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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Station at St. Sixtus the Old on the Via Appia.


Wednesday after the Third Sunday in Lent.
Station at St. Sixtus the Old on the Via Appia.
(S. Sisto Vecchio a via Appia.)

Pope St. Sixtus ordains St. Lawrence a Deacon.

Before the body of the martyr Pope Sixtus II (A.D. 257 - 258)

was carried to this church from the cemetery of St. Callixtus,
it was known as the titulus of Tyridis after the name of its foundress.
A convent of virgins was attached to it
which was afterwards given by Pope Honorius III (1216-1227) to St. Dominic.

The church is ancient and venerable,
so rich in holy memories and history.
It has a forlorn look,
being now bare of ornament and little frequented.

According to ancient tradition it was at this point on the Appian Way
that St. Lawrence overtook St. Sixtus II, and the four deacons,
SS. Januarius, Magnus, Vicentius and Stephanus,
as they were being dragged to martyrdom.

St. Lawrence, shedding tears of grief at not being allowed
to share in their martyrdom,
fell at the Pope's feet exclaiming:

"Father, where are you going without your son?
Whither are you going, O holy priest, without your deacon?
You were never wont to offer sacrifice without me your minister.
Wherein have I displeased you?
Have uyou found me wanting in my duty?
Try me now,
and see whether you have made choice of an unfit minister
for dispensing the Blood of the Lord."

The holy Sixtus replied:
"I do not leave you, my son,
but a greater trial and more glorious victory
are reserved for you, who are in the full vigour of youth.
We are spared on account of our weakness and old age.
You will follow me in four day's time."

In ancient times the scrutiny of the catechumens

who wished to be admitted to baptism on Holy Saturday night began today;
that is why the Mass of the day has a distinctly catechetical character.
The solemn announcement of the Decalogue (from Exodus Chapter 20)
is intended especially for the catechumens.

Pope Sixtus II entrusts St. Lawrence with money for the poor.

+
Take special note of today's ancient Secret:

Suscipe... Receive we beseech Thee, O Lord, the prayers of Thy people, with offerings of sacrifices,
and defend from all dangers them that celebrate Thy mysteries.
Through our Lord.

The words:
and defend from all dangers them that celebrate Thy mysteries
may be noted in connection with
the history of St. Sixtus II and his four deacons
who, on August 6 A.D. 258, in order to escape the vigilance of persecutors
assembled his flock in the lesser known cemetery of
Prætextatus.
They were surprised whilst celebrating Mass;
St. Sixtus was seated.
Four days later St. Lawrence was martyred.

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