December 11, 2017: POPE ST. DAMASUS I
December 11, 2017: ST. DAMASUS I, POPE AND CONFESSOR
Holy Pontiff Damasus! O thou virgin Doctor of the virgin Church! during thy life on earth, thou wast the Light, which guided the children of the Church; for thou didst teach them the mystery of the Incarnation, and didst guard them against those perfidious doctrines, wherewith hell ever strives to corrupt that glorious Symbol of our faith, which tells us of God's infinite mercy towards us, and of the sublime dignity of man thus mercifully redeemed.
Give ear, O Lord, to our prayers, and, by the intercession of blessed Damasus, thy Confessor and Bishop, mercifully grant us pardon and peace. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, thy Son, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end. Amen.
This great Pontiff comes before us in the Liturgical Year, not to bring us tidings of Peace, as St. Melchiades did, but as one of the most illustrious defenders of the great Mystery of the Incarnation. He defends the faith of the Universal Church in the divinity of the Word, by condemning, as his predecessor Liberius had done, the acts and the authors of the celebrated Council of Rimini. With his sovereign authority, he bears witness to the teaching of the Church regarding the Humanity of Jesus Christ, and condemned the heretic Apollinaris, who taught that Jesus Christ had only assumed the flesh and not the soul of man. He commissioned St. Jerome to make a new translation of the New Testament from the Greek, for the use of the Church of Rome; here, again, giving a further proof of the faith and love which he bore to the Incarnate Word. Let us honour this great Pontiff, whom the Council of Chalcedon calls the ornament and support of Rome by his piety. St. Jerome, too, who looked upon St. Damasus as his friend and patron, calls him a man of the greatest worth; a man whose equal could not be found, well versed in the holy Scriptures, and a virgin Doctor of the virgin Church.
The Legend of the Breviary gives us a brief account of his life.
Damasus was a Spaniard, a man of highest worth, and learned in the Scriptures. He called the first Council of Constantinople, in which he condemned the impious heresy of Eunomius and Macedonius. He also condemned the Council of Rimini, which had already been rejected by Liberius, inasmuch as it was in this assembly of Rimini, as St. Jerome tells us, that mainly by the craft of Valens and Ursascius, was published a condemnation of the faith which had been taught by the Nicene Council, and thus the whole world grieved to find itself made Arian.
He built two Basilicas; one dedicated to St. Laurence, near Pompey's theatre, and this he endowed with magnificent presents, with houses and with lands: the other, on the Ardeatine Way, at the Catacombs. The bodies of SS. Peter and Paul lay for some time in a place richly adorned with marbles; this place he dedicated, and composed for it several inscriptions in beautiful verses. He also wrote on Virginity, both in prose and verse, and several other poems.
He established the law of retaliation for cases of false accusation. He decreed that, as was the custom in many places, the Psalms should be sung in all churches in alternate choirs, day and night; and that at the end of each Psalm, there should be added: Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost. It was by his order that St. Jerome translated the New Testament from the Greek text. He governed the Church seventeen years, two months, and twenty days; and five times during this period, he gave Ordinations, in the month of December, to thirty-one Priests, eleven Deacons, and sixty-two Bishops, for divers places. Conspicuous for his virtue, learning, and prudence, and having lived little short of eighty years, he slept in the Lord, during the reign of Theodosius the Great. He was buried in the Basilica which he had built on the Ardeatine Way, where also lay his mother and sister. His relics were afterwards translated to the Church of Saint Laurence, called after him, St. Laurence's in Damaso.
Taken from: The Liturgical Year - Advent, Edition 1870; and
The Divine Office for the use of the Laity, Volume I, 1806.
Pope St. Damasus I, pray for us.