Ordinary Time: July 28th
Thursday of the Seventeenth Week of Ordinary Time
Old Calendar: Saints Nazarius and Celsus, martyrs; Saints Victor I, martyr, and Innocent I popes
According to the 1962 Missal of St. John XXIII the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, today is the feast of Sts. Nazarius and Celsus, first century martyrs, whose bodies were found by St. Ambrose in 395. It is also the feast of Sts. Victor I and Innocent I both Popes of the early Church. St. Victor I was pope from 189 to 198; he regulated the date for the celebration of Easter throughout the Church in accordance with the Roman tradition. St. Innocent I (401-417), a contemporary of St. Augustine and St. Jerome, was one of the greatest early popes. He was one of the great champions of the primacy of the Holy See.
Sts. Nazarius and Celsus
Nazarius was baptized by the blessed Pope Linus. He went into Gaul, and there baptized a child named Celsus whom he had instructed in the Christian doctrine. Together they went to Treves, and in Nero's persecution were both thrown into the sea, but were saved by a miracle. They proceeded to Milan, where they spread the faith of Christ; and as they with great constancy confessed Christ to be God, the prefect, Anolinus, condemned them to death. Their bodies were buried outside the Roman gate, and for a long time remained unknown. But through a divine revelation, they were found by St. Ambrose, sprinkled with fresh blood, as if they had but just suffered martyrdom. They were translated to the city and buried in an honorable tomb.
- Read more about Sts. Nazarius and Celsus here and here
- Watch this Youtube video about Sts. Nazarius and Celsus
St. Victor I
St. Victor, who reigned as the Supreme Pontiff from 189 until 199 AD, was born in Africa. In fact, St. Victor is the first Pope to have been of African origin. It was St. Victor who made Latin the official language of the Roman Catholic Church.
During his reign, he excommunicated several bishops for celebrating Easter on 14 Nisan. Prior to his elevation, a difference in dating the celebration of the Christian Passover/Easter between Rome and the bishops of Asia Minor had been tolerated by both the Roman and Eastern churches. The churches in Asia Minor celebrated it on the 14th of the Jewish month of Nisan, the day before Jewish Passover, regardless of what day of the week it fell on, as the Crucifixion had occurred on the Friday before Passover, justifying this as the custom they had learned from the apostles; for this, the Latins called them Quartodecimans.Synods were held on the subject in various parts—in Palestine under Theophilus of Caesarea and Narcissus of Jerusalem, in Pontus under Palmas, in Gaul under Irenaeus, in Corinth under its bishop, Bachillus, at Osrhoene in Mesopotamia, and elsewhere—all of which disapproved of this practice and consequently issued by synodical letters declaring that "on the Lord's Day only the mystery of the resurrection of the Lord from the dead was accomplished, and that on that day only we keep the close of the paschal fast" (Eusebius H. E. v. 23). St. Irenaeus of Lyons criticized St. Victor's severity at times.
Accounts also show that Victor excommunicated Theodotus of Byzantium for teaching that Christ was a mere man. Yet, St. Victor remained steadfast and stern as he faced great threats to the True Faith from both Gnosticism and Monarchianism. In 199, St. Victor I ultimately suffered martyrdom under Septimus Severus. All in all, St. Victor fought for the True Faith and strongly condemned heresies strongly for the uniformity of the Church.Excerpted from A Catholic LifeThings to Do:
- Read more about Pope St. Victor I here
St. Innocent I
Innocent was born in Albano, Italy. He lived during the time of Saints Jerome and Augustine. He became Pope, on December 22, 401. Jerome, writing to the virgin Demetrias, says of him: "Hold fast to the faith of holy Innocent, who is the son of Anastasius of blessed memory and his successor in the apostolic throne; receive no strange doctrine, however shrewd and prudent you may think yourself."
- Read four letters of Correspondence between Innocent and Saint John Chrysostom
- Read more about St. Innocent here and here