January 5, 2021: POPE ST. TELESPHORUS
January 5, 2021: COMMEMORATION OF ST. TELESPHORUS, POPE AND MARTYR
Thou hast crowned him with glory and honour. And set him over the works of thy hands, O Lord.
O God, who, by the yearly solemnity of blessed Telesphorus, thy Martyr and Bishop, rejoicest the hearts of the faithful; mercifully grant that we, who celebrate his martyrdom may enjoy his protection. 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 holy Church of Rome commemorates to-day the holy Pope and Martyr, St. Telesphorus… Among his decrees, we find that of his prescribing the holy sacrifice of the Mass to be offered up on Christmas Night, in order to honour the hour when our Saviour was born: he also ordered that the Angelic Hymn Gloria in excelsis should be said, on most days, at the beginning of Mass. This devotion of the holy Pope towards the great Mystery which we are now celebrating, renders his commemoration at this season of the year doubly dear to us. Telesphorus suffered a glorious martyrdom, as St. Ireneus expresses it…
He succeeded Saint Sixtus I,… and saw the havoc which the persecution of Adrian made in the church. “He ended his life by an illustrious martyrdom.” says Eusebius; which is also confirmed by St. Irenӕus.
Saint Telesphorus was a Greek by birth, though some authors say that he was born in Terranova, in Calabria. It is by some affirmed that his father was an anchorite, and that Telesphorus himself was Roman by birth. Some say that by his decrees he confirmed the observance of Lent; and others affirm that the quadragesimal fast came down by tradition, as stated by Saint Ignatius, Saint Jerome, and Theophilus. At any rate, he is credited with having introduced the “Gloria in Excelsis” in the Mass.
This holy pope suffered martyrdom, A.D. 139.
In his four ordinations Telesphorus created thirteen bishops, fifteen priests, and eight deacons. Some pious Christians removed his body after execution, and placed it near that of Saint Peter, in the Vatican.
It is said that this pope ordered that all priests should celebrate three Masses on Christmas day. However, this observance was followed under Saint Gregory the Great. Saint Telesphorus presided over the Holy See during eleven years, eight months, and eighteen days.
Taken from: The Liturgical Year – Christmas, Vol. I, Edition 1868;
The Lives of the Fathers, Martyrs, and Other Principal Saints, Vol. I, 1903;
The Lives and the Times of the Popes, Imprimatur 1911; and
The Divine Office for the use of the Laity, Volume I, 1806.
Pope St. Telesphorus, pray for us.