July 30, 2020: SS. ABDON & SENNEN
July 30, 2020: COMMEMORATION OF SS. ABDON AND SENNEN, MARTYRS
God is glorious in his saints, wonderful in his majesty, and performeth prodigies. Thy right hand, O Lord, hath gloriously displayed its strength; thy right hand hath defeated thy enemies.
O God, who, by thy plentiful grace, didst crown holy Abdon and Sennon with glory; grant all thy servants the pardon of their sins, that, the merits of thy saints pleading in our behalf, we may be delivered from all adversities. 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.
The decrees of Eternal Wisdom ordained that the West should be honoured before the East with the glory of martyrdom. Yet when the hour had come, Jesus was to have, beyond the Tigris, millions of witnesses by no means inferior to their forerunners, astonishing heaven and earth by new forms of heroism. Impatient of the delay, two noble Persians won their palm on this day by the command of Rome. By shedding their blood they paid tribute for their native land to the eternal City; and now they protect our Latin Churches, and receive the prayers and praise of the West. France received a goodly portion of their sacred relics; and the city of Arles-sur-Tech, in Roussillon, can show to an incredulous generation the sarcophagus, from which flows a mysterious liquor, a symbol of the continual benefits bestowed on us by these holy martyrs.
During the reign of Decius, two Persians, Abdon and Sennen, were accused of burying on their own estate the bodies of the Christians which had been exposed. By order of the Emperor they were apprehended and commanded to sacrifice to the gods. As they refused to obey, and moreover with the greatest constancy proclaimed Jesus Christ to be God, they were placed in close confinement, and when later, Decius returned to Rome, they were led in chains in his triumphal march. They were dragged to the Roman idols, but to show their hatred of the demons, they spat upon them. Upon this they were exposed to the fury of lions and bears, but the beasts did not dare to touch them; at length they were put to death by the sword. Their bodies were dragged by the feet before the statue of the Sun, but they were secretly carried away and buried by Quirinus the deacon in his own house.
Another account of Ss. Abdon and Sennen
They were Persians, but coming to Rome, courageously confessed the faith of Christ in the persecution of Decius, in 250. They were cruelly tormented, but the more their bodies were mangled, and covered with ghastly wounds, the more were their souls adorned and beautified with divine grace, and rendered glorious in the sight of heaven. The Christians at Rome did not treat them as strangers, but as brethren united to them in the hope of the same blessed country; and after their death carefully deposited their bodies in the house of a subdeacon, called Quirinus. In the reign of Constantine the Great, their relics were removed into the ancient burying-place of Pontian, so called, from some rich man who built it: called also, from some sign, Ad Ursum Pileatum. It afterwards received its name from Ss. Abdon and Sennen. It was situated near the Tiber, on the road to Porto, near the gates of Rome. The images of these martyrs, with Persian bonnets, and crowns on their heads, and their names, are to be seen there at this day in ancient sculpture. Ss. Abdon and Sennen are mentioned in the ancient Liberian Calendar, and in other Martyrologies; though their modern acts deserve no notice, as Cardinal Noris has demonstrated.
The martyrs preferred torments and death to sin, because the love of God above all things reigned in their breasts. “We say we are Christians,” says Tertullian; “we proclaim it to the whole world, even under the hands of the executioner, and in the midst of all the torments you inflict upon us to compel us to unsay it. Torn and mangled, and weltering in our blood, we cry out as loud as we are able to cry, That we are worshippers of God through Christ.” Upon which, Mr. Reeves observes, that no other religion ever produced any considerable number of martyrs except the true one. Do we ever read of any generation of men so greedy of martyrdom, who thought it long till they were upon the rack, and were so patient, so cheerful, and steadfast under the most intolerable torments? Socrates was the only philosopher that can be said to have died for his doctrine; and what a restless posture of mind does he betray, who was esteemed the best and the wisest of the heathens! With what misgivings, and fits of hope and fear, does he deliver himself in that most famous discourse, supposed to have been made by him a little before his death, about a future state! And neither Phӕdo, Cebes, Crito, Simmias, nor any other of his greatest friends who were present at his death, durst maintain either his innocence, or that doctrine for which he died, in the Areopagus. With what reserve did Plato himself dogmatize concerning the gods whom he worshipped in public, but denied in private! How did he dodge about, disguise himself, and say and unsay the same excellent truths! Only the Christians suffered at this rate, and they held on suffering for several hundred years together, till they had subdued the world by dying for their religion. What could engage such a number of men in such a religion, and support them in it, in defiance of death in the most shocking forms, but evident truth, and a superior grace and strength from above?
Taken from: The Liturgical Year - Time after Pentecost, Vol. IV, Dublin, Edition 1901;
The Lives of the Fathers, Martyrs, and Other Principal Saints, Vol. II; and
The Divine Office for the use of the Laity, Volume II, 1806.
Ss. Abdon and Sennen, pray for us.