The Martyrdom of Ss Perpetua and Felicity

On this day in the year 203 AD, two young women named Perpetua and Felicity were martyred in the arena at Carthage. Their feast is one of the earliest and most widespread celebrations of Christian Saints, attested at Rome by the mid-4th century, and at Antioch no more than 50 years later. St Thomas Aquinas […]

St Soteris, Virgin and Martyr

The church in Milan traditionally celebrates today as the feast of a relative of St Ambrose, a woman named Soteris who was martyred in the persecution of Diocletian at the beginning of the fourth century. Ambrose’s family was from Rome, and a catalog of Saints incorrectly attributed to St Jerome, but certainly very early, says […]

Vidisti Annos Petri

On this day in the year 1878, Blessed Pius IX died, ending the longest documented papal reign in history. (I will explain below why I qualify with “documented”.) He was born Giovanni Maria Mastai-Ferretti in 1792 in Senigallia, a town on the Adriatic coast of the northern Italian region of the Marches, then part of […]

St Paula of Rome

The Roman Martyrology notes today as the anniversary of the death of a Saint named Paula in the year 404. She was a disciple of St Jerome, and the principal source of information about her is one of the longest among his many letters (108), written to console her daughter Eustochium. It recounts a great […]

The Martyrdom of Ss Fructuosus and Companions

Tomorrow, the city of Tarragona in Spain will celebrate the feast of its patron Saints, the bishop Fructuosus and his deacons Augurius and Eulogius, who were martyred there during the persecution of Valerian and Gallienus, in 259 AD. The early Christians made it their practice to obtain records of the trials of their martyrs, which […]

Tertullian on the Persecutors of the Church

The Roman Martyrology notes today as the commemoration of a martyr named Mavilus, who was killed at Hadrumetum, a city on the north African coast about 60 miles south of Carthage, by being thrown to wild beasts in the public arena. This took place during a persecution in 212 AD instigated by Scapula, the proconsul […]

Pope St Leo the Great Preaches on the Ember Days of December

The Ember days are fasting days that each occur toward the end of each season, on the Wednesday, Friday and Saturday of the third week of Advent, the first week of Lent, Pentecost week, and the third week of September. St Leo I, who was Pope from 440 to 461, preached on them frequently, and […]

Pope St Leo the Great, the Deliverer of Rome

Today marks the anniversary of the death of Pope St Leo the Great in 461, after a reign of just over 21 years, the tenth longest in the Church’s history. His feast day was traditionally kept on April 11th, the anniversary of the placement of his relics in the basilica of St Peter, where they […]

In Hoc Signo Vinces

The half-century after the assassination of the emperor Alexander Severus by his own troops, which took place in 235 AD, was an era of prolonged crisis for the Roman Empire. It is often described as a “military anarchy”, with one general after another contending for the throne, and most emperors meeting a violent death at […]

Pope Leo XIII on the Holy Rosary

In the course of his Papacy, the fourth longest in history, Pope Leo XIII (1878-1903), who was a superb Latinist, issued eleven encyclicals on the Rosary, in the years 1883, ’84 and ’87, and then each year from 1891-98. All of them were published in September (except one, at the very end of August), looking […]