Easter: May 6th
According to the 1962 Missal of Bl. John XXIII the Extraordinary Form of
the Roman Rite, today is the feast of St. John before the Latin Gate. A
tradition mentioned by St. Jerome, which goes back to the second century,
says St. John the Apostle was taken to Rome under the Emperor Domitian
and plunged into a cauldron of boiling oil; by a striking miracle, he
came out safe and sound from this torture. A church dedicated in honor of
St. John was built near the Latin Gate, the spot referred to by the
St. John before the Latin Gate
One day Salome presented her two sons, James and John, to Jesus, and with
a mother’s ambition asked Him to grant them the highest places in his
Kingdom. In reply, the Savior spoke of the chalice, which He Himself
would have to drink, and foretold that these two disciples would also
drink of it. The elder, James the Great, was the first to give his Master
this proof of his love. John, the younger brother, offered his life in
testimony of Jesus’ divinity.
But the martyrdom of the latter Apostle called for a scene worthy of the
event. Asia Minor, which his zeal had evangelized, 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, alone deserved the honor 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.
In the year 95, John 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 who had been crucified under Pontius Pilate. He was
considered a superstitious and rebellious old man, and it was time to rid
Asia of his presence. He was, therefore, sentenced to an ignominious and
A huge cauldron of boiling oil was prepared in front of the Latin Gate.
The sentence ordered that the preacher of Christ be plunged into this
bath. The hour had come for the second son of Salome to partake of his
Master’s chalice. John’s heart leapt with joy. After cruelly scourging
him, the executioners seized the old man, and threw him into the
cauldron. But, lo! the boiling liquid lost all its heat; the Apostle felt
no scalding. On the contrary, when they took him out again he felt all
the vigor of his youthful years restored to him.
The praetor’s cruelty was foiled, and John, a martyr in desire, was to be
left to the Church for some few years longer. An imperial decree banished
him to the rugged Isle of Patmos, where God revealed to him the future of
the Church even to the end of time.
Excerpted from The Liturgical Year, Abbot Gueranger
The church, in Rome, above, of San Giovanni a Porta Latina was
dedicated in honour of this feast and used to be a liturgical station on
Saturday in Passion Week.