May 10, 2022: SS. GORDIAN AND EPIMACHUS
May 10, 2022: COMMEMORATION OF SS. GORDIAN AND EPIMACHUS, MARTYRS
“Rest yet a little time, till your
fellow-servants and brethren, who are to be slain, even as you, shall be filled up.”
(Apoc, vi. 11 )
Grant, we beseech thee, O Almighty God, that we, who celebrate the festival of thy holy Martyrs, Gordianus and Epimachus, may, by their prayers, find the effects of thy divine assistance. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, who liveth and reigneth with Thee, in unity of the Holy Ghost, God, World without end. Amen.
Two fresh Martyrs ascend from our earth on this day, and are admitted to share of Jesus' glory. Again it is Rome that deputes them to bear her homage to the Conqueror of Death. Gordian was one of the magistrates, under Julian the Apostate, who were commissioned to persecute the Christians. One day, whilst exercising his office, he suddenly descended from the tribunal, and took his place among the criminals. He was soon called upon to shed his blood for the Faith. His martyrdom, together with that of the illustrious brothers, John and Paul, whose feast we shall keep in June, closes the period of the Pagan Persecutions in the West. The fact of his being buried in the Crypts on the Latin Way awakened the memory of another Martyr, whose Relics, half consumed by fire, had long before been brought thither from Alexandria. His name was Epimachus; and, on this day, the two Martyrs were united inseparably in the devotion of the Faithful. Neither the place nor the period of their combat was the same; but both of them fought for the one cause, and won the same victory. The two Conquerors are buried in Peace in the Eternal City; but He, for whose name they delivered their bodies to death, is mindful of their precious remains. Yet a little while, and he will fulfil, in their regard, the promise he made, when he said: I am the Resurrection and the Life. He that believeth in me, although he be dead, shall live (St. John, xi. 25).
During the reign of Julian the Apostate, Januarius, a Priest, was brought before Gordian, a judge, that he might be condemned: but Gordian, after receiving instructions concerning the Christian Faith from this same Priest, was baptised by him at Rome, together with his wife, and fifty-three other members of his family. Whereupon the Prefect, having sent Januarius into exile, ordered his deputy Clementianus to imprison Gordian. The deputy, after some time, had Gordian led in chains before his tribunal, and sought to induce him to deny the Faith: but, failing in his attempt, he ordered him to be first scourged with whips laden with plummets of lead, and then beheaded. His body was exposed before the temple of Apollo, that it might be devoured by dogs; but, during the night, the Christians took it, and buried it on the Latin Way, in the same Crypt wherein had previously been laid the relics of the holy Martyr Epimachus, when brought from Alexandria; in which city he had endured a long imprisonment for the Christian Faith, and was finally crowned with martyrdom by being burned to death.
The number of Martyrs has been added to in every century; but the world is now near its end, and its last period is to be rich in Martyrdom. When the reign of the Man of Sin (II Thess, ii. 3) begins its course, and the final tempest rages against the bark of holy Church, then, O Martyrs of Christ, protect the Christian people, in return for the yearly tribute of honour that it has paid to your venerable names. Pray also for us, who are living during these sad times, whose miseries seem like the distant howling of the storm, that is to precede the end of the world. Strengthen our hearts, O holy Martyrs! and whatever may be the lot prepared for us by Providence, obtain for us, that we may be faithful to Him, who would be to us, what he has been to you,—the Resurrection and the Life (St. John, xi. 25).
Another account of Ss. Gordian and Epimachus.
These two holy martyrs are named in all calendars of the western church since the sixth age. St. Epimachus suffered at Alexandria under Decius in the year 250, with one Alexander. They had been long detained in a hideous dungeon, were beaten with clubs, their sides were torn with iron hooks; lastly, they were both burnt in lime. This is related by St. Dionysius of Alexandria quoted by Eusebius.
St. Gordian was beheaded at Rome for the faith, under Julian the Apostate, in the year 362. His name occurs in the ancient Martyrologies. His body was laid in a cave, in which was deposited that of St. Epimachus, which was brought from Alexandria to Rome a little before St. Gordian's martyrdom. The relicks of both these martyrs are now possessed by the great Benedictin abbey of Kempton, in the diocess of Ausbourg.
Taken from: The Liturgical Year – The Paschal Time, Vol. II, Dublin, Edition 1871;
The Lives of the Fathers, Martyrs, and Other Principal Saints, Vol. V, 1821; and
The Divine Office for the use of the Laity, Volume II, 1806.
Ss. Gordian and Epimachus, pray for us.