Saturday, August 1, 2015
Feasts of August 1st: St. Peter's Chains & the Holy Maccabees

Commemoration (1954 Calendar): August 1
Commemoration (1962 Calendar): August 1

On August 1st the Church commemorates the Holy Maccabees.  As the Roman Martyrology states:
Seven brothers known as the Machabees were martyred together with their heroic mother during the second century B.C. They are the only martyrs of the Old Testament honored by a feast of universal observance in the Church
We can learn much from these saints who came just shortly before the advent of Christ.  In particular, we find their account in the Old Testament Books that the protestants chose to remove from the Canon of Sacred Scripture.  In these passages, we find clear evidence of the need to pray for the dead.  Read more at Catholic Devotions for the Dead.

For those wishing to study the life of the Maccabees further using Sacred Scripture, Catechism passages, authoritative writings of the Church, and traditional commentary, look into the lesson on the Holy Maccabees, which is available for only a few dollars.  Click here to learn more and preview that lesson.


O Lord, may the martyrdom of these brothers warm our hearts with joy, enliven our faith by an increase of virtue, and comfort us by the added number of intercessors we have in heaven. Through our Lord . . .

St. Peter's Chains which are still preserved today for our veneration in Rome in the Church of San Pietro in Vincoli, Rome. Photo (c) 2016 by A Catholic Life Blog

Greater Double (1954 Calendar): August 1

This date also marks the universal Feast of St. Peter's Chains. Sadly, this feast day is omitted completely in the 1962 Calendar and beyond.

Traditional Matins Reading:
During the reign of Theodosius the younger, Eudocia, his wife, went to Jerusalem to fulfil a vow, and while there she was honoured with many gifts, the greatest of which was an iron chain adorned with gold and precious stones, and said to be that wherewith the apostle Peter had been bound by Herod. Eudocia piously venerated this chain, and then sent it to Rome to her daughter Eudoxia. The latter took it to the sovereign pontiff, who in his turn showed her another chain which had bound the same apostle, under Nero. 
When the pontiff thus brought together the Roman chain and that which had come from Jerusalem, they joined together in such a manner that they seemed no longer two chains, but a single one, made by one same workman. On account of this miracle the holy chains began to be held in so great honour that a church at the title of Eudoxia on the Esquiline was dedicated under the name of St. Peter ad vincula, and the memory of its dedication was celebrated by a feast on the Kalends of August. 
From that time St. Peter’s chains began to receive the honours of this day, instead of a pagan festival which it had been customary to celebrate. Contact with them healed the sick, and put the demons to flight. Thus, in the year of salvation 969, a certain count, who was very intimate with the Emperor Otho, was taken possession of by an unclean spirit, so that he tore his flesh with his own teeth. By command of the emperor he was taken to the pontiff John, who had no sooner touched the count’s neck with the holy chain than the wicked spirit was driven away, leaving the man entirely free. On this account devotion to the holy chains was spread throughout Rome.

O God, You freed the blessed apostle Peter from his chains and sent him forth unharmed. Free us from the bonds of our sins and in Your mercy shield us from all harm. Through our Lord . . .

O God, You have instructed many nations through the preaching of the blessed Apostle Paul. Let the power of his intercession with You help us who venerate his memory this day.

The Apostle St. Peter, one of the two apostles of Rome, is never celebrated without St. Paul, the other. Moreover, four links of St. Paul's chains are preserved with those of St. Peter.  

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