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their faith or their virtue. It is true, such examples are rare; but they teach us, among other things, that our lives belong to God alone, and that we should be in a readiness of mind to give them to him, when and as he pleases to demand them of us.
There is one very striking circumstance in the martyrdom of St. Apollonia. Her executioners, to punish the boldness wherewith she confessed our Lord Jesus Christ, beat out her teeth. This has suggested to the Faithful, when suffering the cruel pain of tooth-ache, to have recourse to St. Apollonia; and their confidence is often rewarded, for God would have us seek the protection of his Saints, not only in our spiritual, but even in our bodily, sufferings and necessities.
The Liturgy thus speaks the praises of our Saint. Apollonia, virgo Alexandrina, sub Decio imperatore, cum ingravescente jam ætate, ad idola sisteretur, ut eis venerationem adhiberet, illis contemptis, Jesum Christum verum Deum colendum esse prædicabat. Quamobrem omnes ei contusi sunt et evulsi dentes: ac, nisi Christum detestata deos coleret, accenso rogo combusturos vivam minati sunt impii carnifices. Quibus illa, se quamvis mortem pro Jesu Christi fide subituram, respondit. Itaque comprehensa ut combureretur, cum paulisper, quasi deliberans quid agendum esset, stetisset, ex illorum manibus elapsa, alacris in ignem sibi paratum, majori Spiritus Sancti flamma intus accensa, se injecit. Unde brevi consumpto corpore, purissimus spiritus in
Apollonia was a Virgin of Alexandria. In the persecution under the Emperor Decius, when she was far advanced in years, she was brought up to trial, and ordered to pay adoration to idols. She turned from them with contempt, and declared that worship ought to be given to Jesus Christ, the true God. Whereupon, the impious executioners broke and pulled out her teeth; then lighting a pile of wood, they threatened to burn her alive, unless she would hate Christ, and adore their gods. She replied, that she was ready to suffer every kind of death for the faith of Jesus Christ. Upon this, they seized her, intending to do as they said. She stood for a moment, as though hesitating what she should do; then, snatching herself from their hold, she suddenly threw herself into the fire, for there
was within her the intenser cœlum ad sempiternam
flame of the Holy Ghost. Her body was soon consumed, and her most pure soul took its flight, and was graced with the everlasting crown of martyrdom.
martyrii coronam evolavit.
What energy was thine, Apollonia! Thy persecutors threaten thee with fire; but far from fearing it, thou art impatient for it, as though it were a throne, and thou ambitious to be queen. Thy dread of sin took away the fear of death, nor didst thou wait for man to be thy executioner. This thy courage surprises our cowardice; and yet, the burning pile, into which thou didst throw thyself when asked to apostatise, and which was a momentary pain leading thy soul to eternal bliss, was nothing when we compare it with that everlasting fire, to which the sinner condemns himself, almost every day of his life. He heeds not the flames of hell, and deems it no madness to purchase them at the price of some vile passing pleasure. And with all this, worldlings can be scandalised at the Saints, and call them exaggerated, extravagant, imprudent,-because they believed that there is but one thing necessary! Awaken in our hearts, Apollonia, the fear of sin, which gnaws for eternity the souls of them who die with its guilt. upon them. If the fire, which had a charm for thee, seems to us the most frightful of tortures, let us turn our fear of suffering and death into a preservative against sin, which plunges men into that abyss, whence the smoke of their torments shall ascend for ever and ever, as St. John tells us in his Revelations. Have pity on us, most brave and prudent Martyr. Pray for sinners. Open their eyes to see the evils that threaten them. Get us the fear of God, that so we may merit his mercies, and begin in good earnest to love him.
1 Apoc. xiv. 11.
THE Sister of the Patriarch Saint Benedict comes to us to-day, sweetly inviting us to follow her to heaven. Apollonia the Martyr is succeeded by Scholastica the fervent daughter of the Cloister. Both of them are the Spouses of Jesus, both of them wear a crown, for both of them fought hard, and won the palm. Apollonia's battle was with cruel persecutors, and in those hard times when one had to die to conquer; Scholastica's combat was the life-long struggle, whose only truce is the soldier's dying breath. The Martyr and the Nun are sisters now in the Heart of Him they both so bravely loved.
God, in his infinite wisdom, gave to St. Benedict a faithful co-operatrix,-a Sister of such angelic gentleness of character, that she would be a sort of counterpoise to the Brother, whose vocation, as the Legislator of monastic life, needed a certain dignity of grave and stern resolve. We continually meet with these contrasts in the lives of the Saints; and they show us that there is a link, of which flesh and blood know nothing; a link which binds two souls together, gives them power, harmonises their dif ferences of character, and renders each complete. Thus it is in heaven with the several hierarchies of
the Angels; a mutual love, which is founded on God himself, unites them together, and makes them live in the eternal happiness of the tenderest brotherly affection.
Scholastica's earthly pilgrimage was not a short one; and yet it has left us but the history of the Dove, which told the Brother, by its flight to heaven, that his Sister had reached the eternal home before him. We have to thank St. Gregory the Great for even this much, which he tells us as a sequel to the holy dispute she had with Benedict, three days previous to her death. But how admirable is the portrait thus drawn in St. Gregory's best style! We seem to understand the whole character of Scholastica:—an earnest simplicity, and a child-like eagerness, for what was worth her desiring it; an affectionate and unshaken confidence in God; a winning persuasiveness, where there was opposition to God's will, which, when it met such an opponent as Benedict, called on God to interpose, and gained its cause. The old poets tell us strange things about the swan, how sweetly it can sing when dying; how lovely must not have been the last notes of the Dove of the Benedictine Cloister, as she was soaring from earth to heaven!
But how came Scholastica, the humble retiring Nun, by that energy, which could make her resist the will of her Brother, whom she revered as her master and guide? What was it told her that her prayer was not a rash one, and that what she asked for was a higher good than Benedict's unflinching fidelity to the Rule he had written, and which it was his duty to teach by his own keeping it? Let us hear St. Gregory's answer: "It is not to be wondered "at, that the Sister, who wished to prolong her "Brother's stay, should have prevailed over him; for, "whereas St. John tells us, that God is Charity, it happened by a most just judgment, that she that "had the stronger love, had the stronger power."
Our Season is appropriate for the beautiful lesson taught us by St. Scholastica, fraternal charity. Her example should excite us to the love of our neighbour, that love which God bids us labour for, now that we are intent on giving Him our undivided service, and our complete conversion. The Easter Solemnity we are preparing for, is to unite us all in the grand Banquet, where we are all to feast on the one Divine Victim of Love. Let us have our nuptial garment ready; for He that invites us, insists on our having union of heart when we dwell in his House.1
The Church has inserted in her Office of this Feast the account given by St. Gregory of the last interview between St. Scholastica and St Benedict. It is as follows:
Ex libro secundo dialogorum sancti Gregorii Papæ.
Scholastica patris Benedicti soror, omnipotenti Domino ab ipso infantiæ tempore dedicata, ad eum semel per annum venire consueverat. Ad quam vir Dei non longe extra januam in possessione monasterii descendebat. Quadam vero die venit ex more, atque ad eam cum discipulis venerabilis ejus descendit frater; qui totum diem in Dei laudibus, sacrisque colloquiis ducentes, incumbentibus jam noctis tenebris, simul acceperunt cibum. Cumque adhuc ad mensam sederent, et inter sacra colloquia tardior se hora protraheret, eadem
From the second book of the Dialogues of Saint Gregory, Pope.
Scholastica was the Sister of the venerable father Benedict. She had been consecrated to Almighty God from her very infancy, and was accustomed to visit her Brother once a year. The man of God came down to meet her at a house belonging to the monastery, not far from the gate. It was the day for the usual visit, and her venerable Brother came down to her accompanied by some of his brethren. The whole day was spent in the praises of God and holy conversation; and at night-fall, they took their repast together. Whilst they were at table, and it grew late as they conferred with each other on sacred
1 Ps. lxvii. 7.