Friday, November 08, 2019

The Octave of All Saints 2019: The Confessors

From the Breviary according to the use of the Roman Curia, 1529, the conclusion of the sermon for the third day in the Octave of All Saints.

After the most unconquered witnesses of Christ follows the venerable chosen company of pontiffs and priests, and the blessed perfection of the most holy confessors, illuminated by the light of truth, and resolute in the confession of the apostolic faith. They pleased the one God, because they showed forth the faith of the holy Trinity in the perfection of their works. Although they did not pass from the light of this world by the sword or any other sort of torment, they were taught in the school of the virtues under the discipline of the Gospel, and by the wonderful patience of the Cross; they fought against the beasts of heretical depravity with the sword of the spirit (which is the word of God) and so nevertheless merited the glory of martyrdom. And although some of the holy confessors never attained the dignity of the priesthood, they were yet in no wise inferior in holiness and justice, in the virtues and the examples of their lives. These then are the men who while they were clothed in the garment of mortal flesh, could say in the spirit of truth with Paul, “our conversation is in heaven.”

The Charity of St Martin, by Jacob van Oost the Elder (1603-71); now in the Groeinge Museum in the painter’s native city of Bruges in Belgium. Martin was one of the very first Confessors to be venerated as a Saint.
A reading from the Epistle of Blessed Paul the Apostle to the Hebrews. (Chapter 11, 33-39, the epistle of the feast of the Four Crowned Martyrs, who share their feast day with the Octave of All Saints.)

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.

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