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Thursday, June 26, 2014

Sts. John and Paul

Ordinary Time: June 26th


The Acts of these two martyrs, which historians regard as spurious, contain the following: "The two brothers, John and Paul, were valets to Constantia, the daughter of Emperor Constantine. For their excellent work, she bequeathed to them a considerable sum. This they used to aid poor Christians. When Julian the Apostate (361-363) invited them to become members of the inner circle of the imperial household, they refused and boldly explained that they did not relish close association with one, who had fallen away from Jesus Christ. The Emperor gave them ten days to reconsider their position, threatening them with death if at the end of this time they refused to do his bidding and sacrifice to Jupiter. The brothers used the interval to distribute what remained of their possessions to the poor so that they could begin their journey home to God with less hindrance, while at the same time benefiting many who would 'receive them into the everlasting dwellings' (Luke 16:9). Their choice was death, and they were beheaded in their own house."

Both John and Paul were highly venerated by the Roman Church. They are mentioned in the Canon of the Mass and in the Litany of the Saints. Their particular virtue was love toward the poor. The following, at least, is historically certain: these two court officials were martyred and buried in their own house. Byzas and Pammachius transformed this house into a church dedicated to the two martyrs. Excavations have proven these points. Beneath the church were found their home, the tombs, and the place of execution.

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