February 6, 2017

Last Words of Seven Saint Martyrs, Past and Present

Although they have not been formally canonized, Blessed Miguel Pro and Father Jacques Hamel are most certainly among the elect in heaven by virtue of their glorious martyrdoms in testimony to the Lord Jesus Christ, our Savior & King.

St. Stephen

When the court sentenced Stephen to death, the 1st century Protomartyr was taken outside the city to be stoned. Scripture testifies that the participants laid their cloaks at the feet of a young man named Saul (the future Saint Paul) who consented to the execution. Before giving up his soul to Christ, Stephen prayed for his persecutors: "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. O Lord, lay not this sin to their charge." Acts says, "Devout men buried Stephen and mourned deeply for him."

St. Stephen, help us to be courageously steadfast in faith despite difficulties.

Saint Agatha

St. Agatha (231 – 251 AD) was a girl of immense beauty from a wealthy family in Sicily. The perfect of the city, Quintanius desired her hand in marriage and to gain her family’s riches. Having professed her virtue to Christ, Agatha rejected his advances. Incensed by her refusal, Quintanius ordered her tortured for being a Christian. She was subjected to the most barbarous cruelties during which her breasts were cut off. Still, Agatha refused to denounce her faith, so Quintanius had her imprisoned. When she perceived her life coming to a close she prayed:
O Lord, my Creator, who has preserved me from my infancy, has given me strength to overcome these torments, and has taken from me the love of the world, receive now my soul. It is time that I should at last pass from this miserable life to the fruition of Thy glory.
St. Agatha, help us to guard our honor and everything else that is virtuous.

St. Edmund Campion

St. Edmund Campion (1540 - 1581) was one of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales who lost their lives in Queen Elizabeth I's campaign to abolish Catholicism from England. Arrested for preaching the Catholic faith, Edmund was convicted of treason and sentenced to death. Dragged through the muddy streets of London to the place of execution, Edmund forgave those who condemned him, saying:
I am a Catholic man and a priest. In that faith have I lived and in that faith do I intend to die, and if you esteem my religion treason, then I am guilty. As for any other treason, I never committed. I stand condemned for nothing but the saying of Mass, hearing confessions, preaching and such like duties and functions of priesthood.
Seconds later, the cart he was standing on was driven from under him, and he fell from the scaffold to receive the crown of martyrdom. St. Edmund Campion pray that we may remain faithful in the face of persecution just as you were.

St. Lorenzo Ruiz

St. Lorenzo Ruiz, (c. 1600 - 1637) the first Filipino to be canonized, was ordered to recant his Catholic faith or face torture and certain death. He had heard the screams and witnessed the horror as his companions were brutalized. Even while being crushed to death, he refused to renounce Christ. These are his last words:
I am a Catholic and wholeheartedly do accept death for God; Had I a thousand lives, all these to Him shall I offer.
St. Lorenzo Ruiz, help us be true disciples, even to the last measure of our lives.

St. Andrew Kim Taegon

St. Andrew Kim Taegon (1821 - 1846) was the first native born Korean Catholic priest. For his life of heroic virtue in imitation of Christ, he suffered greatly. Imprisoned for his Catholicism, he was brutally tortured and condemned to death when he refused to renounce his faith. These are his last words:
This is my last hour of life, listen to me attentively: if I have held communication with foreigners, it has been for my religion and for my God. It is for Him that I die. My immortal life is on the point of beginning. Become Christians if you wish to be happy after death, because God has eternal chastisements in store for those who have refused to know Him.
St. Andrew Kim Taegon, pray for us, that we may be faithful as you were.

Blessed Miguel Pro

Bl. Miguel Pro (1891 - 1927) suffered repeated bouts of acute stomach irritation. When his health did not improve, in 1926, his superiors allowed him to return to Mexico despite the fact that the Church was being singled out, and he would be in mortal danger as the government continued its systematic campaign to abolish the Catholic faith. In 1927, he was falsely accused of conspiracy in an alleged attack on the Mexican dictator, and was condemned to death. Before being shot, on November 23, 1927, Father Pro forgave his executioners. He died with his arms open shouting, "Viva Cristo Rey!" (Long live Christ the King!)

Blessed Miguel Pro, pray that we forgive our persecutors in imitation of Christ.

Father Jacques Hamel

The Archbishop of Rouen, Dominique Lebrun revealed during the solemn funeral Mass celebrated in Rouen Cathedral for Father Jacques Hamel, the French priest martyred by two ISIS terrorists, that Fr. Hamel tried to push away his attackers with his feet, saying "Go away, Satan!" The prelate 's remarks were part of his reflection on the inscrutability and abject horror of evil before a gathering of some 4,000 mourners. Archbishop Lebrun explained that:
Evil is a mystery. It reaches heights of horror that take us out of the human. ...Isn’t that what you wanted to say, Jacques, with your last words, when you fell to the ground? After you were struck by the knife, you tried to push away your assailants with your feet and said, 'Go away, Satan.' You repeated it, 'Go away, Satan.' You expressed your faith in the goodness of humans and that the devil put his claws in.
Fr. Jacques Hamel, help us to never yield or submit when evil confronts us.

Almighty God, in all ages, the Church is persecuted and hated. By the witness and blood of your most holy sainted Martyrs, do You consecrate the fruits of the Faith. Graciously grant that, by their intercession, the flourishing harvest of Christians may everywhere and always be increased. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with You, in the union of the Holy Spirit, one God forever and forever. Amen. Blessed Martyrs, pray for us!

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