Ordinary Time: May 18th
Optional Memorial of St. John I, pope and martyr
Old Calendar: St. Venantius, martyr
John I was elected Pope in 523. The Arian King Theodoric sent him as his ambassador to Emperor Justin in Constantinople. On John I's return, he was captured by the king, who was displeased at the outcome of the embassy, and cast him into prison at Ravenna where he died a few days later. As pope he was responsible for introducing the Alexandrian computation of the date of Easter; it came to be accepted throughout the West.According to the 1962 Missal of St. John XXIII the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, today is the feast of St. Venantius, who was born at Camerino in Umbria, and was led at the age of fifteen before Antiochus, governor of the town under the Emperor Decius. He was made to suffer cruel torments, but angels came and assisted him. His tormentors were touched with repentance by his constancy and many were converted. He was beheaded around the year 250. His body lies at Camerino in the church dedicated to him. St. John I's feast in the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite is celebrated on May 27.
St. John I
This Tuscan was destined to be glorified not only during his lifetime but after his death as well. Although peace with the East had been restored, a suspicious Theodoric grumbled in his castle at Ravenna. An Arian, the king saw the new friendliness between East and West as a serious threat to his reign. To further alarm him, Emperor Justin had reinstated the laws against heretics, Arians included, and had embarked on a campaign of confiscating churches and excluding heretics from public office, causing many Arians to abandon their faith. Infuriated, Theodoric summoned John to Ravenna and ordered him to head a delegation to the orthodox emperor to ask that the persecution stop and allow forced converts to return to Arianism. At first John refused, then fearing that the king's wrath would be taken out on Western Catholics, he agreed to do Theodoric's bidding on every count save one. He boldly told the king that he would not ask the emperor to allow converts to return to heresy.
- The Church has had a long, unbroken line of popes. Have your children answer the following questions: How many popes has the Church had? How many popes are honored with the title of saint, blessed or venerable? Which pope reigned longest? Which three names have been chosen most frequently by popes? You can check this page to help get the answers.
- Pray especially for the Holy Father today. Make sure your children know the Morning Offering in which we pray for the Holy Father's intentions.
- Read more about Pope St. John I at Catholic News Agency.
St. Venantius was born at Camerino in Italy, and at the age of fifteen was seized as a Christian and carried before a judge. As it was found impossible to shake his constancy either by threats or promises, he was condemned to be scourged, but was miraculously saved by an angel. He was then burnt with torches and hung over a low fire that he might be suffocated by the smoke. The judge's secretary, admiring the steadfastness of the Saint, and seeing an angel robed in white, who trampled out the fire and again set free the youthful martyr, proclaimed his faith in Christ, was baptized with his whole family, and shortly after won the martyr's crown himself.
Often portrayed as: Young man crucified upside-down with smoke coming from his head; young man holding the citadel of Camerino; young man holding the city of Camerino, a palm, and a book; young man with a banner holding a city wall.Things to do:
- Today, let us renew our commitment to reading Scripture and take some time to meditate on a passage of the Gospel.