Thursday, July 21, 2022

The Feast of Saint Praxedes

Saint Praxedes, by Johannes Vermeer, ca. 1655 (The attribution to Vermeer has often been disputed.)
According to her legend, Praxedes was a Roman maiden, the sister of St Pudentiana; when the Emperor Marcus Antoninus was hunting down Christians, she sought them out to relieve them with money, care, comfort and every charitable aid. Some she hid in her house, others she encouraged to keep firm in the faith, and of yet others she buried the bodies; and she allowed those who were in prison or toiling in slavery to lack nothing. At last, being unable any longer to bear the cruelties inflicted on Christians, she prayed to God that, if it were expedient for her to die, she might be released from beholding such sufferings. And so on July 21 she was called to the reward of her goodness in Heaven. Her body was laid by the priest Pastor in the tomb of her father, Pudens, and her sister Pudentiana, which was in the cemetery of Priscilla on the Salarian Way. (From Butler’s Lives of the Saints, revised by Herbert Thurston S.J. and Donald Attwater; 1956)

Saint Praxedes is depicted in art squeezing the blood of the martyrs which she has collected from a sponge into a vessel. In her basilica in Rome, a part of the floor in the central nave is marked as the place where their relics were laid to rest within the building that was once her house.

Especially on this day, let us remember and pray for all persecuted Christians in every part of the world! 

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