Clouds; felt a bit of Summer's heat last evening-- am fairly sure that we reached 80 degrees F.-- and I expect that today will be warmed. It is the feast of the Apostle Saint John ante Portam Latinam, at the Latin Gate (Introibo, CE, Wiki [the church, mainly], New Liturgical Movement); it was suppressed at some point after 1955 but prior to the imposition of the 1960 Calendar from which it is absent: the modern liturgicist's mind doesn't appreciate apostles being plunged into boiling oil at Rome and emerging unharmed, ready to write a second Book of the Sacred Scriptures on Patmos. I imagine that Dom Prosper and the Blessed Ildefonso have a rather different attitude. Holy Mass will be streamed from Saint-Eugène at the usual hour.
The Beloved Disciple John, whom we saw standing near the Crib of the Babe of Bethlehem, comes before us again today; and this time, he is paying his delighted homage to the glorious Conqueror of death and hell. Like Philip and James, he too is clad in the scarlet robe of Martyrdom. The Month of May, so rich in Saints, was to be graced with the Palm of St. John. Salome one day presented her two sons to Jesus, and, with a mother's ambition, had asked him to grant them the highest places in his kingdom. The Saviour, in his reply, spoke of the Chalice which he himself had to drink, and foretold that these two Disciples would also drink of it. The elder, James the Greater, was the first to give his Master this proof of his love; we shall celebrate his victory when the sun is in Leo; it was to-day that John, the younger Brother, offered his life in testimony of Jesus' Divinity.But the martyrdom of such an Apostle called for a scene worthy the event. Asia Minor, which his zeal had evangelised, was not a sufficiently glorious land for such a combat. Rome-- whither Peter had transferred his Chair and where he died on his cross, and where Paul had bowed down his venerable head beneath the sword-- Rome alone deserved the honour of seeing the Beloved Disciple march on to Martyrdom, with that dignity and sweetness which are the characteristics of this veteran of the Apostolic College. Domitian was then Emperor, the tyrant over Rome and the world. Whether it were that John undertook this journey of his own free choice, and from a wish to visit the Mother-Church, or that he was led thither bound with chains, in obedience to an imperial edict, John, the august founder of the seven Churches of Asia Minor, appeared before the tribunal of pagan Rome. He was convicted of having propagated, in a vast province of the Empire, the worship of a Jew that had been crucified under Pontius Pilate. He was a superstitious and rebellious old man, and it was time to rid Asia of his presence. He was therefore sentenced to an ignominious and cruel death. He had somehow escaped Nero's power; but he should not elude the vengeance of Caesar Domitian!A huge cauldron of boiling oil is prepared in front of the Latin Gate. The sentence orders that the preacher of Christ be plunged into this bath. The hour is come for the second son of Salome to partake of his Master's Chalice. John's heart leaps with joy, at the thought that he, the most dear to Jesus, and yet the only Apostle that has not suffered death for him, is, at last, permitted to give him this earnest of his love. After cruelly scourging him, the executioners seize the old man, and throw him into the cauldron; but, lo! the boiling liquid has lost all its heat; the Apostle feels no scalding; on the contrary, when they take him out again, he feels all the vigour of his youthful years restored to him. The Praetor's cruelty is foiled, and John, the Martyr in desire, is to be left to the Church for some few years longer.An imperial decree banishes him to the rugged Isle of Patmos, where God reveals to him the future of the Church, even to the end of time. The Church of Rome, which counts the abode and martyrdom of St. John as one of her most glorious memories, has marked, with a Basilica, the spot where the Apostle bore his noble testimony to the Christian Faith. This Basilica stands near the Latin Gate, and gives a title to one of the Cardinals.
I had wondered about the title of martyr, myself. Dom Prosper includes a sequence or prose attributed to the blessed Adam of Saint-Victor (it's not in Dr Mousseau's collection of authentic works) that expresses this, I think:
Mirantur, nimiaTormenti saevitia,Quod martyr quis fiatEt poenas non sentiat
Men know that the torments for him are cruel beyond measure; yet do they wonder within themselves, how a man can be a Martyr, and feel no pain.
Post Sextam. We are trying mightily to have a rain storm here but it just isn't coming off; for now a bit of sunlight is returning and the birds are singing again.
The greater part of Cardinal Schuster's treatment of the feast of Saint John ante Portam Latinam; he seems not to be quite so effusively sentimental about it as Dom Prosper.
A feast of St John the Evangelist appears on this day in the Gothic Missal, but without any indication as to where it was held. At Rome, on the other hand, after the 9th century, the festival was assigned to a basilica near the Latin Gate, connecting with it all that Tertullian relates concerning St John, how, having been thrown at Rome into a cauldron of boiling oil, he came out of it unharmed and even more vigorous than before.
This account of the martyrdom of St John is wholly reliable, for Tertullian was thoroughly well informed as to the Roman traditions of the third century; but that the dolium of boiling oil stood on the site of the Church before the Latin Gate is very far from being proved, especially as the Latin Gate itself forms part of the circuit of the city walls, constructed under Aurelian.
... Refert autem Tertullianus, quod Romæ missus in ferventis ólei dolium, purior et vegetior exíverit, quam intraverit.
However this may be, the Liturgy today does not give so much importance to the question of locality; but, at the space of a few days from the ancient natalis of James, the brother of John, who was slain by the sword about Paschal-tide, it celebrates the martyrdom of the evangelist who, according to the prophecy of the Saviour, was also, like his brother, to drink of the chalice of the passion, in order that he might have the right to one of the highest thrones in the Messianic kingdom, which his Mother had begged for him.
The Mass is of the Common of Martyrs at Easter-tide, Protexisti, as on April 24. The Collect is as follows: 'O God, who seest that evils harass us on every side; grant, we beseech thee, that the glorious intercession of blessed John, thy apostle and evangelist, may always protect us. Through our Lord.'
The first Alleluia verse is like that of the feast of St Nicholas on December 6; the second, like that of the feast of St Paul the first Hermit, on January 15. In them the holy apostle, on account of his unstained virginal innocence, is compared to a flourishing tree and to a sweet flower which never fades. The Gospel (Matt, 20,20-23) contains the prophecy of our Saviour concerning the martyrdom of John, in which we should note that the first condition which Jesus lays down before a soul can aspire to enter into his kingdom, is that it must first have part with him in drinking of the chalice of his passion. There are no exceptions to this rule; for, as the Eternal Father did not dispense his only-begotten Son from such great suffering, so he also did not will that his beloved disciple should be exempt therefrom. We must, then, take courage. If the bitter chalice were other than this one, we might not be able to overcome the shrinking of our nature, but Jesus tells us that this chalice is his, to which he has placed his own lips, and of which he has drunk deeply. Therefore, it is only a small portion which remains for us, and, moreover, it has been sanctified by the blessing of the Saviour. The Secret is that of the Common of a Martyr, not a Bishop: 'Receive our offerings and prayers, O Lord, we beseech thee; cleanse us by thy heavenly mysteries, and graciously hear us. Through our Lord.' The Preface is that of the apostles. The Post-Communion is worded thus: 'Being refreshed, O Lord, with the bread of heaven, we beseech thee that we may be nourished to life eternal. Through our Lord.'
It is also the feast of Saint Edbert (7th century), of Saint Lucius (1st-2nd century), and of Saint Jutta (13th century).
V. Et álibi aliórum plurimórum sanctórum Mártyrum et Confessórum, atque sanctárum Vírginum. R. Deo grátias.