Wednesday, July 29, 2020
Sts. Felix II and Companions
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On July 29th, the Feast of St. Martha, the Church traditionally commemorates the martyrs Ss. Felix II, Simplicius, Faustinus, and Beatrice. Pope St. Felix II was martyred in Tuscany, Italy, in the fourth century. The brothers Simplicius and Faustinus and their sister, Beatrice, gave their lives for Christ at Rome in 303 AD.

Liturgica Latina writes: 

"The holy Pontiff Felix III is a Pope of the fourth century. He was martyred in Tuscany in the time of the Arians (A.D. 365). He is sometimes referred to as Pope Felix II - there was a Pope Felix II in the earlier part of the fourth century, who is usually regarded as an antipope, and this causes confusion in enumeration.

"Simplicius and Faustinus, denounced as Christians to the persecutors, were put to death at Rome under Diocletian A.D. 304. Beatrice, their sister, was arrested and strangled in prison. Leo II placed the relics of these three martyrs in a church at Rome dedicated in their names."

The Book of Saints from 1921 by the Monks of Ramsgate state:

"Saint Felix, Archdeacon of Rome, was elected Pope A.D. 355, when Pope Liberius was sent into exile by the Arian Emperor Constantius, but on the return of Liberius, after two years of exile, he at once resigned the Pontificate of which in all probability he had been merely the Administrator. The Roman Martyrology records his martyrdom at Cervetro (Caerae) in Tuscany, probably about A.D. 360; but it is the opinion of some authors that he lived on for several years in retirement and died a peaceful death. The Church also commemorates the Finding of the Body of Saint Felix with those of other Martyrs. It is especially to be noted that from the outset he has always been regarded as a Saint, and there are no real grounds for setting him aside as a mere Anti-Pope."

The New Liturgical Movement writes on nice reflection today on St. Felix II and the scholarship around whether or not he was an antipope.

Regarding Ss. Simplicius, Faustinus, and Beatrice commemorated today, the Catholic Encyclopedia of 1912 states:

"Martyrs at Rome during the Diocletian persecution (302 or 303). The brothers Simplicius and Faustinus were cruelly tortured on account of their Christian faith, beaten with clubs, and finally beheaded; their bodies were thrown into the Tiber. According to another version of the legend a stone was tied to them and they were drowned. Their sister Beatrice had the bodies drawn out of the water and buried. Then for seven months she lived with a pious matron named Lucina, and with her aid Beatrice succoured the persecuted Christians by day and night. Finally she was discovered and arrested. Her accuser was her neighbor Lucretius who desired to obtain possession of her lands. She courageously asserted before the judge that she would never sacrifice to demons, because she was a Christian. As punishment, she was strangled in prison. Her friend Lucina buried her by her brothers in the cemetery ad Ursum Pileatum on the road to Porto. Soon after this Divine punishment overtook the accuser Lucretius. When Lucretius at a feast was making merry over the folly of the martyrs, an infant who had been brought to the entertainment by his mother, cried out, “Thou hast committed murder and hast taken unjust possession of land. Thou art a slave of the devil”. And the devil at once took possession of him and tortured him three hours and drew him down into the bottomless pit. The terror of those present was so great that they became Christians. This is the story of the legend. Trustworthy Acts concerning the history of the two brothers and sister are no longer in existence. Pope Leo II (682-683) translated their relics to a church which he had built at Rome in honour of St. Paul. Later the greater part of the relics of the martyrs were taken to the Church of Santa Maria Maggiore."

Collect:

Grant, we beseech Thee, O Lord, that as Christian people rejoice in being able to celebrate the temporal solemnity of Thy martyrs Felix, Simplicius, Faustinus and Beatrice, so they may also rejoice thereat in life eternal and receive the fruit of the sacrifice which they offer.

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