Denver, Colo., May 27, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - On June 2, the Catholic Church remembers two fourth-century martyrs, Saints Marcellinus and Peter, who were highly venerated after the discovery of their tomb and the conversion of their executioner.
Although the biographical details of the two martyrs are largely unknown, it is known that they lived and died during the reign of the Roman Emperor Diocletian. In 302, the ruler changed his tolerant stance and pursued a policy intended to eliminate the Church from the empire.
Diocletian and his subordinate ordered the burning of Catholic churches and their sacred texts, as well as the imprisonment and torture of clergy and laypersons. The goal was to force Christians to submit to the Roman pagan religion, including the worship of the emperor himself as divine.
It was at the mid-point of this persecution, around 303, that a Roman exorcist by the name of Peter was imprisoned for his faith. While in prison, tradition holds that Peter freed Paulina, the daughter of the prison-keeper Artemius, from demonic influence by his prayers.
This demonstration of Christ's power over demons is said to have brought about the conversion of Paulina, Artemius, his wife, and the entire household, all of whom were baptized by the Roman priest Marcellinus.
After this, both Marcellinus and Peter were called before a judge who was determined to enforce the emperor's decree against the Church. When Marcellinus testified courageously to his faith in Christ, he was beaten, stripped of his clothes, and deprived of food in a dark cell filled with broken glass shards.
Peter, too, was returned to his confinement. But neither man would deny Christ, and both preferred death over submission to the cult of pagan worship.
It was arranged for the two men to be executed secretly, in order to prevent the faithful from gathering in prayer and veneration at the place of their burial. Their executioner forced them to clear away a tangle of thorns and briars, which the two men did cheerfully, accepting their death with joy.
Both men were beheaded in the forest and buried in the clearing they had made. The location of the saints' bodies remained unknown for some time, until a devout woman named Lucilla received a revelation informing her where the priest and exorcist lay.
With the assistance of another woman, Firmina, Lucilla recovered the two saints' bodies and had them re-interred in the Roman Catacombs. Sts. Marcellinus and Peter are among the saints named in the Western Church's most traditional Eucharistic prayer, the Roman Canon.
Pope St. Damasus I, who was himself a great devotee of the Church's saints during his life, composed an epitaph to mark the tombs of the two martyrs. The source of his knowledge, he said, was the executioner himself, who had subsequently repented and joined the Catholic Church.
Vatican City, May 27, 2012 (CNA) -
This coming September an international colloquium in Vatican City will consider how men and women become "one flesh" in marriage, and examine the "language of the body" from Christian perspectives.
"What type of union is the conjugal union, which comes about when a man and a woman become 'one flesh'?" asks the conference announcement.
The Vatican City-based Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family is hosting the Sept. 20-21 colloquium, titled "One flesh: the Language of the Body and the Conjugal Union."
The colloquium's title draws from Pope Benedict XVI's May 13, 2011 address to the institute in which he reflected on the creation of Adam and Eve.
"The flesh received from God is required to make possible the union of love between man and woman and transmit life," he said. "Before the Fall the bodies of Adam and Eve appear in perfect harmony. There is a language in them that they did not create, an eros rooted in their nature which invites them to receive one another reciprocally from the Creator, so as to be able to give themselves."
The conference will examine and deepen the understanding of the "one flesh" union in both its "biblical and patristic richness" and in theological reflection.
The conference announcement said it is necessary to distinguish the conjugal union from "substitutes" in a society that has lost the sense of what it means to become "one flesh."
This union "consummates love," unites the persons "in a unique way" and opens "a fruitful journey towards the total unity of life."
Colloquium topics include marital intercourse as an "interpersonal" union, the "one flesh" union and the Creator, and how fruitfulness relates to the "one flesh" of marriage. Speakers will consider the topic from theological and psychological perspectives as well as from the perspective of canon law.
Professor David Crawford of the Pontifical John Paul II Institute in Washington, D.C. will speak on the topic "The 'one flesh' in time: mutual promotion of the spouses."
Colloquium sessions will have simultaneous translation into English, Italian and French.
Online registration is available through the Vatican City John Paul II institute's website at http://www.istitutogp2.it
Vatican City, May 27, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - Pope Benedict XVI has announced that he will declare St. Hildegard of Bingen and St. John of Avila as Doctors of the Church on Oct. 7 2012 at the beginning of this year’s Synod of Bishops in Rome.
“These two great witnesses of the faith lived in very different historical periods and came from different cultural backgrounds,” said the Pope in his Regina Coeli address May 27.
“But the sanctity of life and depth of teaching makes them perpetually present: the grace of the Holy Spirit, in fact, projected them into that experience of penetrating understanding of divine revelation and intelligent dialogue with the world that constitutes the horizon of permanent life and action of the Church.”
The title of "Doctor of the Church" is bestowed upon a saint whose writings are deemed to be of universal importance to the Church. The Pope must also declare the individual to be of “eminent learning” and “great sanctity.” Other Doctors of the Church include St. Augustine, St. John Chryosostom, St. Francis de Sales, and St. Catherine of Siena.
St. John of Avila was a 16th century Spanish priest, mystic, preacher and scholar. Pope Benedict announced his intention to name him a Doctor of the Church at World Youth Day in Madrid last August but had not set a specific date for doing so.
St. Hildegard was a 12th century German nun, writer, composer, philosopher and mystic, as well as an abbess and founder of several monasteries. This month Pope Benedict formally added her to the Church’s roster of saints, extending her liturgical feast throughout the world.
“Especially in light of the project of the new evangelization, to which the Assembly of the Synod of Bishops will be dedicated, and on the vigil of the Year of Faith, these two figures of saints and doctors are of considerable importance and relevance,” said Pope Benedict.
The papal declaration came on the Feast of Pentecost which marks the conclusion of Eastertide and recalls the coming of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles after the Ascension of Christ.
“Jesus, risen and ascended into heaven, sends His Spirit to the Church, so that all Christians can share in His divine life and become His effective witness in the world,” said the Pope.
He then prayed the Eastertide midday Marian prayer along with thousands of pilgrims gathered in St Peter’s Square before imparting his apostolic blessing.