Post by Elizabeth on Aug 18, 2019 17:31:24 GMT
Saint Agapetus suffered in his youth a cruel martyrdom at Praeneste, now called Palestrina, twenty-four miles from Rome. He had dared to reproach for his cruelty towards the Christians, one of the Emperor Aurelian's favorites, who immediately gave the order to arrest him. He was flogged with leaden-tipped straps and scorpions; his constancy and his prayer under torture converted five hundred pagans, who declared themselves Christians and were executed at once. The young martyr was thrown into a horrible prison where a celestial vision fortified him. After a second questioning, he was again scourged, then laid upon the rack that his body might be torn with iron nails.
He still lived and was again ordered to sacrifice to Apollo; his refusals won for him still more torments: live coals on his head, suspension by his feet, boiling water poured over him. His courage was superhuman, his answers admirable. Wild beasts in the arena spared him and lay down at his feet, and still more pagans were converted. He was finally beheaded, and his body buried by the Christians, in a field where they found a new tomb prepared as though for his sepulchre. Two churches in Palestrina and others in various places are dedicated to God under his name.
Empress, mother of Constantine, finder of the True Cross
patron of converts and difficult marriages
It was the pious boast of the city of Colchester, England, for many ages, that Saint Helen was born within its walls; and though this honor has been disputed, since others say she was born in York, it is certain that she was a British princess. She married a Roman General, Constantius Chlorus, and became the mother of Constantine the Great. She embraced Christianity late in life; but her incomparable faith and piety greatly influenced her son Constantine, the first Christian emperor, and served to kindle a holy zeal in the hearts of the Roman people. Forgetful of her high dignity, she delighted to assist at the Divine Office amid the poor; and by her almsdeeds showed herself a mother to the indigent and distressed.
In her eightieth year she made a famous pilgrimage to Jerusalem, with the ardent desire of discovering the cross on which our Blessed Redeemer had suffered. After many labors, three crosses were found on Mount Calvary, together with the names and the inscription recorded by the Evangelists. The miraculous discovery and verification of the true Cross is still celebrated by the Church on the 3rd of May. The pious empress, transported with joy, built a beautiful Basilica on Mount Calvary to receive the precious relic, sending portions of it also to Rome and Constantinople, where they were solemnly exposed to the adoration of the faithful. She built two other famous churches in Palestine to honor the sacred sites of Our Lord's life, one at the site of His Ascension, and the other, known as the Basilica of the Nativity, in Bethlehem, which she and her son richly adorned.
Saint Helen's influence on her son Constantine is recognized by all historians. He always honored her in every way. In the year 312, when Constantine found himself attacked by Maxentius with vastly superior forces, and the very existence of his western empire was threatened, he remembered the crucified Christian God whom his mother Helen worshiped. Kneeling down, he prayed God to reveal Himself as the supreme God, by giving him an otherwise impossible victory. Suddenly at noonday, a cross of fire was seen by his army in the calm and cloudless sky, and beneath it the words, In hoc signo vinces — In this sign thou shalt conquer. By divine command, Constantine made a standard like the cross he had seen, to be borne at the head of his troops. This is the famous banner known as the Roman Labarum. Under this Christian ensign they marched against the enemy and obtained a complete victory.
When past the age of 80, Saint Helen returned from Jerusalem to Rome, dying there in 328.