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Friday, December 11, 2015
Feast of St. Damasus I

Pope St. Damascus I was born c. 306 to a pious family - the son of a priest in Rome.  He served as a deacon in his father's church for some time before becoming a priest and the assistant to Pope Liberius.  He was thereafter chosen as the 37th Pope of the Catholic Church.

During his reign he governed amind the violence from those who adhered to anti-pope Ursinus.  And at this time the Arian heresy grew in strength leading to schisms in Antioch, Constantinope, Sardinia, and Rome.  Yet it was - with great jubilation - that Christianity was declared the state religion of the Roman empire during his reign.

St. Damasus restored catacombs, shrines, and the tombs of martyrs, and wrote poetry and metrical inscriptions about and dedicated to martyrs.  He considered himself too unworthy to be buried near the martyrs who suffered so much for the Faith.

Ten of his letters, personal and pontifical, have survived.

Pope St. Damascus is famous for having commissioned Saint Jerome to translate the Scriptures into Latin.  The letters from Jerome to Damasus are examples of the primacy of the See of Peter:
Yet, though your greatness terrifies me, your kindness attracts me. From the priest I demand the safe-keeping of the victim, from the shepherd the protection due to the sheep. Away with all that is overweening; let the state of Roman majesty withdraw. My words are spoken to the successor of the fisherman, to the disciple of the cross. As I follow no leader save Christ, so I communicate with none but your blessedness, that is with the chair of Peter. For this, I know, is the rock on which the church is built! This is the house where alone the paschal lamb can be rightly eaten. This is the ark of Noah, and he who is not found in it shall perish when the flood prevails. But since by reason of my sins I have betaken myself to this desert which lies between Syria and the uncivilized waste, I cannot, owing to the great distance between us, always ask of your sanctity the holy thing of the Lord. Consequently I here follow the Egyptian confessors who share your faith, and anchor my frail craft under the shadow of their great argosies. I know nothing of Vitalis; I reject Meletius; I have nothing to do with Paulinus. He that gathers not with you scatters; he that is not of Christ is of Antichrist

O Eternal Shepherd, who appointed blessed Damasus shepherd of the whole Church, let the prayers of this confessor and supreme pontiff move You to look with favor upon Your flock and to keep it under Your continual protection. Through Our Lord . . .

Prayer Source: 1962 Roman Catholic Daily Missal


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