From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.
We open our Proper of Saints for Advent with St. Andrew, because, although his feast frequently occurs before this holy season has begun, it sometimes happens that we have entered Advent when the memory of this great apostle has to be celebrated by the Church. This feast is therefore destined to terminate with solemnity the cycle which is at its close, or to add lustre to the new one which has just begun. It seems, indeed, fitting that the Christian year should begin and end with the cross, which has merited for us each of the years that it has pleased the divine goodness to grant us, and which is to appear, on the last day, in the clouds of heaven, as the seal put on time.
We should remember that Saint Andrew is the apostle of the cross. To Peter, Jesus has given firmness of faith; to John, warmth of love; the mission of Andrew is to represent the cross of his divine Master. Now it is by these three, faith, love, and the cross, that the Church renders herself worthy of her Spouse. Everything she has or is, bears this threefold character. Hence it is that after the two apostles just named, there is none who holds such a prominent place in the universal liturgy as Saint Andrew.
But let us read the life of this glorious fisherman of the lake of Genesareth, who was afterwards to be the successor of Christ Himself, and the companion of Peter, on the tree of the cross. The Church has compiled it from the ancient Acts of the martyrdom of the holy apostle, drawn up by the priests of the Church of Patras, which was founded by the saint. The authenticity of this venerable piece has been contested by Protestants, inasmuch as it makes mention of several things which would militate against them. Their sentiment has been adopted by several critics of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. On the other hand, these Acts have been received by a far greater number of Catholic writers of eminence; amongst whom may be mentioned the great Baronius, Labbe, Natalis Alexander, Gallandus, Lumper, Morcelli, &c. The Churches, too, of both east and west, which have inserted these Acts in their respective Offices of St. Andrew, are of some authority, as is also St. Bernard, who has made them the groundwork of his three admirable sermons on St. Andrew.
Andreas apostolus Bethsaidæ natus, qui est Galilææ vicus, frater Petri, discipulus Joannis Baptistae, quum eum de Christo dicentem audisset, Ecce Agnus Dei, secutus Jesum, fratrem quoque suum ad eumdem perduxit. Quum postea una cum fratre piscaretur in mari Galilææ, ambo a praetereunto Christo Domino ante alios apostolos vocati illis verbis: Venite post me, faciam vos fieri piscatores hominum: nullam interponentes moram, et relictis retibus secuti sunt eum. Post cujus Passionem et Resurrectionem Andreas cum in Scythiam Europæ, quæ ei provincia ad Christi fidem disseminandam obtigerat, venisset, deinde Epirum ac Thraciam peragrasset, doctrina et miraculis innumerabiles homines ad Christum convertit. Post Patras Achaiæ profectus, et in ea urbe plurimis ad veritatem Evangelicam perductis, Ægeam proconsulem prædicationi Evangeliæ resistentem, liberrime increpavit quod qui judex hominum haberi vellet, Christum Deum omnium Judicem a dæmonibus elusus non agnosceret.
Tunc Ægeas iratus: Desine, inquit, Christum jactare, cui similia verba nihil profuerunt, quominus a Judæis crucifigeretur. Andream vero do Christo nihilominus libere praedicantem, quod pro salute humani generis se crucifigendum obtulisset, impia oratione interpellat; ac demum hortatur, ut sibi consulens, diis velit immolare. Cui Andreas: Ego omnipotenti Deo, qui unus et verus est, immolo quotidie, non taurorum carnes, nec hircorum sanguinem, sed immaculatum Agnum in altari, cujus carnem posteaquam omnis populus credentium manducaverit, Agnus, qui sacrificatus est, integer perseverat et vivus. Quamobrem ira accensus Ægeas jubet eum in carcerem detrudi: unde populus Andream facile liberasset, nisi ipse sedasset multitudinem; vehementius rogans, ne se ad optatissimam martyrii coronam properantem impedirent.
Igitur paulo post in tribunal productum, cum Ægeas crucis extollentem mysteria, sibique suam impietatem exprobrantem diutius ferre non posset, in crucem tolli, et Christi mortem imitari jussit. Adduotus Andreas ad locum martyrii, cum crucem vidisset longe, exclamare cœpit: O bona crux, quæ decorem ex membris Domini suscepisti, diu desiderata, sollicite amata, sine intermissione quaesita, et aliquando cupienti animo praeparata: accipe me ab hominibus, et redde me magistro meo; ut per te me recipiat, qui per te me redemit. Itaque cruci affixus est: in qua biduum vivus pendens, et Christi fidem prædicare numquam intermittens, ad eum migravit, cujus mortis similitudinem concupierat. Quæ omnia presbyteri et diaconi Achaiæ qui ejus passionem scripserunt, se ita ut commemorata sunt audisse et vidisse testantur. Ejus ossa primum Constantio imperatore Constantinopolim, deinde Amalphim translata sunt. Caput, Fio secundo Pontifice, Romam allatum, in basilica sancti Petri collocatum est.
Andrew, the apostle, bom at Bethsaida, a town of Galilee, was brother of Peter, and disciple of John the Baptist. Having heard his master say, speaking of Christ: Behold the Lamb of God! he followed Jesus, and brought to him his brother also. When, afterwards, he was fishing with his brother in the sea of Galilee, they were both called, before any of the other apostles, by our Lord, who, passing by, said to them: Come after me; I will make you to be fishers of men. Without delay, they left their nets and followed him. After the Passion and Resurrection, Andrew went to spread the faith of Christ in Scythia in Europe, which was the province assigned to him; then he travelled through Epirus and Thrace, and by his teaching and miracles converted innumerable souls to Christ. Afterwards, having reached Patras in Achaia, he persuaded many in that city to embrace the truth of the Gospel. Finding that the proconsul Ægeas resisted the preaching of the Gospel, he most freely upbraided him for that he, who desired to be considered as a judge of men, should be so far deceived by devils as not to acknowledge Christ to bo God, the Judge of all.
Then Ægeas being angry, said: Cease to boast of this Christ, whom such words as these kept not from being crucified by the Jews. But finding that Andrew continued boldly preaching that Christ had offered himself to be crucified for the salvation of mankind, he interrupts him by an impious speech, and at length exhorts him to look to his own interest and sacrifice to the gods. Andrew answered him: I offer up every day to almighty God, who is one and true, not the flesh of oxen, nor the blood of goats, but the spotless Lamb upon the altar; of whose flesh the whole multitude of the faithful eat, and the Lamb that is sacrificed, remains whole and living. Whereupon Ægeas being exceedingly angry, orders him to be thrust into prison, whence the people would easily have freed Andrew, had he not himself appeased the multitude, begging of them, with most earnest entreaty, that they would not keep him from the long-desired crown of martyrdom, to which he was hastening.
Not long after this, he was brought before the tribunal; where he began to extol the mystery of the cross, and rebuke the judge for his impiety. Ægeas, no longer able to contain himself on hearing these words, ordered him to be hoisted on a cross, and so to die like Christ. Andrew, having been brought to the place of execution, seeing the cross at some distance, began to cry out: O good cross, made beautiful by the body of my Lord! so long desired, so anxiously loved, so unceasingly sought after, and now at last ready for my soul to enjoy! take me from amidst men, and restore me to my Master; that by thee he may receive me, who by thee redeemed me. He was therefore fastened to the cross, on which he hung alive two days, preaching without cessation the faith of Christ: after which he passed to him, whose death he had so coveted. The priests and deacons of Achaia, who wrote his passion, attest that all the things which they have recorded were heard and seen by them. His relics were first translated to Constantinople under the emperor Constantius, and afterwards to Amalfi. During the Pontificate of Pius II., the head was taken to Rome, and placed in the basilica of St. Peter.
Let us now listen to the several Churches on earth, celebrating the grand triumph of our apostle. Let us begin with Rome, the mother and mistress of all Churches. Nothing could be more expressive than the language she uses in praise of the apostle of the cross. First, she employs the words of the Gospel, which record the circumstances of his vocation; then, she selects the most touching passages from the Acts of his martyrdom, drawn up by the priests of Patras; and both are intermingled with appropriate sentiments of her own. Our first selection shall be from the responsories of Matins.
R. Cum perambularet Dominus juxta mare Galilææ, vidit Petrum et Andream retia mittentes in mare: et vocavit eos, dicens: * Venite post me, faciam vos fieri piscatores hominum.
V. Erant enim piscatores, et ait illis: * Venite post me, faciam vos fieri piscatores hominum.
R. Mox ut vocem Domini prædicantis audivit beatus Andreas, relictis retibus, quorum usu actuque vivebat, * Æternæ vitæ secutus est præmia largientem. V. Hic est qui pro amore Christi pependit in cruce, et pro lege ejus sustinuit passionem. * Æternæ vitae secutus est præmia largientem.
R. Doctor bonus, et amicus Dei Andreas ducitur ad crucem; quam a longe aspiciens dixit: Salve, crux! * Suscipe discipulum ejus, qui pependit in te, magister meus Christus. V. Salve, crux, quæ in corpore Christi dedicata es; et ex membris ejus tamquam margaritis ornata. * Suscipe discipulum ejus qui pependit in te, magister meus Christus.
R. Videns crucem Andreas exclamavit, dicens: O crux admirabilis! O crux desiderabilis! O crux quae por totum mundum rutilas! * Suscipe discipulum Christi, ac per te me recipiat, qui per te moriens me redemit. V. O bona crux, quæ decorem et pulchritudinem de membris Domini suscepisti. * Suscipe discipulum Christi, ac per te me recipiat, qui per te moriens me redemit.
R. Oravit sanctus Andreas, dum respiceret in cœlum, et voce magna clamavit et dixit: Tu es Deus meus, quem vidi: ne me patiaris ab impio judico deponi: * Quia virtutem sanctæ crucis agnovi. V. Tu os magister meus Christus, quem dilcxi, quem cognovi, quem confessus sum: tantummodo in ista voce, exaudi me. * Quia virtutem sanctæ crucis agnovi.
R. When the Lord was walking by the sea of Galilee, he saw Peter and Andrew casting nets into the sea, and he called them, saying: * Come after me, I will make you to be fishers of men.
V. For they were fishers, and he saith to them: * Come after me, I will make you to be fishers of men.
R. As soon as blessed Andrew heard the voice of the Lord calling him, leaving his nets, by the use and working of which he lived, * He followed him who gives the reward of eternal life. V. This is he who, for the love of Christ, hung upon a cross, and for his law endured a passion. * He followed him who gives the reward of eternal life.
R. Andrew, the good teacher, and the friend of God, is led to the cross; which seeing afar off, he says: Hail, O cross! * Receive the disciple of him who hung upon thee, Christ, my Master. V. Hail, O cross, which art consecrated by the body of Christ, and art adorned by his members, as with pearls. * Receive the disciple of him who hung upon thee, Christ, my Master.
R. Andrew seeing the cross, cried out, saying: O admirable cross; O desirable cross! O cross which shinest throughout the whole world! * Receive the disciple of Christ, and by thee may he receive me, who dying by thee redeemed me. V. O good cross, which art made fair and beautiful by the body of the Lord. * Receive the disciple of Christ, and by thee may he receive me, who dying by thee redeemed me.
R. Saint Andrew prayed, as he looked up to heaven, and with a loud voice, cried out and said: Thou art my God, whom I have seen: suffer me not to be detached by the impious judge: * For I have learnt the power of the holy cross. V. Thou art the Christ my master, whom I have loved, whom I have known, whom I have confessed: graciously hear me in this one prayer. * For I have learnt the power of the holy cross.
The antiphons of Vespers are full of a lyric gracefulness and unction.
Salve crux pretiosa! suscipe discipulum ejus qui pepondit in te, magister meus Christus.
Beatus Andreas orabat, dicens: Domine, Rex æternæ gloriæ, suscipe me pendentem in patibulo.
Andreas Christi famulus, dignus Dei apostolus, germanus Petri, et in passione socius.
Maximilla Christo amabilis, tulit corpus apostoli, optimo loco cum aromatibus sepelivit.
Qui persequebantur justum, demersisti eos, Domine, in inferno, et in ligno crucis dux justi fuisti.
Hail, O precious cross! receive the disciple of him who hung upon thee, Christ my master.
The blessed Andrew prayed saying: O Lord, King of eternal glory, receive me hanging on this gibbet.
Andrew, the servant of Christ, the worthy apostle of God, the brother of Peter, and his companion in the cross.
Maximilla, a woman dear to Christ, took the body of the apostle, and embalming it, buried it in a most honoured place.
Thou, O Lord, didst plunge into hell them that persecuted thy just one, and wast his guide and helper on the wood of the cross.
The following hymn was composed in honour of the holy apostle, by Pope St. Damasus, the friend of St. Jerome. There is an allusion in it to the name Andrew, which amongst its many meanings has that of beauty.
Decus sacrati nominis,
Vitamque nomen exprimens,
Hoc to decorum prædicat
Crucis beatæ gloria.
Andrea, Christi apostolo,
Hoc ipso jam vocabulo
Signaris, isto nomine
Decorus idem mystice.
Quem crux ad alta provehit,
Crux quem beata diligit,
Cui crux amara præparat
Lucis futurae gaudia.
In te crucis mysterium
Cluit gemello stigmate,
Dum probra vincis per crucem,
Crucisque pandis sanguinem.
Jam nos foveto languidos,
Curamque nostri suscipe,
Quo por crucis victoriam
Cœli potamus patriam.
The beauty of thy sacred name,
expressive of thy life,
declares how beautiful thou art
in the glory of thy blessed cross.
Andrew, apostle of Christ,
thy very name
points to the mystic
beauty of thy soul.
The cross exalts thee,
the blessed cross loves thee,
the bitter cross prepares for thee
the joys of the light to come.
The mystery of the cross
shines in thee with a twofold beauty:
for by the cross thou dost vanquish insults,
and thou preachest to men the divine blood shed on the cross.
Then warm up our languid hearts,
and take us under thy care;
that so, by the victory of the cross,
we may reach our heavenly country.
The two following sequences, in honour of the apostle of the cross, were written in the middle ages. The first belongs to the eleventh century. Like all the sequences of that period, it has no regular rhythm.
Sacrosancta hodiernae festivitatis praeconia,
Digna laude universa categorizet Ecclesia.
Mitissimi sanctorum sanctissima extollenda merita,
Apostoli Andreæ, admiranda praefulgentis gratia.
Hic accepto a Joanne Baptista quod venisset qui tolleret peccata:
Mox ejus intrans habitacula, audiebat eloquia.
Inventoque fratre suo Barjona: Invenimus, ait ovans, Messiam.
Et duxit eum ad dulcifluam Salvatoris presentiam.
Hunc perscrutantem maria, Christi vocavit clementia.
Artem piscandi commutans dignitate apostolica.
Hujus animam post clara festi Paschalis gaudia,
Sancti Spiritus præclara perlustravit potentia;
Ad prædicandum populis pœnitentiam, et Dei Patris per Filium clementiam.
Gratulare ergo tanto patre, Achaia;
Illustrata ejus salutari doctrina;
Honorata multimoda signorum frequentia.
Et tu gemens plora, trux carnifex Ægea.
Te lues inferna et mors tenet æterna.
Sed Andream felicia per crucem manent gaudia.
Jam Regem tuum spectas, jam in ejus conspectu, Andrea, stas.
Odorem suavitatis jam adspiras, quem divini amoris aroma dat.
Sis ergo nobis inclyta dulcedo, spirans intima cœlestis vitæ balsama.
The most holy praises of this day’s solemnity,
Let the universal Church sing in worthy strains.
The most holy merit of the meekest of saints is to be extolled,
Of the apostle Andrew, so bright in his admirable graces.
Having learned from John the Baptist, that he had come who would take sin away,
He straightway entered his dwelling, and listened to his words;
And finding his own brother, Barjona, he said to him with great joy: We have found the Messias.
And he led him to the loved presence of the Saviour.
As Andrew was fishing in the sea, the mercy of Christ called him,
Giving him, in exchange for his art of fishing, the dignity of an apostle.
His soul, after the grand joys of the Paschal feast,
Was visited by the glorious power of the Holy Ghost,
That he might go and preach penance to the world, and tell it of the mercy of the Father by the Son.
Rejoice, then, O Achaia! that thou hast such an apostle,
Who enlightened thee with his saving doctrine,
And honoured thee with his many and manifold miracles.
But thou fierce torturer, Ægeas, cry and weep:
The pains of hell and eternal death are thine:
Whilst Andrew has won happiness and joy by his cross.
O Andrew! now thou seest thy King: now thou art in his presence;
Now thou art breathing the odour of sweetness, which comes from the aroma of divine love.
Be, then, unto us a delicious sweetness, giving out the hidden balsam of the celestial life.
The second sequence, written in rhythm and correct metre, is the composition of the pious Adam of Saint Victor, the greatest lyric poet of the middle ages.
Exsultemus et lætemur:
Et Andreae delectemur
Hujus fidem, dogma, mores,
Et pro Christo tot labores,
Digne decet recoli.
Hic ad fidem Petrum duxit,
Cui primum lux illuxit,
Secus mare Galilaeæ,
Petri simul et Andreæ
Ambo prius piscatores,
Verbi fiunt assertores,
Et forma justitiæ.
Rete laxant in capturam;
Vigilemque gerunt curam
A fratre dividitur,
Et in partes mittitur
In Andreæ retia
Currit, Dei gratia,
Magna pars provinciæ.
Fide, vita, verbo, signis,
Doctor pius et insignis
Cor informat populi.
Ut Ægeas comperit
Quid Andreas egerit,
Iræ surgunt stimuli.
Mens secura, mens virilis,
Cui præsens vita vilis,
Blandimentis aut tormentis
Non enervat robur mentis
Crucem videns præparari,
Suo gestit conformari
Mors pro morte solvitur,
Et crucis appetitur
In cruce vixit biduum,
Victurus in perpetuum:
Neo vult volente populo
Deponi de patibulo.
Hora fere dimidia,
Luce perfusus nimia,
Cum luce, cum lætitia,
Pergit ad lucis atria.
O Andrea gloriose,
Cujus preces pretiosæ,
Cujus mortis luminosae
Dulcis est memoria,
Ab hac valle lacrymarum,
Nos ad illud lumen clarum,
Pie pastor animarum,
Tua transfer gratia.
Let us exult and rejoice,
and be delighted in the praises
sung to Andrew the apostle.
His faith and teachings, and actions,
and all his labours for Christ,
deserve a worthy celebration.
’Twas he led Peter to the faith.
’Twas he on whom the light first shone;
the Baptist showed it him.
Near the sea of Galilee,
our Lord called Peter and Andrew
by the one same election.
They who were once fishermen,
are become heralds of the Word,
and models of every virtue.
They let down their nets for a draught of men;
and carefully watch over
the infant Church.
Andrew is separated
from his brother, and sent
into the country about Achaia.
A great portion of that province enters,
by the grace of God,
into Andrew’s net.
The holy and learned doctor
forms the hearts of his people
by his faith, life, preaching, and miracles.
When Ægeas discovered
what Andrew had done,
he was excited to great anger.
But Andrew’s mind, ever calm and manly,
set little value on this life,
and armed itself with patience.
The senseless judge offers him his favour,
or threatens him with tortures,
but cannot shake his constant soul.
Seeing the cross being prepared,
Andrew, as a true disciple, is proud
to be thus made like his Master.
He repays the death of Jesus by his own,
ambitious to have
the trophy of triumph, the cross.
He lived two days hanging on that cross,
which was to make him live for ever;
the people resolve to loose him from it:
but he would not have it so; and clings to his cross.
An exceeding bright light surrounds him
for nearly half an hour;
and then, in this light, and in this joy,
he mounts to the realms of light.
O glorious Andrew,
whose prayers are so precious,
and whose bright death
is so sweet to think on,
Take us, by thy loving prayers,
from this vale of tears,
and transfer us to that fair land of light,
O thou good shepherd of souls.
The pieces so far given belong to the Roman liturgy, being taken from the books of this mother of Churches, or from those of the different Churches of the west, which follow the form of her Offices. We will now give, in honour of our holy apostle, some of the formulæ which the other ancient liturgies used for his feast; we will begin with the Ambrosian rite, from which we take the following beautiful preface.
Vere dignum et justum est, æquum et salutare, nos tibi semper et ubique gratias agere, Domine sancte, Pater omnipotens, æterne Deus. Adest enim nobis dies sacri votiva mysterii: qua beatus Andreas germanum se Petri apostoli tam prædicatione Christi tui, quam confessione monstravit; et apostolicæ numerum dignitatissimul passione supplevit et gloria; ut id, quod libera prædicaverat voce, nec pendens taceret in cruce: auctoremque vitae perennis tam in hac vita sequi, quam in mortis genere meruit imitari: ut cujus præcepto terrena in semetipso crucifixerat desideria, ejus exemplo ipse patibulo figeretur. Utrique igitur germani piscatores, ambo cruce elevantur ad cœlum; ut, quos in hujus vitae cursu tua gratia tot vinculis pietatis constrinxerat, hos similis in regno cœlorum necteret et corona: et quibus erat una causa certaminis, una retributio esset et praemii.
It is truly meet and just, right and available to salvation, that we should always, and in all places, give thanks to thee, O holy Lord, almighty Father, eternal God; for we are keeping the feast of a sacred mystery, a day on which the blessed Andrew showed himself to be indeed the brother of Peter the apostle, both by his preaching and his confession of thy Christ: and filled up the measure of the apostolic dignity by his passion and his glory; for what he had loudly and boldly preached, he would not cease to proclaim even on his cross: and he deserved to follow, during life, the author of eternal life, and to imitate him in the manner of his death; that thus having, in obedience to his precept, crucified in himself all earthly desires, he might, in accordance with his example, be fastened to a cross. The two brothers, the two fishermen, are both, therefore, raised up to heaven by a cross; that so, having been, by thy grace, bound together by so many ties during this life, they might also be like each other by the crown they wear in heaven; and as their combat was the same, their reward might be the same.
The Gallican liturgy also celebrated the glories of St. Andrew. Amongst the few fragments which have been handed down to us of this liturgy, there is not a single piece in poetry. The following preface, or, as it was then called, Contestation, will show that the Church of Gaul, from the fourth to the eighth century, shared the enthusiasm of the Roman and Ambrosian Churches for the glorious apostle of the cross.
Dignum et justum est; æquum et justum est; piotati tuæ ineffabiles gratias referre, omnipotens sempiterne Deus; et inæstimabili gaudio passionem tuorum prædicare sanctorum, per Christum Dominum nostrum. Qui beato Andreæ in prima vocatione dedit fidem; et in passione donavit victoriam. Acceperat hæc utraque beatus Andreas; ideo habebat et in prædicatione constantiam, et in passione tolerantiam. Qui post iniqua verbera, post carceris septa, alligatus suspendio se purum sacrificium tibi obtulit Deo. Extendit mitissimus brachia ad cœlos; amplectitur crucis vexillum; defigit in osculis ora: Agni cognoscit arcana. Denique dum ad patibulum duceretur, in cruce suspenderetur, carne patiebatur, et Spiritu loquebatur. Obliviscitur crucis tormenta; dum de cruce Christum præconat. Quantum enim corpus ejus in ligno extendebatur: tantum in lingua ejus Christus exaltabatur: quia pendens in ligno, sociari se ei gratulabatur. Absolvi se non patitur a cruce, ne tepescat certamen in tempore. Turba circumspicit, et lamentat: demitti a vinculo petit, quem reparatorem mentis intelligit. Laxari postulat justum, ne pereat populus hoc delicto. Interea fundit martyr spiritum, possessurus sempiterni Judicis regnum: pro cujus meritis concede nobis, omnipotens Deus, ut a malis omnibus tuti atque defensi, tibi Domino nostro, Deo martyrum et Principi apostolorum, laudes semper et gratias referamus.
It is meet and just; it is right and just, that we should give ineffable thanks to thy mercy, O almighty and eternal God! and celebrate with incomparable joy the sufferings of thy saints, through Christ our Lord. Who gave to the blessed Andrew, at his first calling him, the gift of faith; and in his martyrdom, victory. Both had the blessed Andrew received; therefore had he constancy in his preaching, and patience in his passion. After being unjustly scourged, and thrust into prison, he was tied to a gibbet, and on it offered himself a pure sacrifice to thee his God. Most gentle saint, he lifts up his hands to heaven; he embraces the standard of the cross; he kisses it; he understands the secrets of the Lamb. When, at last, he was led to the cross, and fastened to it, his flesh suffered, but he spoke by the holy Spirit. He forgot the torture of the cross whilst he preached Christ from the cross; for the more his body was being stretched on the wood, the more did his tongue extol Christ, seeing that by thus hanging on the cross he was honoured with being made a companion of Christ. He suffers not himself to be loosened from the cross, lest the combat should lose intensity by the delay. The crowd looks upon him, and is in lamentation; it knows him to be the physician of the soul, and demands that he be freed from his chains. It demands that the just man be liberated, lest this crime should destroy the people. Meanwhile the martyr breathes forth his soul, and goes to take possession of the kingdom of the eternal Judge. Grant us, O almighty God, by his merits, that we, being safe and protected from all evils, may for ever give praise and thanks to thee, our Lord, the God of the martyrs, and the Prince of the apostles.
The Mozarabic liturgy is extremely rich in its praises of St. Andrew, both in the missal and the breviary: we must limit ourselves to the following beautiful prayer.
Christe Dominus noster, qui beatissimum Andream, et apostolatus gratia, et martyrii decorasti corona; hoc illi specialiter in munere præstans, ut crucis prædicando mysterium, ad crucis mereretur pervenire patibulum: da nobis, ut sanctae crucis tuæ verissimi amatores effecti, abnegantes nosmetipsos tollamus crucem nostram, et sequamur te: ut passionibus tuis in hac vita communicantes, ad æternam vitam pervenire mereamur felices.
O Christ, our Lord, who didst beautify the most blessed Andrew with the grace of apostleship, and the crown of martyrdom, by granting to him this special gift, that by preaching the mystery of the cross, he should merit the death of the cross: grant us to become most true lovers of thy holy cross, and, denying ourselves, to take up our cross and follow thee; that by thus sharing thy sufferings in this life, we may deserve the happiness of obtaining life everlasting.
The Greek Church is as fervent as any of the Churches of the west in celebrating the prerogatives and merits of St. Andrew. He is the more dear to it, because Constantinople considers him as her patron apostle. It would, perhaps, be difficult for the Greeks to give any solid proofs of St. Andrew’s having founded, as they pretend, the Church of Byzantium; but this is certain, that Constantinople enjoyed, for many centuries, the possession of the precious treasure of the saint’s relics. They were translated to that city in the year 357, through the interest of the emperor Constantius, who placed them in the basilica of the apostles built by Constantine. Later on, that is, about the middle of the sixth century, Justinian caused them to be translated a second time, but only from one part of that same basilica to another. We borrow the two following beautiful hymns from the Menæa of the Greeks; the first is sung in the evening Office, the second in the morning Office.
In the solemn evening office
Luci antelucanæ assimilatus, quem splendorem hypostaticum Paternæ gloriæ dicimus, hominum genus per suam magnam misericordiam salvare cum voluisset, tunc primus, gloriose illi occurristi, illustratus interius perfectissima ejus Deitatis claritate: unde et præco et apostolus vocaris Christi Dei nostri; quem deprecare salvare et illuminare animas nostras.
Præcurrenti voce insonans, quando omnisanctum Verbum caro factum est, quando nobis vitam donavit, salutemque in terris evangelizavit, tunc, sanctissime, istud secutus es, et teipsum primitias et sacrificium quasi primam ipsi oblationem constituisti: quem cognoscere fecisti, fratri que tuo monstrasti Deum nostrum; hunc deprecare salvare animas nostras.
Qui carnem e sterili florescenti induit, quando Virginalis Filius apparuit, præceptor pietatis puritatem demonstrans, tunc tu, ardentissime virtutis amator, Andrea, beatus effectus es; ascensiones in tuo corde disponens, a gloria in gloriam sublimatus es inauditam Domini Dei nostri: quem deprecare salvare et illuminare animas nostras.
Piscium piscationem derelinquens, homines carpis calamo prædicationis, mittens hamum pietatis, et extrahens e profundo erroris omnes Gentes, Andrea apostolo, coryphæi frater, et terræ dux celeberrime, excellens et non deficiens; tenebrosos homines illustra tua veneranda memoria.
Primovocatus discipulus et imitator passionis tuæ, assimilatus tibi, Domine, Andreas apostolus in abysso degentes ignorantiæ olimque errantes, hamo tuae crucis cum abstraxisset, tibimetipsi adduxit: et ideo salvati fideles ad te clamamus precibus illius, optime, Domine, vitam nostram pacifica, et salva animas nostras.
Ignis illuminans mentes et comburens peccata, in corde interius arripiens, apostolus Christi discipulus fulget mysticis radiis instructionum in Gentium tenebrosis cordibus. Urit autem iterum surculosas impiorum fabulas; ignis enim Spiritus tantam habet energiam! O mirabiliter terribile! Cœnosa lingua, fictilis natura, corpus pulverinum, intellectualem et immaterialem praebuit Gnosim. Sed tu, O initiate rerum ineffabilium, et contemplator cœlestium, deprecare illuminari animas nostras.
Gaudeas, disertum cœlum, gloriam Dei passim enarrans. Primus Domino obediens ardenter effectus, ipsi immediate adhærens, ab ipso accensus, lumen apparuisti alterum, et degentes in tenebris, tuis illuminasti radiis, hanc Domini benignitatem imitatus: unde tuam omni8anctam perficimus laudem et reliquiarum thecam cum gaudio magno deosculamur, ex qua scaturit salus petentibus et magna misericordia.
Gentes nescientes Deum quasi ex abysso ignorantiæ vivas carpsisti sagena tuorum oraculorum, salsaque commoves æquora sapienter, equus optimus visus Dominatoris maris, celebrande; qui siccasti putredinem impietatis, sal honorandum, spargens sapientiam tuam: quam stupentes admirati sunt, apostole gloriose, qui malesanam sapientiam inflati amplexi erant, ignorantes Dominum donantem mundo magnam misericordiam.
When he, who is likened to the star of early mom, whom we call the hypostatic splendour of the Father’s glory, willed in his great mercy to save the human race: thou, O glorious Andrew, wast the first to meet him, being enlightened interiorly with the most perfect brightness of his Divinity; hence thou art called the herald and apostle of Christ our Lord. Pray to him for us, that he may save and enlighten our souls.
When he, whom the Precursor’s voice had proclaimed, the all-holy Word, was made flesh, and gave us life, and gave the good tidings of salvation to the earth; then didst thou, most holy Andrew, follow him, and make thyself his first-fruits, and sacrifice, and as it were the first oblation of men: thou didst make him known to thy brother, telling him that this was our God. Pray to Jesus for us, that he save our souls.
When he appeared who clothed himself with our flesh in a virginal yet fruitful womb, and was thus the Son of a Virgin, the teacher of piety, giving us this model of purity; then wast thou happy, O Andrew, most ardent lover of virtue; disposing in thy heart to ascend step by step, and wast raised up from glory to the unspeakable glory of the Lord our God. Beseech him, that he save and enlighten our souls.
Leaving thy fishing of fish, thou catchest men by the rod of thy preaching, throwing to them the bait of virtue, and dragging all nations from the depths of error. O Andrew, the apostle, brother of the leader, most honoured prince of the earth, excelling and unfailing! may the venerable remembrance of thee enlighten them that are in darkness.
Andrew, the apostle, the first-called of thy disciples, O Lord, and the imitator of thy Passion, and made like to thee, drew out with the hook of thy cross them that lived and wandered in the sea of ignorance, and then brought them unto thee: therefore do we thy faithful. who have been saved, cry to thee by his prayers, O infinitely good Lord: grant us peaceful lives, and save our souls.
The apostle, disciple of Christ, is a fire which inflames men’s minds and bums out their sins, penetrating into the very depth of their hearts: and by the mystic rays of his instructions he shines in the dark hearts of the Gentiles. Then, too, he bums the wild brambles of pagan fables, for the fire of the Spirit has such energy! And is it not a wonder to be trembled at, that a tongue of slime, a nature of clay, a body of dust, should make known the intellectual and the immaterial Knowledge? Do thou, the initiated into unspeakable things, the contemplator of heavenly truths, pray that our minds be illumined.
Be glad, O thou heaven of eloquence, everywhere telling the glory of God! The first to obey our Lord with ardour, immediately uniting thyself to him, thou wast set on fire by him, and didst appear as a second light, enlightening with thy rays them that sat in darkness, thus imitating the mercy of Jesus for man. Therefore do we celebrate thy most holy memory, and kiss with great joy the shrine of thy relics, from which flows health and every sort of boon to thy clients.
By the nets of thy oracles thou didst draw from the abyss of ignorance the nations that knew not God, and gavest them life. Like the splendid courser of the Ruler of the sea, thou, O worthy of all praise, didst stir up the bitter waves by thy wisdom. Thou, the venerable salt of earth, didst season with thy penetrating wisdom what ungodliness was corrupting. This thy wisdom, O glorious apostle, struck dumb with admiration those who had become imbued and puffed up with an unsound wisdom, and ignored the Lord that showed his great mercy to the world.
In the morning office
Accurristi siti non vocatus, Andrea, sed voluntarie, sicut cervus ad fontem vitæ. Fide innixus, de incorruptionis fontibus siti fatigatas extremas usque regiones potasti.
Cognovisti naturæ leges, Andrea admirande, et comparticipem accepisti fratrem, clamans: Invenimus Desideratum; atque ei qui iter fecerat secundum camis generationem, accersisti Spiritus cognitionem.
Verbum cum dixisset: 'Hic retro mei,' Christum alacer secutus est cum Andrea et Cephas, genitori valedicentes, et naviculæ, et retibus, tanquam fidei propugnacula.
Deifica inexhaustaque potentis omnifactoris atque flammantis Spiritus virtus in te, Andrea divine, inhabitans in igneæ linguæ forma, ineffabilium te indicavit praeconem.
Non arma ad defensionem attulit carnea, et ad destructionem terribilium inimici propugnaculorum, Andreas honoratissimus; sed ad Christum loricatus, quas captivitate redegerat Gentes, adduxit submissas.
Tuam ineffabilem pulchritudinem Andreas videns primus, Jesu, fratrem clara voce vocavit: Petre ardenter desiderans, invenimus Messiam, qui in Lege et in Prophetis proclamatus est; veni, veræ Vitæ agglutinemur.
Hunc pro mercede recuperasti quem desiderabas, Andrea apostole, ligatis cum eo laborum manipulis, tuisque digne cum eo collectis: unde te hymnis glorificamus.
Magistrum desiderasti, et illum insecutus es, qui illius vestigiis ad vitam ambulasti, et illius passiones, vere honorande Andrea, usque ad mortem imitatus.
Spiritualem vitæ tranquille navigatus abyssum, apostole, perambulasti cum velo Spiritus, fide Christi: ideoque ad vitæ portum pervenisti gaudens in cuncta sæcula.
Spiritali Sole in cruce occidente, voluntate propria, solis jubar cum illo quaerens dissolvi et occidere in Christum, in ligno suspensus est Andreas, fax magna et fulgida Ecclesiae.
Velut discipulus omnium optimus, illius qui voluntarie affixus est cruci, magistrum tuum usque ad mortem secutus, cum gaudio in altitudinem ascendisti crucis, viam instruens ad cœlos, beate apostole.
Gaude nunc, Bethsaida; in te enim floruerunt e materno fonte nimis odorifera lilia, Petrus et Andreas, universo mundo fidei prædicationis odorem ferentes gratia Christi, cujus passionibus communicaverunt.
Te patrum civitas pastorem possidet, et divinum præsidem, et periculorum omnium liberatorem, et custodem te, Andrea sapiens; gratanter honoravit te: sed tu deprecare incessanter pro ea, ut sorvetur ab omni perditione.
Not by thirst but by love wast thou urged, O Andrew, when thou didst run, as a stag, to the fountain of life. Leaning on faith, thou didst give to drink of the fountains of incorruption to the distant nations that were parched with thirst.
Thou didst feel the law of nature, O admirable Andrew, and thou didst take thy brother into partnership, crying out to him: ‘We have found the Desired One!’ and thus he who was walking in the ways of the flesh, was brought by thee to the knowledge of the Spirit.
When the Word said: ‘Now, follow me,' Cephas also joyfully followed Christ with Andrew, and bidding farewell to father, boat, and nets, they became the citadels of the faith.
The deifying and exhaustless virtue of the mighty Creator of all things, and of the burning Spirit, dwelt in thee in the form of a fiery tongue; showing that thou, O divine Andrew, wast a herald of unspeakable things.
Most honoured Andrew! he boro not weapons of the flesh for his defence, or for the destruction of the formidable ramparts of the enemy; but with a breast plate on him, he led subject to Christ the nations which had been redeemed by Christ from captivity.
Thy ineffable beauty, O Jesus, was first seen by Andrew, who then called out with a loud voice to his brother: 'Peter,' he said, 'thou man of ardent desires! we have found the Messias, whom the Law and the Prophets have foretold. O come, let us cling to this true life.’
As thy reward, O apostle Andrew, thou hast regained him whom thou desiredst: him with whom thou didst bind up and worthily garner the sheaves of thy labours. Therefore do we sing to thee our hymns of praise.
Thou desiredst the Master, and thou hast followed him, walking unto life in his footsteps, and imitating, even unto death, his passion, O verily venerable Andrew!
Calmly sailing the sea of the spiritual life, O apostle, thou didst cross it with the sails of the Spirit and the faith of Christ. Therefore didst thou enter with joy into the port of life for ever.
The spiritual Sun having, by his own will, sunk on the cross, Andrew, that Sun’s reflection, the great and bright light of the Church, wishing also to be dissolved and to set with him, was hung upon a cross.
As the best of all the disciples of him, who, of his own will, was fastened to the cross, thou, O blessed apostle, following thy Master even unto death, didst ascend with joy to the summit of the cross, showing us the way that leads to heaven.
Rejoice now, O Bethsaida! for in thee and thy maternal fount bloomed the two most fragrant lilies, Peter and Andrew, bearing by the grace of Christ, whom they resembled in his passion, the odour of the preaching of the faith to the whole world.
The city of the fathers possesses thee as its pastor, and its divine chief, and its liberator in all dangers, and its keeper, O Andrew, full of wisdom! Gratefully has it kept thy feast; but do thou unceasingly pray for it, that it may be preserved from all danger.
The Church of Constantinople, so devoted, as we have seen, to the glory of St. Andrew, was at length deprived of the precious treasure of his relics. This happened in the year 1210, when the city was taken by the crusaders. Cardinal Peter of Capua, the legate of the holy See, translated the body of St.
Andrew into the cathedral of Amalfi, a town in the kingdom of Naples, where it remains to this day, the glorious instrument of numberless miracles, and the object of the devout veneration of. the people. It is well known how, at the same period, the most precious relics of the Greek Church came, by a visible judgement of God, into the possession of the Latins. Byzantium refused to accept those terrible warnings, and continued obstinate in her schism. She was still in possession of the head of the holy apostle, owing, no doubt, to this circumstance, that in the several translations which had been made, it had been kept in a separate reliquary by itself. When the Byzantine empire was destroyed by the Turks, divine Providence so arranged events, as that the Church of Rome should be enriched with this magnificent relic. In 1462, the head of St. Andrew was, therefore, brought thither by the celebrated Cardinal Bessarion; and on Palm Sunday, the twelfth of April, the heroic Pope Pius II. went in great pomp to meet it as far as the Milvian bridge (Ponte Molle), and then placed it in the basilica of St. Peter, on the Vatican, where it is at present, near the confession of the prince of the apostles. At the sight of this venerable head, Pius II. was transported with a religious enthusiasm, and before taking up the glorious relic in order to carry it into Rome, he pronounced the following magnificent address, which we give as a conclusion to the liturgical praises given by the several Churches to St. Andrew.
‘At length thou hast arrived, O most holy and venerable head of the saintly apostle! The fury of the Turks has driven thee from thy resting-place, and thou art come as an exile to thy brother, the prince of the apostles. Thy brother will not fail thee; and by the will of God, the day will come when men shall say in thy praise: O happy banishment, which caused thee to receive such a welcome! Meanwhile, here shalt thou dwell with thy brother, and share in his honours.
‘This is Rome, the venerable city, which was dedicated by thy brother’s precious blood. The people thou seest, are they whom the blessed apostle, thy most loving brother, and St. Paul, the vessel of election, regenerated unto Christ our Lord. Thus the Romans are thy kinsmen. They venerate, and honour, and love thee as their father’s brother; nay, as their second father; and are confident of thy patronage in the presence of the great God.
‘O most blessed apostle Andrew! thou preacher of the truth, and defender of the dogma of the most holy Trinity! with what joy dost thou fill us on this day, whereon it is given us to behold thy sacred and venerable head, which deserved that, on the day of Pentecost, the holy Paraclete should rest upon it in the form of fire!
‘O ye Christians that visit Jerusalem out of reverence for your Saviour, that there ye may see the places where His feet have stood; lo! here is the throne of the Holy Ghost. Here sat the Spirit of the Lord. Here was seen the Third Person of the Trinity. Here were the eyes that so often saw Jesus in the flesh. This was the mouth that so often spake to Jesus; and on these cheeks did that same Lord doubtless impress His sacred kisses.
‘O wondrous sanctuary, wherein dwelt charity, and kindness, and gentleness, and spiritual consolation. Who could look upon such venerable and precious relics of the apostle of Christ, and not be moved? and not be filled with tender devotion? and not shed tears for very joy? Yea, O most admirable apostle Andrew! we rejoice, and are glad, and exult, at this thy coming, for we doubt not that thou thyself art present here, and bearest us company as we enter with thy head into the holy city.
‘The Turks are indeed our enemies, as being the enemies of the Christian religion: but in that they have been the occasion of thy coming amongst us, we are grateful to them. For what greater blessing could have befallen us than that we should be permitted to see thy most sacred head, and that our Rome should be filled with its fragrance? Oh! that we could welcome thee with the honours which are due to thee, and receive thee in a way becoming thy exceeding holiness! But accept our good will, and our sincere desires to honour thee, and suffer us now to touch thy relics with our unworthy hands, and, though sinners, to accompany thee within the walls of the city.
‘Enter, then, the holy city, and show thy love to her people. May thy coming be a boon to Christendom. May thy entrance be peaceful, and thy abode amongst us bring happiness and prosperity. Be thou our advocate in heaven, and, together with the blessed apostles Peter and Paul, defend this city, and protect, with thy love, all Christian people; that, by thy intercession, the mercy of God may be upon us; and if His indignation be enkindled against us by reason of our manifold sins, let it fall upon the impious Turks and the pagan nations that blaspheme our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.’
Thus has the glory of St. Andrew been blended, in Rome, with that of St. Peter. But the apostle of the cross, whose feast was heretofore kept in many Churches with an octave, has also been chosen as patron of one of the kingdoms of the west. Scotland, when she was a Catholic country, had put herself under his protection. May he still exercise his protection over her, and, by his prayers, hasten her return to the true faith!
Let us now, in union with the Church, pray to this holy apostle, for this is the glorious day of his feast: let us pay him that honour which is due to him, and ask him for the help of which we stand in need.
We have scarce begun our mystic journey of Advent, seeking our divine Saviour Jesus, when lo! God grants us to meet thee, O blessed Andrew, at our very first step. When Jesus, our Messias, began His public life, thou hadst already become the obedient disciple of His Precursor, who preached His coming: thou wast among the first of them who received the Son of Mary as the Messias foretold in the Law and the Prophets. But thou couldst not keep the heavenly secret from him who was so dear to thee; to Peter, then, thou didst bear the good tidings, and didst lead him to Jesus.
O blessed apostle! we also are longing for the Messias, the Saviour of our souls; since thou hast found Him, lead us also unto Him. We place under thy protection this holy period of expectation and preparation, which is to bring us to the day of our Saviour’s Nativity, that divine mystery in which He will manifest Himself to the world. Assist us to render ourselves worthy of seeing Him on that great night. The baptism of Penance prepared thee for receiving the grace of knowing the Word of life; pray for us that we may become truly penitent and may purify our hearts, during this holy time, and thus be able to behold Him, who has said: ‘Blessed are the clean of heart, for they shall see God.’
Thou hast a special power of leading souls to Jesus, O glorious saint! for even he, who was to be made the pastor of the whole flock, was presented to the Messias by thee. By calling thee to Himself on this day, our Lord has given thee as the patron of Christians who, each year at this season, are seeking that God in whom thou art now living: they must begin it with praying to thee to show them the way which leads to Jesus.
Thou teachest us this way; it is that of fidelity, of fidelity even to the cross. In that way thou didst courageously walk: and because the cross leads to Jesus Christ, thou didst passionately love the cross. Pray for us, O holy apostle! that we may begin to understand this love of the cross; and that, having understood it, we may put it in practice. Thy brother says to us in his Epistle: ‘Christ having suffered in the flesh, be you also armed with the same thought.’ Thy feast, O blessed Andrew! shows us thee as the living commentary of this doctrine. Because thy Master was crucified, thou wouldst also be crucified. From the high throne to which thou hast been raised by the cross, pray for us, that the cross may be unto us the expiation of the sins which are upon us, the quenching of the passions which burn within us, and the means of uniting us by love to Him, who, through love alone for us, was nailed to the cross.
Important, indeed, and precious are these lessons of the cross: but the cross, O blessed apostle, is the perfection and the consummation, and not the first commencement. It is the Infant God, it is the God of the crib that we must first know and love; it was the Lamb of God that St. John pointed out to thee; and it is that Lamb whom we so ardently desire to contemplate. The austere and awful time of Jesus’ Passion has not come; we are now in Advent. Fortify us for the day of combat; but the grace we now most need is compunction and tender love. We put under thy patronage this great work of our preparation for the coming of Jesus into our hearts.
Remember also, O blessed Andrew, the holy Church, of which thou wast the pillar, and which thou hast beautified by the shedding of thy blood: lift up thy hands for her to Him, whose battle she is for ever fighting. Pray that the cross she has to bear in this her pilgrimage may be lightened; that she may love this cross, and that it may be the source of her power and her glory. Remember with especial love the holy Roman Church, the mother and mistress of all Churches; and by reason of that fervent love she has for thee, obtain for her victory and peace by the cross. Visit anew, in thy apostolic zeal, the Church of Constantinople, which has forfeited true light and unity, because she would not render homage to Peter, thy brother, whom thou honouredst as thy chief, out of love to Him who is the common Master of both him and thee. And lastly, pray for Scotland, that has dishonoured thy protection for these three past ages; obtain for her that the days of her rebellion from the faith may be shortened, and, with the rest of our isle of saints, she may soon return to the fold of the one Shepherd.
We will close this day with a prayer to the Saviour, whom we are expecting; and celebrate, by this ancient and venerable hymn, the mystery of His coming.
Hymn for the time of Advent
(In the Mozarabic breviary; in the hymnarium)
Gaudete, flores martyrum!
Salvete, plebes gentium,
Visum per astra mittite,
Sperate signum gloriæ.
Voces prophetarum sonant,
Venire Jesum nuntiant,
Quæ nos redemit gratia.
Hic mane nostrum promicat,
Et corda laeta exaestuant,
Cum vox fidelis personat
Tantæ salutis gaudium,
Quo est redemptum saeculum,
Abhinc ciamus canticum.
Adventus hic primus fuit,
Punire quo non saeculi
Venit, sed ulcus torgere,
Salvando quod perierat.
At hunc secundus præmonet
Adesse Christum januis,
Sanctis coronas reddere,
Cœli que regna pandere.
Æterna lux promittitur,
Sidusque salvans promitur;
Jam nos jubar præfulgidum
Ad jus vocat cœlestium.
Te, Christe, Solum quaerimus
Videre sicut es Deus,
Ut laeta nos haec visio
Evellat omni tartaro.
Quo dum Redemptor veneris,
Cum candidato martyrum
Globo, adunes cœlibi
Nos tunc beato cœtui.
Deo Patri sit gloria,
Eljusque soli Filio,
Cum Spiritu Paraclito,
Et nunc et in perpetuum.
Rejoice, ye flowers of the martyrs!
Hail, all ye people and nations!
lift up your eyes to heaven,
and await the sign of glory.
The voice of the prophets is heard,
announcing the coming of Jesus;
it is the harbinger of our redemption,
of the grace which saved us.
How bright is our morn,
and how do our hearts swell with joy,
when the faithful voice comes
heralding in our glory!
May the joy of so great a salvation,
whereby the world is redeemed,
inspire us with a solemn canticle
in praise of Jesus’ coming.
It was his first:
and he came not to punish,
but to heal the sores and sins of the world,
saving his creature that was lost.
But when the second Advent comes,
it will tell the world that Christ is at its very doors,
to give the saints their crowns,
and throw open the kingdom of heaven.
We have a promise of eternal light:
the star of our salvation is rising;
and even now its splendid rays are calling us
to our right to heaven.
Thee alone, O Jesus, do we seek,
and wish to see thee as thou art, God.
which will put us out of all reach of hell!
That thus, when thou comest, O Redeemer,
surrounded by the white-robed army of martyrs,
thou mayst admit us also
into their pure company.
To God the Father,
and to his only Son,
and to the holy Paraclete,
be glory both now and for over.
 1 St. Peter iv. 1.
From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.
On this same day, we have also the fifth of the wise virgins, whose bright lamps light us, during Advent, to the crib of Jesus their Spouse. Odilia did not shed her blood for Him, as did Bibiana, Barbara, Eulalia, and Lucy; her offering was her tears and her love. Her wreath of lilies blends sweetly with the roses, which form the crowns of her four companions. Her name is held in special veneration in the east of France, and beyond the Rhine. The holy hill whereon her tomb has rested now these thousand years, is still visited by numerous and devout pilgrims. Several kings of the Capetian race, and several emperors of the house of Hapsburg, were descendants of the father of our saint, Adalric or Atticus, Duke of Alsace.
Odilia was born blind. Her father insisted on her being removed from the house, for her presence would have been a continual humiliation to him. It seems as though this affliction was permitted by Providence, in order that the action and power of divine grace might be the more clearly manifested in her regard. The little exile was taken from her mother, and placed in a monastery. God, who designed to show the virtue of the holy Sacrament of regeneration, permitted that her Baptism should be deferred until she had reached her thirteenth year. The time at length came for Odilia to be made a child of God. No sooner was she taken from the baptismal font, than she received her eyesight, which was but a feeble figure of the light which faith had lit up in her soul. This prodigy restored Odilia to her father and to the world; and from that time forward, she had to defend, against unceasing attacks, the virginity which she had vowed to God. Her personal beauty, and her father’s wealth and power, attracted to her many rich suitors. She refused them all; and her father himself built a monastery on the rocks of Hohenburg, wherein she served her divine Lord, governed a large community, and gave relief to every sort of suffering.
After a long life spent in prayer, penance, and works of mercy, the day came which was to reward her for it all. It was this very day, the thirteenth of December, the feast of the holy virgin Lucy. The sisters of Hohenburg, desirous of treasuring up her last words, assembled round their saintly abbess. She was in an ecstasy, and already dead to the things of this life. Fearing lest she should die before she had received that holy Viaticum, which leads the soul to Him who is her last end, the sisters thought it their duty to rouse her from the mystic sleep, which, so it seemed to them, rendered her forgetful of the duties which she had to perform. Being thus brought to herself, she turned to the community, and said to them: ‘Dear sisters, why have you disturbed me? Why would you again oblige me to feel the weight of this corruptible body, when I had once left it? By the favour of His divine Majesty, I was in the company of the virgin Lucy, and the delights I was enjoying were so great that no tongue could tell them, nor ear hear them, nor human eye see them.’ No time was lost in giving her the Bread of life and the Chalice of salvation, which having received, she immediately rejoined her heavenly companion, and the thirteenth day of December thus united into one the feasts of the abbess of Hohenburg and of the martyr of Syracuse.
The Church of Strasburg, which honours Odilia as one of its greatest glories, has the following lessons for this feast. By giving them a place here, we do not adopt the statement they contain with regard to the rule which was followed in the monastery of Hohenburg. Mabillon, who proves that St. Odilia followed the rule of St. Benedict, shows that the Canonical Rule, as it was called, did not exist at that time.
Odilia, suæ decus et præsidium patriæ, Attici Alsatiæ ducis et Beresindæ primogenita soboles fuit; sed quod cæcis oculis nata esset, a patre repudiatam, mater humanior clam nutrici alendam tradidit. Post in Balmensi parthenio haud procul Vesontione educata, divinisque erudita litteris crevit aetate et sapientia. Jam adulta, dum a beato Erhardo præsule baptizatur, visum miraculo accepit. Interjectis aliquot annis, paternam in domum et gratiam reducitur. Ibi quidquid mundus amat despiciens, inter amplissimas opes paupertatis amorem, in medio aulae tumultu solitudinem anachoretarum retinebat; nuptiasque constanter aversata, post longum et acre certamen a patre obtinuit, ut sibi liceret cum aliis virginibus Deo se in perpetuum consecrare. Quare Atticus in vertice excelsi montis sacram sedem et monasterium ære suo excitavit, latos eidem fundos et prædia concessit, Odiliamque ei regendo præposuit.
Vixdum patuerat hoc sanctitatis asylum, quum ingens eo affluxit virginum multitudo; centum triginta fuisse traditum est. Hae primum nullis religiosae vitae legibus adscriptæ erant: Odiliam imitari pro legibus habebatur. Deliberantibus postmodo cuinam se regulæ addicerent, monasticae an canonicae; sapientissima praeses suadente loci natura, hanc alteri praetulit.
Cum vero esset in omnes lenis, se solam durius arctabat; pane hordeaceo et aqua, subinde modico legumine, tolerabat vitam. In rerum divinarum contemplatione defixa, vigilabat majorem noctis partem; quod supererat, quieti datum: pellis hirsuta pro lecto, saxum pro pulvinari erat.
Inter haec, materno erga pauperes et infirmos amore, aliud monasterium amplumque xenodochium in infimo clivo extraxit, quo facilius afflictae suae fortunae perfugium invenirent. Illic non solum sacras virgines collocavit, quae operam suam navarent miseris; sed etiam ipsa quotidie eos invisebat, cibis, solatiis refocillabat, neque pavebat leprosorum ulcera suis manibus fovere. Tandem meritis annisque gravis, quum se morti vicinam intelligeret, suas sodales in sacellum sancti Joannis Baptistae convocat: hortatur ut pii propositi tenaces arctiorem cœli viam nunquam deserant. Accepto deinde ibidem Corporis et Sanguinis Christi Viatico, vita cessit Idibus Decembris, anno, ut probabilius traditur, septingentesimo vigesimo. Corpus virginis in eodem sacello conditimi est, statimque sepulchrum ejus maxima veneratione coli ac miraculis clarere coepit.
Odilia, the glory and the protectress of her country, was the eldest child of Adalric, Duke of Alsace, and of Beresind his wife. Being born blind, she was repudiated by her father; but the mother, with more compassion, had her nursed privately. Later on she was sent to the monastery of Baume, not far from Besancon, where she was educated, and instructed in the holy Scriptures, and grew in age and wisdom. When an adult, she was baptized by the holy bishop Erhard, and was on that occasion miraculously cured of her blindness. After the lapse of some years, she was recalled to her father’s house, and became the object of his affection. During this time, she despised all that the world loves, preferring poverty to the greatest wealth, and leading a hermit’s life, amidst all the distractions of her father’s palace. She rejected, with great resolution, all the offers of marriage which were made to her, and, after a long and hard contest, obtained her father’s consent to devote herself for ever to God, with several other virgins. For this end, Adalric built, at his own cost, a church and monastery on the top of a high hill, and richly endowed it with land and possessions. It was at his request that Odilia was appointed to govern the monastery.
Scarce was this abode of sanctity established, when many sought for admission, and, as it is related, the community numbered no less than a hundred and thirty. At the commencement, no special rule was followed, the imitation of Odilia was their rale. When afterwards it was deliberated on which of the two rales should be adopted, the monastic or the canonical, this latter was preferred by the discreet Abbess, as being better adapted to the circumstances of the place.
To all around her she was indulgent; to herself alone she was severe. Her only food was barley-bread and water, to which she sometimes added a few herbs. Her contemplation of divine things was continual; she gave to it the greatest part of the night, and spent the rest in sleep. Her bed was a rough skin, and a stone her pillow.
To this she added a maternal solicitude for the poor and sick, for whom she built another monastery, and also a large hospital at the foot of the hill, that so they might have readier assistance in their various miseries. She not only placed there several of the nuns to take care of the poor inmates, but every day visited them herself, fed them and comforted them, and hesitated not to dress with her own hands the loathsome sores of lepers. At length, weighed down by age and merit, and knowing that her death was at hand, she assembles her sisters in the oratory of St. John the Baptist, and there exhorts them to continue firm to their holy engagements, and never to leave the narrow path which leads to heaven. Having received in the same place the Viaticum of the Body and Blood of Christ, she departed this life on the Ides of December (Dec. 13), and according to the more probable opinion, in the year seven hundred and twenty. The body of the holy virgin was buried in the same oratory, and her tomb became immediately an object of the greatest veneration to the faithful, and was celebrated for the miracles wrought there.
The ways of God in thy regard, O holy virgin, were admirable indeed, and He manifested in thee the riches and power of His grace. He deprived thee of sight, that so thy soul might the more eagerly cling to His own infinite beauty; and when afterwards He bestowed on thee thy bodily vision, thou hadst already made choice of the better part. The harshness of thy father deprived thee of the innocent pleasures of home; but it prepared thee to become the spiritual mother of so many noble virgins, who, following thy example, trampled on all the vanities of the world. Thou didst choose a life of humility, because thy heavenly Spouse Jesus had humbled Himself for our sake. Thou didst imitate Him also in His being our divine Deliverer, and taking upon Himself all our miseries, for thou hadst the tenderest compassion on the poor and the sick. Thou didst take on thyself the care of a poor leper, that had been abandoned by all else; with a mother’s courage thou didst feed him, and affectionately dress his loathsome sores. And is it not this that our Jesus is coming down from heaven to do for us; to heal our wounds by embracing our human nature, and to nourish us with that food, which He is preparing to give us at Bethlehem? Whilst the leper was receiving thy loving care, the frightful disease which excluded him from the society of his fellow-creatures suddenly disappeared; a delicious odour came from his whole person, whereas before, none but a saint like thyself could have borne to approach him. Is it not this which Jesus is coming down to do for us? The leprosy of sin was upon us; His grace heals us, and man regenerated sheds around him the good odour of Christ.
In the midst of the joys which thou art now sharing with Lucy, remember us, O thou that wast ever so compassionate to the needy! We cannot forget the tears thou didst shed, and the prayers thou didst offer up for the soul of thy father after his death, whereby thou didst deliver him from purgatory, and open the gates of heaven to him that had banished thee from his house. Thou art no longer in the land of tears; thine eyes are opened to the light of heaven, and contemplate God in His glory: pray therefore for us, for thy prayers are now more powerful than heretofore. Think of us who are poor and infirm; obtain the cure of our maladies. The Emmanuel, who is coming to us, tells us that He is the Physician of our souls, for He has said: 'They that are in health need not the Physician, but they that are ill.’ Ask Him to cure us of the leprosy of sin, and make us become even like unto Himself. Pray for France, thy country, and help her to maintain the purity of the Catholic faith. Watch over the ruins of the holy empire. Heresy has disunited the members of that great body; but it will once more flourish, if our Lord, propitiated by such prayers as thine, vouchsafe to bring Germany back again to the true faith and to submission to the Church. Yes, pray that these glorious things be brought about for the honour and glory of thy divine Spouse, and that nations, now weary of their errors and disunion, may unite together in propagating the kingdom of God upon earth.
Let us consider the ever blessed Mother of God leaving her humble dwelling at Nazareth, in order to visit her cousin, St. Elizabeth. The Church honours this mystery of the Visitation on the Friday in Ember Week of Advent, as we have mentioned above, in the Proper of the Time. We will let St. Bonaventure relate this sublime incident of Mary’s life, convinced that our readers will be pleased to hear the seraphic Doctor revealing to them, with his wonderful unction, these preludes to the birth of Jesus.
‘After, this, our Lady, pondering the words spoken unto her by the angel concerning her cousin Elizabeth, resolved to visit her, that she might congratulate with her and render her service. She, therefore, together with Joseph her spouse, set out from Nazareth for the house of Elizabeth, which might perhaps be fourteen or fifteen miles distant from Jerusalem. Neither the roughness nor the length of the journey discouraged her; but she walked with haste, forasmuch as she wished to be little seen in public. She was not like other mothers, burthened by her Child, nor was it to be thought that the Lord Jesus would be a burthen to His Mother. See, therefore, how the Queen of heaven and earth takes this journey alone, with none but her spouse Joseph; not riding, but walking; neither is she escorted by troops of soldiers and barons, nor attended by handmaids and fine ladies. Her train is poverty, humility, modesty, and the beauty of all virtues. The Lord Himself, too, is with her; and He verily hath a numerous and honourable suite, but it is not that of the world, vain and pompous.
‘Now, when she had entered the house of Elizabeth, she greeted her saying: “ Hail! my sister Elizabeth!” But she, exulting, and all full of joy, and inflamed by the holy Spirit, rises and most tenderly embraces Mary, exclaiming for joy: “Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb! And whence is this to me, that there should come unto me the Mother of my Lord?” For as soon as the Virgin had greeted Elizabeth, John, in his mother’s womb, was filled with the Holy Ghost, as was likewise the mother. Nor was it that the mother was filled and then her child, but contrariwise the child was filled first, and he communicated the Spirit unto the mother. The babe effected nought in Elizabeth’s soul, but he merited that the Holy Ghost should do a work in her soul, because the grace of the divine Spirit had descended into him with greater abundance, and he was the first to receive the grace. And as Elizabeth had perceived the coming of Mary, so did John perceive the coming of Jesus. Therefore was it that he leaped for joy, and she prophesied. See the virtue of our Lady’s words, when by their utterance the Holy Ghost is conferred; for so replenished was Mary with Him, that, by her merits, He filled others also with Himself. Upon this, Mary made answer unto Elizabeth, saying: “My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.”
Sequence in Honor of the Mother of God
(Taken from the ancient Roman-French missals)
Hodiernæ lux diei
Celebris in Matris Dei
Decantemus in hac die
Semper Virginis Mariæ
Landes et præconia.
Omnis homo, omni hora,
Ipsam ora et implora
Psalle, psalle, nisu toto,
Cordis, oris, voce, voto:
Ave plena gratia!
Ave, Domina cœlorum,
Inexperta viri torum,
Parens paris nescia.
Fœcundata sine viro,
Genuisti more miro
Florens hortus Austro flante,
Porta clausa post et ante,
Via viris invia.
Fusa cœli rore tellus,
Fusum Gedeonis vellus,
Salve, splendor firmamenti:
Tu caliginosae menti
Placa mare, maris stella,
Ne involvat nos procella
Et tempestas obvia.
A happy day is this!
for on it we make commemoration of Mary,
the Mother of God.
Lot us sing to-day
the praises and the dignity of the ever blessed
Whoe’er thou art,
and where’er thou art,
pray to her, beseech her to help thee.
Sing, sing, with all thy heart
and voice’s power;
Hail Mary! full of grace.
Hail, Queen of heaven,
purest of Virgins,
yet incomparable Mother!
Made fruitful by God,
thou, his creature, didst give birth,
O prodigy of prodigies! to thy Creator.
Here was the prophecy fulfilled;
that a garden should flower under the breath of the south wind;
that all its gates were closed, and no man could enter.
Mary is the earth spoken of as enriched with the dew of heaven;
she is as Gedeon’s fleece prefigured her,
filled with the dew of the Godhead.
Hail, Mary, thou brightness of heaven!
bring to our darkness
the light that is from above.
O star of the sea,
calm its storms,
and suffer not that they overwhelm us.
Introit of Advent
(Ambrosian missal, sixth Sunday, Ingressa)
Videsne Elisabeth cum Dei Genitrice Maria disputantem: Quid ad me venisti, Mater Domini mei? Si enim scirem, in tuum venirem occursum. Tu enim Regnatorem portas, et ego prophetam: tu legem dantem, et ego legem accipientem: tu Verbum, et ego vocem proclamantis adventum Salvatoris.
Seest thou not Elizabeth thus speaking to Mary the Mother of God: How is it that thou, the Mother of my Lord, art come unto me? for if I had known of thy coming, I would have come to meet thee. For thou bearest the King, and I the prophet; thou him that giveth the law, and I him that receiveth the law; thou the Word, and I the Voice that proclaimeth the coming of the Redeemer.
 2 Cor. ii. 14, 15.
 St. Matt. ix. 12.
From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.
Let us consider how our blessed Lady, having arrived at the house of her holy cousin Elizabeth, rendered her every possible service with the greatest love, favoured her with her sweet and holy conversations, assisted at the glorious birth of St. John the Baptist, and at length returned home to her humble dwelling in Nazareth. But, that we may the better enter into these divine mysteries, let us again listen to the seraphic St. Bonaventure.
‘When, therefore, her time was expired, Elizabeth gave birth to a son, whom our Lady took up, and with all diligence did what was required. The babe looked into Mary’s face like one that knew her; and as she gave him unto his mother, he turned his head towards Mary, for he fain would be in her arms again. Mary, on her part, delighted in nursing this holy babe, and fondled him, and kissed him with great joy. Consider the honour that is here given unto John. Never had child such arms as these to carry him. Many other privileges are related as being granted unto him; but for this present, I must needs pass them by.
‘Now, on the eighth day, the child was circumcised, and was called John. Then was the mouth of Zachary opened, and he prophesied, saying: “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel!” Thus were made, in that house, the two most beautiful canticles, namely, the Magnificat and the Benedictus. Meanwhile our Lady, going aside lest she should be seen by those that had come together for the ceremony, listened attentively to the canticle of Zachary, which prophesied of her Son, and most prudently pondered in her heart upon all these things. At length, when the time came for her to return home, she bade Elizabeth and Zachary farewell, and, giving John her blessing, she returned unto Nazareth. Recall to thy mind, in this her second journey, all that was told thee of her poverty. She returned to her house, where she would find neither bread, nor wine, nor those things which were needed. She had no property, nor money. She had been, now these three months, living with persons who were very rich; but now she returns unto her poor cottage, and has to procure her livelihood by the labour of her hands. Do thou sympathize with her, and learn to love poverty.’
Sequence in Honour of Our Blessed Lady
(Taken from the ancient Roman-French Missals)
Ave, Virgo gloriosa,
Cœli jubar, mundi rosa,
Ave, gemma pretiosa,
Super solem speciosa,
Spes reorum, O Maria,
Redemptoris Mater pia,
Finis lethi, vitæ via;
Tibi triplex hierarchia
Digna dat præconia.
Virga Jesse florida,
Stella maris lucida,
Sidus veræ lucis.
Fructum vitæ proferens,
Et ad portum transferens
Salutis, quod ducis.
Florens hortus, ægris gratus,
Puritatis fons signatus,
Dans fluenta gratiæ.
Thronus veri Salomonis,
Quem præclaris cœli donis
Ornavit Rex gloriæ.
O regina pietatis,
Et totius sanctitatis
In te salva confidentes,
Potu nos reficiens.
Ad te flentes suspiramus,
Rege mentes, invocamus,
Evæ proles misera.
Statum nostræ paupertatis,
Vultu tuæ bonitatis,
Cella fragrans aromatum,
Tuam nobis fragrantiam
Spirans, infunde gratiam
Dulcis Jesu Mater bona,
Mundi salus, et Matrona
Pacem confer sempiternam,
Et ad lucem nos supernam
Transfer post exsilium.
Hail, O glorious Virgin!
brightness of the heavens, rose of the world,
lily of purity.
Hail, precious gem!
more beauteous than the sun,
and joy of pure souls.
Thou art the sinner’s hope, O Mary!
thou art the holy Mother of our Redeemer,
and the consolation of us whom he redeemed.
Thou didst stay the reign of death,
thou didst commence the reign of life.
To thee, O Mary, the triple hierarchy sing their praises.
Hail! flowery stem of Jesse,
bright star of the sea,
source that broughtest to us him that is our true light.
Thou bearest the fruit of life,
and he whom thou leadest
will not miss the port of salvation.
O flowery garden, so sweet to the sick!
O sealed fount of purity,
that gavest us Jesus, the author of grace.
Thou throne of the true Solomon,
enriched by the King of glory
with the best of heaven’s gifts.
O merciful Queen!
thou art the rich unfailing
stream of all sanctity.
Have pity on us who trust in thee,
and refresh our thirsty souls
with thy efficacious prayers.
Hear our sighs, O Mary!
and suffer us not,
poor children of Eve, to go astray.
Look with thy eye of love
on our many wants:
compassionate our poverty.
Vessel of every fragrance,
and Mother and treasury
of divine grace.
Breathe thy fragrance
into our souls,
and obtain for us the riches of grace.
Beautiful Mother of our sweet Jesus!
the world received its Saviour through thee,
and the heavenly citizens call thee Queen.
Obtain for us that peace which has no end,
and, after this our exile,
that light which is divine.
Prayer for the Time of Advent
(The Mozarabic breviary, Friday of the second week of Advent, Capitula)
Dominator desiderabilis, Domine Jesu Christe, quasi ignis conflans ab scoriis peccaminum nos absterge: et quasi aurum purum argentumque purgatum, nos effice; tuoque inspiramine, ad quaerendum te jugiter, conia nostra succende: Ut ad te ardenter nostra desideria anhelent, tibique conjungi tota aviditate festinent. Amen.
O King, whom our hearts desire, Lord Jesus Christ, come, we beseech thee, cleanse us as a furnace of fire from the dross of our sins, and make us like gold that is pure, and like silver that is without alloy. Inflame our hearts, by thy inspiration, that they seek thee unceasingly: so may our desires long with all ardour after thee, and pant with all eagerness to be united with thee. Amen.
From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.
There comes to us, to-day, the fourth of our wise virgins, the valiant martyr, Lucy. Her glorious name shines on the sacred diptych of the Canon of the Mass, together with those of Agatha, Agnes, and Cecily; and as often as we hear it pronounced during these days of Advent, it reminds us (for Lucy signifies light) that He who consoles the Church, by enlightening her children, is soon to be with us. Lucy is one of the three glories of the Church of Sicily; as Catania is immortalized by Agatha, and Palermo by Rosalie, so is Syracuse by Lucy. Therefore, let us devoutly keep her feast: she will aid us by her prayers during this holy season, and will repay our love by obtaining for us a warmer love of that Jesus, whose grace enabled her to conquer the world. Once more let us consider, why our Lord has not only given us apostles, martyrs, and bishops as guides to us on our road to Bethlehem, but has willed also that we should be accompanied thither by such virgins as Lucy. The children of the Church are forcibly reminded by this, that, in approaching the crib of their sovereign Lord and God, they must bring with them, besides their faith, that purity of mind and body without which no one can come near to God. Let us now read the glorious acts of the virgin Lucy.
Lucia, virgo Syracusana, genere et Christiana fide ab infantia nobilis, una cum matre Eutychia, quæ sanguinis fluxu laborabat, Catanam ad venerandum corpus beatæ Agathæ venit. Quæ ad ejus sepulchrum quum suppliciter orasset, Agathæ intercessione matris sanitatem impetravit. Statim vero matrem exoravit, ut quam dotem sibi datura esset, Christi pauperibus tribui pateretur. Ut igitur Syracusas rediit, omnem pecuniam, quam ex facultatibus venditis redegerat, pauperibus distribuit.
Quod ubi rescivisset is, cui eam parentes contra virginis voluntatem desponderant, apud Paschasium praefectum, Luciam, quod Christiana esset, accusavit. Quam ille cum nec precibus nec minis ad cultum idolorum posset perducere; immo tanto magis incensam videret ad celebrandas christianæ fidei laudes, quanto magis ipse eam a sententia avertere conabatur: Cessabunt, inquit, verba, quum ventum erit ad verbera. Cui virgo: Dei servis verba deesse non possunt, quibus a Christo Domino dictum est: Quum steteritis ante reges et præsides, nolite cogitare quomodo aut quid loquamini; dabitur enim vobis in illa hora quid loquamini; non enim vos estis qui loquimini, sed Spiritus sanctus qui loquitur in vobis.
Quam quum Paschasius interrogasset: Estne in te Spiritus sanctus? Respondit: Caste et pie viventes templum sunt Spiritus sancti. At ille: Jubebo te ad lupanar duci, ut te Spiritus sanctus deserat. Cui virgo: Si invitam jusseris violari, castitas mihi duplicabitur ad coronam. Quare Paschasius ira inflammatus Luciam eo trahi jussit, ubi ejus virginitas violaretur: sed divinitus factum est, ut firma virgo ita consisteret, ut nulla vi de loco dimoveri possit. Quamobrem præfectus circum ipsam pice, resina, ac ferventi oleo perfusam, ignem accendi imperavit; sed quum ne flamma quidem eam læderet, multis tormentis excruciatae guttur gladio transfigitur. Quo vulnere accepto, Lucia prædicens Ecclesiæ tranquillitatem, quæ futura erat Diocletiano et Maximiano mortuis, Idibus Decembris, spiritum Deo reddidit. Cujus corpus Syracusis sepultum, deinde Constantinopolim, postremo Venetias translatum est.
Lucy, a virgin of Syracuse, illustrious by birth and by the Christian faith, which she had professed from her infancy, went to Catania, with her mother Eutychia, who was suffering from a flux of blood, there to venerate the body of the blessed Agatha. Having prayed fervently at the tomb, she obtained her mother’s cure, by the intercession of St. Agatha. Lucy then asked her mother that she would permit her to bestow upon the poor of Christ the fortune which she intended to leave her. No sooner, therefore, had she returned to Syracuse, than she sold all that was given to her and distributed the money amongst the poor.
When he, to whom her parents had against her will promised her in marriage, came to know what Lucy had done, he went before the prefect Paschasius and accused her of being a Christian. Paschasius entreated and threatened, but could not induce her to worship the idols; nay, the more he strove to shake her faith, the more inflamed were the praises which she uttered in professing its excellence. He said, therefore, to her: We shall have no more of thy words, when thou feelest the blows of my executioners. To this the virgin replied: Words can never be wanting to God’s servants, for Christ our Lord has said to them: When you shall be brought before kings and governors, take no thought how or what to speak; for it shall be given to you in that hour what to speak; for it is not you that speak, but the holy Spirit that speaketh in you.
Paschasius then asked her: Is the holy Spirit in thee? She answered: They who live chastely and piously, are the temple of the holy Spirit. He said: I will order thee to be taken to a brothel, that this holy Spirit may leave thee. The virgin said to him: The violence wherewith thou threatenest me would obtain for me a double crown of chastity. Whereupon Paschasius being exceedingly angry, ordered Lucy to be dragged to a place where her treasure might be violated; but, by the power of God, so firmly was she fixed to the place where she stood, that it was impossible to move her. Wherefore the prefect ordered her to be covered over with pitch, resin, and boiling oil, and a fire to be kindled round her. But seeing that the flame was not permitted to hurt her, they tormented her in many cruel ways, and at length ran a sword through her neck. Thus wounded, Lucy foretold the peace of the Church, which would come after the death of Diocletian and Maximian, and then died. It was the Ides of December (Dec. 13). Her body was buried at Syracuse, but was translated thence first to Constantinople, and afterwards to Venice.
We here give some of the antiphons which occur in the Office of the saint: they form a lyric poem of great beauty.
Orante Sancta Lucia, apparuit ei beata Agatha, et consolabatur ancillam Christi.
Lucia virgo, quid a me petis, quod ipsa poteris præstare continuo matri tuæ?
Per te, Lucia virgo, civitas Syracusana decorabitur a Domino Jesu Christo.
Benedico te, Pater Domini mei Jesu Christi, quia per Filium tuum ignis extinctus est a latere meo.
In tua patientia possedisti animam tuam, Lucia, sponsa Christi: odisti quæ in mundo sunt, et coruscas cum angelis: sanguine proprio inimicum vicisti.
As Lucy was praying, there appeared unto her the blessed Agatha, and she comforted the handmaid of Christ.
O virgin Lucy! why askest thou of me, what thyself canst straightway grant unto thy mother?
Because of thee, O virgin Lucy! the city of Syracuse shall be honoured by the Lord Jesus Christ.
Words of Lucy: I bless thee, the Father of my Lord Jesus Christ, because by thy Son the fire around me was quenched.
In thy patience thou didst possess thy soul, O Lucy, bride of Christ! thou didst hate the things that are in the world, and thou shinest among the angels. Thou didst conquer the enemy by thine own blood.
We present ourselves before thee, O virgin martyr, beseeching thee to obtain for us that we may recognize in His lowliness that same Jesus whom thou now seest in His glory. Take us under thy powerful patronage. Thy name signifies light; guide us through the dark night of this life. O fair light of virginity! enlighten us; evil concupiscence has wounded our eyes: pray for us, O thou bright light of virginity! that our blindness be healed, and that rising above created things, we may be able to see that true light, which shineth in darkness, but which darkness cannot comprehend. Pray for us, that our eye may be purified, and may see, in the Child who is to be bom at Bethlehem, the new Man, the second Adam, the model on which the life of our regeneration must be formed. Pray too, O holy virgin, for the Church of Rome and for all those which adopt her form of the holy Sacrifice; for they daily pronounce at the altar of God thy sweet name; and the Lamb, who is present, loves to hear it. Heap thy choicest blessings on the fair Isle, which was thy native land, and where grew the palm of thy martyrdom. May thy intercession secure to her inhabitants firmness of faith, purity of morals, and temporal prosperity, and deliver them from the disorders which threaten her with destruction.
From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.
Let us contemplate the sentiments of profound respect and maternal tenderness, which fill the soul of our blessed Lady, now that she has conceived Jesus in her chaste womb: He is her God, and yet He is her Son. Let us think upon this wonderful dignity bestowed upon a creature; and let us honour the Mother of our God. It is by this mystery that the prophecy of Isaias was fulfilled: ‘Behold, a Virgin shall conceive and bear a Son;’ and that of Jeremias: ‘The Lord hath created a new thing upon the earth; a woman shall compass a Man.’ The Gentiles themselves had received the tradition of these prophecies. Thus in the old pagan Carnutum (Chartres), there was an altar dedicated ‘To the Virgin that was to bring forth a Son and that of Jeremias: 'The Lord hath created a new thing upon the earth; a woman shall compass a Man.' 11 The Gentiles them- selves had received the tradition of these prophecies. Thus in the old pagan Oarnutum (Chartres), there was an altar dedicated ' To the Virgin that was to bring forth a Son and that of Jeremias: 'The Lord hath created a new thing upon the earth; a woman shall compass a Man.' 11 The Gentiles them- selves had received the tradition of these prophecies. Thus in the old pagan Oarnutum (Chartres), there was an altar dedicated ' To the Virgin that was to bring forth a Son (Virgini Parituræ)’; and whilst modern rationalism, with its ignorant scepticism, was affecting to throw a doubt on this fact of history, the researches of science were discovering that Carnutum was far from being the only city of the west which had such an altar.
But what human language could express the dignity of our Lady, who carries within her chaste womb Him that is the world’s salvation! If Moses, after a mere colloquy with God, returned to the Israelites with the rays of the majesty of Jehovah encircling his head, what an aureola of glory is due to Mary, who has within her, as in a living heaven, that very God Himself! The divine Wisdom tempers the effulgence of her glory that it be not visible to men; and this in order that the state of humility, which the Son of God has chosen as the one in which He would manifest Himself to the world, should not be removed at the very outset by the dazzling glory which would, otherwise, have been seen gleaming from His Mother.
The sentiments which filled the heart of Mary during these months of her ineffable union with the divine Word, may be thus expressed in the words of the bride in the sacred Canticle: ‘I sat under the shadow of Him whom I desired; and His fruit was sweet to my palate. I sleep, but my heart watches. My soul melted when He spoke. I to my Beloved and my Beloved to me, who feedeth among the lilies, till the day break, and the shadows retire.’ And if there ever were a human heart, that was forced, by the overpowering vehemence of its love of God, to use these other words of the same Canticle, it was Mary’s: ‘O daughters of Jerusalem! stay me up with flowers, compass me about with fragrant fruits; for I languish with love.’ ‘These sweet words,’ says the venerable Peter of Celles, ‘are those of the bride that dwelleth in the gardens, and is now near the time of her delivery. What so lovely in creation as this Virgin, who loves the Lord with such matchless love and is so exceedingly loved by this her Lord? It is she of whom the Scripture speaks, when it calls the bride the dearest hind. What, too, so lovely as that well-beloved Son of God, born of His beloved Father from all eternity, and now, at the end of time, as the apostle speaks, formed in the womb of His dearest Mother, and become to her, in the words of the same divine proverb, the sweetest fawn? Let us, therefore, cull our flowers, and offer them to both Child and Mother. But let me briefly tell you what are the flowers you must offer to our Lady. Christ says, speaking of His Humanity, “I am the flower of the field, and the lily of the valleys.” By Him, therefore, let us purify our souls and bodies, and so be able to approach our God in chastity. Next, preserve this flower of purity from all that would injure it; for flowers are tender things, and soon droop and fade. Let us wash our hands among the innocent, and, with a pure heart, and pure body, and cleansed lips, and chaste soul, let us gather in the paradise of our heavenly Father our fresh flowers for the new Nativity of our new King. With these flowers let us stay up this most saintly Mother, this Virgin of virgins, this Queen of queens, this Lady of ladies; that so we may deserve to receive the blessing of the Mother and of the divine Babe.’
Ave, Virgo gratiosa,
Virgo Mater gloriosa,
Mater Regis gloriæ.
Ave, fulgens margarita
Per quam venit mundi vita,
Christus sol justitiæ.
O oliva fructifera,
Tu pietatis viscera
Nulli claudis hominum.
Nos exsules laetificas,
Ut vitis, dum fructificas
Ave, Virgo Mater Dei,
Tu superni sol diei,
Et mundi noctis luna.
Clementior præ caeleris,
Succurre nobis miseris,
Mortalium spes unica.
Ave, decus virginale,
Templum Dei speciale! Per te fiat veniale
Omne quod committimus.
Tu nobis es singularis;
Tu nos ducas, stella maris;
Tu nos semper tuearis:
En ad te confugimus.
Ad te, pia, suspiramus,
Si non ducis, deviamus;
Ergo doce quid agamus;
Post hunc finem ut vivamus
Cum sanctis perenniter.
Jesu Christe, Fili Dei,
Tota salus nostræ spei;
Tuæ matris interventu,
Angelorum nos conventu
Fac gaudere jugiter.
Hail, Virgin full of grace!
of the King of glory!
Hail, fair pearl!
by whom came the life of the world,
Christ the Sun of justice.
O fruitful olive!
thou excludest no mortal
from thy tender compassion.
Thou givest gladness to us exiles,
for, like a fruitful vine,
thou yieldest thy fruit, Jesus our Lord.
Hail, Virgin Mother of God!
thou art the sun of the heavenly day!
thou art the moon of the world’s night!
Tenderest of Mothers!
help us poor mortals,
for God wills us to hope in thee above all creatures.
Hail, O purest Virgin!
God’s special temple! pray for us to him,
that he would forgive us all our sins.
Thou art unto us what no other creature is.
Guide us, O star of the sea!
Defend us always and in all places.
We fly to thee in our necessities.
Tender Mother! we pray thee guide us,
or we go astray.
Tell us what would thy Jesus have us do?
that so, after this life is ended,
we may live for ever with the saints.
O Jesus! Son of God,
our only Saviour, in whom rests all our hope!
grant by the intercession of thy Mother,
that we may be united
to the angels in eternal joy.
A Prayer for the Time of Advent
(The Mozarabic breviary, first Sunday of Advent)
Audivimus, Christe; confitemur, et credimus, quod de sinu Patris egrediens veneris, ut camis nostræ vestibulo cingereris, liberaturus, scilicet susceptæ Incarnationis mysterio, quod perierat naturæ vitiatæ contagio. Fac nos, praenuntiata adventus tui gaudia, promptissima surrectionis devotione excipere: ut quia tu e loco patrio, secretoque progrediens, salvaturus homines, humanitus properasti ad publicum; nos e loco criminis exeuntes, munditiores concitum Divinitatis tuæ prospectemus excursum: ut extrema vitæ nostræ, nullius discriminis conculcatione involvens: sic provoces terrore justitiæ, ut solita justifices pietate. Amen.
We have heard, O Christ, we confess, and believe, that thou art come from the bosom of thy Father, to clothe thyself in the cover of our flesh by the mystery of the Incarnation, that thou mayst thus deliver mankind, that had been lost by the corruption of sinful nature. Grant us so devoutly to welcome the joyful tidings of thy coming, that as thou, issuing from the divine sanctuary of thy Father’s bosom, didst, for man’s salvation, come into the world, in the form of man; we may abandon the sins in which we have been living, and hasten, thus purified, to meet thy divine majesty; that at the close of our lives, the fear of thy threats may not crush us by despair; but make us now so tremble at the dread of thy justice, that thy wonted mercy may then justify us. Amen.
 Isa. vii. 14.
 Jer. xxxi. 22.
 Cant. ii. 3, 16, 17; v. 2, 6.
 Ibid. ii. 5.
 Sermon for Christmas Eve.
From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.
The Church of Rome does not keep this day as a feast of any saint; she simply recites the Office of the feria, unless it happen that the first Sunday of Advent fall on this first day of the month, in which case the Office of that Sunday is celebrated, as given above in the Proper of the Time.
But should this first day of December be a simple feria of Advent, we shall do well to begin at once our considerations upon the preparations which were made for the merciful coming of the Saviour of the world.
Four thousand years of expectation preceded that coming, and they are expressed by the four weeks of Advent, which we must spend before we come to the glorious festivity of our Lord’s Nativity. Let us reflect upon the holy impatience of the saints of the old Testament, and how they handed down, from age to age, the grand hope, which was to be but hope to them, since they were not to see it realized. Let us follow, in thought, the long succession of the witnesses of the promise: Adam, and the first patriarchs, who lived before the deluge; then, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and the twelve patriarchs of the Hebrew people; then Moses, Samuel, David, and Solomon; then, the prophets and the Machabees; and, at last, John the Baptist and his disciples. These are the holy ancestors, of whom the Book of Ecclesiasticus speaks, where it says: ‘Let us praise men of renown, and our fathers in their generation’: and of whom the apostle thus speaks to the Hebrews: ‘All these being approved by the testimony of faith, received not the promise; God providing some better thing for us, that they should not be perfected without us their faith was tried and approved, and yet they received not the object of the promises made to them. It is for us that God had reserved the stupendous gift, and therefore He did not permit them to attain the object of their desires.
Let us honour them for their faith; let us honour them as our veritable fathers, since it is in reward of their faith, that our Lord remembered and fulfilled His merciful promise; let us honour them, too, as the ancestors of the Messias in the flesh. We may imagine each of them saying, as he lay on his dying bed, this solemn prayer to Him who alone could conquer death: ‘I will look for Thy Salvation, O Lord!’ It was the exclamation of Jacob, at his last hour, when he was pronouncing his prophetic blessings on his children: ‘and then,’ says the Scripture, ‘he drew up his feet upon his bed, and died, and he was gathered unto his people.’
Thus did all these holy men, on quitting this life, go to await, far from the abode of eternal fight, Him who was to come in due time and reopen the gate of heaven. Let us contemplate them in this place of expectation, and give our grateful thanks to God, who has brought us to His admirable light, without requiring us to pass through a limbo of darkness. It is our duty to pray ardently for the coming of the Deliverer, who will break down, by His cross, the gates of the prison, and will fill it with the brightness of His glory. During this holy season, the Church is continually borrowing the fervent expressions of these fathers of the Christian people, making them her own prayer for the Messias to come. Let us turn to those great saints, and beg of them to pray, that our work of preparation for Jesus’ coming to our hearts may be blessed by God.
We will make use, for this end, of the beautiful hymn wherein the Greek Church celebrates the memory of all the saints of the old Testament, on the Sunday immediately preceding the feast of Christmas.
Hymn for the Feast of the Holy Fathers
(Taken from the Menæa of the Greeks)
Avorum hodie, fideles, perficientes memorias, renymnificemus Christum Redemptorem, qui illos magnificavit in omnibus gentibus, et qui incredibilia in eis per fidem operatus est; Dominum, utpote fortem et potentem; et ex illis manifestavit virgam potentiae nobis, unicam virum nescientem et Deiparam, Mariam castam, ex qua flos prodiit, Christus germinans omnibus vitam, et salutem aeternam.
Tu es qui sanctos pueros ex igne liberasti, Domine, et ex ore leonum Daniel; qui Abraham benedixisti, et Isaac servum tuum, et filium ejus Jacob; qui dignatus es ex illorum semine nasci apud nos, ut prius lapsos salvares proavos nostros, crucifigi autem et sepeliri; et rupisti mortis vincula, et consurgere facis omnes qui a saeculo inter mortuos erant, adorantes tuum, Christe, regnum aeternum.
Adam primum veneremur, manu honoratum Creatoris et omnium nostrum proavum, jam nunc habitantem in cœlestibus tabernaculis, inter sanctos electos quiescentem.
Abel dona proferentem mente generosa, admisit omnium Deus et Dominus; eumque homicida olim manu peremptum, in altum recepit ad lumen, ut divinum martyrem.
Canitur in mundo Seth pro suo erga Creatorem ardore: nam in irreprehensibili vitæ ratione et animæ dispositione illum vere sanavit; et in regione vivorum clamat: Sanctus es, Domine.
Ore et lingua et corde Enos admirabilis cognominatus prophetice, in omnium Dominum speravit in spiritu, et optime vita in terris acta, gloriosus decessit.
Sacris eloquiis et orationibus Henoch beatum prædicemus; qui, cum Deo placuisset, translatus est in gloriam, visus, ut fertur, mortem superasse, sicut Dei servus fidelissimus.
Laudem proferamus Deo, honorantes melodiis Noe, qui fuit justus: in omnibus enim divinis mandatis ornatus, visus est Christo beneplacitus; cui canamus cum fide: Gloria virtuti tuæ, Domine.
Videns tuam Deus nobilem indolem et mentis tuæ sinceritatem, et te in omnibus, Noe, perfectum, secundi mundi ducem te signat, salvantem ex omni genere contra diluvium, sensibile semen, ut ipse mandaverat.
Noe, Dei legem incorruptam servantem, justum que inventum in generatione sua, et qui lignea salvavit olim in arca irrationabilia genera, ordinatione omnimoda, beatum piis prædicemus hymnis.
Vinum compunctionis nobis scaturire facit honorantibus te, Noe beate, memoria tua, lætificans et animas et corda undique beatificantium sincere mores tuos honestos, et divinam agendi rationem.
Laudibus honoretur Sem, qui fructificare fecit paternam benedictionem, et ante Deum placidus demonstratus, et proavorum choris adscriptus, et in regione vivorum laetantissime requiescens.
Videre meruit, tamquam Dei amicus, Abraham diem Creatoris sui, plenus factus lætitiæ paternæ; hunc ergo recto corde honorantes, beatum dicamus omnes, ut Dei fidelem servum.
Vidisti, ut homini videre fas est, Trinitatem, et illam hospitatus es: undo mercedem recopisti hospitalitatis, factus immensarum gentium in fide pater.
Typus Christi passionis factus es sapienter, Isaac beatissime, patris bona fide ad immolandum adducte: ideoque beatus effectus es et amicus Dei visus es fidelissimus, et cum omnibus justis sedem consecutus es.
Visus est Jacob omnium Dei servorum fidelissimus: ideoque pugnavit cum angelo, in mente videns Deum, et nomen mutavit, dormiensque divinam contemplatus est scalam, cui insidebat Deus, carni in bonitate sua adhærens.
Patris obedientiam cum amore amplectens Joseph in puteum demissus, tamquam illius prototypus venditur qui immolatus est, et in puteum demissus est Christus; et Ægypto frumenta distribuens monstratus est, sapiens et justus effectus, rexque concupiscentiarum verissimus.
Legitime incessantium certamini tentationum luctatus, celebratus est Job Dei servus verissimus, mitis, vir sine malitia, rectus, perfectus, irreprehensibilis, clamans: Benedictus es, Deus.
In fide Moysen Aaronque et Hor honoremus, adhuc celebrantes Josue et Levi sanctissimum, Gedeonque et Samson, et clamemus: Deus patrum, benedictus es.
Phalangem Deo gratam divinorum patrum celebremus, Baruch et Nathan, et Eleazarum, Josiam et David, Jephte, Samuel qui anteacta videbat, et clamabat: Benedicat omnis creatura Dominum.
Laudem melodiæ Dei prophetis feramus, celebrantes Osee, Michæam, Sophoniam et Habacuc, Zachariam, Jonam, Aggæum et Amos, et cum Abdia, Malachia, Nahum, Isaiam, et Jeremiam, et Ezechiel, et simul Daniel, Eliam et Elisæum.
Fortitudine tua, Domine, virtutes operatæ sunt sorores nostrae Anna, Judith et Debbora, Olda, Jahelque, et Esther, Sara, Maria Moysis, et Rachel, et Rebecca, et Ruth, magnanimes.
Venite omnes, cum fide panegyrim dicamus patribus ante Legem: Abrahæ, et eorum qui cum illo sunt festivam memoriam celebremus; Judæ tribum digne honoremus; juvenes in Babylone qui flammam in camino exstinxerunt, ut Trinitatis typum, cum Daniele celebremus; prophetarum vaticinia tuto servantes, cum Isaia magna voce clamemus: Ecce Virgo in utero concipiet et pariet Filium, Emmanuel, quod est, Nobiscum Deus.
Celebrating, O ye faithful, on this day, the memory of the ancient fathers, let us sing a new hymn to our Redeemer Christ, who magnified them in all nations, and worked incredible things in them by faith, for he is the strong and mighty Lord. By them did he manifest to us the sceptre of his power, the unparalleled Virgin-Mother of God, the chaste Mary, from whom came Christ, the Flower that buds forth life and eternal salvation to all.
It is thou, O Lord, that didst deliver the holy children from the furnace, and Daniel from the mouth of the lions; that didst bless Abraham, and Isaac thy servant, and Jacob his son: that didst vouchsafe to be bora among us from their seed, so to save our first parents who had fallen, and to be crucified and buried; that didst break the bonds of death, and gavest resurrection to all them who had died from the beginning, and who adored, O Christ, thy eternal kingdom.
And first let us venerate Adam, who was honoured by the Creator’s hand, and was the first father of us all: who now dwells in the heavenly tabernacles, and rests amidst the holy elect.
The God and the Lord of all things received Abel, who offered his gifts with a generous heart; and took him into the heavenly light as a divine martyr, when he was slain by the murderer’s hand.
Seth is celebrated throughout the world for his ardour towards the Creator: who saved him for his irreproachable life and this holy disposition of mind; and now, m the region of the living, he sings: Holy art thou, O Lord!
Enos, prophetically called the admirable, for his words and voice and heart, hoped in spirit in the Lord of all, and after a life spent on earth in exceeding goodness, he departed full of glory.
Let us praise, in our sacred canticles and prayers, the blessed Henoch; who, when he had pleased God, was translated to glory, and, as became so faithful a servant of God, without being overcome by death, as it is written of him.
Let us give praise to God by celebrating, with our hymns, Noah, who was just: in all things, God honoured him with his divine commands, and he was well pleasing to Christ, to whom let us sing with faith: Glory be to thy power, O Lord!
God, seeing thy noble heart, and the sincerity of thy mind, and how in all things thou wast perfect, O Noah, makes thee the father of the second world, and bids thee save from the deluge a remnant of every species of animal.
Let us in our holy hymns praise Noah, who kept the law of God without reproof, and was found just in his generation, and who, by an admirable arrangement, saved, in the wooden ark, all the brute creation.
Thy memory, O blessed Noah, fills us with the wine of compunction, which gladdens our souls and hearts, whilst we devoutly extol thy holy life and thy divine manner of acting.
Sem is worthy of our praise, who brought forth plentiful fruit from his father’s blessing, and by his meekness found favour with God, and was numbered in the choir of the fathers, and now rests in perfect joy in the land of the living.
Abraham merited, as the friend of God, to see the day of his Creator, and was filled with the joy promised to the fathers: him, therefore, let us honour with sincere devotion, and let us all proclaim him the blessed Abraham, God’s faithful servant.
Thou didst see, as far as it is permitted man to see, the Trinity, and thou didst make it thy guest: wherefore thou receivedst the reward of thy hospitality, and wast made the father, in the faith, of countless nations.
Most blessed Isaac, the divine wisdom made thee the type of Jesus in his Passion, when thy father’s sublime faith led thee to the sacrifice: therefore art thou blest, and loved of God as a most faithful friend, and seated on a throne with all the just.
Of all the servants of God Jacob was the most faithful: therefore is it that he wrestled with the angel, seeing God in spirit, and his name was changed; and as he slept, he beheld the divine ladder, on which God was leaning; it was God, assuming to himself, in his mercy, human flesh.
Joseph, when he lovingly obeyed his father, was let down into a well and sold, and was the prototype of him that was sacrificed, and thrown down into a pit. He gave com to Egypt and saved it; he was wise and just, and a most true king over his passions.
Job lawfully endured the combat of ceaseless temptations, and deserves to be praised; he was God’s most true servant, he was meek, and a man without guile, upright, perfect, without reproof, ever saying: Blessed art thou, O God!
Let us faithfully honour Moses, and Aaron, and Hor: let us commemorate Josue, and the most holy Levi, and Gedeon, and Samson; and let us sing: Blessed art thou, O God of our fathers!
Let us celebrate the memory of that group of fathers so loved of God, Baruch and Nathan and Eleazar; Josias, David, Jephte, and Samuel who had the vision of what had passed, and cried out: Lot every creature bless the Lord!
Lot our melodies praise God’s prophets, celebrating Osee, Micheas, Sophonias, Habacuc, Zacharias, Jonas, Aggeus, Amos, Abdias, Malachias, Nahum, Isaias, Jeremias, Ezechiel, Daniel, Elias, Eliseus.
By thy power, O Lord, virtuous exploits were achieved by those magnanimous women, our sisters, Anna, Judith, Debbora, Olda, Jahel, Esther, Sara, Mary, sister of Moses, Rachel, Rebecca and Ruth.
Come, all ye people, let us, with faith, give praise to the fathers who were before the Law; let us celebrate the festive memory of Abraham and them that are with him; let us give due honour to the tribe of Juda; let us celebrate the children who quenched the fiery furnace in Babylon, the blessed three, the type of the Trinity, and with them Daniel; let us hold fast to the oracles of the prophets, and with Isaias sing with a loud voice: Lo! a Virgin shall conceive in her womb and shall bring forth a Son, Emmanuel, that is, God with us.
A responsory for Lent
(The Roman breviary, first Sunday of Advent, at Matins)
R. Adspiciens a longe, ecco video potentiam Dei venientem et nebulam totam terram tegentem: * Ite obviam ei, et dicite: * Nuncia nobis si tu es ipse, * Qui regnaturus es in populo Israel.
V. Quique terrigenæ et filii hominum, simul in unum dives et pauper,
* Ite obviam ei et dicite,
V. Qui regis Israel intende, qui deducis velut ovem Joseph,
* Nuncia nobis si tu es ipse.
V. Tollite portas, principes, vestras, et elevamini, portæ ætern ales, et introibit Rex gloriæ.
* Qui regnaturus es in populo Israel.
R. Looking afar off, lo! I see the power of God coming and a cloud that covereth the whole earth: * Go ye out to meet him and say: Tell us, if thou be he, * Who art to rule over the people of Israel.
V. All ye that are earthborn and children of men, both rich and poor together,
* Go ye out to meet him, and say:
V. Give ear, O thou that rulest Israel, thou that leadest Joseph like a sheep,
* Tell us if thou be he.
V. Lift up your gates, O ye princes; and be ye lifted up, O eternal gates: and the King of glory shall enter in.
* Who art to rule over the people of Israel.
 Ecclus. xliv. 1.
 Heb. xi. 39, 40.
 Gen. xlix. 32.
From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.
Of the saints whose feasts are kept during Advent, five are virgins. The first, St. Bibiana, whom we honour to-day, is a daughter of Rome; the second, St. Barbara, is the glory of the eastern Churches; the third, St. Eulalia of Merida, is one of Spain’s richest treasures; the fourth, St. Lucy, belongs to beautiful Sicily; the fifth, St. Odilia, is claimed by France. These five wise virgins lighted their lamps and watched, waiting for the coming of the Spouse. Such was their constancy and fidelity, that four of them shed their blood for the love of Him, after whom they longed. Let us take courage by this noble example; and since we have not, as the apostle expresses it, as yet resisted unto blood, let us not think it hard if we suffer fatigue and trouble in the holy exercises of this penitential season of Advent: He, for whom we do them all, will soon be with us and repay us. To-day, it is the chaste and courageous Bibiana, who instructs us by her glorious example.
Bibiana, virgo Romana, nobili genere nata, Christiana fide nobilior fuit. Ejus enim pater Flavianus sub Juliano apostata impiissimo tyranno expræfectus, servilibusque notis compunctus, ad Aquas Taurinas deportatus, martyr occubuit. Mater Dafrosa, et ftliæ primum condusse domi, ut inedia conficerentur; mox relegata mater extra urbem capite plexa est. Mortuis autem piis parentibus, Bibiana cum sorore sua Demetria bonis omnibus spoliatur. Apronianus, urbis prætor, pecuniis inhians, sorores persequitur, quas humana prorsus ope destitutas, Deo mirabiliter, qui dat escam esurientibus, enutriente, quum vivaciores vegetioresque conspexisset, vehementer est admiratus.
Suadet nihilominus Apronianus, ut venerentur deos Gentium; amissas ideo opes, imperatoris gratiam, præclarissimas nuptias consecuturae. Si secus fecerint, minatur carceres, virgas, secures. At illæ neque blanditiis neque minis a recta fide declinantes, paratæ potius mori, quam fœdari moribus ethnicorum, prætoris impietatem constantissime detestantur. Quare Demetria ob oculos Bibianæ repente corruens, obdormivit in Domino: et Bibiana Rufinæ mulieri vaferrimae seducenda traditur: quæ ab incunabulis edocta Christianas leges, et illibatum servare virginitatis florem, seipsa fortior, feminæ superavit insidias, et prætoris astus delusit.
Nihil autem proficiente Rufina, quæ praeter dolosa verba, illam quotidie verberibus affligebat, ut de sancto proposito dimoveret, spe sua frustratus prætor, accensus ira, quod in Bibiana perdidisset operam, a lictoribus eam denudari, vinctisque manibus columnæ alligari, eam que plumbatis cædi jubet donec efflaret animam. Cujus sacrum corpus objectum canibus biduo jacuit in foro Tauri, illaesum tamen, et divinitus servatum: quod deinde Joannes presbyter sepelivit noctu juxta sepulchrum sororis et matris ad palatium Licinianum, ubi usque in præsens extat ecclesia Deo, sanctæ Bibianæ nomine dicata; quam Urbanus octavus instauravit, sanctarum Bibianæ, Demetriæ et Dafrosæ corporibus in ea repertis, et sub ara maxima collocatis.
Bibiana was a Roman virgin, noble by birth, but more noble by her profession of the Christian faith. For under the most wicked tyrant Julian the apostate, Flavian, her father, was deprived of his dignity of prefect, and being branded with the mark of slavery, he was banished to Aquae Taurinae, and there died a martyr. Her mother, Dafrosa, was first shut up in her own house with her daughters, that she might die by starvation; but shortly afterwards was banished from Rome and beheaded. The virtuous parents thus put to death, Bibiana was deprived of all her possessions, as also was her sister, Demetria. Apronianus, the city prætor, thirsting after their wealth, persecutes the two sisters. They are bereaved of every human help. But God, who gives food to them that are in hunger, wonderfully nourishes them; and the prætor is exceedingly astonished on finding them in better health and strength than before.
Apronianus, notwithstanding, endeavours to induce them to venerate the gods of the Gentiles. If they consent, he promises them the recovery of all their wealth, the emperor’s favour, and marriage to the noblest in the empire: but should they refuse, he threatens them with prison and scourgings, and the sword. But neither promises nor threats can make them abandon the true faith; they would rather die than be defiled by the idolatrous practices of paganism; and they resolutely resist the impious prætor. Whereupon, Demetria was struck down in the presence of Bibiana, and slept in the Lord. Bibiana was delivered over to a woman by name Rufina, who was most skilled in the art of seduction. But the virgin, taught from her infancy to observe the Christian law, and to preserve with the utmost jealousy the flower of her virginity, rose above nature, defeated all the artifices of the wretched Rufina, and foiled the craft of the prætor.
Finding, therefore, that Rufina could in no wise shake the virgin’s holy resolution, and that both her wicked words and frequent blows were of no avail; and seeing his hopes disappointed and his labour thrown away; the prætor became violently enraged, and ordered Bibiana to be stripped by the lictors, to be fastened to a pillar with her hands bound, and to be beaten to death with leaded whips. Her sacred body was left for two days in the Bull-Forum, as food for dogs; but received no injury, being divinely preserved. A priest called John then buried it during the night, close to the grave of her sister and mother, near the palace of Licinius, where there stands at this day a church consecrated to God under the title of St. Bibiana. Urban VIII. restored this church, having there discovered the bodies of saints Bibiana, Demetria, and Dafrosa, which he placed under the high altar.
Holy Bibiana, most wise virgin! thou hast gone through the long unbroken watch of this life; and when! suddenly, the Spouse came, thy lamp was bright and richly fed with oil. Now thou art dwelling in the abode of the eternal marriage-feast, where the Beloved feeds among the lilies. Remember us who are still living in the expectation of that same divine Spouse, whose eternal embrace is secured to thee for ever. We are awaiting the birth of the Saviour of the world, which is to be the end of sin and the beginning of justice; we are awaiting the coming of this Saviour into our souls, that He may give them life and union with Himself by love; we are awaiting our Judge, the Judge of the living and the dead. Most wise virgin! intercede for us, by thy fervent prayers, with this our Saviour, our Spouse, and our Judge; pray that each of these three visits may work and perfect in us that divine union, for which we have all been created. Pray also, G faithful virgin, for the Church on earth, which gave thee to the Church in heaven, and which so devoutly watches over thy precious remains. Obtain for her that strict fidelity, which will ever render her worthy of Him, who is her Spouse as He is thine. Though He has enriched her with the most magnificent gifts, and given her confidence by His promises which cannot fail, yet does He wish her to ask, and us to ask for her, the graces which will lead her to the glorious destiny which awaits her.
We will to-day consider the state of nature at this season of the year. The earth is stripped of her wonted verdure, the flowers are gone, the fruits are fallen, the leaves are torn from the trees and scattered by the wind, and every living thing stiffens with the cold. It seems as though the hand of death had touched creation. We see the sun rise after the long night of his absence; and scarcely have we felt his warmth at noon, than he sets again, and leaves us in the chilly darkness. Each day he shortens his visit. Is the world to become sunless, and are men to live out the rest of life in gloom? The old pagans, who witnessed this struggle between light and darkness, and feared the sun was going to leave them, dedicated the twenty-fifth day of December, the winter solstice, to the worship of the sun. After this day their hopes revived on seeing the glorious luminary again mounting up in the sky, and gradually regaining his triumphant position.
We Christians can have no such feelings as these; our light is the true faith, which tells us that there is a Sun to be sought for which never sets, and is never eclipsed. Having Him, we care little for the absence of any other brightness; nay, all other light, without Him, can only lead us astray. O Jesus! Thou true light, that enlightenest every man coming into this world! Thou didst choose, for Thy birth among us, a time of the year which forces us to reflect upon the miserable state of the world when Thou didst come to save it. ‘The evening was coming on, and the day was far spent,’ says St. Bernard: 'the Sun of justice had all but set, so that exceeding scanty was His light or warmth on earth: for the light of divine knowledge was very faint, and, sin abounding, the heat of charity had grown cold. There was neither angel to visit men, nor prophet to speak to them; both seemed in despair, for the hardness and obstinacy of man had made every effort useless: then I said —they are the words of our Redeemer—then I said, lo! I come!’ O Jesus! O Sun of justice! give us a clear knowledge of what the world is without Thee; what our understanding is without Thy light; and what our heart, without Thy divine heat. Open Thou the eyes of our faith; that whilst seeing with the eyes of the body the gradual decrease of the material light, we may think of that other darkness, which is in the soul that has not Thee. Then, indeed, will the cry which comes from the depths of our misery make its way to Thee, and Thou wilt come on the day Thou hast fixed, dispelling every shadow of darkness by Thy irresistible brightness.
Prayer for the Time of Advent
(The Mozarabic breviary, Wednesday of the second week of Advent, Capitula)
Domine, Jesu Christe, qui assumpto homine, hominum susceptor effectus, in lucem gentium datus es; aperi oculos cordium in te credentium populorum, atque abstrahe misericors de conclusione religatos adhuc vinculis diffidentiæ: et quos in domo carceris detineri conspicis in tenebris ignorantiæ, tuæ, quæsumus, scientiæirradies splendore.
O Lord Jesus Christ, who having assumed human nature, and becoming the Saviour of the human race, wast given as a light to the nations; open the eyes of the hearts of them that believe in thee, and mercifully set free from their prison them that are bound in the fetters of unbelief; and whom thou seest captives in prison in the darkness of ignorance, enlighten them, we beseech thee, by the splendour of the knowledge of thee.
 First Sermon of Advent.