lundi 29 février 2016

Saint OSWALD de WORCESTER, moine bénédictin et archevêque


Saint Oswald et l'abbé Eadnoth de Ramsey,

Saint Oswald

Évêque de Worcester puis d'York ( 992)

Il servit le Christ comme chanoine de Winchester, puis comme moine de Saint Benoît à Fleury-sur-Loire et revint à Winchester comme évêque puis archevêque d'York.

À Worcester en Angleterre, l’an 992, saint Oswald, évêque. D’abord chanoine de Winchester, puis moine à Fleury, il fut placé ensuite sur le siège de Worcester, et, quelque temps après, il eut encore à diriger l’Église d’York. Il établit la Règle de saint Benoît dans de nombreux monastères et fut un maître affable, joyeux et savant. (éloge le 28 février omis les années bissextiles)


Martyrologe romain


St. Oswald

Archbishop of York, d. on 29 February, 992. Of Danish parentage, Oswald was brought up by his uncle Odo, Archbishop of Canterbury, and instructed by Fridegode. For some time he was dean of the house of the secular canons at Winchester, but led by the desire of a stricter life he entered the Benedictine Monastery of Fleury, where Odo himself had received the monastic habit. He was ordained there and in 959 returned to England betaking himself to his kinsman Oskytel, then Archbishop of York. He took an active part in ecclesiastical affairs at York until St. Dunstan procured his appointment to the See of Worcester. He was consecrated by St. Dunstan in 962. Oswald was an ardent supporter of Dunstan in his efforts to purify the Church from abuses, and aided by King Edgar he carried out his policy of replacing by communities the canons who held monastic possessions. Edgar gave the monasteries of St. Albans, Ely, and Benfleet to Oswald, who established monks at Westbury (983), Pershore (984), at Winchelcumbe (985), and at Worcester, and re-established Ripon. But his most famous foundation was that of Ramsey in Huntingdonshire, the church of which was dedicated in 974, and again after an accident in 991. In 972 by the joint action of St. Dunstan and Edgar, Oswald was made Archbishop of York, and journeyed to Rome to receive the pallium from John XIII. He retained, however, with the sanction of the pope, jurisdiction over the diocese of Worcester where he frequently resided in order to foster his monastic reforms (Eadmer, 203). On Edgar's death in 975, his work, hitherto so successful, received a severe check at the hands of Elfhere, King of Mercia, who broke up many communities. Ramsey, however, was spared, owing to the powerful patronage of Ethelwin, Earl of East Anglia. Whilst Archbishop of York, Oswald collected from the ruins of Ripon the relics of the saints, some of which were conveyed to Worcester. He died in the act of washing the feet of the poor, as was his daily custom during Lent, and was buried in the Church of St. Mary at Worcester. Oswald used a gentler policy than his colleague Ethelwold and always refrained from violent measures. He greatly valued and promoted learning amongst the clergy and induced many scholars to come from Fleury. He wrote two treatises and some synodal decrees. His feast is celebrated on 28 February.

Sources

Historians of York in Rolls Series, 3 vols.; see Introductions by RAINE. The anonymous and contemporary life of the monk of Ramsey, I, 399-475, and EADMER, Life and Miracles, II, 1-59 (also in P.L., CLIX) are the best authorities; the lives by SENATUS and two others in vol. II are of little value; Acta SS., Feb., III, 752; Acta O.S.B. (Venice, 1733), saec. v, 728; WRIGHT, Biog. Lit., I (London, 1846), 462; TYNEMOUTH and CAPGRAVE, ed. HORSTMAN, II (Oxford, 1901), 252; HUNT, Hist. of the English Church from 597-1066 (London, 1899); IDEM in Dict. of Nat. Biog., s.v.; LINGARD, Anglo-Saxon Church (London, 1845).

Parker, Anselm. "St. Oswald." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 11. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1911. 29 Feb. 2016 <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/11348b.htm>.

Transcription. This article was transcribed for New Advent by Herman F. Holbrook. Saint Oswald, and all ye holy Bishops and Confessors, pray for us.

Ecclesiastical approbation. Nihil Obstat. February 1, 1911. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York.



St. Oswald, Bishop of Worcester and Archbishop of York

From his life, written by Eadmer; also from Florence of Worcester, William of Malmesbury, and, above all, the elegant and accurate author of the History of Ramsey, published by the learned Mr. Gale, p. 385. The life of this saint, written by Folcard, abbot of Thorney, in 1068, Wharton thinks not extant. Mabillon doubts whether it be not that which we have in Capgrave and Surius. See also Portiforium S. Oswaldi Archiep. Eborac. Codex MS. crassus in 8vo. exaratus circa annum 1064, in Bennet College, Cambridge, mentioned by Waneley, Catal. p. 110.

A.D. 992

ST. OSWALD was nephew of St. Odo, archbishop of Canterbury, and to Oskitell, bishop first of Dorcester, afterwards of York. He was educated by St. Odo, and made dean of Winchester; but passing into France, took the monastic habit at Fleury. Being recalled to serve the church, he succeeded St. Dunstan in the see of Worcester about the year 959. He shone as a bright star in this dignity, and established a monastery of monks at Westberry, a village in his diocess. He was employed by duke Aylwin in superintending his foundation of the great monastery of Ramsey, in an island formed by marshes and the River Ouse in Huntingdonshire, in 972. St. Oswald was made archbishop of York in 974, and he dedicated the church of Ramsey under the names of the Blessed Virgin, St. Benedict, and all holy virgins. Nothing of this rich mitered abbey remains standing except an old gate-house, and a neglected statue of the founder, Aylwin, with keys and a ragged staff in his hand to denote his office; for he was cousin to the glorious king Edgar, the valiant general of his armies, and the chief judge and magistrate of the kingdom, with the title of alderman of England, and half king, as the historian of Ramsey usually styles him. 1 St. Oswald was almost always occupied in visiting his diocess, preaching without intermission, and reforming abuses. He was a great encourager of learning and learned men. St. Dunstan obliged him to retain the see of Worcester with that of York. Whatever intermission his function allowed him he spent at St. Mary’s, a church and monastery of Benedictins, which he had built at Worcester, where he joined with the monks in their monastic exercises. This church from that time became the cathedral. The saint, to nourish in his heart the sentiments of humility and charity, had everywhere twelve poor persons at his table, whom he served, and also washed and kissed their feet. After having sat thirty-three years he fell sick at St. Mary’s in Worcester, and having received the Extreme-unction and Viaticum, continued in prayer, repeating often, “Glory be to the Father,” &c., with which words he expired amidst his monks, on the 29th of February, 992. His body was taken up ten years after and enshrined by Adulph his successor, and was illustrated by miracles. It was afterwards translated to York on the 15th of October, which day was appointed his principal festival.

St. Oswald made quick progress in the path of perfect virtue, because he studied with the utmost earnestness to deny himself and his own will, listening attentively to that fundamental maxim of the Eternal Truth which St. Bennet, of whose holy order he became a bright light, repeats with great energy. This holy founder declares in the close of his rule, that, He who desires to give himself up to God, must trample all earthly things under his feet, renounce everything that is not God, and die to all earthly affections, so as to attain to a perfect disengagement and nakedness of heart, that God may fill and entirely possess it, in order to establish therein the kingdom of his grace and pure love for ever. And in his prologue he cries out aloud, that he addresses himself only to him who is firmly resolved in all things to deny his own will, and to hasten with all diligence to arrive at his heavenly kingdom.

Note 1. The titles of honour amongst our Saxon ancestors were, Etheling, prince of the blood: chancellor, assistant to the king in giving judgments: alderman, or ealderman, (not earldorman, as Rapin Thoyras writes this word in his first edition,) governor or viceroy. It is derived from the word Ald or old, like senator in Latin. Provinces, cities, and sometimes wapentakes, had their alderman to govern them, determine law-suits, judge criminals, &c. This office gave place to the title of earl, which was merely Danish, and introduced by Canute. Sheriffe or she-reeve, was the deputy of the alderman, chosen by him, sat judge in some courts, and saw sentence executed; hence he was called vicecomes. Heartoghan signified, among our Saxon ancestors, generals of armies, or dukes. Hengist, in the Saxon chronicle, is heartogh, such were the dukes appointed by Constantine the Great, to command the forces in the different provinces of the Roman Empire. These titles began to become hereditary with the offices or command annexed under Pepin and Charlemagne, and grew more frequent by the successors of these princes granting many hereditary fiefs to noblemen, to which they annexed titular dignities. Fiefs were an establishment of the Lombards, from whom the emperors of Germany, and the kings of France, borrowed this custom, and with it the feodal laws, of which no mention is found in the Roman code. Titles began frequently to become merely honorary about the time of Otho I. in Germany.

  Reeve among the English Saxons was a steward. The bishop’s reeve was a bishop’s steward for secular affairs, attending in his court. Thanes, i. e. servants, were officers of the crown whom the king recompensed with lands, sometimes to descend to their posterity, but always to be held of him with some obligation of service, homage, or acknowledgment. There were other lords of lands and vassals, who enjoyed the title of thanes, and were distinguished from the king’s thanes. The ealdermen and dukes were all king’s thanes, and all others who held lands of the king by knight’s service in chief, and were immediate great tenants of the king’s estates. These were the greater thanes, and were succeeded by the barons, which title was brought in by the Normans, and is rarely found before the Conqueror. Mass thanes were those who held lands in fee of the church. Middle thanes were such as held very small estates of the king, or parcels of lands of the king’s greater thanes. They were called by the Normans vavassors, and their lands vavassories. They who held lands of these, were thanes of the lowest class, and did not rank as gentlemen. All thanes disposed of the lands which they held (and which were called Blockland) to their heirs, but with the obligations due to those of whom they were held. Ceorle (whence our word churl) was a countryman or artizan, who was a freeman. Those ceorles who held lands in leases, were called sockmen, and their lands sockland, of which they could not dispose, being barely tenants. Those ceorles who acquired possession of five hides of land with a large house, court, and bell to call together their servants, were raised to the rank of thanes of the lowest class. An hide of land was as much as one plough could till. The villains or slaves in the country were labourers, bound to the service of particular persons; were all capable of possessing money in property, consequently were not strictly slaves in the sense of the Roman law.

  Witan or Wites, (i. e. wisemen,) were the magistrates and lawyers. Burghwitten signified the magistrates of cities. Some shires (or counties) are mentioned before king Alfred; and Asserius speaks of earls (or counts) of Somerset, and Devonshire, in the reign of Ethelwolph. But Alfred first divided the whole kingdom into shires, the shires into tithings, lathes, or wapentacks, the tithings into hundreds, and the hundreds into tenths. Each division had a court subordinate to those that were superior, the highest in each shire being the shire-gemot, or folck-mote, which was held twice a year, and in which the bishop or his deputy, and the ealderman, or his vicegerent the sheriff, presided. See Seldon on the Titles of Honour; Spelman’s Glossary, ed noviss. Squires on the Government of the English Saxons. Dr. William Howel, in his learned General History, t. 5. p. 273, &c. N. B. The titles of earle and hersen were first given by Ifwar Widfame, king of Sweden, to two ministers of state, in 824; on which see many remarks of Olof Delin, in his excellent new history of Sweden, c. 5. t. 1. p. 334. 
[back]

Rev. Alban Butler (1711–73).  Volume II: February. The Lives of the Saints.  1866.




There are two saints called Oswald in England: one was a king, the other a monk.

The king lived in the 7th century in Northumbria: he brought St Aidan to Lindisfarne and his feast is on 5th August.

The monk, of danish origin, lived in the 10th century and became bishop of Worcester, and later archbishop of York; his feast is on 28th February. It is about the latter that Patrick Duffy writes here.

A  monk of Danish family

Oswald was of a Danish family and was brought up by his uncle Oda, who sent him to the Benedictine abbey of Fleury-sur-Loire to become a monk.


Bishop of Worcester

When Oswald returned to England as a priest in 958/9, he worked for another Danish patron, Oskytel, who had recently become archbishop of York. His activity for Oskytel attracted the notice of Saint Dunstan, then bishop of Worcester and in the process of moving to become archbishop of Canterbury. Dunstan persuaded King Edgar to appoint Oswald bishop of Worcester in his place in 961.


Founding monasteries

Oswald founded a number of monasteries at Westbury-on-Trym (near Bristol), at Ramsey (in Cambridgeshire) in collaboration with Ethelwold, bishop of Winchester and Pershore and Evesham (in Worcestershire). He also succeeded in gradually changing the cathedral chapter in Worcester from priests to monks, supposedly because the clergy would not give up their wives.


Archbishop of York

In 972 Oswald became archbishop of York, and was able to bring Abbo and other monks of Fleury to York to teach for a number of years.


Death and memory

But Oswald also held on to the diocese of Worcester, presiding over both dioceses. And it was at Worcester that on 29th February 992 he died, while he was washing the feet of the poor, a practice that had become his daily custom during Lent. He was buried in the Church of St Mary at Worcester. His feast is celebrated on 28th February. He is closely associated with other monks who became bishops – like St Dunstan (909-988) and St Ethelwold (908-984) – in restoring monasticism in England.



Saint Oswald

Archbishop of York
(† 992)

Oswald was of a noble Saxon family; he was endowed with a very rare and handsome appearance and with a singular piety of soul. Brought up by his uncle, Saint Odo, Archbishop of Canterbury, he was chosen, while still young, as dean of the secular canons of Winchester, at that time very lax. His attempt to reform them was a failure, and he saw, with that infallible instinct which so often guides the Saints in critical times, that the true remedy for the corruption of the clergy was the restoration of monastic life.


He therefore went to France and took the habit of Saint Benedict. When he returned to England it was to receive the news of Odo's death. He found, however, a new patron in Saint Dunstan, Archbishop of Canterbury, through whose influence he was nominated to the see of Worcester. To these two Saints, together with Ethelwold of Winchester, the monastic revival of the tenth century is mainly due.

Oswald's first care was to deprive of their benefices all disorderly secular clerics, whom he replaced as far as possible by religious priests. He himself founded seven religious houses. Considering that in the hearts of the secular canons of Winchester there were yet some sparks of virtue, he would not at once dismiss them, but rather reformed them through a holy artifice. Adjoining their cathedral church he built a chapel in honor of the Mother of God, causing it to be served by a body of strict religious. He himself assisted at the divine Office there, and his example was followed by the people. The canons, finding themselves isolated and the church deserted, chose rather to embrace the religious life than continue to injure their own souls, and be also a mockery to their people, through the contrast offered by their worldliness and the regularity of their religious brethren.

Later, as Archbishop of York, Saint Oswald met a like success in his efforts. God manifested His approval of his zeal by discovering to him the relics of his great predecessor at Worcester, Saint Wilfrid, which he reverently translated to the church of that city. He died while washing the feet of the poor, as he did daily during Lent, on February 29, 992.

Reflection. A soul without discipline is like a ship without a helm: it must inevitably strike unawares upon the rocks, founder on the shoals, or float unawares into the harbor of the enemy.

Little Pictorial Lives of the Saints, a compilation based on Butler's Lives of the Saints and other sources by John Gilmary Shea (Benziger Brothers: New York, 1894)

*On leap years, the feast day of this Saint is celebrated on February 29.


dimanche 28 février 2016

Bienheureuse ANTONIA (ANTOINETTE) de FLORENCE, tertiaire franciscaine

Bienheureuse Antoinette de Florence

Clarisse à Florence ( 1472)

Elle se maria à quinze ans et devint veuve très jeune encore. Elle se remaria et mais elle connut à nouveau le veuvage. Alors elle décida d'entrer chez les clarisses de sa ville natale, Florence. Elle eut beaucoup à souffrir à cause de l'un de ses fils qui ne cessa de la tourmenter. Mais son père spirituel, saint Jean de Capistran, la réconfortait et elle reçut de Dieu de grandes consolations. 


À L’Aquila dans les Abruzzes, en 1472, la bienheureuse Antonie de Florence, veuve, qui entra chez les Clarisses et fut ensuite la fondatrice et la première abbesse du monastère du Corpus Christi, sous la Règle primitive de sainte Claire. (éloge omis le 28 février les années bissextiles)


Martyrologe romain




Antonia de Florence

Religieuse Clarisse, Bienheureuse

1400-1472
Antonia naquit à Florence en 1400. Jeune veuve avec un enfant, elle s’opposa à sa famille qui lui proposait de secondes noces. De son côté, elle considérait les adversités de la vie comme un dessein particulier du Seigneur.
A cette époque, saint Bernardin de Sienne, avec ses compagnons, répandait en maintes villes d’Italie le mouvement de l’Observance, avec un retour au “francescanisme” des origines. La plupart des homélies se faisaient sur la place publique, car les églises étaient trop petites pour contenir toutes les foules qui accouraient. C’est ainsi que frère Bernardino se fit entendre à Sainte Croix de Florence du 8 mars au 3 mai 1425. Après l’avoir entendu, Antonia répondit “oui” sans conditions à l’appel de Dieu. Elle avait connu la vie matrimoniale, elle était mère, mais le Seigneur apportait un tournant à sa vie. Quatre ans plus tard, après avoir réglé les affaires familiales, elle entra parmi les tertiaires franciscaines fondées par la bienheureuse Angiolina de Marsciano, elle aussi jeune veuve.
Le couvent florentin de saint Onofrio était déjà le cinquième qui se fondait. Peu après sa profession, Antonia fut envoyée, au vu de son charisme, dans le monastère le plus ancien de l’Ordre, érigé à Foligno en 1397. La fondatrice la transféra successivement à Assise, puis à Todi, enfin à L’Aquila en vue de fonder une nouvelle communauté. C’était le 2 février 1433, fête de la Présentation de Jésus au Temple. Ce couvent de L’Aquila, mis sous la protection de sainte Elisabeth, fut guidé par Antonia pendant quatorze années, durant lesquelles elle se voua corps et âme à la croissance de la communauté dans les préceptes de l’Evangile.
Toutefois, dans le cœur d’Antonia mûrissait le désir d’une vie davantage contemplative. Il faut signaler aussi que pendant plusieurs années elle subit une pénible épreuve à cause des désordres de Battista, son fils, qui dilapidait tout le patrimoine familial, engendrant aussi des litiges entre parents.
Concernant la réforme de l’Observance, plusieurs communautés de Clarisses y adhérèrent, et ce fut saint Giovanni de Capistran qui guida la réforme à L’Aquila. Antonia fut parmi les premières de ce groupe. Le Saint trouva l’édifice adéquat pour abriter le monastère, et présida à la solennelle fondation le 16 juillet 1447. Partant de Collemaggio, le cortège accompagna Antonia, nouvellement élue abbesse par volonté de Jean de Capistran, avec ses treize compagnes, pour rejoindre le monastère de l’Eucharistie (appelé aussi du “Corpus Domini”). Les débuts furent marqués par une extrême pauvreté, on manquait du plus nécessaire et Antonia n’hésita pas à aller mendier. Les religieuses vivaient la pauvreté avec une joie évangélique, leur Mère leur en donnait un exemple courageux et maternel, tout cela dans un climat authentiquement fraternel. Il en résulta des fruits abondants et de nombreuses vocations.
Même le fils d’Antonia bénéficia de l’influence de saint Jean de Capistran : Battista vêtit en effet l’habit franciscain au couvent de Campli où sa conduite fut exemplaire.
Après sept années, Antonia obtint enfin de pouvoir s’adonner exclusivement à la contemplation et au silence. Sainte Claire d’Assise disait d’elle : “Elle se taisait, mais sa renommée hurlait”. Modeste et obéissante, elle se mettait à la dernière place aussi bien à table qu’au chœur, et se mettait les habits les plus usés, que ses consœurs ne pouvaient plus mettre. Certaines moniales la virent ravie en extase, avec une auréole lumineuse au-dessus de sa tête. Dans les dernières années de sa vie, elle dissimula une plaie qu’elle avait contractée à la jambe. Elle mourut à vingt-et-une heures le 29 février 1472, entourée de ses chères consœurs.
Des miracles eurent lieu avant même sa sépulture. Une des moniales s’étendit près d’elle et guérit de plusieurs plaies. Les magistrats de la ville voulurent assumer les frais des obsèques. Quinze jours après la sépulture, les consœurs l’exhumèrent pour en revoir encore une fois les traits, et la trouvèrent comme si elle venait de s’éteindre. Le bruit s’en répandit dans la ville et l’évêque Agnifili ordonna qu’on l’ensevelît dans un endroit choisi. Cinq ans plus tard en 1477, l’évêque Borgio ordonna une nouvelle reconnaissance de la dépouille, constata la parfaite conservation du corps de Mère Antonia et, connaissant bien sa renommée de sainteté, en autorisa le culte. Le culte fut à nouveau confirmé en 1848.
Récemment, les reliques de la Bienheureuse ont été transférées du monastère de l’Eucharistie à celui des Clarisses de Paganica, non sans quelques manifestations de mécontentement des habitants de l’Aquila.
La Bienheureuse est donc inscrite au Martyrologe le 29 février.
Bruno Kiefer, Prêtre
SOURCE : http://nouvl.evangelisation.free.fr/antonia_de_florence.htm



Blessed Antonia (Antoinette) of Florence

OFM Widow (AC)
February 28



Born in Florence, Italy, in 1400; died 1472; cultus confirmed in 1847. Twice widowed, twice prioress, Antonia joined the Franciscan tertiaries when she was widowed while still very young. She was chosen as superioress of Aquila and adopted the original rule of the Poor Clares. She contracted a painful disease, which afflicted her for 15 years, but this and other trials she bore bravely under the guidance of Saint John of Capistrano (Benedictines, Encyclopedia).





Blessed Antonia of Florence

(Beata Antonia de Firenze)


Feast Day – February 26



Blessed Antonia of Florence was born of a noble family at Florence, Italy, in 1401. She entered the married state at a very early age, in compliance with the wish of her parents. When her husband died in 1428, she allowed nothing to induce her to contract a second marriage, but resolved to withdraw from the world and live only for God and the salvation of her soul.

In the following year she entered the convent of Tertiaries which Blessed Angelina had recently founded at Florence. Here she so distinguished herself by virtue and wisdom, that after a few years the superiors called her to Foligno to preside as superior of the convent there.

Although in her humility she found it difficult to accept the advancement, she was happy to carry out the appointment under the guidance of Blessed Angelina, who, as superior general of the several convents she had founded, dwelt at Foligno. Antonia so availed herself of the opportunity to profit by the holy example and the good counsel of the foundress, that she could be held up as a model superior.




In consequence, after a few years, Blessed Antonia of Florence was sent to establish a convent in Aquila. There, under her maternal direction, a veritable sanctuary of holiness budded forth, the fame of which brought joy to that city and the entire vicinity.

Although the religious community zealously served God according to the rule of the Third Order, it did not satisfy Blessed Antonia in her yearning for personal perfection. She felt strongly drawn to a stricter life, to more perfect poverty, and to more complete renunciation of the world, as practiced in the Order of St Clare.

At a visitation she communicated her desire to her spiritual director, St John Capistran. He approved it, and at his suggestion and with the sanction of the Holy Father, a new convent of the Poor Clares was founded at Aquila, which Antonia with twelve consecrated virgins entered in 1447. She was appointed superior and abbess; but, while she occupied the highest place, she always strove to find the last. The lowliest tasks, worn clothes, the most disagreeable occupations she assigned to herself, while she shunned all honor and distinction. In all she did and said there shone forth the most sincere humility.

Just as pronounced was the patience with which she bore the burdens of her position, the weakness of all her subjects, the many importunities of her relatives, and finally the sufferings of a lingering illness.
While she was extraordinarily severe with herself, she possessed truly motherly concern for her sisters. They in turn clung to her with filial love, and when after seven years of administration she was relieved of the burden, she was still considered by the sisters as their mother and model.

God distinguished His faithful servant with special graces. Her prayer amounted to perfect contemplation of heavenly things, the ardor of her devotion sometimes causing her to be raised aloft bodily. Once a glowing sphere was seen suspended over her head.

Blessed Antonia of Florence reached the age of seventy-one years, and died on February 18, 1472, addressing words of comfort and holy exhortation to her sorrowing fellow sisters about her.

Numerous miracles occurred at her grave, and her body is a constant miracle, for, up to the present time it is preserved wholly incorrupt and is of an extraordinary freshness which is emphasized by the open eyes. The uninterrupted veneration which began with the day of her death received the sanction of Pope Pius IX.

*from: The Franciscan Book of Saints, ed. by Marion Habig, ofm

Blessed Antonia of Florence

Profile

Married and a mother of one. Widowed twice. Franciscan tertiary. Poor Clare nun. Spiritual student of Saint John Capitran. Abbess at Aquila, Italy from 1433 to 1447. Founded a Observant-oriented house of Poor Clares in Aquila. Sick the last 15 years of her life.

Born
SOURCE : http://catholicsaints.info/blessed-antonia-of-florence/
BEATA ANTONIA DI FIRENZE
Clarissa (1400-1472 ca) 28 febbraio
Di lei si disse: “Taceva ma la sua fama gridava.” Seppe vivere l’austera povertà con letizia evangelica e il suo trapasso fu segnato da miracoli, ma ancor prima si parla di fenomeni di levitazione e luce infuocata attorno al capo.
Nata a Firenze tra il 1400 e il 1401, trascorse la fanciullezza nell’anonimato di una famiglia ordinaria. Sposatasi in giovane età, Antonia rimase vedova dopo pochi anni di matrimonio. Senza dare ascolto ai genitori che tentavano di persuaderla a risposarsi, decise di dedicarsi alla vita religiosa. 
San Bernardino predicava nelle chiese e sulle piazze di tutta Italia, suscitando una vera primavera di vita cristiana. Predicò anche nella Chiesa di S. Croce a Firenze, dall’8 marzo al 3 maggio 1425. Antonia lo ascoltò e le nacque nel cuore la decisione di consacrarsi a Dio. Era attratta da un amore più grande, al quale seppe rispondere con una generosità piena e incondizionata, diventando una delle prime postulanti delle terziarie di S. Francesco, costituite a Firenze nel 1429 da B. Angelina di Marsciano (14 lug.).
Ebbe un figlio che curò da sola e da sola attese alla sua prima educazione. Quella fiorentina era la quinta delle fondazioni di Angelina: la prima era sorta a Foligno nel 1397 e Antonia vi fu trasferita l’anno successivo al suo ingresso in considerazione dei suoi eccezionali meriti. Qui lavorò per tre anni sotto la diretta guida della fondatrice e poi venne inviata a L’Aquila come responsabile di una nuova fondazione, dando ancora una volta prova della sua santità nelle attività caritative.
Sentendo tuttavia che la regola delle terziarie di S. Francesco non era sufficientemente austera per lei, espresse a S. Giovanni da Capestrano (23 ott.), durante una visita di quest’ultimo a L’Aquila, il suo desiderio di uno stile di vita più duro; questi allora decise che Antonia si trasferisse, insieme ad altre undici suore, nel nuovo convento del Corpus Dominidove le religiose abbracciarono l’originaria regola di S. Chiara (11 ago.) alla lettera. Il convento, rivelatosi ben presto troppo piccolo per contenere tutte le aspiranti accorse numerosissime, dovette essere allargato per ospitare oltre cento religiose. Antonia chiamò la povertà la “Regina della casa”, mostrando un’inesauribile umiltà e cortesia nei rapporti con le consorelle, di cui fu superiora per sette anni.
Era tale la povertà che s’imposero che alcuni giorni dopo l’ingresso in Monastero mancava anche lo stretto necessario per sopravvivere e lei di persona decise di uscire con una compagna per chiedere elemosina. Tuttavia seppe vivere l’austera povertà con letizia evangelica, tanto che raccontano le compagne –  era sempre tanto allegra che pareva abbondasse di ogni cosa. Sapeva trascinare tutte con la parola e l’esempio; era forte e materna con tutte, coltivando l’unità e l’armonia della vita fraterna. – Le altre sorelle della fraternità subirono il fascino del suo esempio e molte di esse offrirono alla Chiesa un genuino esempio di santità. Ne citiamo alcune: beata Ludovica Branconío dell’Aquila, beata Giacoma dell’Aquila, beata Bonaventura d’Antrodoco, beata Paola da Foligno, beata Gabriella di Pizzoli, beata Giacoma da Fossa e tante altre.
Visse sempre in obbedienza e umiltà. Il suo stile di vita era limpidamente evangelico: occupava a mensa e in coro l’ultimo posto; indossava i vestiti più logori della comunità, messi fuori uso dalle sorelle; si faceva, per amore di Dio tutta a tutte. Le sorelle inferme, deboli, tentate e scoraggiate, trovavano sempre in lei conforto e l’amore tenero di madre pur essendo lei stessa affetta da un’orribile piaga che volle mantenere nascosta.
Dovette superare molte difficoltà personali dovute alla cattiva salute, logorata anche dalle apprensioni per il figlio dissoluto che dissipò l’intera eredità e per un gruppo di parenti litigiosi; non mancarono altre pene spirituali. Quando diede infine le dimissioni dall’incarico di superiora, dedicò il resto della propria vita alla preghieraSi racconta che l’abbiano spesso vista in estasi, e che a volte abbia mostrato fenomeni fisici ancor più sorprendenti, come la levitazione o l’apparizione di un’aureola di luce infuocata attorno al capo. Morì nel 1472 e fu sepolta con una cerimonia solenne; i vescovi, i magistrati e tutta la cittadinanza vollero a ogni costo sostenere gli oneri del funerale.
Il suo trapasso fu segnato da miracoli prima ancora che fosse inumata la salma. Celebri rimasero le guarigioni istantanee del cittadino aquilano Zingarelli sofferente di idropsia e di suor Innocenza clarissa, aquilana anche lei che fu guarita dalle numerose piaghe dopo essersi distesa sul corpo di Antonia ad esequie avvenute. Dallo stesso male furono risanate una Maria aquilana e sr. Orsola clarissa anche lei. Quindici giorni dopo l’inumazione le suore disseppellirono il sacro corpo per rivederlo prima che si disfacesse completamente. Con grande meraviglia lo rinvennero fresco e incorrotto. Ripeterono più volte l’esperienza e se ne diffuse la voce in città; ma il vescovo Cardinale Agnifili, per evitare esagerazioni, ordinò che la salma fosse sepolta allo scoperto, fuori del luogo sacro.  Beatificata nel 1847, le sue reliquie si trovano a L’Aquila, dove sono conservati anche i resti di S. Bernardino da Siena (20 mag.) e del B. Vincenzo da L’Aquila (7 ago.). Ancora oggi, le sorelle povere, trascinate dal suo esempio e da quello della Madre S. Chiara, vivono una vita semplice, nel silenzio del chiostro, ponendo Dio come il “tutto” della loro vita. 
FontiIl primo grande dizionario dei Santi di Alban Butler /  www.clarissepaganica.org/

mercredi 24 février 2016

Saint MONTAN, saint LUCIUS, saint FLAVIEN et leurs compagnons, martyrs

Saints Lucius, Montanus

et leurs compagnons, martyrs à Carthage ( 259)

Lucius, Montanus, Julien et Victoric étaient disciples de saint Cyprien et appartenaient presque tous au clergé. Ils furent rendus responsables de désordres provoqués dans la ville et pour cette raison furent mis à mort.

À Carthage, en 259, les saints martyrs Lucius, Montan, Julien et Victoric. Sous l’empereur Valérien, ils furent décapités pour la religion et la foi que saint Cyprien leur avait enseignées. Avec eux sont commémorés saint Victor, prêtre, martyrisé avant eux, et saint Donatien, mort en prison.

Martyrologe romain

SOURCE : http://nominis.cef.fr/contenus/saint/1208/Saints-Lucius--Montanus.html

LA PASSION DES SAINTS MONTAN, LUCIUS ET PLUSIEURS AUTRES, A CARTHAGE, EN 259.

Dans l'Afrique proconsulaire, la mort de saint Cyprien donna le signal de la persécution. Le proconsul ayant provoqué une émeute par sa férocité, affecta, comme jadis Néron, d'y voir l'ouvrage des chrétiens. Parmi les victimes se trouve un groupe de martyrs dont nous avons des actes très curieux et dignes de toute confiance, mais dans lesquels, comme dans ceux de Jacques et Marien, le mauvais goût littéraire du temps a prodigué l'obscurité et la déclamation. Nous n'avons pas pensé que ces taches, qui peuvent intéresser vivement dans l'étude de l'original, dussent être reproduites dans la présente traduction. M. de Rossi a rapproché une phrase de la lettre écrite par les martyrs à leurs « frères » de quatre vers hexamètres du poète Commodien qu'ils citaient fort exactement.

BOLL. 24/III, 454-459. RUINART, Act. sinc. p.132 et suiv. — DE ROSSI, Inscript. christ. Urb. Rom. t. II, p. XXXII. — P. ALLARD, Hist. des persec. III, 116 et suiv. — DE ROSSI, Bullett. di arch. crist. (1880), p. 66-68. — TILLEMONT, Mém. IV, 206-14, 647-9. — PIO FRANCHI DE CAVALIERI, Gli atti dei SS. Montano, Lucio e compagni, dans Romische Quartalschrift., VIII,1898, et Anal. boll., 1899, p. 67.

LA PASSION DES SAINTS MONTAN, LUCIUS ET DE LEURS COMPAGNONS.


Nous vous envoyons, frères bien-aimés, le récit de nos combats ; car des serviteurs de Dieu, consacrés à son Christ, n'ont pas d'autre devoir que de penser à leurs nombreux frères. C'est une raison de fraternelle tendresse et de charité qui nous a portés à vous envoyer ces lettres, afin que les frères qui viendront après nous y trouvent un témoignage fidèle de la magnificence de Dieu, de nos travaux et de nos souffrances pour lui.

A la suite de l'émeute qu'excita la férocité du pro-consul, et de la persécution qui vint aussitôt après, nous, Lucius, Montan, Flavien, Julien, Victor, Primole, Renon et Donatien, nous fumes arrêtés. Donatien n'était encore que catéchumène, il fut baptisé dans la prison et mourut aussitôt, passant ainsi du baptême au martyre. Primole eut la même fin. Toutefois on n'eut pas le temps de lui administrer le sacrement, sa confession lui en tint lieu.

Dès que l'on nous eut pris, nous fûmes confiés à la garde des magistrats municipaux; nos gardes nous dirent que le proconsul voulait nous faire brûler vifs dès le lendemain. Mais le Seigneur, à qui seul appartient de garder ses disciples de la flamme et entre les mains de qui sont les ordres et la volonté du prince, détourna de nous la cruauté du proconsul, et, par nos prières incessantes, nous obtînmes ce que nous demandions dans l'ardeur de notre foi; le feu déjà presque allumé pour nous consumer fut éteint et la flamme des bûchers embrasés fut étouffée par la rosée divine.

Eclairés par les promesses que le Seigneur a faites par son Saint-Esprit, les fidèles croiront sans peine que les miracles récents égalent ceux d'autrefois, car le Dieu qui avait fait éclater sa gloire dans les trois enfants, triomphait de même en nous. Ainsi donc, — Dieu aidant, — le proconsul, revenu de son dessein, donna ordre de nous conduire dans les prisons. Nous y fûmes menés par une garde de soldats et nous nous montrâmes assez peu soucieux de l'obscurité fétide de notre nouveau séjour. Bientôt la prison toute noire fut éclairée des feux du

Saint-Esprit, et au lieu des fantômes de l'obscurité et des ignorances aveugles qu'apporte la nuit, la foi nous revêtit d'une lumière semblable à celle du jour, et nous descendions dans la geôle la plus douloureuse comme nous serions montés au ciel.

Les mots nous manquent pour dire quels jours et quelles nuits nous passâmes en ce lieu. L'imagination se refuse à concevoir l'horreur de ce cachot, et la parole ne peut suffire à en décrire les souffrances. Mais la gloire de celui qui triomphe en nous se mesure à l'épreuve elle-même : ce n'est pas nous qui combattons, la victoire est à celui qui combat pour nous. Qu'importe la mort au fidèle, cette mort dont le Seigneur a triomphé par sa croix, dont il a émoussé l'aiguillon et fait, par son supplice, évanouir l'horreur? Mais on ne parle d'armes que pour le soldat, et le soldat lui-même ne s'arme que pour le combat ; ainsi nos couronnes ne sont une récompense que parce qu'il y a eu combat : on donne les prix à la fin des jeux.

Pendant plusieurs jours nous fûmes réconfortés par la visite des frères, de sorte que la joie et la consolation des jours faisait oublier l'horreur des nuits.

Renon, l'un de nous, eut une vision pendant son sommeil. C'étaient des hommes qu'on menait mourir. devant chacun desquels on portait une lampe ; ceux qu'une lampe ne précédait pas étaient abandonnés. Il nous ,vit marcher précédés de nos lampes ; sur ces entrefaites, il s'éveilla. Quand Renon nous raconta sa vision, nous fûmes bien heureux, nous savions maintenant que nous étions dans le bon chemin, nous marchions avec le Christ, lumière de nos pas et Verbe de Dieu.

Après une telle nuit, on passait le jour dans la joie. Précisément, ce matin-là, nous fûmes subitement traduits devant le procurateur, qui faisait l'intérim du proconsul, mort depuis peu.

O jour de joie ! ô glorieux liens ! ô chaînes désirées ! ô fers plus glorieux et plus précieux que l'or ! ô bruit des anneaux qui sursautent sur le pavé ! Nous parlions de l'avenir et de peur que notre félicité ne fût retardée, les soldats, ne sachant où le procurateur voulait nous entendre, nous menèrent dans tout le Forum ; enfin nous fûmes appelés dans son cabinet.

Mais l'heure de mourir n'était pas arrivée. Ayant vaincu le diable, nous fûmes renvoyés en prison ; l'on nous réservait à une autre victoire. Vaincu cette fois, le diable combina de nouvelles embûches, il tenta de nous vaincre par la faim et la soif. Cette nouvelle épreuve se prolongea longtemps, et nos corps épuisés n'obtenaient même pas un peu d'eau froide de Solon, l'économe.

Cette fatigue, ces privations, ce temps de misère étaient permis de Dieu, car celui qui voulut que nous fussions éprouvés, montra qu'il voulait nous parler au sein même de l'épreuve. Voici donc ce que le prêtre Victor apprit dans une vision qui précéda de peu d'instants son martyre. Il nous l'a racontée ainsi : « Je voyais un enfant entrer dans cette prison; son visage était resplendissant au delà de ce que l'on peut dire; il nous conduisait à toutes les portes, comme pour nous rendre à la liberté, mais nous ne pouvions sortir. Il me dit alors : « Encore quelques jours de souffrance, puisque vous êtes retenus ici, mais ayez confiance, je suis avec vous ». Il reprit : « Dis-leur que leurs couronnes seront d'autant plus glorieuses, car l'esprit vole vers son Dieu et l'âme près de souffrir aspire aux demeures qui l'attendent ». Connaissant que c'était le Seigneur, Victor demanda où était le Paradis. « Hors du monde », dit l'enfant.— « Montrez-le-moi. » — « Et où serait la foi? » dit encore l'enfant. Par un reste de faiblesse humaine, le prêtre dit : « Je ne puis m'acquitter de l'ordre que vous m'avez donné : laissez-moi un signe qui serve de témoignage à mes frères ».

L'enfant répondit : « Dis-leur que mon signe est le signe de Jacob ». Maintenant voici ce qui a trait à notre compagne de captivité, la matrone Quartillosa, dont le mari et le fils avaient été martyrisés trois jours auparavant, et qui ne devait pas tarder à les suivre. Elle nous a raconté sa vision en ces termes : « Je vis mon enfant martyr venir à la prison et il s'assit au bord de l'eau; il me dit : « Dieu voit votre angoisse et votre souffrance ». Alors entra un jeune homme d'une taille extraordinaire, portant dans chaque main une coupe de lait ; il me dit : « Courage, Dieu tout-puissant s'est souvenu de vous ». Et il donna à boire à tous les prisonniers, mais il n'y paraissait pas, ses coupes ne diminuaient pas. Soudain la pierre qui bouchait la moitié de la fenêtre du cachot sembla s'écrouler, laissant voir un coin de ciel; le jeune homme posa les coupes à droite et à gauche : « Vous voilà rassasiés, dit-il; cependant les coupes sont encore pleines et même l'on va vous en apporter une troisième ».

Il disparut.

Le lendemain, nous étions dans l'attente de l'heure où l'administrateur de la prison nous ferait porter, non la nourriture, il ne nous en donnait plus et depuis deux jours nous n'avions rien mangé, mais de quoi sentir notre souffrance et notre privation, lorsque tout à coup, ainsi que la boisson arrive à celui qui est altéré, la nourriture à l'affamé, le martyre à celui qui le demande, de même le Seigneur nous réconforta par l'intermédiaire du prêtre Lucien qui, forçant toutes les consignes, nous envoya deux coupes, par l'entremise de Hérennien, sous-diacre, et Janvier, catéchumène, qui portèrent à chacun l'aliment qui ne diminue pas. Ce secours soutint les malades et les infirmes ; ceux-là mêmes que la férocité de Solon et le manque d'eau avaient rendus malades, furent guéris, ce dont tous rendirent à Dieu de grandes actions de grâces.

Il est temps de dire quelque chose de la tendresse mutuelle que nous nous portions.

Montan avait eu avec Julien d'assez vives discussions au sujet d'une femme exclue de la communion, qui s'y fit recevoir par surprise. La dispute finie, une certaine froideur ne laissa pas que de subsister entre les confesseurs ; mais, la nuit suivante, Montan eut une vision. La voici telle qu'il l'a racontée : « Je vis des centurions venir à nous, ils nous conduisirent, après une longue traite, dans une plaine immense où Cyprien et Lucius vinrent à nous. Une blanche lumière baignait la campagne, nos propres vêtements étaient blancs, notre chair plus blanche que nos vêtements. A travers la chair transparente les regards pénétraient jusqu'au coeur. Je regardais ma poitrine, il y avait des taches. A ce moment je m'éveillais et Lucius entrait. Je lui racontai la vision : « Sais-tu, ajoutai je, d'où viennent ces tâches ? De ce que je ne me suis pas tout de suite réconcilié avec Julien. J'en conclus, frères très chers, que nous devons mettre tous nos soins à conserver la concorde, la paix, l'entente entre nous. Efforçons-nous d'être dès ce monde tels que nous serons dans l'autre. Si les récompenses promises aux justes nous attirent, si le châtiment réservé aux impies nous épouvante, si nous souhaitons vivre et régner avec le Christ, faisons ce qui y conduit. Adieu. »

Ce qui précède fut écrit par les martyrs dans leur prison, mais il était indispensable que quelqu'un recueillît de ce martyre tout ce que la modestie des confesseurs s'ingéniait à tenir secret. Flavien m'a confié la charge de suppléer à tout ce qu'ils avaient omis ; j'ai donc ajouté ce qui suit :

Après plusieurs mois d'une détention pendant laquelle ils souffrirent de la faim et de la soif, tous les confesseurs :furent amenés un soir devant le nouveau proconsul.

Tous confessèrent le Christ. Flavien s'était déclaré diacre, mais ses amis présents déclarèrent, poussés par une affection intempestive, qu'il n'avait pas cette qualité.

Quant à Lucius, Montan, Julien, Victor, ils furent condamnés sur-le-champ. Flavien fut ramené en prison. Encore qu'il eût tout sujet de s'affliger d'être séparé d'une compagnie si sainte, cependant sa foi et sa charité étaient si profondes qu'il n'y voulut voir que la volonté de Dieu. Ainsi sa piété modérait son chagrin. Pendant que Flavien regagnait la prison, les condamnés se rendaient au lieu des exécutions. Une cohue énorme, où les chrétiens roulaient pêle-mêle avec les païens, suivait les martyrs. Les fidèles en avaient vu un grand nombre déjà, mais jamais avec autant d'émotion et de respect. Le visage des victimes rayonnait de bonheur, leurs paroles étaient brûlantes et fortifiaient les fidèles. Lucius, naturellement doux et timide, épuisé par ses infirmités et le séjour de la prison, avait pris les devants avec quelques amis, car il craignait d'être étouffé dans les remous de la foule et de perdre l'occasion de répandre son sang. Pendant le trajet, il s'entretenait avec ses compagnons et ne laissait pas de les instruire. Ceux-ci lui disaient : « Vous vous souviendrez de nous ! » — « C'est à vous, répondit-il, à vous souvenir de moi » ; car son humilité était si profonde qu'à cet instant même il ne se prévalait pas de son martyre. Julien et Victor recommandaient aux frères avec instances la concorde, le soin des clercs, de ceux-là surtout qui souffraient en prison les horreurs de la faim. Joyeux et calmes, les confesseurs arrivaient au lieu du supplice.

Montan était de haute taille, intrépide et habitué jusqu'alors à dire toute sa pensée sans ménagement. Exalté par la perspective du martyre tout proche, il criait à pleine voix « Quiconque sacrifiera à d'autres qu'au seul Dieu sera anéanti ». Et il répétait sans se lasser qu'il n'est pas permis de déserter l'autel de Dieu pour s'adresser aux idoles fabriquées. Il s'adressait ensuite aux hérétiques : « Que la multitude des martyrs, leur disait-il, vous apprenne où est la véritable Eglise, celle dans laquelle vous devez entrer ». Aux apostats il rappelait que la communion ne leur serait accordée qu'après la pénitence. A ceux qui n'avaient pas faibli il disait: « Tenez ferme, frères, combattez avec courage. Les exemples ne vous manquent pas. Que la lâcheté de ceux qui sont tombés ne vous entraîne pas dans leur ruine ; loin de là, que nos souffrances vous excitent à gagner la couronne ». Apercevant des vierges chrétiennes, il adressa la parole à chacune d'elles, les exhortant à garder la chasteté. A tous les fidèles il recommanda d'obéir aux prêtres ; aux prêtres il demanda de garder entre eux la bonne entente qui,disait-il, est préférable à tout. De l'exemple qu'ils en donneront, dépendront l'obéissance et l'affection du peuple envers eux. Voilà qui est vraiment souffrir pour le Christ et le reproduire par l'action et par la parole. Quel exemple pour le fidèle !

Le bourreau était prêt, sa longue épée déjà suspendue sur le cou des condamnés, lorsqu'on vit Montan lever les bras au ciel, et, tout haut, de manière à être entendu des païens et des chrétiens, il demanda à Dieu que Flavien, séparé de ses compagnons par l'ordre du peuple, les suivit dans trois jours. Et comme pour donner un gage que sa prière était exaucée, il déchira en deux morceaux le bandeau mis sur ses yeux et prescrivit qu'on en gardât la moitié pour servir à Flavien. Enfin il recommanda de réserver la place de celui-ci entre leurs tombeaux,afin que la mort au moins lui rendît leur compagnie. Nous avons vu de nos yeux s'accomplir la promesse faite par le Seigneur dans l'Évangile, que rien ne sera refusé à une demande inspirée par une foi vive. Deux jours après, Flavien fut exécuté.

Comme je l'ai dit, Montan ne voulait pas que le retard imposé à Flavien le séparât de leur compagnie dans le tombeau ; il me faut maintenant raconter sa fin.

A la suite des réclamations qui s'étaient produites à son sujet, Flavien avait été ramené en prison ; il était fort, intrépide et confiant. Son malheur n'avait pu entamer la trempe de son âme. Un autre peut-être eût été ébranlé ; quant à lui, la foi qui l'avait précipité vers le martyre, lui faisait mépriser tous les obstacles humains.

Son admirable mère, qui, digne par sa foi des anciens patriarches, rappelait ici Abraham lui-même impatient d'immoler son fils, se désolait que Flavien eût perdu la gloire du martyre. Quelle mère ! Quel modèle ! elle était digne d'être la mère des Macchabées, car qu'importe le nombre ? puisqu'elle offrait à Dieu l'unique objet de son amour.

Mais Flavien lui disait : « Mère que j'aime tant, j'avais souvent désiré confesser le Christ, rendre mon témoignage, porter des chaînes, et jamais cela n'arrivait. Aujourd'hui mon désir est accompli; rendons gloire au lieu de gémir ».

Quand les geôliers vinrent, ils eurent peine à ouvrir la porte malgré leurs efforts ; il semblait que la prison elle-même répugnait à recevoir un hôte déjà marqué pour le ciel ; mais comme ce sursis était dans les desseins de Dieu, le cachot, quoique à regret, reçut son hôte. Que dire des sentiments de Flavien pendant ces deux jours ? son espérance, sa confiance dans l'attente du martyre ? Le troisième jour sembla non celui de la mort, mais celui de la résurrection. Les païens, qui avaient entendu la prière de Montan, ne cachaient plus leur admiration.

Dès que l'on sut donc, le troisième jour, que Flavien allait mourir, tous les mécréants et impies se rendirent au prétoire,afin de voir comment il se comporterait.

Il sortit enfin de cette prison où il ne devait plus rentrer. Quand il parut , la joie fut grande parmi les spectateurs, mais lui-même était plus joyeux encore, assuré que sa foi et la prière d'autrui lui procureraient le martyre, quelque opposition qu'on y fît. Aussi disait-il à tous les frères qui venaient le saluer qu'il leur donnerait la paix dans les plaines de Fuscium. Quelle confiance ! quelle foi !

Enfin il pénétra dans le prétoire et attendit son tour d'appel dans la salle des gardes. J'étais à côté de lui, ses mains dans les miennes, rendant au martyr l'honneur et les soins dus à un ami intime. Ses anciens élèves l'importunaient afin qu'il renonçât à son obstination et qu'il sacrifiât; on l'eût laissé faire ensuite tout ce qu'il eût voulu. « Il faut être fou, disaient-ils, pour ne pas craindre la mort et avoir peur de vivre. »

Flavien les remerciait d'une affection qu'ils témoignaient à leur manière et des conseils qu'elle lui valait ; cependant il reprenait : «Sauver la liberté de sa conscience vaut mieux qu'adorer des pierres. Il n'y a qu'un seul Dieu, qui a tout fait et à qui seul est dû notre culte ». Il disait encore d'autres choses dont les païens convenaient malaisément : « Même quand on nous tue, nous vivons, disait-il ; nous ne sommes pas vaincus, mais vainqueurs de la mort ; et vous-mêmes, si vous voulez savoir la vérité, soyez chrétiens ».

Reçus de la sorte, les païens, voyant que la persuasion ne réussissait pas, usèrent d'une étrange miséricorde à l'égard de Flavien : ils s'imaginèrent que la torture viendrait à bout de sa résistance. On le mit sur le chevalet et le proconsul lui demanda pourquoi il prenait indûment la qualité de diacre : « Je ne mens pas, dit-il je le suis ». Un centurion apporta un certificat qui prouvait le contraire. « Pouvez-vous croire que je mente, dit Flavien, et que l'auteur de cette fausse pièce dise vrai ? » Le peuple brailla: « Tu mens ». Le proconsul revint à la charge et lui demanda s'il mentait ; il répondit : « Quel intérêt aurais-je à mentir ? » Le peuple, exaspéré, hurlait : « La torture, la torture ! » Mais Dieu savait assez, depuis l'épreuve de la prison, la fermeté de son serviteur ; il ne permit pas que le corps du martyr déjà éprouvé fût déchiré. Flavien fut condamné à être décapité.

Maintenant qu'il était sûr de mourir, Flavien marchait plein de joie et causait avec une extrême liberté à ceux qui l'entouraient. Ce fut alors qu'il me chargea d'écrire l'histoire de tout ce qui s'était passé. Il tenait en outre à ce que le récit des visions qui avaient occupé ses deux derniers jours fût consigné avec quelques autres plus anciennes.

« Peu après la mort de saint Cyprien, nous raconta-t-il, il me sembla que je causais avec lui, et je lui demandai si le coup de la mort est bien douloureux, — futur martyr, ces questions m'intéressaient . — Il me répondit : « Ce n'est plus notre chair qui souffre quand l'âme est au ciel. Le corps ne sent plus quand l'esprit s'abandonne tout entier à Dieu. Plus tard, ajouta-t-il, après le supplice de mes compagnons, je me sentais sous le coup d'une grande tristesse, à la pensée que je demeurais seul ; mais pendant mon sommeil je vis un homme qui me dit : « Pourquoi t'affliges-tu ? » Je lui dis le sujet de mon chagrin. — « Quoi ! reprit-il, te voilà triste, toi qui, deux fois confesseur, seras demain martyr par le glaive ? » Et ceci arriva de point en point. Après une première confession dans le cabinet du proconsul, et une autre en public, il fut reconduit en prison, puis, traduit de nouveau, il confessa encore et mourut. Il nous raconta une autre vision, qui eut lieu le lendemain de la mort de Successus et de Paul. « Je vis, dit-il, l'évêque Successus qui entrait dans ma maison,le visage radieux, mais à peine reconnaissable à cause de l'éclat céleste dont brillaient ses yeux. Cependant je le reconnus et il me dit : « J'ai été envoyé pour t'annoncer que tu souffriras ». Aussitôt deux soldats m'emmenèrent en un lieu où une multitude de frères étaient assemblés. On me conduisit au juge, qui me condamna à mort. Soudain ma mère se montra dans la foule: « Vivat, vivat ! disait-elle, il n'y a pas eu de martyre plus glorieux ». Elle disait vrai ; car, outre les privations de la prison, imaginées par la rapacité  du fisc, Flavien savait encore se priver du peu qu'on lui donnait, tant il aimait à pratiquer les jeûnes prescrits et à s'abstenir du nécessaire pour en faire part à autrui.

J'en viens aux circonstances de son martyre. Tout en parlant, Flavien habitait déjà en esprit ? dans le royaume où, dans peu d'instants, il devait régner avec Dieu ; ses entretiens en avaient la dignité sereine. Le ciel lui-même avait pris parti pour nous. Une pluie torrentielle avait dispersé la foule, les païens curieux étaient partis,comme pour laisser le champ libre aux consolations et afin que nul profane ne fût témoin du suprême baiser de paix. Flavius remarqua que la pluie semblait tomber afin que l'eau et le sang fussent mélangés,ainsi qu'il arriva dans la passion du Sauveur.

Après qu'il eut fortifié chacun et donné le baiser, il quitta l'étable où il avait cherché un abri et qui touche au domaine de Fuscium et monta sur un pli de terrain ; d'un geste il réclama le silence : « Frères bien-aimés, dit-il, vous avez la paix avec nous si vous restez en paix avec l'Église ; gardez l'union dans la charité. Ne méprisez pas mes paroles : Notre-Seigneur Jésus-Christ lui-même, peu avant sa passion, a dit: « Je vous laisse le commandement de vous aimer les uns les autres ». Il termina donnant à ses dernières paroles l'apparence d'un testament par lequel il désignait le prêtre Lucien comme le plus capable, à ses yeux, d'occuper le siège de saint Cyprien. Puis il descendit à l'endroit où il devait mourir, se lia le bandeau laissé par Montan à cette intention, se mit à genoux et mourut pendant sa prière.

Oh ! qu'ils sont glorieux les enseignements des martyrs ! qu'elles sont nobles les épreuves qu'ont subies les témoins de Dieu ! C'est avec raison que l'Écriture les transmet aux générations à venir ; car, si nous trouvons dans l'étude des ouvrages anciens de précieux exemples, il convient que les saints qui ont fleuri de nos jours deviennent également nos maîtres.

Les Martyrs, TOME II. Le Troisième Siècle. Dioclétien. Recueil de pièces authentiques sur les martyres depuis les origines du christianisme jusqu'au XXe siècle. Traduites et publiées par le B. P. DOM H. LECLERCQ, Moine bénédictin de Saint-Michel de Farnborough. Imprimi potest, FR. FERDINANDUS CABROL, Abbas Sancti Michaelis Farnborough. Die 15 Martii 1903. Imprimatur. Pictavii, die 24 Martii 1903. + HENRICUS, Ep. Pictaviensis.



Montanus, Lucius & Companions MM (RM)


Died 259. Montanus, Lucius, Julian, Victoricus, Flavian, Rhenus, and two companions were a group of African martyrs. Several of them were clergy of Saint Cyprian, who had been executed the previous year under Valerian. Their acta are thoroughly authentic: the first part of their acts- -their imprisonment--was written down by themselves, and that of their martyrdom by eyewitnesses.


After Cyprian's martyrdom, the proconsul Galerius Maximus died. Solon, the procurator, continued the persecution while awaiting the arrival of a new proconsul from Rome. The citizens of Carthage rose up against Solon's tyranny, but instead of seeking to discover the culprits, Solon vented his fury upon the Christians, knowing this would be agreeable to the idolaters.

Eight disciples of Saint Cyprian were arrested on a false charge of complicity in the revolt. After interrogation they were remanded to custody; they were kept on short rations, and suffered greatly from hunger and thirst. One of them writes:

"As soon as we were taken, we were given in custody to the officers of the quarter: when the governor's soldiers told us that we should be condemned to the flames, we prayed to God with great fervor to be delivered from that punishment and He in whose hands are the hearts of men, was pleased to grant our request. The governor altered his first intent, and ordered us into a very dark and incommodious prison, where we found the priest, Victor and some others, but we were not dismayed at the filth and darkness or the place, our faith and joy in the Holy Ghost reconciled us to our sufferings in that place, though these were such as it is not easy for words to describe; but the greater our trials, the greater is He who overcomes them in us.

"Our brother Rhenus in the mean time, had a vision, in which he saw several of the prisoners going out of prison with a lighted lamp preceding each of them, while others, that had no such lamp, stayed behind. He discerned us in this vision, and assured us that we were of the number of those who went forth with lamps. This gave us great joy; for we understood that the lamp represented Christ, the true light, and that we were to follow Him by martyrdom.

"The next day we were sent for by the governor, to be examined. It was a triumph to us to be conducted as a spectacle through the market-place and the streets, with our chains rattling. The soldiers, who knew not where the governor would hear us, dragged us from place to place, till, at length, he ordered us to be brought into his closet.

"He put several questions to us; our answers were modest, but firm: at length we were remanded to prison; here we prepared ourselves for new conflicts. The sharpest trial was that which we underwent by hunger and thirst, the governor having commanded that we should be kept without meat and drink for several days, inasmuch that water was refused us after our work: yet Flavian, the deacon, added great voluntary austerities to these hardships, often bestowing on others that little refreshment which was most sparingly allowed us at the public charge.

"God was pleased Himself to comfort us in this our extreme misery, by a vision which He vouchsafed to the priest Victor, who suffered martyrdom a few days after. 'I saw last night,' said he to us, 'an infant, whose countenance was of a wonderful brightness, enter the prison. He took us to all parts to make us go out, but there was no outlet; then he said to me, "You have still some concern at your being retained here, but be not discouraged. I am with you: carry these tidings to your companions, and let them know that they shall have a more glorious crown."

"'I asked him where heaven was; the infant replied, "Out of the world." Show it me,' says Victor. The infant answered, "Where then would be your faith?" Victor said, 'I cannot retain what you command me: tell me a sign that I may give them.' He answered, "Give them the sign of Jacob, that is, his mystical ladder, reaching to the heavens."' Soon after this vision, Victor was put to death. This vision filled us with joy.

"God gave us, the night following, another assurance of His mercy by a vision to our sister Quartillosia, a fellow-prisoner, whose husband and son had suffered death for Christ three days before, and who followed them by martyrdom a few days after. 'I saw,' says she, 'my son, who suffered; he was in the prison sitting on a vessel of water, and said to me: "God has seen your sufferings." Then entered a young man of a wonderful stature, and he said "Be of good courage, God hath remembered you."'"

The martyrs had received no nourishment the preceding day, nor had they any on the day that followed this vision; but at length Lucian, then priest, and afterwards bishop of Carthage, surmounting all obstacles, got food to be carried to them in abundance by the subdeacon, Herennian, and by Januarius, a catechumen. The acta say they brought the never-failing food, the Blessed Eucharist.

The acta continue:

"We have all one and the same spirit, which unites and cements us together in prayer, in mutual conversation, and in all our actions. These are those amiable bands which put the devil to flight, are most agreeable to God, and obtain of Him, by joint prayer, whatever they ask. These are the ties which link hearts together, and which make men the children of God. To be heirs of His kingdom we must be His children, and to be His children we must love one another. It is impossible for us to attain to the inheritance of His heavenly glory, unless we keep that union and peace with all our brethren which our heavenly Father has established among us.

"Nevertheless, this union suffered some prejudice in our troop, but the breach was soon repaired. It happened that Montanus had some words with Julian, about a person who was not of our communion, and who was got among us, (probably admitted by Julian). Montanus on this account rebuked Julian, and they, for some time afterwards, behaved towards each other with coldness, which was, as it were, a seed of discord.

"Heaven had pity on them both, and, to reunite them, admonished Montanus by a dream, which he related to us as follows: 'It appeared to me that the centurions were come to us, and that they conducted us through a long path into a spacious field, where we were met by Cyprian and Lucius. After this we came into a very luminous place, where our garments became white, and our flesh became whiter than our garments, and so wonderfully transparent, that there was nothing in our hearts but what was clearly exposed to view: but in looking into myself, I could discover some filth in my own bosom; and, meeting Lucian, I told him what I had seen, adding, that the filth I had observed within my breast denoted my coldness towards Julian. Wherefore, brethren, let us love, cherish, and promote, with all our might, peace and concord. Let us be here unanimous in imitation of what we shall be hereafter. As we hope to share in the rewards promised to the just, and to avoid the punishments wherewith the wicked are threatened: as, in the end, we desire to be and reign with Christ, let us do those things which will lead us to him and his heavenly kingdom.'"

Hitherto the martyrs wrote in prison what happened to them there: the rest was written by those persons who were present, to whom Flavian, one of the martyrs, had recommended it. Their imprisonment lasted several months, and then those in holy orders were condemned to death because the edict of Valerian condemned only bishops, presbyters, and deacons.

Because of his popularity, the false friends of Flavian maintained before the judge that he was no deacon, and, consequently, was not included within the emperor's decree. Though Flavian declared himself to be one, he was not then condemned; but the rest were adjudged to die. They walked cheerfully to the place of execution, and each of them gave exhortations to the people.

Lucius went to the place of execution in advance, being so enfeebled that he feared he could not keep up with the others; but Montanus was full of vigor and exhorted the heathen among the bystanders to repentance and the brethren to faithfulness:

"He that sacrificeth to any God but the true one, shall be utterly destroyed." He also checked the pride and wicked obstinacy of the heretics, telling then that they might discern the true church by the multitude of its martyrs. He exhorted those that had fallen not to be over hasty, but fully to accomplish their penance. He exhorted the virgins to preserve their purity, and to honor the bishops, and all the bishops to abide in concord.

When the executioner was ready to give the stroke, Montanus prayed aloud to God that Flavian who had been reprieved at the people's request, might follow them on the third day. And, to express his assurance that his prayer was heard, he ripped in half the handkerchief with which his eyes were to be covered, and asked that one part of it to be reserved for Flavian, and desired that a place might be kept for him where he was to be interred, that they might not be separated even in the grave.

Flavian, seeing his crown delayed, made it the object of his ardent desires and prayers. He continued to insist that he was a deacon, and so he was beheaded three days later (Attwater, Benedictines, Husenbeth).



SS. Montanus, Lucius, Flavian, Julian, Victoricus, Primolus, Rhenus, and Donatian, Martyrs at Carthage

From their original acts, written, the first part by the martyrs themselves, the rest by an eye-witness. They are published more correctly by Ruinart than by Surius and Bollandus. See Tillemont, t. 4. p. 206.

A.D. 259

THE PERSECUTION, raised by Valerian, had raged two years, during which, many had received the crown of martyrdom, and, amongst others, St. Cyprian, in September, 258. The proconsul Galerius Maximus, who had pronounced sentence on that saint, dying himself soon after, the procurator, Solon, continued the persecution, waiting for the arrival of a new proconsul from Rome. After some days, a sedition was raised in Carthage against him, in which many were killed. The tyrannical man, instead of making search after the guilty, vented his fury upon the Christians, knowing this would be agreeable to the idolaters. Accordingly he caused these eight Christians, all disciples of St. Cyprian, and most of them of the clergy, to be apprehended. As soon as we were taken, say the authors of the acts, we were given in custody to the officers of the quarter: 1 when the governor’s soldiers told us that we should be condemned to the flames, we prayed to God with great fervour to be delivered from that punishment: and he, in whose hands are the hearts of men, was pleased to grant our request. The governer altered his first intent, and ordered us into a very dark and incommodious prison, where we found the priest, Victor, and some others: but we were not dismayed at the filth and darkness of the place, our faith and joy in the Holy Ghost reconciled us to our sufferings in that place, though these were such as it is not easy for words to describe; but the greater our trials, the greater is he who overcomes them in us. Our brother Rhenus, in the mean time, had a vision, in which he saw several of the prisoners going out of prison with a lighted lamp preceding each of them, whilst others, who had no such lamp stayed behind. He discerned us in this vision, and assured us that we were of the number of those who went forth with lamps. This gave us great joy; for we understood that the lamp represented Christ, the true light, and that we were to follow him by martyrdom.

The next day we were sent for by the governor, to be examined. It was a triumph to us to be conducted as a spectacle through the market-place and the streets, with our chains rattling. The soldiers, who knew not where the governor would hear us, dragged us from place to place, till, at length, he ordered us to be brought into his closet. He put several questions to us; our answers were modest, but firm: at length we were remanded to prison; here we prepared ourselves for new conflicts. The sharpest trial was that which we underwent by hunger and thirst, the governor having commanded that we should be kept without meat and drink for several days, insomuch that water was refused us after our work: yet Flavian, the deacon, added great voluntary austerities to these hardships, often bestowing on others that little refreshment which was most sparingly allowed us at the public charge.

God was pleased himself to comfort us in this our extreme misery, by a vision which he vouchsafed to the priest Victor, who suffered martyrdom a few days after. “I saw last night,” said he to us, “an infant, whose countenance was of a wonderful brightness, enter the prison. He took us to all parts to make us go out, but there was no outlet; then he said to me, ‘You have still some concern at your being retained here, but be not discouraged, I am with you: carry these tidings to your companions, and let them know that they shall have a more glorious crown.’ I asked him where heaven was; the infant replied, ‘Out of the world.’” Show it me, says Victor. The infant then answered, “Where then would be your faith?” Victor said, “I cannot retain what you command me: tell me a sign that I may give them.” He answered, “Give them the sign of Jacob, that is, his mystical ladder, reaching to the heavens.” Soon after this vision, Victor was put to death. This vision filled us with joy.

God gave us, the night following, another assurance of his mercy by a vision to our sister Quartillosia, a fellow-prisoner, whose husband and son had suffered death for Christ three days before, and who followed them by martyrdom a few days after. “I saw,” says she, “my son who suffered; he was in the prison sitting on a vessel of water, and said to me: ‘God has seen your sufferings.’ Then entered a youug man of a wonderful stature, and he said: ‘Be of good courage, God hath remembered you.’” The martyrs had received no nourishment the preceding day, nor had they any on the day that followed this vision; but at length Lucian, then priest, and afterwards bishop of Carthage, surmounting all obstacles, got food to be carried to them in abundance by the subdeacon, Herennian, and by Januarius, a catechumen. The acts say they brought the never failing food, 2 which Tillemont understands of the blessed eucharist, and the following words still more clearly determine it in favour of this sense. They go on: We have all one and the same spirit, which unites and cements us together in prayer, in mutual conversation, and in all our actions. These are those amiable bands which put the devil to flight, are most agreeable to God, and obtain of him, by joint prayer, whatever they ask. These are the ties which link hearts together, and which make men the children of God. To be heirs of his kingdom we must be his children, and to be his children we must love one another. It is impossible for us to attain to the inheritance of his heavenly glory, unless we keep that union and peace with all our brethren which our heavenly Father has established amongst us. Nevertheless, this union suffered some prejudice in our troop, but the breach was soon repaired. It happened that Montanus had some words with Julian, about a person who was not of our communion, and who was got among us (probably admitted by Julian). Montanus on this account rebuked Julian, and they, for some time afterwards, behaved towards each other with coldness, which was, as it were, a seed of discord. Heaven had pity on them both, and, to reunite them, admonished Montanus by a dream, which he related to us as follows: “It appeared to me that the centurions were come to us, and that they conducted us through a long path into a spacious field, where we were met by Cyprian and Lucius. After this we came into a very luminous place, where our garments became white, and our flesh became whiter than our garments, and so wonderfully transparent, that there was nothing in our hearts but what was clearly exposed to view: but in looking into myself, I could discover some filth in my own bosom; and, meeting Lucian, I told him what I had seen, adding, that the filth I had observed within my breast denoted my coldness towards Julian. Wherefore, brethren, let us love, cherish, and promote, with all our might, peace and concord. Let us be here unanimous in imitation of what we shall be hereafter. As we hope to share in the rewards promised to the just, and to avoid the punishments wherewith the wicked are threatened: as, in fine, we desire to be and reign with Christ, let us do those things which will lead us to him and his heavenly kingdom.” Hitherto the martyrs wrote in prison what happened to them there: the rest was written by those persons who were present, to whom Flavian, one of the martyrs, had recommended it.

After suffering extreme hunger and thirst, with other hardships, during an imprisonment of many months, the confessors were brought before the president, and made a glorious confession. The edict of Valerian condemned only bishops, priests, and deacons to death. The false friends of Flavian maintained before the judge that he was no deacon, and, consequently was not comprehended within the emperor’s decree; upon which, though he declared himself to be one, he was not then condemned; but the rest were adjudged to die. They walked cheerfully to the place of execution, and each of them gave exhortations to the people. Lucius, who was naturally mild and modest, was a little dejected on account of his distemper, and the inconveniences of the prison; he therefore went before the rest, accompanied but by a few persons, lest he should be oppressed by the crowd, and so not have the honour to spill his blood. Some cried out to him, “Remember us.” “Do you also,” says he, “remember me.” Julian and Victorius exhorted a long while the brethren to peace, and recommended to their care the whole body of the clergy, those especially who had undergone the hardships of imprisonment. Montanus, who was endued with great strength, both of body and mind, cried out, “He that sacrificeth to any God but the true one, shall be utterly destroyed.” This he often repeated. He also checked the pride and wicked obstinacy of the heretics, telling them that they might discern the true church by the multitude of its martyrs. Like a true disciple of Saint Cyprian, and a zealous lover of discipline, he exhorted those that had fallen not to be over hasty, but fully to accomplish their penance. He exhorted the virgins to preserve their purity, and to honour the bishops, and all the bishops to abide in concord. When the executioner was ready to give the stroke, he prayed aloud to God that Flavian, who had been reprieved at the people’s request, might follow them on the third day. And, to express his assurance that his prayer was heard, he rent in pieces the handkerchief with which his eyes were to be covered, and ordered one half of it to be reserved for Flavian, and desired that a place might be kept for him where he was to be interred, that they might not be separated even in the grave. Flavian, seeing his crown delayed, made it the object of his ardent desires and prayers. And as his mother stuck close by his side with the constancy of the mother of the holy Maccabees, and with longing desires to see him glorify God by his sacrifice, he said to her: “You know, mother, how much I have longed to enjoy the happiness of dying by martyrdom.” In one of the two nights which he survived, he was favoured with a vision, in which one said to him: “Why do you grieve? You have been twice a confessor, and you shall suffer martyrdom by the sword.” On the third day he was ordered to be brought before the governor. Here it appeared how much he was beloved by the people, who endeavoured by all means to save his life. They cried out to the judge that he was no deacon; but he affirmed that he was. A centurion presented a billet which set forth that he was not. The judge accused him of lying to procure his own death. He answered: “Is that probable? and not rather that they are guilty of an untruth who say the contrary?” The people demanded that he might be tortured in hopes he would recall his confession on the rack; but the judge condemned him to be beheaded. The sentence filled him with joy, and he was conducted to the place of execution, accompanied by a great multitude, and by many priests. A shower dispersed the infidels, and the martyr was led into a house where he had an opportunity of taking his last leave of the faithful without one profane person being present. He told them that in a vision he had asked Cyprian whether the stroke of death is painful, and that the martyr answered; “The body feels no pain when the soul gives herself entirely to God.” At the place of execution he prayed for the peace of the church and the union of the brethren; and seemed to foretell Lucian that he should be bishop of Carthage, as he was soon after. Having done speaking, he bound his eyes with that half of the handkerchief which Montanus had ordered to be kept for him, and, kneeling in prayer, received the last stroke. These saints are joined together on this day in the present Roman and in ancient Martyrologies.

Note 1. Apud regionantes. [back]

Note 2. Alimentum indeficiens. [back]

Rev. Alban Butler (1711–73).  Volume II: February. The Lives of the Saints.  1866.