Monday, January 03, 2022

A Litany of Child Saints

As I continue to read the Roman Martyrology in connection with the Office of Prime (which counts as an ideal morning prayer for traditional Catholics both because it simply is, and because it was “abolished” by the Second Vatican Council, which means we have a particular reason to keep it going), year after year, different groups of saints stand out to me at this or that time. As long-time readers of NLM may recall, I have published prior to this a litany of subdeacon saints, a litany of minor orders, a litany of married saints, and a litany of elderly saints, all based on the Martyrology.

One category of saints that has struck me repeatedly is that of children, who are mentioned with some frequency in the pages of this liturgical book. At this time of year, when we ponder the nativity, childhood, and youth of Our Lord, it seems appropriate to invoke these saints, who showed the pagan world a wonder it had never seen or even imagined possible: the heroic witness, despite torture and death, of little ones whose faith in Christ sustained them in laying down their lives for Him.

I did not include any entries about “youths” since this probably means young adults; the age cut-off was 18. I have also not included martyrs identified as sons and daughters whose ages are not stated in the Martyrology. Finally, there are some more famous saints whose legends declare them to be within the stated age-range, but whose status as children or adolescents is not noted in the Martyrology. My interest here is to make obscure saints known and to encourage people to invoke them.

A Litany of Child 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.

St. Celsus, martyr with thy mother and seven brothers, pray for us.
St. Neophitus, scourged, cast into flames, thrown to beasts, and slain with a sword, pray for us.
SS. Modestus and Ammonius of Alexandria, pray for us.
Ye twins of the holy woman of Numidia, who all died for Christ, pray for us.
Martyred pupils of St. Laurence of Novara, pray for us.
Children of St. Palmatius, Consul of Rome, pray for us.
St. Pancras, beheaded under Diocletian, pray for us.
St. Venantius of Camerino, decapitated under Decius, pray for us.
Ye three children martyred with the bishop St. Valens, pray for us.
Ye children of the holy martyrs Susanna, Marciana, and Palladia, pray for us.
Son of St. Conon of Iconium, roasted on a red-hot gridiron and stretched on the rack, pray for us.
SS. Pergentius and Laurentine, brothers in miracles and punishments, pray for us.
St Aquilina, smitten with buffets and scourges and pierced with heated awls, pray for us.
St. Eutropia, who through torments attained the crown of martyrdom, pray for us.
St. Cyricus, three-year-old child of St. Julitta and fellow martyr, pray for us.
Thou little boy who encouraged SS. Mark and Mucian not to sacrifice to idols, pray for us.
Ye child readers in the Church of Carthage who suffered with thy bishop St. Eugene, pray for us.
Ye ten children of Alexandria who suffered with SS. Philip, Zeno, and Narseus, pray for us.
St. Celsus of Milan, enfeebled in prison and slain with the sword, pray for us.
St. Secunda, virgin martyr together with SS. Maxima, Donatilla, and Secunda, pray for us.
SS. Justus and Pastor, schoolchildren who strengthened each other in dying, pray for us.
St. Maximus of Carthage, nailed to wood and smitted with oars, pray for us.
St. Agapitus of Palestrina, fervent in love for Christ, pray for us.
St. Antonine of Capua, companion of Bishop St. Aristreus, pray for us.
St. Basilissa, who at nine years of age overcame great trials and converted the governor, pray for us.
Ye holy child-martyrs Rufinus, Silvanus, and Vitalicus, pray for us.
St. Crescentius of Rome, who fell smitted by the sword under Diocletian, pray for us.
St. Flocellus, torn to pieces by wild beasts, pray for us.
St Justus, beheaded in the persecution of Diocletian, pray for us.
Thou five-year-old confessor who threw thyself into the fire to join your mother, pray for us.
St. Paulillus, little brother of SS. Paschasius and Eutychian, condemned to basest servitude, pray for us.
St. Barula of Antioch, eloquent witness of the unity of God, pray for us.
St. Eulalia, virgin, racked, torn with hooks, and burned with torches, pray for us.
St. Dioscorus of Alexandria, repeatedly scourged and then released to his people, pray for us.
Ye children of St. Venustian of Spoleto, slain by the sword under Maximian, 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. 

V. The mercy of the Lord is from eternity and unto eternity upon them that fear Him:
R. And His justice unto children’s children, to such as keep His covenant.

Let us pray. Almighty and everlasting Father, who dost choose the weak things of the world to confound the strong, mercifully grant that we who honor the memory and invoke the intercession of these, Thy children saints, may experience their pleasing intercession with Thee, 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.
Sources in the Martyrology
Jan. 9. 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 Marcionilla, and his seven brothers, and many others, suffered martyrdom.

Jan. 20. At Nicaea in Bithynia, St Neophitus, Martyr, who, when fifteen years old, was scourged, cast into a furnace and thrown to the beasts; but as he remained unhurt, and constantly professed the faith of Christ, he was at last slain with the sword.

Feb. 12. At Alexandria, the holy child martyrs Modestus and Ammonius.

Apr. 29. At Cirta in Numidia, the birthday of the holy martyrs Agapius and Secundinus, Bishops, who after a long exile in this city and a glorious priesthood, ended as illustrious martyrs in the persecution of Valerian, in which the fury of the Gentiles greatly raged in trial of the faith of the righteous. There suffered in the same company Emilian, a soldier, Tertulla and Antonia, holy Virgins, and a certain woman with her twin children.

Apr. 30. At Novara, St Laurence, Priest, and certain children, Martyrs, received by him to be educated.

May 10. 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 12. In the same city, on the Via Aurelia, St Pancras, Martyr, who at the age of fourteen was martyred under Diodetian by beheading.
St. Pancras, from the Cathedral of the Holy Cross and Saint Eulalia in Barcelona
May 18. At Camerino, St Venantius, Martyr, who when fifteen years old fulfilled the course of a glorious combat by decapitation, together with ten others, under the Emperor Decius and the governor Antiochus.

May 21. St Valens, Bishop, who was slain with three children.

May 24. Likewise of the holy martyrs Susanna, Marciana and Palladia, wives of these soldiers, who were slain together with their children.

May 29. At Iconium in Lycaonia, the passion of St Conon and his twelve-year-old son. In the reign of the Emperor Aurelian they were placed on a red-hot gridiron over burning coals on which oil had been poured; they were also stretched on the rack and courageously suffered burning with fire; lastly their hands were broken with a wooden mallet and they yielded up their spirits.

June 3. At Arezzo in Tuscany, the holy martyrs Pergentius and Laurentine, brothers, who, though they were children, were slain with the sword in the persecution of Decius under the governor Tiburtius, after having endured dire punishments and performed great miracles.

June 13. At Byblos in Phrenicia, St Aquilina, Virgin and Martyr, who when twelve years old, under the Emperor Diocletian and the judge Volusian, was smitten with buffets and scourges for her confession of the Catholic faith, and pierced with heated awls. At length, slain with the sword, she consecrated her virginity by martyrdom.

June 15. At Sibapolis in Turkey, the holy martyrs Libya and Leonidis, sisters, and Eutropia, a girl of twelve years, who through various torments reached the crown of martyrdom.

June 16. At Tarsus in Cilicia, the holy martyrs Cyricus and Julitta, his mother, under the Emperor Diocletian. The former, a child of three years, grieved inconsolably for his mother, was most severely scourged with whips by the governor Alexander, and died, struck down on the steps of the tribunal. Julitta, after grievous stripes and severe torments, fulfilled the course of her martyrdom by being beheaded.
Russian icon of SS. Cyricus and Julitta.
July 3. On the same day, the holy martyrs Mark and Mucian, who were slain with the sword for Christ’s sake. When a little boy called upon them with a loud voice that they should not sacrifice to idols, he was ordered to be scourged; and as he then confessed Christ more vehemently, he was slain, together with one Paul who was exhorting the martyrs.

July 13. In Africa, the holy Confessor Eugene, Bishop of Carthage, glorious for faith and virtues, and all the clergy of that Church, who to the number of 500 or more (among whom were several children who fulfilled the office of readers), weakened by attacks and famine in the Vandal persecution under the Arian King Hunneric, and, rejoicing in the Lord, were sent far away into cruel exile. The most celebrated among them were an archdeacon named Salutaris, and Muritta, second officer of this Church, who thrice confessed Christ and were gloriously resplendent in Christ because of their perseverance.

July 15. At Alexandria, the holy martyrs Philip, Zeno, Narseus and ten children.

July 28. At Milan, the birthday of SS. Nazarius and Celsus, a boy, Martyrs, whom Anolinus, in the fury of the persecution aroused by Nero, for a long time enfeebled and kept in prison, and then ordered to be slain with the sword.

July 30. At Tuburbo Lucernaria in Africa, the holy virgins and martyrs Maxima, Donatilla and Secunda; the two former, in the persecution of Valerian and Gallienus, were made to drink vinegar and gall, then beaten with very sharp stripes and tortured by being stretched upon the rack, burnt on gridirons and rubbed with lime. Afterwards, together with Secunda, a maiden of twelve years, they were thrown to the beasts, but as they were untouched by them, they were slain with the sword.

Aug. 6. At Alcala de Henares in Spain, the holy martyrs Justus and Pastor, brothers, who while still children in school, casting away their class books, willingly hastened to martyrdom. Forthwith Dacian the governor ordered them to be arrested and scourged. They strengthened each other with great constancy by mutual exhortation, and being led forth from the city, their throats were cut by the executioner.
SS. Justus and Pastor. Las Palmas (Gran Canaria). Museo Diocesano de Arte Sacro
Aug. 17. At Carthage in Africa, the holy martyrs Liberatus (Abbot), Boniface (Deacon), Servus and Rusticus (Subdeacons), Rogatus and Septimus (monks) and Maximus, a boy; in the Vandal persecution under King Hunneric they were assailed by various unheard-of tortures for confessing the Catholic faith and defending the non-repetition of baptism. Last of all they were fastened with nails to pieces of wood wherewith they were to be burnt; but although the fire was kindled again and again, yet by the power of God it was each time extinguished, and by command of the king they were smitten with oars and their brains dashed out, so that they were slain, and thus, being crowned by the Lord, they fulfilled the splendid course of their battle.

Aug. 18. At Palestrina, the birthday of St Agapitus, Martyr, who was arrested by command of the Emperor Aurelian at the age of fifteen, being fervent in love for Christ. He was first of all scourged for a long time with thongs of raw hide, and then, under Antiochus the prefect, suffered more severe punishments; finally, when by the Emperor’s command he was thrown to the lions, and yet not hurt, he was struck with the sword by the Emperor’s hirelings, and crowned with martyrdom.

Sep. 3. At Capua, the holy martyrs Aristreus, Bishop, and Antonine, a boy.

Sep. 3. At Nicomedia, the passion of St Basilissa, Virgin and Martyr; though she was only nine years of age, yet by the power of God she overcame scourges, fire and the beasts under the governor Alexander, in the persecution of the Emperor Diocletian. So she converted the governor to the faith of Christ, and at length gave up her spirit to God while she was at prayer outside the city.

Sep. 4. At Ancyra in Galatia, the birthday of the three holy children Rufinus, Silvanus and Vitalicus, Martyrs.

Sep. 14. At Rome, St Crescentius, a boy, the son of St Euthymius, who fell, smitten by the sword, in the persecution of Diocletian, under the judge Turpilius, on the Via Salaria.

Sep. 17. At Autun, St Flocellus, a boy, who suffered much under Antoninus the emperor and Valerian the governor, and at last, being torn to pieces by wild beasts, obtained the crown of martyrdom.

Oct. 18. At Saint-Just-en-Chausee, in the neighbourhood of Beauvais, St Justus, who, while yet a boy, was beheaded in the persecution of Diocletian under the governor Rictiovarus.

Oct. 24. Among the Homerites in the city of Nagran in Arabia, the passion of SS. Aretas and his 340 companions in the time of the Emperor Justin, under the Jewish tyrant Dunaan. After these, a Christian woman was delivered to the flames, and her son, five years old, in his lisping voice confessed Christ, and could not be silenced by promises or threats, but threw himself headlong into the fire where his mother was burning.

Nov. 13. In Africa, the holy martyrs Arcadius, Paschasius, Probus and Eutychian, Spaniards, who in the Vandal persecution, since they would by no means turn aside to the Arian heresy, were by the Arian King Genseric first of all proscribed, then sent into exile and tortured with the keenest punishments, and afterwards slain by various kinds of death. At that time also shone forth the courage of Paulillus, the little brother of SS. Paschasius and Eutychian, who, since he could in no way be turned from the Cathoiic faith, was long beaten with rods and condemned to the basest servitude.

Nov. 18. At Antioch, the birthday of St Romanus, Martyr, who in the reign of the Emperor Galerius, when the prefect Asclepiades broke into the church and attempted completely to destroy it, exhorted the rest of the Christians to oppose him. And so after severe torments his tongue was cut out (but even without it he spoke praise of God) and then he was strangled in prison, and crowned by an illustrious martyrdom. Before him there suffered also a young boy named Barula, who, being asked by the same prefect whether it were better to worship one God or many, replied that we must needs believe in the one God whom the Christians worship. Wherefore he was beaten and ordered to be beheaded.
Zurbaran, SS. Romanus and Barulas
Dec. 10. At Merida in Spain, the passion of St Eulalia, Virgin, who when she was twelve years old suffered many torments. for her confession of Christ, under the Emperor Maximian, by command of the governor Dacian. Last of all she was placed on the rack and torn with hooks, burning torches applied to her sides, and when the fire died out, she gave up the ghost.

Dec. 14. At Alexandria, the holy martyrs Heron, Arsenius, Isidore and Dioscorus, a child; the first three the judge, in the Decian persecution, ordered to be delivered to the flames, after he had wounded them by various tortures, and saw that all were armed with equal constancy; Dioscorus however was again and again scourged, and then, by the divine will, released, to the consolation of the faithful.

Dec. 30. At Spoleto, the birthday of the holy martyrs Sabinus, Bishop of Assisi, Exuperantius and Marcellus, Deacons, and Venustian the governor, with his wife and children, under the Emperor Maximian. Of these Marcellus and Exuperantius were first of all stretched on the rack, then grievously beaten with scourges, afterwards torn with hooks and roasted by the burning of their sides and so fulfilled martyrdom; but Venustian, not long after, was slain with the sword, with his wife and children, while St Sabinus, after his hands had been cut off, and he had suffered a long imprisonment, was scourged even to death. The martyrdoms of these saints, although they took place at various times, are remembered on the same day.

Photos of stained-glass windows by Fr. Lawrence Lew, O.P.

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