Tuesday, May 08, 2018

The Feast of St Victor Maurus, Martyr at Milan

As we have mentioned on other occasions, mostly recently on the feast of St Sebastian, the Ambrosian liturgy has a special rite which is observed for the celebration of the feasts of Martyrs in their own churches. A spherical metal frame is covered in a thin layer of cotton, and suspended above the sanctuary, with a crown and palm branches attached to the wire above it. This arangement is called a faro; the cotton is then lit on fire at the beginning of the Mass, as seen in the video below. Unlike the others which we have shown in the past, here the cotton is also decorated with red stars; Nicola tells me this is actually pretty commonly done. The photo and video were taken by him this morning at the basilica of St Victor in Varese, a small city 32 miles to the northwest of Milan, which uses the Ambrosian Rite like the rest of the diocese, and honors St Victor as its Patron.


In the Canon of the Ambrosian Mass, Ss Victor, Nabor and Felix are named together in the Communicantes. They were Christian soldiers from the Roman province of Africa, who were killed in the first year of the persecution of Diocletian, 303 AD, while serving at Milan under the Emperor Maximian. Nabor and Felix were beheaded in the nearby city of Laus Pompeia, now called Lodi Vecchio, and their feast is on July 12th; St Victor, who was much older than the other two, was martyred later, at Milan itself, and his feast is kept on May 8th in the Ambrosian Calendar. He is often called “Maurus - the Moor” to distinguish him from the innumerable other Saints with the name Victor, which was very common in the Roman world. The two feasts share a beautiful hymn, in which Milan expresses its pride in these “guests upon this soil, of the Moorish nation, strangers in our lands, … (whom she) stole from the camps of the wicked and consecrated to Christ.”
The Basilica of St Victor in Varese

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