January 24: St Timothy, Memorial


St Timothy is most famous as the recipient of two of the letters of St Paul.  He accompanied St Paul on several of his journeys, and was consecrated as bishop of Ephesus by him in 65 AD.  He was martyred in the year 80 AD when he tried to stop a pagan procession through the streets.

Pope Benedict XVI gave a General Audience on him (and St Titus) back in 2006 which is well worth reading:

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Having spoken at length on the great Apostle Paul, today let us look at his two closest collaborators: Timothy and Titus. Three Letters traditionally attributed to Paul are addressed to them, two to Timothy and one to Titus.

Timothy is a Greek name which means "one who honours God". Whereas Luke mentions him six times in the Acts, Paul in his Letters refers to him at least 17 times (and his name occurs once in the Letter to the Hebrews).

One may deduce from this that Paul held him in high esteem, even if Luke did not consider it worth telling us all about him.

Indeed, the Apostle entrusted Timothy with important missions and saw him almost as an alter ego, as is evident from his great praise of him in his Letter to the Philippians. "I have no one like him (isópsychon) who will be genuinely anxious for your welfare" (2:20).

Timothy was born at Lystra (about 200 kilometres northwest of Tarsus) of a Jewish mother and a Gentile father (cf. Acts 16:1).

The fact that his mother had contracted a mixed-marriage and did not have her son circumcised suggests that Timothy grew up in a family that was not strictly observant, although it was said that he was acquainted with the Scriptures from childhood (cf. II Tm 3:15). The name of his mother, Eunice, has been handed down to us, as well as that of his grandmother, Lois (cf. II Tm 1:5).

Chosen for his good reputation

When Paul was passing through Lystra at the beginning of his second missionary journey, he chose Timothy to be his companion because "he was well spoken of by the brethren at Lystra and Iconium" (Acts 16:2), but he had him circumcised "because of the Jews that were in those places" (Acts 16:3).

Together with Paul and Silas, Timothy crossed Asia Minor as far as Troy, from where he entered Macedonia. We are informed further that at Philippi, where Paul and Silas were falsely accused of disturbing public order and thrown into prison for having exposed the exploitation of a young girl who was a soothsayer by several unscrupulous individuals (cf. Acts 16:16-40), Timothy was spared.

When Paul was then obliged to proceed to Athens, Timothy joined him in that city and from it was sent out to the young Church of Thessalonica to obtain news about her and to strengthen her in the faith (cf. I Thes 3:1-2). He then met up with the Apostle in Corinth, bringing him good news about the Thessalonians and working with him to evangelize that city (cf. II Cor 1:19).

We find Timothy at Ephesus during Paul's third missionary journey. It was probably from there that the Apostle wrote to Philemon and to the Philippians; he sent both Letters jointly with Timothy (cf. Phlm 1; Phil 1:1).

From Ephesus, Paul sent Timothy to Macedonia, together with a certain Erastus (cf. Acts 19:22), and then also to Corinth with the mission of taking a letter to the Corinthians, in which he recommended that they welcome him warmly (cf. I Cor 4:17; 16:10-11).

We encounter him again as the joint sender of the Second Letter to the Corinthians, and when Paul wrote the Letter to the Romans from Corinth he added Timothy's greetings as well as the greetings of the others (cf. Rom 16:21).

From Corinth, the disciple left for Troy on the Asian coast of the Aegean See and there awaited the Apostle who was bound for Jerusalem at the end of his third missionary journey (cf. Acts 20:4).

From that moment in Timothy's biography, the ancient sources mention nothing further to us, except for a reference in the Letter to the Hebrews which says: "You should understand that our brother Timothy has been released, with whom I shall see you if he comes soon" (13:23).

To conclude, we can say that the figure of Timothy stands out as a very important pastor. According to the later Storia Ecclesiastica by Eusebius, Timothy was the first Bishop of Ephesus (cf. 3, 4). Some of his relics, brought from Constantinople, were found in Italy in 1239 in the Cathedral of Termoli in the Molise.

From the martyrology: SS Emerentiana and Martyrius (Jan 23)


St Agnes cup, c14th

In the Office today we celebrate the feast of St Emerentiana, of whom the martyrology says:

"At Rome, the holy virgin and martyr, St. Emerentiana.  Being yet a catechumen, she was stoned to death by the heathens while praying at the tomb of St. Agnes, her foster sister."

The martyrology also mentions St. Martyrius, a monk, mentioned by St Gregory the Great in his Dialogues, Book I:

"A certain man lived in that province, called Martirius, who was a very devout servant of almighty God, and gave this testimony of his virtuous life. For, upon a certain day, the other monks, his brethren, made a hearth-cake, forgetting to make upon it the sign of the cross: for in that country they use to make a cross upon their loaves, dividing them so into four parts: when the servant of God came, they told him that it was not marked: who, seeing it covered with ashes and coals, asked why they did not sign it, and speaking so, he made the sign of the cross with his hand against the coals: which thing whiles he was in doing, the cake gave a great crack, as though the pan had been broken with the fire: after it was baked and taken out, they found it marked with the sign of the cross, which yet not any corporal touching, but the faith of Martirius had imprinted."

January 22: St Vincent, Martyr, Memorial

St Vincent of Sarragossa (aka Vincent of Huesca or Vincent the Deacon) was martyred under Diocletian in 304 at Valencia in Spain.

He was born at Saragossa, and was ordained deacon and commissioned to do the preaching in the diocese, the bishop Valerius having an impediment of speech. By order of the Governor Dacian he and his bishop were dragged in chains to Valencia and kept in prison for a long time. Then Valerius was banished, but Vincent was subjected to many cruel torments, the rack, the gridiron, and scourgings. He was again imprisoned, in a cell strewn with potsherds. He was next placed in a soft and luxurious bed, to shake his constancy, but here he expired.

His body was thrown to be devoured by vultures, but it was defended by a raven. Dacian had the body cast into the sea, but it came to shore and was buried by a pious widow.

St Vincent of Saragossa (Jan 22); St Anastasius, monk of Persia



From the martyrology for January 22:

"At Valencia in Spain, while the wicked Dacian was governor, St. Vincent, deacon and martyr, who, after suffering imprisonment, hunger, the rack, and the disjointing of his limbs, was burned with plates of heated metal and on the gridiron, and tormented in other ways, then took his flight to heaven, there to receive the reward of martyrdom.  His noble triumph over his sufferings has been skillfully set forth in verse by Prudentius, and also was eulogized by St. Augustine and Pope St. Leo."

You can read more about him here.

Also in the martyrology today, St Anastasius, a convert martyred in 628:

"At Bethsaloen in Assyria, St. Anastasius, a Persian monk, who after suffering much at Caesarea in Palestine from imprisonment, stripes, and fetters, had to bear many afflictions from Chosroes, king of Persia, who caused him to be beheaded.  He had sent before him to martyrdom seventy of his companions, who were drowned in a river.  His head was brought to Rome, at Aquae Salviae, together with his revered image, by the sight of which demons are expelled, and diseases cured, as is attested by the Acts of the second Council of Nicea."

Third Week after the Epiphany (Jan 22-28)


Sunday 22 January Third Sunday after Epiphany, Class II

Matins: All as in the psalter; readings, responsories and collect of the Sunday

Lauds: Psalm schema 1 – 50, 117, 62; hymn Aeterne rerum Conditor; collect and canticle antiphon from MD 148*

Prime to None: All as in the psalter for Sunday, collect MD 148*

Vespers: As in the psalter with canticle antiphon, MD 149*

Monday 23 January – Class IV; St Emerentiana, memorial [EF: St Raymond Pennafort]

(Matins: Three readings for the Monday after the Third Sunday)

Collect MD 148*; for the commemoration at Lauds, see MD [35]

Tuesday 24 January – Class IV; St Timothy, memorial [EF: Class III]

Collect MD 148*; at Lauds, for the commemoration MD [35–6]

Wednesday 25 January – Conversion of St Paul, Class III

Matins: Invitatory, hymn, readings and collect of the feast; rest as in the psalter Lauds: Antiphons and proper texts for the feast, MD [36] ff with festal (Sunday psalms, MD 44), with collects of St Paul and St Peter under one conclusion

Prime: Antiphon 1 of Lauds, with psalms of the day

Terce to None: Antiphon, chapter, versicle and collect of the feast, MD [39] ff with hymns and psalms (for 'throughout the week'); collect of St PaulMD [39]

Vespers: Antiphons for the feast, MD [40] with psalms for the Common of Apostles, MD (13).  Chapter, responsory etc for the feast, with collects of St Paul and St Peter under one conclusion

Thursday 26 January – Class IV; St Polycarp, memorial [EF: Class III]; Australia Day

Collect MD 148*; for the commemoration at Lauds, MD [42-3]

Friday 27 January – St John Chrysostom, Class III

Matins: Invitatory and hymn from Common of a confessor bishop; psalms and antiphons of the day; reading 1&2 of the feria (combine readings 2&3; use responsories 1&3 of the feria), reading and responsory 3 of the feast

Lauds and Vespers: Antiphons and psalms of the day, rest from Common of a confessor bishop, MD (64), collect and Magnificat antiphon, MD [43]

Prime: Antiphon 1 of Lauds from the Common

Terce to None: Antiphon, chapter and versicle from the Common, collect from MD [43]

Saturday 28 January – Our Lady on Saturday; St Cyril of Alexandria, memorial [EF: St Peter Nolasco]

Matins: As for Office of Our Lady throughout the year except for collect for after the Nativity; Readings 1&2 of the feria; reading 3 of the Office of Our Lady for Saturday 4&5 of January

Lauds to None: Office of Our Lady after Christmas, see MD (133) ff; for the commemoration at Lauds, MD [44]

I Vespers of the Fourth Sunday after Epiphany, MD 149* 

January 21 : St Meinrad OSB (in some places)


Saint Meinrad (died 861) was born into the family of the Counts of Hohenzollern and was educated at the abbey school of Reichenau, an island in Lake Constance, under his kinsmen Abbots Hatto and Erlebald. There he became a monk and was ordained.

After some years at Reichenau, the dependent priory of Bollingen and on Lake Zurich, he embraced an eremitical life and established his hermitage on the slopes of Etzel (mountain), taking with him a wonder-working statue of the Virgin Mary which he had been given by the Abbess Hildegarde of Zurich.

He was killed in 861 by the thieves Richard and Peter who wanted the treasures which pilgrims left at the shrine.

The location subsequently became Einsiedeln Abbey, from which the several houses of the Swiss-American Congregation in the US trace their origin.

January 21: St Agnes Class II/III


St Agnes of Rome (c. 291 – c.304) is one of the saints commemorated in the canon of the Mass. 

The saint

A member of the Roman nobility, she was raised in a Christian family and martyred at the age of 12 or 13 under Diocletian. 

According to her legend, the Prefect Sempronius wished Agnes to marry his son, and on Agnes' refusal on the grounds that she was already affianced to Our Lord, he condemned her to death. As Roman law did not permit the execution of virgins, Sempronius had a naked Agnes dragged through the streets to a brothel.

Various versions of her legend give different methods of escape from this predicament. In one, as she prayed, her hair grew and covered her body. It was also said that all of the men who attempted to rape her were immediately struck blind. In another the son of the Prefect is struck dead, but revived after Agnes prayed for him, causing her release. There is then a trial from which Sempronius excuses himself, and another figure presides, sentencing her to death.

When led out to die she was tied to a stake, but the bundle of wood would not burn, or the flames parted away from her, whereupon the officer in charge of the troops drew his sword and beheaded her, or, in some other texts, stabbed her in the throat. It is also said that the blood of Agnes poured to the stadium floor where other Christians soaked up the blood with cloths.

On her feast day, two lambs are brought each year to the Pope to be blessed. On Holy Thursday they are shorn, and from the wool is woven the pallium which the pope gives to a newly consecrated metropolitan archbishop as a sign of his jurisdiction and his union with the pope.

The feast

Her feast is Class II in monasteries of nuns, but otherwise Class III.

There is a curious history to her celebration, as in the Roman (though not Benedictine) calendars there is actually a 'second feast' of St Agnes celebrated on January 21, speculation on whose origins you can read about here.  Dom Gueranger's take on the second feast, though, goes as follows:
Five days after the martyrdom of the Virgin Emerentiana, the parents of the glorious Saint Agnes visited the tomb of their child, during the night, there to weep and pray. It was the eighth day since her martyrdom. 
Whilst they were thinking upon the cruel death, which, though it had enriched their child with a Martyr's palm, had deprived them of her society — Agnes suddenly appeared to them : she was encircled with a bright light, and wore a crown on her head, and was surrounded by a choir of virgins of dazzling beauty. On her right hand, there stood a beautiful white lamb, the emblem of the Divine Spouse of Agnus.  Tturning towards her parents, she said to them" Weep not over my death : for I am now in heaven, together with these virgins, living with Him, whom I loved on earth with my whole soul."  
It is to commemorate this glorious apparition, that the holy Church has instituted this Feast, which is called Saint Agnes' Second Feast (Sanctae Agnetis secundo.)...