The Martyrs of the Theban Legion

September 22 is traditionally the feast of a group of soldiers martyred in 287 A.D, known as the “Theban Legion” from the Egyptian city of Thebes where they were recruited. The story recounts that the whole legion was Christian; sent to the area around Lake Geneva, they were placed under the command of the Emperor […]

Stabat Mater, the Hymn of the Sorrowful Virgin

Devotion to the Sorrows of the Virgin Mary first emerged in German-speaking lands in the early 15th-century, partly as a counterweight to the iconoclasm of the Hussite movement, and partly out of the universal popular devotion to every aspect of Christ’s Passion, including the presence of his Mother, and thence to her grief over his […]

St Bernard of Clairvaux on the Holy Name of Mary

On this day in the year 1683, the armies of the Ottoman Empire were soundly defeated outside the gates of Vienna by the combined forces of the Holy Roman Empire and the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. This battle represents the high-water mark of the Turkish invasion and occupation of eastern Europe. Sixteen years later, after several other […]

Laus Beatae Mariae Virginis

The feast of the Nativity of the Virgin Mary, which the Church celebrated yesterday, was imported into the Roman Rite from the Byzantine tradition at the end of the 7th century, along with three other Marian feasts, the Annunciation, the Purification, and the Assumption. Unlike those other three, however, it was slow to catch on, […]

Vocabula Mira: “Indictio”

The Latin verb “indīcere, indīxī, indictus” (not to be confused with “indĭcāre”), originally meant “to declare publicly, proclaim, announce, to appoint”, and more broadly, “to impose, or inflict”, especially a penalty. From it is derived the noun “indictio”, meaning “the imposition of a tax.” This was originally used most often used to mean the regular […]

Saint “Added-On”

Since well before the middle of the sixth century, August 30th has been the feast of two Roman martyrs, a priest named Felix, and a man who after his martyrdom was given the name “Adauctus”, meaning “added-on” or “increased.” The reason for this is explained in their “passio”, the account of their martyrdom read in […]

The Feast of St Lawrence

Today is the feast of one of Rome’s most famous Saints, the deacon Lawrence, who was martyred by being roasted alive on a grill during the persecution of the Emperor Valerian in the mid-3rd century. The Roman church has long honored this native son as one of her chief Patrons, alongside Ss Peter and Peter; […]

Blessed Hermann of Reichenau

On this day in the year 1013 was born one of the greatest scholars of the Middle Ages, the Benedictine monk now known as the Blessed Herman. In English, he is usually called “Hermann the Cripple” or “the Lame”, but his Latin appellation “contractus – the deformed” (literally ‘the contracted one’) is really more accurate, […]

“Their Sound Is Gone Out” – The Division of the Apostles

July 15th is the traditional date of a feast known as the “Divisio Apostolorum – the Division (or ‘Dispersion’) of the Apostles.” This feast is first attested in a hymn written by a German monk named Godeschalk, who died in 1098. It was very popular in the Middle Ages, and continued into the Tridentine period on many […]

A Miracle of St Benedict

St Benedict died on March 21 in the year 543 or 547, and this is the date on which his principal feast is traditionally kept throughout the Roman Rite, and is still kept by Benedictine houses. On the calendars of their liturgical books, it is sometimes called his “Transitus – Passing.” A second feast to […]