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SS. PRIMUS AND FELICIANUS, MARTYRS
This account is abridged from their acts in Surius, and the continuators of Bollandus, with the Notes of Henschenius. Jun. t. 2, p. 149. See Tillemont,1. 4, p. 571.
A. D. 286.
THESE two martyrs were brothers, and lived in Rome many years, mutually encouraging each other in the practice of all good works. They seemed to possess nothing but for the poor, and often spent both nights and days with the confessors in their dungeons, or at the places of their torments and execution. Some they encouraged to perseverance, others who had fallen they raised again, and they made themselves the servants of all in Christ that all might attain to salvation through him. Though their zeal was most remarkable, they had escaped the dangers of many bloody persecutions, and were grown old in the heroic exercises of virtue when it pleased God to crown their labors with a glorious martyrdom. The pagans raised so great an outcry against them, that by a joint order of Dioclesian and Maximian Herculius they were both apprehended and put in chains. This must have happened in 286, soon after Maximian was associated in the empire, for the two emperors never seem to have met together in Rome after that year. These princes commanded them to be inhumanly scourged, and then sent them to Promotus at Nomentum, a town twelve miles from Rome, to be further chastised, as avowed enemies to the gods. This judge caused them to be cruelly tortured, first both together, afterwards separate from each other; and sought by various arts to cheat them into compliance, as by telling Primus that Felician had offered sacrifice. But the grace of God strengthened them, and they were at length both beheaded on the 9th of June. Their names occur on this day in the ancient western calendars, and in the Sacramentary of St. Gregory the Great. Their bodies were thrown into the fields, but taken up by the Christians, and interred near Nomentum. They were removed to Rome by pope Theodorus, about the year 645, and reposited in the church of St. Stephen on mount Celio.
A soul which truly loves God regards all the things of this world as dung, with St. Paul, that she may gain Christ. The loss of goods, the disgrace of the world, torments, sickness, and other afflictions are bitter to the senses; but appear light to him that loves. If we can bear nothing with patience and silence, it is because we love God only in words. “One who is slothful and lukewarm complains of every thing, and calls the lightest precepts hard,” says Thomas à Kempis;1 “but a fervent soul finds every thing easy which can unite her more closely to God, and embraces his holy will in all things with cheerfulness.”