Saturday, August 11, 2007

August 11

Today is the feast of Saint Tiburtius and of Saint Susanna. Dom Gueranger offers the following reflections:

e is followed today by the son of Chromatius, prefect of Rome, who also suffered upon burning coals for the confession of his faith. Though forty years intervened between the two martyrdoms, it was the same Holy Spirit that animated these witnesses of Christ and suggested to them the same answer to their executioners. Tiburtius, walking upon the fire, cried out, 'Learn that the God of the Christians is the only God, for these hot coals seem flowers to me.'

"Equally near to the great archdeacon stands an illustrious virgin, so bright herself as not to be eclipsed by him. A relative of both the Emperor Diocletian and the holy Pope Caius, Susanna, it is said, one day beheld the imperial crown at her feet. But she obtained a far greater nobility; for, by preferring the wreath of virginity, she won at the same time the palm of martyrdom."

Today's visit was to the church of Santa Susanna, one of the oldest in Rome. On account of the many pilgrims who travel here from all parts of the world, the Catholic Church has designated certain 'national' churches to serve the needs of pilgrims from a given country or region. The American national parish church is that of Santa Susanna, served by the Paulist fathers. The site for Santa Susanna is pretty well organized and offers a lot of information, including an expanded history of the Saint herself and other information about the church.

As mentioned above, Santa Susanna is one of the oldest churches in Rome, built over the house of Susanna and her family, and originally named for her uncle, Pope Saint Caius. The church was re-named by Saint Gregory the Great in 590, on account of the 'the great devotion that had grown up around the tomb of Susanna' (whose relics had earlier been moved here from the catacombs). The Paulist priests who serve the church note that in that same year, the Pope made Rusticus Cardinal-Priest of Santa Susanna, and from that time they can trace 77 cardinal priests who have held the title. Of these, five have become Popes, and three are saints. The current Title-holder is Bernard Cardinal Law, Archbishop emeritus of Boston.

On the Novus ordo calendar, today is the feast of Saint Claire.

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