07 June 2010

The PriestMartyr Marcellinus, Pope of Rome

The PriestMartyr Marcellinus, Pope of Rome, and with him the Holy Martyrs Claudius, Cyrinus and Antoninus: Saint Marcellinus was Pope of Rome during the height of the persecution against Christians under Diocletian and Maximian (284-305), when during the course of a single month 17,000 men were martyred. During this time also Pope Marcellinus was arrested. Terrified of the fierce tortures, he burned incense and offered sacrifice to idols. The emperor called him his friend and attired him in splendid clothes. Torn with agonising remorse, he wept bitterly that, having roused many to accept torture for Christ, he himself gave his flock an example of cowardice.

During this time at the city of Sinuessa (in Campania) there met a Council consisting of 180 bishops and presbyters. Pope Marcellinus appeared at the assembled Council in penitential hair-shirt, his head sprinkled with ashes, and he asked to be judged for his betrayal. The fathers of the Council said: "Judge thyself with thine own lips. From thy lips the sin did come forth, from thy lips likewise let judgement be pronounced. We know, that even Saint Peter out of fear denied Christ, but he bitterly bewept his sin and again received blessing of the Lord".

Then Marcellinus pronounced sentence upon himself: "I recognise myself deprived of the priestly dignity, of which I am unworthy. After death let my body not be given over to burial, but rather thrown for devouring to the dogs; cursed be the one who dares to bury it".

Upon his return to Rome Marcellinus went to the emperor, threw down at his feet the fine clothing given him and said, that he bitterly regretted his renunciation of Christ. The enraged emperor gave orders to torture him and sentenced him to death.

Fervently having prayed to the Lord Jesus Christ, Who mercifully receives sinners that do repent, the martyr willingly placed his head beneathe the sword. With him were beheaded the holy Martyrs Claudius, Cyrinus and Antoninus (+ 304).

The body of Saint Marcellinus lay for 36 days along the wayside. Appearing in a vision to the newly-made Pope Marcellus, the holy Apostle Peter said: "Why all this time hast thou not given burial to the body of Marcellinus?" "I fear his curse," -- answered Saint Marcellus. "Perhaps thou dost not remember, -- said the Apostle Peter, -- that it is written: 'He that humbleth himself shalt be exalted'. Wherefore go bury his body with reverence".

Fulfilling the command of the Apostle Peter, Saint Marcellus buried the body of holy Pope Marcellinus in a crypt, built for burial of the bodies of martyrs by the illustrious Roman Priscilla, along the Via Salaria.

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