January 30, 2019: ST. MARTINA
January 30, 2019: ST. MARTINA, VIRGIN AND MARTYR
She shrinks not at the torturing hook, the wild beasts, or the cruel wound-inflicting rods. Angels descend from heaven, comforting her with a divine food.
Our ceaseless prayers mount up to thee from thine altar, where clouds of incense shroud devotion's love; and thy blessed name makes Mars forgotten, the pretended god.
O God, who, amongst other miracles of thy power, hast bestowed the crown of martyrdom even on the weaker sex: mercifully grant, that we, who solemnize the feast of blessed Martina, thy Virgin and Martyr, may, by following her example, come to thee. 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.
A third Roman Virgin, wearing on her brow a Martyr's crown, comes to-day to share the honours given to Agnes and Emerentiana, and offer her palm to the Lamb. Her name is Martina, which the pagans were wont to give to their daughters in honour of their god of war. Her sacred relics repose at the foot of the Capitoline hill, in the ancient temple of Mars, which has now become the beautiful Church of Saint Martina. The holy ambition to render herself worthy of Him whom she had chosen as her divine Spouse, gave her courage to suffer torments and death for his sake; so that of her, as of the rest of the Martyrs, we may say those words of the Liturgy, she washed her robes in the Blood of the Lamb. Our Emmanuel is the Mighty God (Isaias, ix. 6), the Lord that is mighty in war (Ps, xxiii. 8), not, like the Mars of the pagans, needing the sword to win his battles. He vanquishes his enemies by meekness, patience, and innocence, as in the martyrdom of to-day's Saint, whose victory was grander than was ever won by Rome's boasted warriors.
This illustrious Virgin, who is one of the Patrons of the City of Rome, is honoured by having her praises sung by one of the Popes. It was Urban the Eighth who wrote the Hymns, which are recited on her Feast,… which recount the glorious combats of our Saint.
Martina, a noble virgin of Rome, was the daughter of a Consul. Having lost her parents when quite a child, and being exceedingly fervent in the practice of the Christian religion, she was singularly charitable to the poor, and distributed among them her immense riches. During the reign of Alexander Severus, she was ordered to worship the false gods, but most courageously refused to commit so detestable a crime. Whereupon, she was several times scourged; her flesh was torn with iron hooks and nails, and with potsherds, and her whole body was cut with most sharp swords; she was scalded with boiling oil, and was, at length, condemned to be devoured by wild beasts, in the amphitheatre; but being miraculously left untouched by them, she was thrown on a burning pile, from which she also escaped unhurt, by the same divine power.
Some of the men that had inflicted these tortures upon her, being struck by the miracle, and touched by the grace of God, embraced the Christian faith, and, after suffering many tortures, gained the glorious palm of martyrdom by being beheaded. The prayers of Martina were powerful with God. Earthquakes shook the city, fire fell from the heavens in the midst of loud thunder, the temples and idols of the gods were overthrown and destroyed. More than once, milk flowed from her wounds together with the blood, and a most sweet fragrance was perceived by the by-standers; and sometimes she was seen raised up and placed on a beautiful throne, and singing the divine praises surrounded by heavenly spirits.
Vexed above measure by these prodigies, and, above all, by her constancy, the judge ordered her to be beheaded. Which being done, a voice from heaven was heard calling Martina to ascend: the whole city trembled, and many of the idolaters were converted to the faith of Christ. Martina suffered under the Pontificate of Urban the First; and under that of Urban the Eighth, her body was discovered in an ancient Church, together with those of the holy Martyrs Concordius, Epiphanius and Companions, near the Mamertine prison, at the foot of the Capitoline hill. The Church was restored, and decorated, and the body of the Saint was again placed in it, with much solemnity, in the presence of a great concourse of people, and amidst shouts of joy from the whole city.
Taken from: The Liturgical Year – Christmas, Vol. II, Edition 1868; and
The Divine Office for the use of the Laity, Volume I, 1806.
St. Martina, pray for us.