August 18, 2021: ST. AGAPITUS OF PALESTRINA
August 18, 2021: COMMEMORATION OF ST. AGAPITUS (OF PALESTRINA), MARTYR
“Blessed is the man that endureth temptation:
for when he hath been proved, he shall receive the crown of life, which God hath promised to them that love him.”
(St. James, i. 12)
May thy Church rejoice, O God, under the protection of Agapetus thy Martyr, and, by the assistance of his prayers, increase in devotion, and be secured against 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.
Palestrina, the ancient Preneste, sends a representative to Mary's court to-day, in the person of its valiant and gentle martyr, Agapitus. By his youth and his fidelity, he reminds us of that other gracious athlete, the acolyth Tarcisius, whose victory, gained on the 15th August, is eclipsed by the glory of Mary's queenly triumph. During the persecution of Valerian, and just before the combats of Sixtus and Laurence, Tarcisius, carrying the Body of our Lord, was met by some pagans, who tried to force him to show them what he had; but, pressing the heavenly treasure to his heart, he suffered himself to be crushed beneath their blows rather than “deliver up to mad dogs the members of the Lord.” Agapitus, at fifteen years of age, suffered cruel tortures under Aurelian. Though so young, he may have seen the disgraceful end of Valerian; while the new edict, which enabled him to follow Tarcisius to Mary's feet, had scarcely been promulgated throughout the empire, when Aurelian, in his turn, was cast down by Christ, from whom alone kings and emperors hold their crowns.
Martrydom of St. Agapitus.
At Præneste, the modem Palestrina, a boy of fifteen, named Agapetus, was taken and brought before the governor Antiochus, in the reign of Aurelian.
He was beaten severely, and then thrust into a dark and loathsome dungeon, where he was left without food, or water, or light for four days. He was then drawn forth sick, faint, dazzled by the glare of the sun, before Antiochus; when asked if he would sacrifice, he shook his head. Red hot coals were poured over his head and bare shoulders; he was then suspended by his feet, head downwards, over smoke, and beaten. When nearly unconscious, he was laid on the ground, and boiling water poured over his breast and belly, his jaw was broken with a stone, but still he lived. Antiochus the governor fell off his throne in a fit, and died. News was taken to Aurelian, who ordered Agapetus to be cast to lions in the amphitheatre, but the lions refused to touch him, crouching at his feet, and licking them. He was therefore taken away to where stand two columns outside the gate of Præneste, and then his head was struck off. […]
Taken from: The Liturgical Year - Time after Pentecost,
Vol. IV, Dublin, Edition 1901;
The Lives of the Fathers, Martyrs, and Other Principal Saints, Vol. IX; and
The Divine Office for the use of the Laity, Volume II, 1806.
St. Agapitus, pray for us.