From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.


While the Church on earth inaugurates these days by adorning herself with Peter’s chains as with a precious jewel, a constellation of seven stars appears for the third time in the heavens. The seven brothers Machabees preceded the sons of Symphorosa and Felicitas in the bloodstained arena; they followed divine Wisdom even before she had manifested her beauty in the flesh. The sacred cause of which they were the champions, their strength of soul under the tortures, their sublime answers to the executioners were so evidently the type reproduced by the later martyrs, that the Fathers of the first centuries with one accord claimed for the Christian Church these heroes of the synagogue, who could have gained such courage from no other source than their faith in the Christ to come. For this reason they alone of all the holy persons of the ancient covenant have found a place on the Christian cycle; all the martyrologies and calendars of East and West attest the universality of their cultus, while its antiquity is such as to rival that of St. Peter's chains in that same basilica of Eudoxia where their precious relics lie.

At the time when in the hope of a better resurrection they refused under cruel torments to redeem their lives, other heroes of the same blood, inspired by the same faith, flew to arms and delivered their country from a terrible crisis. Several children of Israel, forgetting the traditions of their nation, had wished it to follow the customs of strange peoples; and the Lord, in punishment, had allowed Judea to feel the whole weight of a profane rule to which it had guiltily submitted. But when King Antiochus, taking advantage of the treason of a few and the carelessness of the majority, endeavoured by his ordinances to blot out the divine law which alone gives power to man over man, Israel, suddenly awakened, met the tyrant with the double opposition of revolt and martyrdom. Judas Machabeus in immortal battles reclaimed for God the land of his inheritance, while by the virtue of their generous confession, the seven brothers also, his rivals in glory, recoveredl, as the Scripture says, the law out of the hands of the nations, and out of the hands of the kings.[10] Soon afterwards, craving mercy under the hand of God and not finding it, Antiochus died, devoured by worms, just as later on were to die the first and last persecutors of the Christians, Herod Agrippa and Galerius Maximian.

The Holy Ghost, who would Himself hand down to posterity the acts of the protomartyr of the New Law, did the same with regard to the passion of Stephen's glorious predecessors in the ages of expectation. Indeed, it was he who then, as under the law of love, inspired with both words and courage these valiant brothers, and their still more admirable mother, who, seeing her seven sons one after the other suffering the most horrible tortures, uttered nothing but burning exhortations to die. Surrounded by their mutilated bodies, she mocked the tyrant who, in false pity, wished her to persuade at least the youngest to save his life; she bent over the last child of her tender love and said to him: My son, have pity upon me, that bore thee nine months in my womb, and gave thee suck three years, and nourished thee, and brought thee up unto this age. I beseech thee, my son, look upon heaven and earth, and all that is in them: and consider that God made them out of nothing and mankind also: so thou shalt not fear this tormentor, but being made a worthy partner with thy brethren, receive death, that in that mercy I may receive thee again with thy brethren[1]. And the intrepid youth ran in his innocence to the tortures; and the incomparable mother followed her sons.


Fraterna nos, Domine, martyrum tuorum corona lætificet: quæ et fidei nostræ præbeat incrementa virtutum, et multiplici nos suffragio consoletur. Per Dominum.
May the fraternal crown of Thy martyrs rejoice us, O Lord, and may it procure for our faith an increase of virtue, and console us with multiplied intercession. Through, etc.

[1] 2 Mach. vii. 27, 28, 29.

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.


The holy martyrs Felix and Adauctus won their palms in the reign of Diocletian. Their tomb, which lies close to that of the Apostle of the Gentiles, is adorned by one of the beautiful epitaphs of Pope Saint Damasus. Let us address to God the prayer, wherein the Church implores their powerful protection.


Majestatem tuam, Domine, supplices exoramus: ut, sicut nos jugiter sanctorum tuorum commemoratione lætificas, ita semper supplicatione defendas. Per Dominum.
We suppliantly beseech thy Majesty, O Lord, that as thou dost ever rejoice us by the commemoration of thy saints, so thou wouldst always defend us by their supplication. Through our Lord etc.


From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

Let us greet the noble martyr Sabina, whose triumph completes the glories of this day. The very ancient church of St. Sabina on the Aventine is one of the gems of the eternal city. It shared with St. Sixtus the Old the honour of sheltering Saint Dominic and his first children.


Deus, qui inter cetera potentiæ tuæ miracula, etiam in sexu fragili victoriam martyrii contulisti: concede propitius; ut qui beatæ Sabiniæmartyris tuæ natalitia colimus, per ejus ad te exempla gradiamur. Per Dominum.
O God, who among other miracles of thy power, hast granted even to the weaker sex the victory of martyrdom, grant, we beseech thee, that we who celebrate the festival of thy blessed martyr Sabina, may walk to thee by her example. Through our Lord, &c.



From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

According to the most ancient monuments of the Roman Church,[1] another saint has always been honoured on this same day, viz: Hermes, a Roman magistrate, who bore witness to Christ under Trajan. The crypt constructed, less than half a century after the death of the apostles, to receive this martyr’s relics, is remarkable for its majestic and ample proportions not usually found in the subterranean cemeteries. It was his sister Theodora, who received from Balbina, daughter of the tribune Quirinus, the venerable chains of St. Peter.


Deus, qui beatum Hermetem, martyrem tuum, virtute constantiæ in passione roborasti: ex ejus nobis imitatione tribue, pro amore tuo prospera mundi despicere, et nulla ejus ad versa formidare. Per Dominum.
O God, who didst strengthen blessed Hermes, thy martyr, with the virtue of constancy in suffering: grant us in imitation of him to despise worldly prosperity for the love of thee, and not to fear any of its adversity. Through our Lord, &c.

[1] Calendarium Bucherii.


From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year:


Let us honour the group of martyrs which forms the rearguard of our triumphant Queen. Timothy, who came from Antioch to Rome, Hippolytus, Bishop of Porto, and Symphorian, the glory of Autun, suffered for God at different periods and at different places; but they gathered their palms on the same day of the year, and the same heaven is now their abode. ' My son, my son,' said his valiant mother to Symphorian, 'remember life eternal; look up, and see Him who reigns in heaven; they are not taking thy life away, but changing it into a better.' Let us admire these heroes of our faith; and let us learn to walk like them, though by less painful paths, in the footsteps of our Lord, and so to rejoice Mary.


Auxilium tuum nobis, Domine, quæsumus, placatus impende: et intercedentibus beatis martyribus tuis Timotheo, Hippolyto et Symphoriano, dexteram super nos tuæ propitiationis extende. Per Dominum.
We beseech Thee, O Lord, to be appeased, and to impart to us Thy help: and, by the intercession of blessed Timothy, Hippolytus, and Symphorian, Thy martyrs, extend over us the right hand of Thy mercy. Through our Lord, etc.