St. Marcellus, Pope and Martyr

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St. Marcellus, Pope and Martyr
A.D. 310.

ST. MARCELLUS was priest under Pope Marcellinus, whom he succeeded in 308, after that see had been vacant for three years and a half. An epitaph written on him by Pope Damasus, who also mentions himself in it, says that by enforcing the canons of holy penance, he drew upon himself the contradictions and persecutions of many tepid and refractory Christians, and that for his severity against a certain apostate, he was banished by the tyrant Maxentius. 1 He died in 310, having sat one year, seven months, and twenty days. Anastatius writes, that Lucina, a devout widow of one Pinianus, who lodged St. Marcellus when he lived in Rome, after his death converted her house into a church, which she called by his name. His false acts relate, that among his other sufferings, he was condemned by the tyrant to keep cattle in this place. He is styled a martyr in the sacramentaries of Gelasius I. and St. Gregory, and in the Martyrologies ascribed to St. Jerom and St. Bede, which, with the rest of the Western calendars, mention his feast on the sixteenth of January. His body lies under the high altar in the ancient church, which bears his name, and gives title to a cardinal in Rome; but certain portions of his relics are honoured at Cluni, Namur, Mons, &c. 1

God is most wonderful in the whole economy of his holy providence over his elect: his power and wisdom are exalted infinitely above the understanding of creatures, and we are obliged to cry out, “Who can search his ways?” 2 We have not penetration to discover all the causes and ends of exterior things, which we see or feel. How much less can we understand this in secret and interior things, which fall not under our senses? “Remember that thou knowest not his work. Behold he is a great God, surpassing our understanding.” 3 How does he make every thing serve his purposes for the sanctification of his servants! By how many ways does he conduct them to eternal glory! Some he sanctifies on thrones; others in cottages; others in retired cells and deserts; others in the various functions of an apostolic life, and in the government of his church. And how wonderfully does he ordain and direct all human events to their spiritual advancement, both in prosperity and in adversity! In their persecutions and trials, especially, we shall discover at the last day, when the secrets of his providence will be manifested to us, the tenderness of his infinite love, the depth of his unsearchable wisdom, and the extent of his omnipotent power. In all his appointments let us adore these his attributes, earnestly imploring his grace, that according to the designs of his mercy, we may, make every thing, especially all afflictions, serve for the exercise and improvement of our virtue. 2



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A Homily by
St. Leo the Pope

When the Lord, as we read in the Gospel, asked his disciples who did men, amid their divers speculations, believe him the Son of Man to be, blessed Peter answered and said: Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And the Lord answered and said unto him: Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-Jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father, which is in heaven: and I say also unto thee: That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it; and I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. But the dispensation of truth perdures, and blessed Peter, persevering in the strength of the rock which he hath received, hath not relinquished the position he assumed at the helm of the Church.

In the universal Church it is as if Peter were still saying every day: Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. For every tongue which confesseth the Lord is taught that confession by the teaching of Peter. This is the Faith that overcometh the devil and looseth the bonds of his prisoners. This is the Faith which maketh men free of the world and bringeth them to heaven, and the gates of hell are impotent to prevail against it. This is the rock which God hath fortified with such ramparts of salvation, that the contagion of heresy will never be able to infect it, nor idolatry and unbelief to overcome it. And therefore, dearly beloved, we celebrate today's festival with reasonable obedience, that in my humble person he may be acknowledged and honoured who doth continue to care for all the shepherds as well as sheep entrusted unto him, and who doth lose none of his dignity even in an unworthy successor.

When, therefore, we address our exhortations to your godly ears, believe ye that ye are hearing him speak whose office we are discharging. Yea, it is with his love for you that we warn you. And we preach unto you no other thing than that which he taught, entreating you as did he: Gird up the loins of your mind; be sober; be ye holy in all manner of living; pass the time of your sojourning here in the fear of God. My disciples, dearly beloved, ye are to me as the disciples of the Apostle Paul were to him, namely: My crown and joy; if so be that your faith, abide, still in all lowliness and holiness, like unto the first times of the Gospel. For although the whole Church, which is in all the world, should indeed abound in all the virtues, it becometh especially you among all others to excel in acts of piety, founded as ye be on the very citadel of the Apostolic Rock?ye who have not only been redeemed with the rest of men by our Lord Jesus Christ, but who have been instructed by the blessed Apostle Peter far beyond all others.
 
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