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her the greatest veneration from all. Our Lord called her to himself in the fifty-sixth year of her age, and she was canonised by Pope Paul the Fifth.
O Frances! sublime model of every virtue! thou wast the glory of Christian Rome, and the ornament of thy sex. How insignificant are the pagan heroines of old compared with thee! Thy fidelity to the duties of thy state, and all thy saintly actions, had God for their one single end and motive. The world looked on thee with amazement, as though heaven had lent one of its Angels to this earth. Humility and penance put such energy into thy soul, that every trial was met and mastered. Thy love for those whom God himself had given thee, thy calm resignation and interior joy under tribulation, thy simple and generous charity, to every neighbour,all was evidence of God's dwelling within thy soul. Thy seeing and conversing with thy Angel Guardian, and the wonderful revelations granted thee of the secrets of the other world, how much these favours tell us of thy merits? Nature suspended her laws at thy bidding; she was subservient to thee, as to one that was already face to face with the Sovereign Master, and had the power to command. We admire these privileges and gifts granted thee by our Lord; and now beseech thee to have pity on us, who are so far from being in that path, in which thou didst so perseveringly walk. Pray for us, that we may be Christians, practically and earnestly; that we may cease to love the world and its vanities; that we may courageously take up the yoke of our Lord, and do penance; that we may give up our pride; that we may be patient and firm under temptation. Such was thy influence with our Heavenly Father, that thou hadst but to pray, and a vine produced the richest clusters of fruit, even in the midst of winter.
Our Jesus calls himself the True Vine; ask him to give us of the wine of his divine love, which his Cross has so richly prepared for us. When we remember how frequently thou didst ask him to let thee suffer, and accept thy sufferings for poor sinners, we feel encouraged to ask thee to offer thy merits to him for us. Pray, too, for Rome, thy native city, that her people may be staunch to the faith, edifying by holiness of life, and loyal to the Church. May thy powerful intercession bring blessings on the Faithful throughout the world, add to their number, and make them fervent as were our fathers of old.
THE FORTY MARTYRS.
We know the mystery of the number Forty. This tenth of March brings it before us. Forty new advocates! Forty encouraging us to enter bravely on our career of Penance! On the frozen pool, which was their field of battle, these Martyrs reminded one another that Jesus had fasted for Forty Days, and that they themselves were Forty in number! Let us, in our turn, compare their sufferings with the Lenten exercises which the Church imposes upon us; and humble ourselves in seeing our cowardice; or, if we begin with fervour, let us remember, that the grand thing is to be faithful to the end, and bring to the Easter Solemnity the crown of our perseverance. Our Forty Martyrs patiently endured the cruelest tortures; the fear of God, and their deeprooted conviction that he had an infinite claim to their fidelity, gave them the victory. How many times we have sinned, and had not such severe temptations as theirs to palliate our fall? How can we sufficiently bless that Divine mercy, which spared us, instead of abandoning us as he did that poor apostate, who turned coward and was lost! But, on what condition did God spare us? That we should not spare ourselves, but do penance. He put into our hands the rights of his own Justice; Justice, then, must be satisfied, and we must exercise it
against ourselves. The Lives of the Saints will be of great help to us in this, for they will teach us how we are to look upon sin, how to avoid it, and how strictly we are bound to do penance for it, after having committed it.
The Church in her Liturgy, thus relates to us the martyrdom of the Soldiers of Sebaste.
During the reign of the Emperor Licinius, and under the presidency of Agricolaus, the city of Sebaste, in Armenia, was honoured by being made the scene of the martyrdom of forty soldiers, whose faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and patience in bearing tortures, were so glorious. After having been frequently confined in a horrid dungeon, shackled with chains, and having had their faces beaten with stones, they were condemned to pass a most bitter winter night in the open air, and on a frozen pool, that they might be frozen to death. When there, they united in this prayer: Forty have we entered on "the battle; let us, O Lord, "receive Forty Crowns, and "suffer not our number to be "broken. The number is an "honoured one, for thou didst "fast for forty days, and the "divine law was given to the "world after the same number "of days was observed. Elias, too, sought God by a forty days' fast, and was permitted to see him." Thus did they pray.
All the guards, except one, were asleep. He overheard their prayer, and saw them
Licinio Imperatore, et Agricolao præside, ad Sebasten Armeniæ urbem, quadraginta militum fides in Jesum Christum, et fortitudo in cruciatibus perferendis enituit. Qui sæpius in
horribilem carcerem detrusi, vinculisque constricti, cum ora ipsorum lapidibus contusa fuissent, hiemis tempore frigidissimo, nudi sub aperto aere supra stagnum rigens pernoctare jussi sunt, ut frigore congelati necarentur. Una autem erat omnium oratio: Quadraginta in stadium ingressi sumus, quadraginta item, Domine, corona donemur; ne una quidem huic numero desit. Est in honore hic numerus, quem tu quadraginta dierum jejunio decorasti, per quem divina lex ingressa est in orbem terrarum. Elias quadraginta dierum jejunio Deum quærens, ejus visionem consecutus est. Et hæc quidem illorum erat oratio.
Cæteris autem custodibus somno deditis, solus vigilabat janitor, qui et illos oran
tes, et luce circumfusos, et quosdam e cœlo descendentes Angelos tanquam a Rege missos, qui coronas triginta novem militibus distribuerent, intuens, ita secum loquebatur: Quadraginta hi sunt; quadragesimi corona ubi est ? Quæ dum cogitaret, unus ex illo numero, cui animus ad frigus ferendum defecerat, in proximum tepefactum balneum desiliens, sanctos illos summo dolore affecit. Verum Deus illorum preces irritas esse non est passus: nam rei eventum admiratus janitor, mox custodibus e somno excitatis, detractisque sibi vestibus, ac se christianum esse clara voce professus, martyribus se adjunxit. Cum vero præsidis satellites janitorem quoque christianum esse cognovissent, baccilis comminuta omnium eorum crura fregerunt.
In eo supplicio mortui sunt omnes præter Melithonem, natu minimum. Quem cum præsens mater ejus fractis cruribus adhuc viventem vidisset, sic cohortata est: Fili, paulisper sustine, ecce Christus ad januam stat adjuvans te. Cum vero reliquorum corpora plaustris imponi cerneret, ut in rogum inferrentur, ac filium suum relinqui, quod speraret impia turba,
encircled with light, and Angels coming down from heaven, like messengers sent by a King, who distributed crowns to thirty-nine of the soldiers. Whereupon, he thus said to himself: "There are
forty men; where is the "fortieth crown?" Whilst thus pondering, one of the number lost his courage; he could bear the cold no longer, and threw himself into a warm bath, which had been put near at hand. His saintly companions were exceedingly grieved at this. But God would not suffer their prayer to be void. The sentinel, astonished at what he had witnessed, went immediately and awoke the guards; then, taking off his garments, he cried out, with a loud voice, that he was a Christian, and associated himself with the Martyrs. No sooner did the governor's guards perceive that the sentinel had also declared himself to be a Christian, than they approached the Martyrs, and, with clubs, broke their legs.
All died under this torture except Melitho, who was the youngest of the forty. His mother, who was present, seeing that he was still living after his legs were broken, thus encouraged him: "My son, "be patient yet awhile. Lo! "Christ is at the door, helping
thee." But, as soon as she saw the other bodies being placed on carts, that they might be thrown on the pile, and her son left behind (for the im