Lent: March 11th
Saturday of the Second Week of Lent
Other Commemorations: St. Eulogius, Priest and Martyr (RM); St. Sophronius, Bishop (RM)
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The Roman Martyrology today commemorates the martyred priest, St. Eulogius of Cordoba, Spain (d. 859), who was slain by the Moors. A noted scholar of Scripture, Eulogius was arrested in 850 after writing Exhortation of Martyrdom for two young virgin martyrs, Flora and Mary, who were beheaded after refusing to abjure the faith. Released after a time Eulogius was named archbishop of Cordoba or Toledo. Before he could be consecrated, he aided Leocritia, a young Moorish woman who had converted to Christianity. They were caught and beheaded. Eulogius also wrote The Memorial of the Saints and an Apologia.
St. Sophronius (d. 638) is also included in today's Roman Martyrology. He was a simple monk who pursued a life of prayer and sacrifice first in the desert of Egypt, then near the Jordan River, then finally in the Holy City of Jerusalem. He was ultimately chosen to be bishop and Patriarch of Jerusalem in the early 7th century. He valiantly defended the true and full humanity of Christ in the face of the heresy of Monothelitism, which denied that Jesus had a human as well as a divine will. The year before his death in 638, he witnessed the capture of Jerusalem by the Muslims under the Caliph Omar. Several of his sermons and poems have survived until this day. St. Sophronius is one of the Fathers of the Church.
Meditation on the Liturgy
The story of the Prodigal Son is repeated again today. It is the history of the Church; it is the history of our own desertion. In this Gospel, we are given an urgent call to repentance and conversion. "Father, I have sinned." Penance alone can save us. Our Father welcomes us with mercy. The sin and its eternal punishment are forgiven; the good works which we did before sin and the merits which we lost through sin are revived. The Father receives us again as His children and celebrates a joyful banquet with us at Holy Communion.
In the story of each human life, God's mercy stands on one side and the unfaithfulness of man on the other. Will God have to cast us off as He did the people of Israel? Have we not fully deserved it? Sometimes it appears that God wishes to allow our faithless generation to go its own way. If He does, it will merit a well-deserved punishment.
What can save us from rejection? Only penance, self-examination, and conversion. "Be converted to Me with all your heart, in fasting and in weeping and in mourning" (Joel 2:12).
—Excerpted from The Light of the World by Benedict Baur, O.S.B.
Highlights and Things to Do:
- The parable of the Prodigal Son or The Loving Father in today's Gospel are very important for your children to know. The well-known Catechesis of the Good Shepherd for children was developed by Sofia Cavalletti, a Roman Catholic Hebrew scholar who spent 30 years researching the religious development of children, and Gianna Gobbi, an educator who was trained by Maria Montessori. Through her observation of children's responses to different religious themes, Cavalletti found that an overwhelming number of younger children responded especially well to depictions of Christ as the Good Shepherd and as a Loving and Forgiving Father. Find a local atrium or learn more through Sofia's and Gianna's writings.
St. Eulogius was of a senatorian family of Cordova, at that time the capital of the Moors in Spain. Our Saint was educated among the clergy of the Church of St. Zoilus, a martyr who suffered with nineteen others under Diocletian. Here he distinguished himself, by his virtue and learning, and, being made priest, was placed at the head of the chief ecclesiastical school at Cordova. He joined assiduous watching, fasting, and prayer to his studies, and his humility, mildness, and charity gained him the affection and respect of every one.
During the persecution raised against the Christians in the year 850, St. Eulogius was thrown into prison and there wrote his Exhortation to Martyrdom, addressed to the virgins Flora and Mary, who were beheaded the 24th of November, 851. Six days after their death Eulogius was set at liberty. In the year 852 several others suffered the like martyrdom. St. Eulogius encouraged all these martyrs to their triumphs, and was the support of that distressed flock.
The Archbishop of Toledo dying in 858. St. Eulogius was elected to succeed him; but there was some obstacle that hindered him from being consecrated, though he did not outlive his election two months.
A virgin, by name Leocritia, of a noble family among the Moors, had been instructed from her infancy in the Christian religion by one of her relatives, and privately baptized. Her father and mother used her very ill, and scourged her day and night to compel her to renounce the Faith. Having made her condition known to St. Eulogius and his sister Anulona, intimating that she desired to go where she might freely exercise her religion, they secretly procured her the means of getting away, and concealed her for some time among faithful friends.
But the matter was at length discovered, and they were all brought before the cadi, who threatened to have Eulogius scourged to death. The Saint told him that his torments would be of no avail, for he would never change his religion. Whereupon the cadi gave orders that he should be carried to the palace and be presented before the king's council. Eulogius began boldly to propose the truths of the Gospel to them. But, to prevent their hearing him, the council condemned him immediately to lose his head. As they were leading him to execution, one of the guards gave him a blow on the face, for having spoken against Mahomet; he turned the other cheek, and patiently received a second.
He received the stroke of death with great cheerfulness, on the 11th of March, 859. St. Leocritia was beheaded four days after him, and her body thrown into the river Guadalquivir, but taken out by the Christians.
—Excerpted from Lives of the Saints, by Alban Butler, Benziger Bros. ed. 
Patronage: carpenters; coppersmiths
Highlights and Things to Do:
- Read more about St. Eulogius of Cordoba:
- Read He Chose to Die for Christ in Crisis Magazine.
- His relics are enshrined in the Oviedo Cathedral in Spain.
Patriarch St. Sophronius of Jerusalem was called the Sophist because of his knowledge of Greek. He was an ardent opponent of monothelitism. Many of his writings, including the Florilegium and the Life of St. John the Almsgiver, are no longer extant. He wrote an encomium on John of Cyrus and composed 23 anacreontic odes on the feasts of the church. His Christmas homily of 634 suggests that the Saracens held Bethlehem at that time. (Historians had dated the event later). The Orthodox remember St. Sophronius chiefly as the author of the life of St. Mary of Egypt. Sophronius was born in Damascus around 560. He and his friend John Moschus became ascetics together while they were in their late teens or early twenties. Some say they lived near the Jordan; some say they lived in Egypt. In 605, Sophronius fled to Alexandria in the wake of Persian invaders, and when the Persians invaded Alexandria in 616, he fled to Rome. In 619, he returned to Palestine and lived in the Theodosius monastery in Jerusalem. When Patriarch Cyrus of Alexandria began to preach monothelitism, St. Sophronius traveled to that city to argue against him; in 633, when Patriarch Sergius of Constantinople began to preach monothelitism, St. Sophronius traveled to that city to argue against him. Neither visit was successful. After Sophronius was elected Patriarch of Jerusalem in 634, he wrote the Synodical Letter to teach the two wills of Christ. In 637, the Muslims captured Jerusalem; St. Sophronius died a year later of grief at the fall of his city.
Symbols and Representation: Vested as a bishop, with right hand upheld in blessing, holding a Gospel Book or scroll
Highlights and Things to Do:
- Read more about this Father of the Church:
Monday of the Fourth Week of Lent
Station with Santi Quattro Coronati (the Four Crowned Saints):
Approaching the medieval gateway of this ancient church, dedicated to the Four Crowned Saints, one immediately gathers that this is a unique place. Indeed it is, for though it stands only a few blocks from some of the busiest areas of the city, this oft-forgotten church holds centuries of tradition within its scarred walls. The title of this church is actually in reference to two groups of martyrs from the Roman persecutions. The first group were four soldiers, Severus, Victorinus, Carpophorus, and Severinus, who refused to take part in pagan worship, and were killed for this in the persecutions of Diocletian. The name of this church may be derived from a military decoration of a small crown, which the four soldier saints may have earned during their service. The second group were a group of five stonemasons, Claudius, Nicostratus, Sempronianus, Castor, and Simplicius, who were put to death for their refusal to carve a statue of Asclepius which would be used for pagan worship. (See PNAC for more details.)
For more on Santi Quattro Coronati, see:
For further information on the Station Churches, see The Stational Church.