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From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

To-day again, it is one of the most amiable of Christ’s brides that comes to console us by her presence; it is Dorothy, the simple and intrepid virgin, who strews the path of her martyrdom with prodigies of sweetest charity. The religion of Christ alone can produce in timid women, like the saint of to-day, an energy which at times surpasses that of the most valiant martyrs among men. Thus does our Lord glorify His infinite power, by crushing Satan’s head with what is by nature so weak. The enmity put by God between the woman and the serpent,[1] is for ever showing itself in those sublime Acts of the Martyrs, where the rebel angel is defeated by an enemy whom he knew to be weak, and therefore scorned to fear; but that very weakness, which made her victory the grander, made his humiliation the bitterer. Surely, such history must have taught him how powerful an enemy he has in a Christian woman; and we, who can boast of having so many heroines among the ancestors of our holy faith, should cherish their memory, and confide in their protection, for their intercession is powerful with Him for whom they died. One of the noblest of these comes to us to-day; let us celebrate her victory, and merit her patronage.

The lessons given in the Dominican breviary are so much fuller than the legend of the Roman liturgy that we have not hesitated to insert them here.

Dorothea virgo, in Cæsarea Cappadociæ, propter Christi confessionem, ab Apricio illius provinciæ præfecto comprehensa, Crystæ et Callistæ sororibus, quæ a fide defecerant, tradita est, ut eam a proposito removerent. Sed ipsa reduxit eas ad finem, propter quam in cupam missæ et incensæ sunt. Dorotheam vero jussit præses in catasta levari; quæ dixit ad illum: Numquam in tota vita mea sic lætata sum sicut hodie. Tum ad ejus latera lampades ardentes apponi, dein faciem diutissime cædi, tandem caput gladio percuti præses imperat.

Ea porro dum duceretur ad supplicium dicente: Gratias tibi, amator animarum, qui me ad paradisum tuum vocasti, Theophilus quidam præsidis advocatus irridens: Eia tu, inquit, sponsa Christi, mitte mihi de paradiso sponsi tui mala, aut rosas. Et Dorothea respondit: Et piane ita faciam. Cum ante ictum breviter precari permissa esset, pulchra specie puer ante eam apparuit, ferens in orario tria mala, et tres rosas. Cui illa ait: Obsecro ut feras ea Theophilo. Et mox gladio percussa perrexit ad Christum.

Igitur cum Theophilus irridens, promissionem sanctæ Dorotheæ sodalibus narraret, ecce puer ante eum cum orario, in quo ferens tria mala magnifica, et tres rosas elegantissimas, dixit ei: En sicut petenti promisit virgo sacratissima Dorothea, transmisit hæc tibi de paradiso sponsi sui. Tum Theophilus stupens, quod esset Februarius, et gelu cuncta rigerent, ea accepit, atque exclamavit: Vere Deus Christus est. Sicque palam fidem Christi professus, gravissimum quoque pro ea martyrium strenue pertulit.
The holy virgin Dorothy, of Cesarea in Cappadocia, was apprehended by Apricius, the governor of that province, for professing the faith of Christ. She was put under the care of her two sisters, Chrysta and Callista, who had apostatized from the faith, and would be able to shake the resolute constancy of Dorothy. But she brought them back to the faith, for which they were burnt to death in a cauldron. The governor ordered Dorothy to be hoisted on the rack, and she said to him, as she lay upon it: 'Never in my whole life have I felt such joy, as I do to-day.’ Then the governor ordered the executioners to burn her sides with lighted lamps, and beat her for a very long time on the face, and finally behead her with the sword.

While she was being led to the place of execution, she said: 'I give thee thanks, O thou lover of our souls, that thou callest me to thy paradise!’ Theophilus, one of the governor’s officers, hearing her words, laughed, and said to her: ‘Hear me, bride of Christ! I ask thee to send me some apples and roses from this paradise of thy Spouse.’ Dorothy replied: 'Well, and so I will.’ Before she was beheaded, she was allowed a moment for prayer; when lo! a beautiful child came to her, bringing with him in a napkin three apples and three roses. She said to him: 'Take them, I pray thee, to Theophilus.' Then the executioner struck her head off with his sword, and her soul fled to Christ.

While Theophilus was jocosely telling his fellows the promise made him by Dorothy, he sees a boy bringing him in a napkin three fine apples, and three most lovely roses, who, as he gave them, said: 'Lo! the most holy virgin Dorothy sends thee, as she promised, these gifts from the paradise of her Spouse.' Theophilus was beside himself with surprise, for it was February, and the frost most sharp; but taking the gifts he exclaimed: 'Christ is truly God!' He openly professed the Christian faith, and courageously suffered for the same a most painful martyrdom.

The missals and breviaries of the Middle Ages contain several pieces in honour of St. Dorothy. The following is one that was used in Germany, and is most appropriate for the season of Septuagesima.


Psallat concors symphonia,
Laudes pangat harmonia,
Cum sonora melodia
Cordisque tripudio.

In hoc festo lætabundo
Dorotheæ, corde mundo,
Sono plaudat vox jucundo
Neumatum præludio.

Generosa Christi verna
Labe carens, et lucerna
Mundo lucens, ac pincerna,
Vina donans mystica.

Paradisi tu colona,
Quæ pro malo reddis bona,
Scribæ mittis cœli dona
Rosas, mala pistica.

Vitam ducens angelorum,
Dum in carne præter forum
Carnis vivis, spernis torum
Viri propter Dominum.

Martyr Christi quæ profanos
Deos sternis, ac paganos
Fide vestis, et sic sanos
Mores facis hominum.

Tota manens speciosa,
Velut rubens fragrans rosa,
Ad conflictum roborosa,
Minante Fabricio.

Vinculata carceraris,
In catasta cruciaris,
Vultu cæsa flagellaris,
Omni carens vitio.

Gens perversa malæ spei
Quam dum doces verbum Dei,
Lumen tuæ faciei
Conterit cum baculis.

Furens auget tormentales
Pœnas sævas et lethales,
Dum mamillas virginales
Tuas cremat faculis.

Supplicamus: nos tuere
Et peccata fac timere,
Martyr sancta, confer veræ
Tempus pœnitentiæ.

Virgo bona, crimen terge,
Victum dona, mores rege,
Ne damnemur gravi lege
Causa negligentiæ.

Sponsa Christi Dorothea,
Tua nos virtute bea,
Ut purgata mente rea,
Digni simus præmio.

Deum nobis fac placatum,
Ut post hujus incolatum,
Sed et locum det optatum
In cœlesti gremio.

Let tuneful instruments breathe forth concordant strains,
and harmony sound forth her praise,
and we, with joyous heart,
sing sweet melodious hymns.

'Tis the pure-hearted
Dorothy’s happy feast;
let our glad voices, led on by the organ’s peal,
proclaim her praise.

O noble and sinless handmaid of Christ!
O bright lamp shining to the whole world!
O cup-bearer, that profferest us
rich mystic wines!

Child of paradise,
that payest evil with good,
and givest to thine enemy roses
and fragrant apples of heaven.

Thou leadest the life of an angel,
and whilst in the flesh, livest not according to the flesh;
scorning to be spouse of man,
because betrothed to Christ.

Thou art his martyr too,
trampling on the pagan gods;
and, giving faith to infidels,
convertest them from madness to wisdom.

Red fragrant rose!
nothing could impair thy beauty.
Fabricius may threaten what he lists,
thou hast a heart brave enough for all.

Chains and prisons,
racks and buffets,
thou sufferest all,
yet innocent, deserving none.

Wicked men, whose hopes were bent on evil,
beat thy beaming face,
for that thou darest
to teach them the word of God.

But they could increase their tortures,
keen and deadly as they were;
furiously, then,
they burn thy innocent breast.

O holy martyr!
we beseech thee, protect us,
obtain for us a fear of sin,
and pray that time be given us for true repentance.

Kind virgin! pray for us
that our sins be cleansed, our souls be nourished with grace,
our lives well regulated, that so we be not condemned for negligence
by God’s dread law of justice.

O Dorothy, thou spouse of Christ!
may thy merits draw down his blessing upon us;
and we be found worthy of the reward that he gives
to those whose souls are free from sin.

Render our Lord propitious to us,
and beseech him to give us,
after our sojourn here, the longed-for place of rest
in the bosom of his heaven.


Thy promises, O Dorothy, are faithful as thyself. In the garden of thy heavenly Spouse, thou forgettest not the exiles on earth. How fortunate was Theophilus to have had one of thy promises! He asked for fruits and flowers; he received them, and with them the richer gifts of faith and perseverance, which we also would now ask thee to send us. Thou knowest our wants. We want courage to conquer the world and our passions; we want the grace of conversion; we want the spirit of penance, without which we can never reach that heaven of our vocation, where we are to be thy companions in bliss. Promise us thy prayers, and we shall not fail. And on the grand day of Easter for which we are preparing, our souls, having been purified in the Blood of the Lamb, will be as fragrant as the fruits and as fair as the flowers thou didst send to a pagan, whose prayer was less confident than ours.


[1] Gen. iii. 15.