A reading from the Epistle of Blessed Paul the Apostle to the Hebrews. (The epistle of the feast of the Four Crowned Martyrs, who share their feast day with the Octave of All Saints.)
From the Breviary according to the use of the Roman Curia, 1529, the
end of the legend of the Four Crowned Martyrs, a group of Christian sculptors who were ordered by the Emperor Diocletian to make idols for his gigantic palace at Spalatum, (now the Croatian coastal city of Split.)
The Saints by faith conquered kingdoms, wrought justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, recovered strength from weakness, became valiant in battle, put to flight the armies of foreigners: women received their dead raised to life again. But others were racked, not accepting deliverance, that they might find a better resurrection. And others had trial of mockeries and stripes, moreover also of bands and prisons. They were stoned, they were cut asunder, they were tempted, they were put to death by the sword, they wandered about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being in want, distressed, afflicted: Of whom the world was not worthy; wandering in deserts, in mountains, and in dens, and in caves of the earth. And all these being approved by the testimony of faith, in Christ Jesus, our Lord.
|The tabernacle of the Four Crowned Martyrs, on the outside of the Orsanmichele in Florence; commissioned from the sculptor Nanni di Banco by the guild of wood- and stone cutters, 1408. Notice on right side of the lower panel the clever image of two sculptors making a statue.|
Claudius (one of the four) answered, “Now let the Emperor Diocletian know that we are true Christians, and will never depart from the worship of our God.” The tribune Lampadius was wroth, and at once ordered them to be stripped and beaten to death with goaded whips, saying by the voice of a herald, “Despise ye not the commands of princes!” In that same hour, Lampadius was seized by a demon, and tearing at himself, he died while sitting at his tribunal. ... When the Emperor Diocletian heard this, he said, “Let there be made caskets of lead, and let them be shut up in them alive, and cast into the river.” Then a certain fellow Nicetius who sat near Lampadius did what Diocletian had ordered, because he was asked, and made the caskets of lead, and shut them all up in them alive, and ordered them to be cast into the river. And Saint Cyril, hearing of this while he was in prison, was exceedingly afflicted by the murder of the Saints, and passed to the Lord. Now these holy martyrs suffered for the name of the Lord Jesus Christ on the eighth of November. After forty-two days, Nicodemus, a most Christian man, took up the caskets with the bodies, and placed them in his house.