Monday, August 02, 2021

Married Couples Recorded in the Roman Martyrology, with a Litany for Private Use

Saints Aquila and Priscilla

As I was reviewing page proofs for the book Are Canonizations Infallible? Revisiting a Disputed Question, I was struck once again by the account that was given during John Paul II’s pontificate of why so very many people “had” to be beatified and canonized starting in 1983. The rationale was this: the Church taught at Vatican II that holiness is everyone’s calling. And since the Church always remains faithful to Christ, there must therefore be a whole lot of saints in every category, especially from recent times, that need to be accelerated through the process in order to provide lots of examples and encouragement.

Now, this is a curious mixture of truths and falsehoods. It is of course true that the Church will always produce sanctity; no age is without saints. But it is not true that we can, as it were, crank up the factory and simply make more saints while maintaining the most rigorous standards of what constitutes publicly venerable holiness, or Christian perfection in charity. Nor is it by any means guaranteed that any particular age will be more fruitful than, or even equally fruitful as, any other age in verifiable saints. It could well be that modernity erects more barriers to the achievement of beatifiable and canonizable holiness. Indeed, this seems to be implied in Leo XIII’s letter Testem Benevolentiae.

One claim I have frequently seen in the literature surrounding John Paul II’s pontificate is that he wanted to present lots of examples of married sanctity to the laity. In and of itself, and taking into account the caveats of the preceding paragraph, we can say this is a laudable intention. For instance, we can rejoice in Louis and Zélie Martin, the parents of St. Thérèse of Lisieux, who, living relatively near to us in history, make spousal and parental holiness more vivid to our eyes. One also occasionally meets with cynical interpretations of hagiography that accuse the Church of denigrating marriage and promoting only a celibate model of sanctity. While some writers over the centuries doubtless had an axe to grind with marriage, this is by no means an operative assumption, nor is the dogmatic teaching that virginity consecrated to Christ is a more perfect state of life incompatible with a generous estimation of the good of sacramental marriage.

A way to see that the Church has not, in fact, been slow to recognize the sanctity of married couples and parents is to become more familiar with the traditional Roman Martyrology, which, as I have grown familiar with it over the years, has placed before me daily after Prime a remarkable procession of spouses, parents, and widows who have been part of our collective memory and liturgical worship for untold centuries. I continue to believe that it is highly valuable to read the Martyrology daily, for it furnishes a fuller picture of the models of sanctity venerated by the Catholic Church than the vastly smaller number of saints who are venerated in the Mass itself can give us by itself.

When we look more closely, we find in fact quite a good number of married saintly couples listed in the traditional Martyrology. By this, I mean something very specific: an entry that lists both the husband and the wife as saints. There are, as one would imagine, many more that list a saintly man or woman, husband or wife, without making mention of the other spouse or parent; and there are times when the whole family is martyred but only the husband is named. These have also been listed, because they too bear witness to the sanctity achievable in the married state and in the responsibilities of parenthood. (I have also included a few entries that speak of continent marriages, but these are few in number compared to the other categories.) It should also go without saying that plenty of other saints in the Martyrology would, in fact, have been married and/or parents, but here I am listing only those where the text itself includes such a description.

This article concludes with a litany in the usual style, for devotional use.

Saints Daria and Chrysanthus 

1. Saints who were married to each other

At Rome, blessed Dafrosa, wife of St. Flavian, Martyr, and mother of SS. Bibiana and Demetria, Virgin-Martyrs, who after the slaying of her husband was first sent into exile, and afterwards beheaded under the same prince. (Jan. 4)

At Sebaste, in Armenia, St Peter, Bishop, the son of SS. Basil and Emmelia, and brother also of SS. Basil the Great, Gregory of Nyssa, Bishops, and of Macrina, Virgin. (Jan. 9; cf. Mar. 9 and Jul. 19)

At Rome, on the Via Cornelia, the holy martyrs Marius and Martha his wife, and their sons Audifax and Abachum, Persians of noble birth, who came to Rome to pray in the time of the Emperor Claudius. After they had borne scourging, the rack, fire, iron hooks and the amputation of their hands, Martha was slain in the Nympha, and the others beheaded, and their bodies burnt. (Jan. 19)

At Caesarea in Mauritania, the holy martyrs Severian and Aquila his wife, who were burnt to death. (Jan. 23)

At Ostia, the holy martyrs Maximus and Claudius, brothers, and Praepedigna, the wife of Claudius, with their two sons, Alexander and Cutias; who, though they were of very noble birth, were at Diocletian's command all put to the test, and sent into exile. Later they were burned to death, offering themselves to God as a sweet sacrifice of martyrdom. Their relics were cast into the river, but discovered by the Christians, and buried near the same city. (Feb. 18)

At Nicomedia, the birthday of the holy martyrs Victor and Victorinus, who for three years were tormented by many tortures, together with Claudian and his wife Bassa; and, being cast into prison, they fulfilled there their life's course. (Mar. 6)

At Nicomedia, the birthday of the holy martyrs Macedonius, Patricia his wife, and his daughter, Modesta. (Mar. 13)

In Illyria, SS. Philetus, a senator, Lydia his wife, and his sons Macedo and Theoprepes; and also Amphilochius, a captain, and Chronides, a notary, who endured many torments for their confession of Christ and obtained the crown of glory. (Mar. 27)

At Milan, St Valeria, Martyr, wife of St Vitalis, and mother of SS. Gervase and Protase. (Apr. 28)

At Attalia in Pamphylia, the holy martyrs Exuperius, his wife Zoe, and Cyriac and Theodulus their sons; they were the slaves of a certain Paganus, and in the reign of the Emperor Hadrian, by order of their master, on account of their outspoken profession of the Christian faith, were scourged and severely tortured. Finally they were cast into an oven and so gave up their souls to God. (May 2)

In the Thebaid, the holy martyrs Timothy and Maura, his wife, whom, after many torments, the prefect Arian ordered to be fixed to a cross, whereon they hung alive for nine days, confirming each other in the faith, and achieved their martyrdom. (May 3)

At Rome, blessed Calepodius, Priest and Martyr, whom the Emperor Alexander had slain with the sword, and his body dragged through the city and cast into the Tiber. Pope Callistus buried it after it had been recovered. Palmatius the consul was also beheaded, with his wife and children, and forty-two others of his household, of both sexes; likewise Simplicius the Senator with his wife and sixty-eight of his household; and also Felix with Blanda his wife, whose heads were suspended at different gates of the City as a warning to the Christians. (May 10)

At Rome, St. Artemius, with his wife Candida, and his daughter Paulina. Artemius, at the preaching and miracles of St. Peter the Exorcist, believed in Christ, and was baptized with all his household by St. Marcellinus, Priest. He was scourged and slain with the sword by command of the judge Serenus: while his wife and daughter were driven into a crypt and buried beneath stones and debris. (Jun. 6)

At Rome, on the Via Salaria, the passion of blessed Getulius, a most famous and learned man (the father of the seven holy brethren, whom his wife Symphorosa bore him), and his companions Cerealis, Amancius and Primitivus. At the command of the Emperor Hadrian they were arrested by the governor Licinius and first of all scourged, then cast into prison, and lastly delivered to the flames: but since they were in no wise hurt thereby, they fulfilled their martyrdom by their heads being broken sticks. Symphorosa, the wife of blessed Getulius, gathered up their bodies and buried them with honour in a sand pit in her villa. (Jun. 10; cf. Jul. 18)

At Rome, St. Zoa, Martyr, wife of the blessed martyr Nicostratus, who, while praying at the Confession of blessed Peter the Aposde, was taken by the persecutors under the Emperor Diocletian, and cast into a dark prison. Then she was tied to a tree by the throat and hair, and a horrible smoke produced beneath her, and so she gave up the ghost, confessing the Lord. (5 July) [To which is related an entry two days later:] At Rome, the holy martyrs Claudius, a notary, Nicostratus (chief secretary, and the husband of blessed Zoa the Martyr), Castorius, Victorinus and Symphorian. St. Sebastian brought them all to the faith of Christ and the Priest blessed Polycarp baptized them. While they were busied in recovering the bodies of the holy martyrs, the judge Fabian ordered them to be apprehended, and after he had tempted them for ten days with threats and flatteries, and could not move them in the least, he ordered them to be thrice tortured and then cast headlong into the sea. (Jul. 7)

In Asia Minor, SS. Aquila and Priscilla, his wife, of whom mention is made in the Acts of the Apostles. (Jul. 8)

At Cordova in Spain, the holy martyrs George, a Deacon, Aurelius and his wife, Natalia, Felix and his wife, Liliosa, in the Arab persecution. (Jul. 27)

At Tomi in Pontus, the holy martyrs Marcellinus, a tribune, his wife Mannea, and their sons John, Serapion and Peter. (Aug. 27)

At Adrumetum in Africa, SS. Boniface and Thecla, who were the parents of twelve sons, blessed Martyrs. (Aug. 30)

At Caesarea in Cappadocia, SS. Theodotus, Rufina and Ammia; the first two of these were the parents of St. Mamas the Martyr, to whom Rufina gave birth in prison and whom Ammia educated. (Aug. 31)

At Rome, on the Via Appia, blessed Cornelius, Pope and Martyr; in the persecution of Decius, after being exiled, he was commanded to be beaten with leaden scourges, and was beheaded with twenty-one others of both sexes. And Cerealis also, a soldier, with his wife Sallustia, whom the same Cornelius had instructed in the faith, were beheaded on the same day. (Sep. 14)

At Rome, the passion of the holy martyrs Eustace and Theopistis, his wife, and their two sons Agapitus and Theopist, who were condemned to the beasts, under the Emperor Hadrian but by the help of God were uninjured by them. They were then enclosed in a heated brazen bull and consummated martyrdom. (Sep. 20)

At Damascus, the holy martyrs Paul and Tatta his wife, and their sons Sabinian, Maximus, Rufus and Eugene, who, accused of professing the Christian religion, were tortured by stripes and other punishments, and in torment gave up their souls to God. (Sep. 25)

In Persia, the holy martyrs Dadas, a kinsman of King Sapor, Casdoa his wife, and Gabdelas his son, who were deprived of their honours, wounded by various tortures and, after long imprisonment, slain by the sword. (Sep. 29)

At Jerusalem, SS. Andronicus and Athanasia his wife. (Oct. 9)

At Rome, the holy martyrs Chrysanthus and his wife Daria, who, after many sufferings which they endured for Christ, under the prefect Celerinus, were commanded by the Emperor Numerian to be set in a sand-pit on the Via Salaria, and there, while still living, to be covered with earth and stones. (Oct. 25)

St. Zachary, Priest and Prophet, the father of blessed John the Baptist, the Precursor of the Lord. Also St. Elisabeth, the mother of the same most holy Precursor. (Nov. 5)

At Emesa in Phoenicia, the holy martyrs Galatio and Epistemis his wife, who in the persecution of Decius were beaten with scourges, their hands, feet and tongues mutilated, and finally achieved martyrdom by beheading. (Nov. 5)

On the same day, St. Natalia, the wife of blessed Adrian, Martyr, who for a long time ministered to the holy martyrs held in prison at Nicomedia under the Emperor Diocletian; and when their battle was over she went to Constantinople, and there rested in peace. (Dec. 1)

At Rome, the holy martyrs Claudius, a tribune, and his wife Hilaria, and their sons Jason and Marus, with seventy soldiers. Of these the Emperor Numerian commanded Claudius to be bound to a huge stone and cast headlong into a river, while the soldiers and sons of Claudius were condemned to death. Blessed Hilaria, after burying the bodies of her sons, was arrested by the heathen a little while after while praying at their tombs, cast into prison and passed to the Lord. (Dec. 3)

At Rome, the finding of the holy martyrs Nemesius, a Deacon, Lucilla, a Virgin, his daughter, Symphronius, Olympius a tribune, Exuperia his wife, and Theodulus his son, whose commemoration is made on August 25. (Dec. 8; cf. Aug. 25.)

In the same city, St. Flavian, an ex-prefect, who was the husband of blessed Dafrosa, a martyr, and the father of the holy virgin martyrs Bibiana and Demetria. He was condemned under Julian the Apostate to be branded for Christ's sake and sent into exile at Bagni-di-Ferrata in Tuscany, where he gave up his spirit to God in prayer. (Dec. 22)

On the same day, St Melania the Younger, who left Rome with her husband Pinian and went to Jerusalem; she led a religious life among the holy women, and her husband among the monks, and both died a holy death. (Dec. 31)

St. Henry and St. Cunegund

2. Married saints who lived a life of continence

At Antioch, under Diocletian and Maximian, the birthday of St. Julian, Martyr, and of Basilissa, Virgin, his wife, who kept her virginity while with her husband, and ended her life in peace. But Julian (after a crowd of priests and ministers of Christ's Church, who fled to them because of the cruel persecution, had been burnt with fire) was tortured with many torments at the command of the governor Marcian and condemned to death. With him suffered also Antony, a priest, and Anastasius. The latter, after he had been raised from the dead, Julian himself had made a sharer of Christ's grace. Celsus, a boy, with his mother Marcionia, and his seven brothers, and many others, suffered martyrdom. (Jan. 8)

At Bamberg, St. Cunegunda, Empress, who was married to the Emperor Henry I, but preserved her virginity with his consent. Enriched with the merit of good works, she rested in a holy death and thereafter was famous for her miracles. (Mar. 3)

Solemnity of St. Joseph, Workman, Husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Confessor, Patron of Artisans. (May 1)

At Bamberg, St. Henry I, Emperor of the Romans and Confessor. He led a life of perpetual virginity with his wife St. Cunegund, and brought St. Stephen, King of Hungary, and almost all his people, to embrace the faith of Christ. (Jul. 15)

3. Wives and widows, mentioned as such

Wives: St. Joanna (May 24), St. Clotilde (Jun. 3), St. Perpetua (Aug. 4), St. Serena (Aug. 16), St. Tryphonia (Oct. 18).

Widows: St. Paula (Jan. 26), St. Marcella (Jan. 31), St. Louisa Albertoni (Jan. 31), St. Joan de Lestonnac (Feb. 2), St. Juliana (Feb. 7), St. Frances of Rome (Mar. 9), St. Louisa de Marillac (Mar. 15), St. Lea (Mar. 22), St. Grata (May 1), St. Corona (May 14), St. Rita of Cascia (May 22), St. Margaret of Scotland (Jun. 10), St. Elisabeth of Portugal (Jul. 8), St. Athanasia (Aug. 14), St. Jane Frances Fremiot de Chantal (Aug. 21), St. Cyriaca (Aug. 21), St. Margaret (Aug. 27), St. Eutropia (Sep. 15), St. Catherine of Genoa (Sep. 15), St. Galla (Oct. 5), St. Bridget (Oct. 8), St. Hedwig (Oct. 16), St. Elisabeth of Hungary (Nov. 19), St. Olympias (Dec. 17), St. Begga (Dec. 17).

4. Husbands, mentioned as such

St. Craton (Feb. 15), St. Palmatius (May 10), St. Simplicius (May 10), St. Euthymius (Aug. 29), St. James Intercisus (Nov. 27), St. Venustian (Dec. 30).

5. Mothers or fathers, mentioned as such

Fathers: St. Richard, King of the English (Feb. 7), Theusetas (Mar. 13), St. Quirinus (Mar. 30), St. Pudens (May 19), St. Philip the Deacon (Jun. 6), St. Tranquillinus (Jul. 6), St. Thomas More (Jul. 6), St. Joachim (Aug. 16), St. Simplicius (Aug. 26), St. Marcellus (Oct. 30).

Mothers: St. Macrina (January 14), Queen Matilda (Mar. 14), St. Monica (Apr. 9), St. Plautilla (May 20), St. Marcella (Jun. 28), St. Mary (Jun. 29), St. Anne (Jul. 26), St. Theodota (Aug. 2), St. Nonna (Aug. 5), St. Helen (Aug. 18), St. Bassa (Aug. 21), St. Philippa (Sep. 20), St. Sophia (Sep. 30), St. Tryphonia (Oct. 18), St. Mary Salome (Oct. 22), St. Denise (Dec. 6), St. Fausta (Dec. 19).

Saints Joachim and Anne

A Litany of Married Saints
(For private use)
Lord, have mercy on us. Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us. Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us. Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, hear us. Christ, hear us.
Christ, graciously hear us. Christ, graciously hear us.
God the Father of heaven, have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world, have mercy on us.
God the Holy Ghost, have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, one God, have mercy on us.
Holy Mary, pray for us.
Holy Mother of God, pray for us.
Holy Virgin of virgins, pray for us.

Saints Joachim and Anne, pray for us.
Saints Zachary and Elisabeth, pray for us.
Saints Aquila and Priscilla,
Saints Flavian and Dafrosa,
Saints Basil and Emmelia,
Saints Marius and Martha,
Saints Severian and Aquila,
Saints Claudius and Praepedigna,
Saints Claudian and Bassa,
Saints Macedonius and Patricia,
Saints Philetus and Lydia,
Saints Vitalis and Valeria,
Saints Exuperius and Zoe,
Saints Timothy and Maura,
Saints Felix and Blanda,
Saints Artemius and Candida,
Saints Getulius and Symphorosa,
Saints Nicostratus and Zoa,
Saints Aurelius and Natalia,
Saints Felix and Liliosa,
Saints Marcellinus and Mannea,
Saints Boniface and Thecla,
Saints Theodotus and Rufina,
Saints Cerealis and Sallustia,
Saints Eustace and Theopistis,
Saints Paul and Tatta,
Saints Dadas and Casdoa,
Saints Andronicus and Athanasia,
Saints Chrysanthus and Daria,
Saints Galatio and Epistemis,
Saints Adrian and Natalia,
Saints Claudius and Hilaria,
Saints Olympius and Exuperia,
Saints Melania and Pinian, pray for us.

Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world, spare us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world, graciously hear us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.

Let us pray. Grant, we beseech Thee, O almighty God, that the intercession of Holy Mary, Mother of God, St. Joseph, her most chaste Spouse, and all holy husbands and wives, fathers and mothers now reigning in Thy Kingdom, may everywhere gladden us, so that, while we commemorate their merits, we may experience their protection. Through our Lord Jesus Christ Thy Son, who livest and reignest with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God for ever and ever. Amen.

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