Monday, August 22, 2011

Saints Timothy, Hippolytus, and Symphorian

Along with this being the octave day of the Dormition of the Mother of God, it is also the day on which the Church remembers three martyrs.

In the early fourth century Timothy of Antioch started preaching in Rome.  The prefect had him arrested and sent to prison, after which he was scourged for his refusal to sacrifice to the gods.  Finally, he was beheaded.

The facts surrounding Hippolytus are lost.  We are told in the martyrology, however, that at Ostia he was bound hand and foot by Emperor Alexander and thrown into a pit of water.  His body was recovered by Christians, and buried nearby.

Symphorian was a young man of the late third century.  For his faith he was brought to trial before Emperor Aurelian.  His mother encouraged him thus, "My son, think of eternal life. Raise your glance to heaven and behold your eternal King! Your life will not be taken from you, but transformed into a better one!"

All three of these holy men were called to give witness to Christ their Lord.  The same goes for all Christians today.  The difference is simply that of circumstance, and that in some cases witness takes the form of bloody martyrdom, while in other cases our witness takes the form of what the Church calls white martyrdom, that is, the witness of the sacrifice of our whole life for the sake of Christ. 

Let us remember with gratitude these martyrs, and consider what the Epistle to the Hebrews calls the "end of their conversation," and let us strive to follow their witness, in whatever way God calls each of us to do.

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