October 7, 2021: POPE ST. MARK, AND SS. SERGIUS, BACCHUS, MARCELLUS & APULEIUS
October 7, 2021: COMMEMORATION OF ST. MARK, POPE AND CONFESSOR, AND SS. SERGIUS, BACCHUS, MARCELLUS AND APULEIUS, MARTYRS.
O blessed Mark, priest and Bishop, and worker of miracles; O good shepherd of the people, pray to the Lord for us.
For to them belongs the kingdom of heaven, who despising the life of this world, have obtained the rewards of the kingdom, and washed their garments in the blood of the Lamb.
Hear, O Lord, our prayers; and, by the intercession of blessed Mark, 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.
We beseech thee, O Lord, that the eminent virtues of thy holy Martyrs Sergius, Bacchus, Marcellus, and Appuleius, may be a benefit to our souls, and encourage us to be always fervent in thy love. 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.
Pope St. Mark.
Mark, successor to Sylvester the Pontiff of peace, has been honoured on this day from time immemorial. According to the testimony of St. Damasus, his virtues no less than his name recalled St. Mark the Evangelist. He occupied the supreme See only eight months; but in that short time, he followed up the recent triumph of the Church by wise organizations. He built two new sanctuaries in Rome. He gave the pallium, of which this is the first mention in history, to the bishop of Ostia, to enhance his high privilege of being the appointed consecrator of the Roman Pontiffs.
This pontificate witnessed the awful death of Arius. Constantine had been deceived into ordering the reinstatement of this wicked man, who taught that the Word Incarnate was a mere creature. The heresiarch, followed by his partisans, was proceeding in triumph through the streets of Constantinople, intending to force open the doors of the basilica, where the faithful, with their bishop St. Alexander, were beseeching God, with fasting and tears, to avert the profanation. Suddenly, seized with an ignominious trembling, Arius was obliged to retire to a secret place, where his flatterers soon afterwards found him stretched upon the floor with his bowels cast out. He had merited the death of a Judas, for having delivered up the Son of God to the disputes of the people, to the mockeries of the proud, to the contradictions of the pretorium.
Ss. Sergius, Bacchus, Marcellus, and Apuleius.
Among the martyrs annually commemorated on this day, the names of Marcellus and Apuleius carry back the mind to apostolic times. They had been disciples of Simon Magus, but were convinced of his lying deceit by the miracles of St. Peter, and shed their blood in testimony of their faith in the true God. St. Sergius is regarded in the east as one of the most glorious witnesses to our Lord. He suffered in the tenth and last persecution, with his companion St. Bacchus, a soldier like himself of the Roman army in Syria. So illustrious became his sepulchre, that a city sprang up around it, which was called Sergiopolis, and became a metropolitan See. The west soon joined the east in honouring these holy martyrs, and a church was dedicated to them in Rome. Saint-Serge at Angers, founded by Clovis II, testifies to the veneration in which they were held by the Franks.
Another account of Pope St. Mark.
St. Mark was by birth a Roman, and served God with such fervour among the clergy of that church, that, advancing continually in sincere humility and the knowledge and sense of his own weakness and imperfections, he strove every day to surpass himself in the fervour of his charity and zeal, and in the exercise of all virtues. The persecution ceased in the West, upon the abdication of Dioclesian and Maximian, in the beginning of the year 305, but was revived for a short time by Maxentius, in 312. St. Mark abated nothing of his watchfulness, but endeavoured rather to redouble his zeal during the peace of the church; knowing that if men sometimes cease openly to persecute the faithful, the devil never allows them any truce, and his snares are generally most to be feared in the time of a calm. The saint contributed very much to advance the service of God during the pontificate of St. Sylvester; after whose demise he was himself placed in the apostolic chair, on the 18th of January, 336. He held that dignity only eight months and twenty days, dying on the 7th of October following. According to the Pontifical published by Anastasius, he built two churches, one on the Ardeatine Way, where he was afterwards buried; another within the walls, near the Capitol. St. Mark had very much beautified and adorned this burial-place, out of respect to the martyrs there interred; and he being buried there, it from that time bore his name. Pope Damasus, in his epitaph, extols his extraordinary disinterestedness and contempt of all earthly things, and his remarkable spirit of prayer, by which he drew down on the people abundant spiritual blessings. A church bore his name in Rome in the fifth century. His remains were translated into it by the order of Gregory VII. The pontificals mention that the church was repaired by Adrian I, Gregory IV, and Paul II. This last pope built near it a palace which was the summer residence of the popes till Sixtus V preferred the Quirinal-hill, or Monte Cavallo.
It was by constant watchfulness over themselves, by assiduous self-denial, and humble prayer, that all the saints triumphed over their spiritual enemies. They never laid down their arms. A Christian ought to be afraid of no enemy more than himself, whom he carries always about with him, and whom he is not able to flee from. He therefore never ceases to cry out to God, “Who will preserve me from falling through myself! Not my own strength. Unless thou, O Lord, art my light and support, I watch in vain.”
Taken from: The Liturgical Year - Time after Pentecost, Vol. V, Edition 1910;
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.
Pope St. Mark, pray for us.
Ss. Sergius, Bacchus, Marcellus, and Apuleius, pray for us.