Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Saint Martin I: The Last Martyr-Pope

An Italian by birth, Martin became Pope in 649. Immediately after his election he convoked a council in Rome to condemn both the Monothelite Heresy (which denied that Jesus had a human will and freedom), and the involvement of Emperor Constans II in Church affairs. In response, the outraged emperor had Pope Martin kidnapped and imprisoned in Constantinople. Saved from execution only through the intervention of the Patriarch of Constantinople, Martin was exiled to Kherson, in the Crimea, where he eventually died as a result of starvation and abuse in 655. He is the last of the Bishops of Rome to be honored as a martyr.

The feast of Pope Martin I is celebrated in both the Eastern and Western Churches.

Today’s First Reading tells us of a dark time in the life of the Early Church, as the first Christians faced severe persecution and exile following the martyrdom of Saint Stephen, the Church’s first martyr. The experience of this early Christians—and other saints, including Pope Martin—remind us of the suffering of so many Christians today. However, today’s Reading also teaches us that “those who had been scattered went about preaching the word.” Rather than give in to external pressure, those Christians used their experience of suffering as an opportunity for evangelization, helping us recognize how light of the Risen Christ can shine out even in the midst of darkness and death.

Pray today for those Christians who are refugees and for those organizations and faith communities who are providing care for them. As you ask Pope Saint Martin I to intercede for them, consider how you can show your care and concern for them through concrete acts of mercy.

Prayer +
Grant, almighty God,
that we may withstand the trials of this world
with the invincible firmness of purpose,
just as you did not allow your Martyr Pope Saint Martin the First
to be daunted by threats or broken by suffering.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
(from The Roman Missal)

Originally published by and posted on their site on April 13, 2016.

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