Tuesday, 19 June 2018

# Saints

Saints Gervasius and Protasius

Image: Martyrdom of Gervasius and Protasius

The 19th of June is the feast day of Saints Gervasius and Protasius (d. 2nd century). They are also known as Saints Gervase and Protase, Gervasis and Prothasis and in French Gervais and Protais. They are the patron saints of Milan; Breisach; haymakers; and invoked for the discovery of thieves.

The following is from Catholic Encyclopedia:

Martyrs of Milan, probably in the second century, patrons of the city of Milan and of haymakers; invoked for the discovery of thieves. Feast, in the Latin Church, 19 June, the day of the translation of the relics; in the Greek Church, 14 Oct., the supposed day of their death. Emblems: scourge, club, sword.

The Acts (Acta SS., June, IV, 680 and 29) were perhaps compiled from a letter (Ep. liii) to the bishops of Italy, falsely ascribed to St. Ambrose. They are written in a very simple style, but it has been found impossible to establish their age. According to these, Gervasius and Protasius were twins, children of martyrs. Their father Vitalis, a man of consular dignity, suffered martyrdom at Ravenna under Nero (?). The mother Valeria died for her faith at Milan. The sons are said to have been scourged and then beheaded, during the reign of Nero, under the presidency of Anubinus or Astasius, and while Cajus was Bishop of Milan. Some authors place the martyrdom under Diocletian, while others object to this time, because they fail to understand how, in that case, the place of burial, and even the names, could be forgotten by the time of St. Ambrose, as is stated. De Rossi places their death before Diocletian. It probably occurred during the reign of Antoninus (161-168).

St. Ambrose, in 386, had built a magnificent basilica at Milan. Asked by the people to consecrate it in the same solemn manner as was done in Rome, he promised to do so if he could obtain the necessary relics. In a dream he was shown the place in which such could be found. He ordered excavations to be made in the cemetery church of Sts. Nabor and Felix, outside the city, and there found the relics of Sts. Gervasius and Protasius. He had them removed to the church of St. Fausta, and on the next day into the basilica, which later received the name San Ambrogio Maggiore. Many miracles are related to have occurred, and all greatly rejoiced at the signal favour from heaven, given at the time of the great struggle between St. Ambrose and the Arian Empress Justina. Of the vision, the subsequent discovery of the relics and the accompanying miracles, St. Ambrose wrote to his sister Marcellina. St. Augustine, not yet baptized, witnessed the facts, and relates them in his “Confessions”, IX, vii; in “De civ. Dei”, XXII, viii; and in “Serm. 286 in natal. Ss. Mm. Gerv. et Prot.”, they are also attested by St. Paulinus of Nola, in his life of St. Ambrose. The latter died 397 and, as he had wished, his body was, on Easter Sunday, deposited in his basilica by the side of these martyrs. In 835, Angilbert II, a successor in the See of Milan, placed the relics of the three saints in a porphyry sarcophagus, and here they were again found, January, 1864 (CiviltĂ  Cattolica, 1864, IX, 608, and XII, 345).

A tradition claims that after the destruction of Milan by Frederick Barbarossa, his chancellor Rainald von Dassel had taken the relics from Milan, and deposited them at Altbreisach in Germany, whence some came to Soissons; the claim is rejected by Milan (Biraghi, “I tre sepoleri”, etc. Milan, 1864). Immediately after the finding of the relics by St. Ambrose, the cult of Sts. Gervasius and Protasius was spread in Italy, and churches were built in their honour at Pavia, Nola, etc. In Gaul we find churches dedicated to them, about 400, at Mans, Rouen, and Soissons. At the Louvre there is now a famous picture of the saints by Lesueur (d. 1655), which was formerly in their church at Paris. According to the “Liber Pontificalis”, Innocent I (402-417) dedicated a church to them at Rome. Later, the name of St. Vitalis, their father, was added to the title. Very early their names were inserted in the Litany of the Saints. The whole history of these saints has received a great deal of adverse criticism. Some deny their existence, and make them a Christianized version of the Dioscuri of the Romans. Thus Harris, “The Dioscuri in Christian Legend”, but see “Analecta Boll.” (1904), XXIII, 427.

STOKES in Dict. Christ. Biog., s.v.; KRIEG in Kirchenlex., s.v.; BUTLER, Lives of the Saints (19 June).

FRANCIS MERSHMAN

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December 2, 2018 Message to Mirjana

Dear children, when you come to me, as to a mother, with a pure and open heart, know that I am listening to you, encouraging you, consoling you, and above all, interceding for you with my Son. I know that you desire to have a strong faith and to express it in the right way. What my Son asks of you is to have a sincere, strong and deep faith - then every way in which you express it is proper. Faith is a most wonderful mystery which is kept in the heart. It is between the Heavenly Father and all of His children; it is recognized by the fruits and by the love which one has towards all of God's creatures. Apostles of my love, my children, have trust in my Son. Help all of my children to come to know His love. You are my hope - you who strive to sincerely love my Son. In the name of love, for your salvation, according to the will of the Heavenly Father and through my Son, I am here among you. Apostles of my love, along with prayer and sacrifice, may your hearts be illuminated with the love and the light of my Son. May that light and love illuminate all those whom you meet and bring them back to my Son. I am with you. In a special way, I am alongside your shepherds. With my motherly love I illuminate and encourage them, that with the hands blessed by my Son, they may bless the entire world. Thank you.

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