesse Tree ~ Jesse
Our Lady of Loreto
The shrine of the Holy House of Loreto is located along the Adriatic Sea coast of Italy, in a small town located three hours from Rome. The house has been said to have been miraculously transported from Palestine to Italy, and by the 14th century this shrine in Loreto is one of the most famous shrines of Our Lady in Europe.
The large basilica provides the setting of the small house within the basilica itself. Though the rough walls of the little building have been raised in height and are cased externally in richly sculptured marble, the interior measures only thirty-one feet by thirteen feet.
Within the house an altar stands at one end beneath a statue, blackened over time from the smoke of burning candles and incense, of the Virgin Mother and her Divine Infant. The current statue is a 1920 replacement of damaged ancient original made of cedars of Lebanon. The replacement is made of cedar wood from the Vatican.
The inscription on the altar, Hic Verbum caro factum est,
is a reminder that this building is honored by Christians as the house at Nazareth in which the Holy Family lived, and site of the Incarnation, when the Word became Flesh. Another inscription of the sixteenth century which decorates the eastern façade of the basilica sets forth at greater length the tradition which makes this shrine so famous.
Christian pilgrim, you have before your eyes the Holy House of Loreto, venerable throughout the world on account of the Divine mysteries accomplished in it and the glorious miracles herein wrought. It is here that most holy Mary, Mother of God, was born; here that she was saluted by the Angel, here that the eternal Word of God was made Flesh. Angels conveyed this House from Palestine to the town Tersato in Illyria in the year of salvation 1291 in the pontificate of Nicholas IV. Three years later, in the beginning of the pontificate of Boniface VIII, it was carried again by the ministry of angels and placed in a wood near this hill, in the vicinity of Recanati, in the March of Ancona; where having changed its station thrice in the course of a year, at length, by the will of God, it took up its permanent position on this spot three hundred years ago [now, of course, more than 600]. Ever since that time, both the extraordinary nature of the event having called forth the admiring wonder of the neighboring people and the fame of the miracles wrought in this sanctuary having spread far and wide, this Holy House, whose walls do not rest on any foundation and yet remain solid and uninjured after so many centuries, has been held in reverence by all nations.
—Adapted from The Catholic Encyclopedia.Things to Do:
St. Melchiades (also known as St. Miltiades)
Two popes had been exiled by Emperor Maxentius, and for nearly two more years the Church in Rome was steeped in turmoil, making it impossible to choose a pope. Finally, Miltiades, an African, was elected. He had served as a priest under Marcellinus during the terrible Diocletian persecution. Now, however, he witnessed the effects of a kinder, more generous Roman government. Indeed, the Church would actually be favored with splendid gifts. By 311 the Church began to enjoy a peace resulting from a decree of toleration issued in both the East and the West. Emperor Maxentius ordered the properties of the Church restored. These included the land and buildings that had been confiscated during the reign of Emperor Diocletian. In 312 for the first time since the outbreak of persecution, a pope was able to preside over the celebration of Easter in full possession of the Church's holy assets.
Pope Miltiades worked diligently in a difficult time of transition. His edicts included forbidding the Christians to fast on Thursday and Sunday (the days during which the pagans kept their fasts) and directing that the Eucharist plate blessed by the bishop be carried to the various churches.
Constantine, having been proclaimed emperor in Gaul, now marched on Rome. The sign of the cross had been revealed to him in a vision where he was told that "by this sign shalt thou conquer." Constantine ordered his standards changed, and for the first time in history, the sign of peace was borne by an army. Constantine's legions defeated Maxentius, and the year 312 ushered in a new era, an era of peace; the Christians were truly set free. During the emperor's stay in Rome, the famous Lateran palace was given to Pope Miltiades by Fausta, Constantine's wife. The Lateran served as the papal residence for some four hundred years.
Less than a year later, a schism broke out in North Africa. Headed by a rigorist named Donatus, the faction objected to the policies of the bishop of Carthage, Caecilian. Bypassing the pope, they appealed directly to Constantine to intervene. The emperor, annoyed that he should be called on to settle disputes among the clergy, commissioned Miltiades and three other Gallic bishops to rectify the matter. The pope gathered fifteen additional bishops and held a synod in the great Lateran palace. The decision of this synod was to condemn Donatus and his party and to support the true bishop, Caecilian. The Donatists (as they later became called) appealed again to Constantine, but by the time another council could be called, Pope Miltiades had died.
St. Miltiades was an excellent pontiff who guided the Church wisely during a difficult time of changeover. Pope Miltiades was the last pope to be buried in a catacomb in the cemetery of Calixtus. His feast is celebrated on December 10.
—Excerpted from The Popes: A Papal History
, J.V. Bartlett
St. Eulalia descended from one of the most prominent families in Spain. She was educated in the Christian religion and was taught the sentiments of perfect piety. From her infancy she distinguished herself by an admirable sweetness of temper, modesty and devotion.
She showed a great love of the holy state of virginity, and by her seriousness and her contempt of dress, ornaments diversions and worldly company, she gave early signs of her sincere desire to lead a heavenly life on earth. Her heart was raised above the world before she was thought capable of knowing it, so that its amusements, which usually fill the minds of youth, had no charms for her, and every day of her life she continued to grow in virtue.
She was just twelve years old when the bloody edicts of the Emporer Diocletian were issued, by which it was ordered that all persons, without exception of age, sex, or profession, should be compelled to offer sacrifice to the gods of the empire.
Eulalia, although young, took the publication of this order as a sign of battle, but her mother, observing her impatient ardor for martyrdom, carried her into the country. However, the young saint quickly found a means to make her escape by night, and after much fatigue, arrived at Merida before daybreak.
That same morning, as soon as the court convened, she presented herself before the cruel judge, whose name was Dacian, and reproached him with impiety in attempting to destroy souls by compelling them to renounce the only true God.
The governor then commanded her to be seized. First, employing caresses, Dacian presented to her the advantages which her birth, youth and fortune gave her in the world and the grief which her disobedience would bring to her parents. Seeing that these temptations had no effect, he began to threaten her, placing the cruelest instruments of torture before her eyes, saying to her, "All this you shall escape if you will but touch a little salt and frankincense with the tip of your finger."
Provoked at these seducing flatteries, she threw down the idol, trampled upon the cake which was laid for the sacrifice and spat at the judge — an action only to be excused by her youth and inattention under the influence of a warm zeal, and fear of the snares which were laid before her.
Upon the judge's order, two executioners began to tear her tender sides with iron hooks, so as to leave the very bones bare. While this was happening, she called the strokes the trophies of Christ. Next, lighted torches were applied to her breasts and sides: under which torment, instead of groans, nothing was heard from her mouth but thanksgivings. The fire at length catching her hair surrounded her head and face, and the saint was stifled by the smoke and flame.
History says that a white dove seemed to come out of her mouth, and to wing its way upward when the holy martyr expired: at which prodigy the executioners were so much terrified that they fled and left the body.
Her relics are kept with great veneration at Oviedo, where she is honored as patroness. The Roman Martyrology mentions her name on December 10.
—Excerpted from Butler's Lives of the SaintsThings to Do:
- View this short YouTube video of the Fiesta of St. Eulalia in El Ramu, Spain to see how devotion to this saint is still celebrated.