October 24, 2017

Feast of Sts. Crispin and Crispinian, Brother Martyrs

Sts. Crispin and Crispinian,

The Roman Martyrology includes these twin brother martyrs for October 25th. Saint Crispin was a Roman noble and brother of Saint Crispinian with whom he evangelized Gaul in the middle of the 3rd century. They worked from Soissons, preached in the streets by day and made shoes by night. The group's charity, piety and contempt of material things impressed the locals, and many converted in the years of their ministry. They were martyred in Rome in 286 by torture and beheading, under emperor Maximian Herculeus, being tried by Rictus Varus, governor of Belgic Gaul and an enemy of Christianity. A great church was built at Soissons in the 6th century in their honor; Saint Eligius ornamented their shrine.

This feast was immortalized by Shakespeare in his play Henry V, (Act 4, Scene 3). The king gave a rousing speech (called "Saint Crispin's Day) extolling his troops on the eve of the Battle of Agincourt, fought on this day in 1415:
This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne'er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered-
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition.
The Battle of Agincourt saw a miraculous outcome. King Henry V of England led his troops into battle. The French troops were commanded by Constable Charles d'Albret and various prominent noblemen. The English, although outnumbered, soundly defeated the French. In England this was a religious holiday on which commoners and serfs got a day of rest. Sts. Crispin and Crispinian, pray for us.

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