On this date in 1912, a 50,000-ton metaphor for hubris left port in Southampton for its first and only voyage. It was a ship.
Our eastern saints today are Terence and the Forty Martyrs of Carthage (d. ca. 250). When Emperor Decius decided to pluck the Christian tares from the pagan wheat, his governor in Carthage, Fortunianus (I was going to make a humorous gloss on his name but thought better of it), gathered the townsfolk together, and set out all the torture implements at his disposal in the town square, saying, “Now sacrifice to the idols.” Terence and either 39 or 40 other Christians refused, mocking them and blowing raspberries (or equivalent). Fortunianus was wroth, and made fun of them for worshipping an executed criminal. “Don’t be silly,” they said. “He did that on purpose, and then he rose again.” The Gov had the ringleaders Terence, Africanus, Maximus, and Pompeius separated from the others and put in prison.
The remaining 36 (ah, so it’s 40 total) were tortured in myriad ways, then dragged into the temple, where they cried out asking God to destroy the place as he had destroyed Sodom. God obliged — the idols toppled, and the temple collapsed around them. Fortunianus, fearing he might lose control of the situation, had them beheaded.
The other four were then brought out of prison and shown the bodies of their comrades, but when they still refused to sacrifice to idols, they were bound in heavy chains and returned to prison to starve to death. But in the night angels came to them with bolt-cutters and catering, and in the morning the guards found them well-fed and happy and not in the least inclined to apostatize. Fortunianus had his sorcerers throw snakes and poisonous nasties into the cell, but when the guards peeped in later, the martyrs were praying, and the critters were playing around their feet like happy puppies. The sorcerers opened the door to see what was going on, and they were all bitten and died. Finally Fortunianus, sensing eminent loss of control, had Terence and his companions beheaded. Other Christians came later, and buried their bodies reverently.
Our western saint today is Anthony Neyrot (1425 – 1460), who was born, became a Dominican, and was priested before his story was a paragraph old, at least in my sources. He monasticized for a time in Florence under the future Saint Antoninus, but it wasn’t to his liking. Nor were any of the monasteries he tried, and he tried a few. Finally on one trip he was captured by pirates and taken to Tunis. The Caliph there liked him, and treated him kindly, but he was so obnoxious about his Christian faith that they eventually got sick of him and threw him in prison. Clearly not cut out for the ascetic life, he grew so tired of bread and water that he renounced his faith in order to gain his freedom.
To all appearances he took to Islam like a duck. He married a Turkish noblewoman, was adopted by the king, and even began translating the Qur’an (into what, it doesn’t say). Then he received word that Antoninus was dead, and felt a twinge of guilt. When Antoninus appeared to him in a dream and gave him a mental morsel, the twinge metastasized. He found the local Dominican exchange office and confessed all he had done, and on Palm Sunday, he was received back into the faith. They even found him a spare Dominican-style habit. Wanting to be as public about his new old faith as he was about his old new faith, he waited until that (Holy) Thursday, when the king was having a parade, and rushed up onto the palace steps, proclaiming his faith in Christ. He was peremptorily dragged out of town and stoned to death.
His body was redeemed “at great expense” by some Genovese merchants, and returned to his hometown of Rivoli, where it was associated with many miracles, and an annual pilgrimage sprang up. His sainthood was confirmed by Clement XIII in 1767.
Copyright © 2013 Alex Riggle. All Rights Reserved.
April 10 (Wikipedia)
RMS Titanic (Wikipedia)
St Terence and his Companions beheaded at Carthage (Greek Archd. of Australia) – Main source
Blessed Antony Neyrot (St. Patrick DC) – Main source
Anthony Neyrot (Wikipedia)
Blessed Antoine Neyrot (SQPN)