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SAINTS TIMOTHY, AGAPIUS, AND THECLA, MARTYRS
From Eus. de Mart. Palæst. c. 3, and their genuine acts in Assemani, t. 2, p. 184.
A. D. 304.
WHILST Dioclesian yet held the reins of the government in his own hands, Urban the president of Palestine signalized his rage and cruelty against the Christians. In the second year of the general persecution, by his order, St. Timothy, for having boldly confessed his faith, was inhumanly scourged, his sides were torn with iron combs on the rack, and he was at length burnt to death at a slow fire at Gaza, on the 1st of May, 304, giving by his patience, a certain proof that his charity was perfect. SS. Agapius and Thecla, after suffering many torments, were condemned by the same judge to be led to Cæsarea, and there exposed to wild beasts Thecla was despatched by the beasts in the amphitheatre: but Agapius escaped both from their fury, and from the swords of the confectors on that day. He was therefore detained two years longer in prison, till Maximin Daia Cæsar gave orders that this confessor should be one of the victims to grace the festival, unless he would abjure the Christian faith. His sufferings had no way abated his constancy, and the delay of his crown had increased the ardor of his desires speedily to join his companions in glory. In the amphitheatre he was torn by a bear, but not killed either by the beasts or confectors; and wounded as he was, on the following day he was thrown into the sea; both Latins and Greeks celebrate the memory of these martyrs on the 19th of August.
A glorious company of happy friends waits for us in God’s heavenly kingdom! Innumerable legions of angels, and all the saints who have lived on earth before us from the beginning of the world; so many holy kings, doctors, hermits, martyrs, virgins, and confessor’s, and several friends with whom we here conversed. They are already arrived at the safe harbor of eternal bliss. With what pleasure do we, with Agapius, raise our thoughts and eyes towards them, contemplating the joys and glory of which they are now possessed, and comparing with it our present state of conflicts, dangers, and sufferings! They look down from their seats of glory on us, and behold our combats with affection and solicitude for us. We are called to follow them, and do not we redouble our desires to join them? do not we earnestly prepare ourselves by compunction, penance, divine love, and the practice of all good works, to be worthy of their fellowship? do not we exult at the thought that we are very shortly, by the divine mercy, to be united to that blessed company, and made partners of their joy, triumph, and glory? do not we sigh for that hour, and, in the mean time, despise from our hearts all foolish promises or threats of the world, and bear with joy all labors or pains, that we may with the saints enjoy Christ? “Oh! if the glorious day of eternity had already shone upon us, whither would it even now have carried us? in what joys should we have been this instant overwhelmed?” says the devout Thomas à Kempis.