Ordinary Time: September 16th
Memorial of Sts. Cornelius, pope and martyr and Cyprian, bishop and martyr
Old Calendar: St. Cornelius, pope and martyr and St. Cyprian, bishop and martyr; Sts. Euphemia, Lucy and Geminanus, martyrs; St. Ninian, bishop; Bl. Victor III, pope
Today the Church commemorates two friends in the service of Christ and his Church. Cornelius, a Roman, was the twenty-first Pope during the reign of the Emperor Gallus and Volusian. He had to oppose Novatian, the first anti-pope, who believed that apostates who repented could not be forgiven. Helped by St. Cyprian, Cornelius confirmed his papal authority. He was beheaded in exile at Civitavecchia, Italy in 253. Saints Cyprian and Cornelius are mentioned in the Roman Canon (Eucharistic Prayer I) of the Mass.According to the 1962 Missal of St. John XXIII the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, today is the feast of the commemoration of Sts. Euphemia, Lucy and Geminianus. Veneration of St. Euphemia, a virgin of Chalcedon martyred under Diocletian, was widespread in the East. Over her tomb was built the basilica in which assembled the Council of Chalcedon in 451. St. Euphemia was also venerated in the West, especially in Italy. St. Lucy is the martyr of Syracuse. Little is known of St. Geminianus whose cult is associated with that of St. Lucy.Today is also the feast of the first apostle of Christianity in Scotland, St. Ninian. He was born in Cumbria of Christian parents c. 360 and was educated in Rome. He became a priest and was ordained a bishop, probably by Pope Siricius, after which he was sent to evangelize Scotland. He landed there in 397 at Whithorn near Solway Firth, where he built a stone cathedral called Candida Casa (‘White House’). He died c. 432 and was buried at Whithorn. The name of this early Christian missionary to Scotland lives on here in New Scotland, where under his patronage, our Cathedral stands as a monument to the faith and courage of generations past.Historically today is also the feast of Bl. Pope Victor III, elected in 1086. He was described as a man of “unusual holiness” and he much preferred to remain the abbot of his beloved Monte Cassino monastery than become Pope. Reluctant and also gravely ill, Victor had a short and unremarkable Papacy. Victor is one of the few Popes to be buried outside of St.Peter’s basilica. His body is entombed in the chapter-house of Monte Cassino(where he did his greatest work), but it was briefly moved to Rome during World War II for safekeeping. Pope Victor III was beatified by Pope Leo XIII in 1887.
Pope Cornelius (251-253) was the successor to Pope Fabian. During his reign a controversy arose concerning the manner of reinstating those who had fallen from the faith under the duress of persecution. The Novatians accused the Pope of too great indulgence and separated themselves from the Church. With the help of St. Lucina, Cornelius transferred the remains of the princes of the apostles to places of greater honor. On account of his successful preaching the pagans banished him to Centumcellae, where he died. St. Cyprian sent him a letter of condolence. At the time of Pope Cornelius there were at Rome forty-six priests, seven deacons, seven subdeacons, forty-two acolytes, fifty-two clerics and more than five hundred widows who were supported by the Church (according to Cornelius' letter to Bishop Fabian of Antioch).
- Read more about St. Pope Cornelius at Anastpaul
Thascius Caecilius Cyprianus, illustrious as a pagan rhetorician in Carthage, embraced the true faith in the year 246 and was soon thereafter consecrated priest and bishop of that city (248). He was an energetic shepherd of souls and a prolific writer. He defended the unity of the Church against schismatic movements in Africa and Italy, and greatly influenced the shaping of Church discipline relative to reinstating Christians who had apostatized. He fled during the Decian persecution but guided the Church by means of letters. During the Valerian persecution (258) he was beheaded. He suffered martyrdom in the presence of his flock, after giving the executioner twenty-five pieces of gold. St. Jerome says of him: "It is superfluous to speak of his greatness, for his works are more luminous than the sun." Cyprian ranks as an important Church Father, one whose writings are universally respected and often read in the Divine Office. His principal works are: On the Unity of the Church; On Apostates; a collection of Letters; The Lord's Prayer; On the Value of Patience.
- Read St. Cyprian's encouraging words to the martyrs of his day, learn more about Roman persecutions, catacombs, apostates, Novatian and Novatus.
- Study the Sacrament of Penance (pdf file)
- Read more about St. Cyprian here
Sts. Euphemia, Lucy and Geminanus
At Chalcedon, were the deaths of St. Euphemia, virgin and martyr, under Emperor Diocletian and the proconsul Priscus. For her faith in our Lord she was subjected to tortures, imprisonment, blows, the torment of the wheel, fire, the crushing weight of stones, the teeth of the beasts, scourging with rods, the cutting of sharp saws, and burning pans, all of which she survived. But when she was again exposed to the beasts in the amphitheater, praying to our Lord to receive her spirit, one of the animals inflicted a bite on her holy body although the rest of them licked her feet, and she yielded her unspotted soul to God . . . At Rome, the holy martyrs Lucy, a noble matron, and Geminanus, were subjected to grievous afflictions and were for a long time tortured by the command of Emperor Diocletian. Finally, being put to the sword, they obtained the glorious victory of martyrdom.
Bishop and confessor; date of birth unknown; died about 432; the first Apostle of Christianity in Scotland. The earliest account of him is in Bede (Hist. Eccles., III, 4): "the southern Picts received the true faith by the preaching of Bishop Ninias, a most reverend and holy man of the British nation, who had been regularly instructed at Rome in the faith and mysteries of the truth; whose episcopal see, named after St. Martin the Bishop, and famous for a church dedicated to him (wherein Ninias himself and many other saints rest in the body), is now in the possession of the English nation. The place belongs to the province of the Bernicians and is commonly called the White House [Candida Casa], because he there built a church of stone, which was not usual amongst the Britons." The facts given in this passage form practically all we know of St. Ninian's life and work.
Blessed Pope Victor III
Blessed Pope Victor III was born a Prince of the dukes of Benevento around the year 1026, the only son of Prince Landulf V. Victor was always monastically inclined, having skillfully avoided not one, but two arranged marriages before opting for life as a hermit and monk. He eventually entered the monastery of Monte Cassino, where he succeeded Abbot Frederick when the latter was elected Pope Stephen IX. As abbot, Victor (then Desiderius) became renowned as the greatest abbot the monastery had seen since St. Benedict himself.
- Read more about Bl. Pope Victor III here and here
- Read The pope who exacted tribute from the Mohammedan ruler of Tunis.