jeudi 16 avril 2015

Sainte ENGRÂCE (ENCRATIA, ENGRAZIA), vierge et martyre saint OPTAT et leurs compagnons, martyrs

Bartolomé Bermejo. Sainte Engrâce, vers 1474,

Saints Optat et ses comp. - Caïus, Crémence, Engrace

18 espagnols martyrs à Saragosse sous Dioclétien et 3 autres martyrs ( 304)

Optat, Luperque, Successus, Martial, Urbain, Julie, Quintilien, Publius, Fronto, Félix, Cécilien, Evence, Primitif, Apodème et quatre du nom de Saturnin.

Leur supplice a été décrit par Prudence, le grand poète chrétien espagnol du IVe siècle, auteur du Livre des Couronnes à la gloire des martyrs, évoquant les martyrs espagnols de Saragosse et de Calahorra.

À Saragosse en Espagne, commémoraison des saints martyrs Optat et dix-sept compagnons les saints Luperque, Successe, Martial, Urbain, Julie, Quintilien, Publius, Fronton, Félix, Cécilien, Évode, Primitif, Apodème et quatre autres appelés Saturnin qui, au début du IVe siècle, durant la persécution de Dioclétien, furent cruellement tourmentés, tous ensemble, et mis à mort. Le poète Prudence a décrit en vers leur glorieux martyre.

On commémore avec eux les saints martyrs Caïus et Crémence, victimes de la même persécution, ainsi que sainte Engrace, vierge, qui subit des tourments cruels et variés, mais survécut, portant dans son corps les traces de ses plaies.

Martyrologe romain

Bartolomé Bermejo. La flagellation de sainte Engrâce, vers 1474, Museo de Bellas Artes (Bilbao).

April 16

From Prudentius de Cor. hymn. 4. See Vasæus Belga in Chron. Hisp. Breviarium Eborense a Resendio recognitum. an. 1569.

A.D. 304.

ST. OPTATUS, and seventeen other holy men, 1 received the crown of martyrdom on the same day, at Saragossa, under the cruel governor Dacian, in the persecution of Dioclesian, in 304. Two others, Caius and Crementius, died of their torments after a second conflict, as Prudentius relates.

The same venerable author describes, in no less elegant verse, the triumph of St. Encratis, or Engratia, Virgin. She was a native of Portugal. Her father had promised her in marriage to a man of quality in Rousillon: but, fearing the dangers, and despising the vanities of the world, and resolving to preserve her virginity, in order to appear more agreeable to her heavenly spouse, and serve him without hindrance, she fled privately to Saragossa, where the persecution was hottest, under the eyes of Dacian. She even reproached him with his barbarities, upon which he ordered her to be long tormented in the most inhuman manner: her sides were torn with iron hooks, and one of her breasts was cut off, so that the inner parts of her chest were exposed to view, and part of her liver pulled out. In this condition she was sent back to prison, being still alive, and died by the mortifying of her wounds, in 304. The relics of all these martyrs were found at Saragossa in 1389. Prudentius recommended himself to their intercession, and exhorts the city, through their prayers, to implore the pardon of their sins, with him, that they might follow them to glory. 2

The martyrs, by a singular happiness and grace, were made perfect holocausts of divine love. Every Christian must offer himself a perpetual sacrifice to God, and by an entire submission to his will, a constant fidelity to his law, and a total consecration of all his affections, devote to him all the faculties of his soul and body, all the motions of his heart, all the actions and moments of his life, and this with the most ardent unabated love, and the most vehement desire of being altogether his. Can we consider that our most amiable and loving God, after having conferred upon us numberless other benefits, has with infinite love given us himself by becoming man, making himself a bleeding victim for our redemption, and in the holy eucharist remaining always with us, to be our constant sacrifice of adoration and propitiation, and to be our spiritual food, comfort, and strength; lastly, by being the eternal spouse of our souls? Can we, I say, consider that our infinite God has so many ways, out of love, made himself all ours, and not be transported with admiration and love, and cry out with inexpressible ardour: “My beloved is mine, and I am his.” Yes, I will from this moment dedicate myself entirely to him. Why am not I ready to die of grief and compunction that I ever lived one moment not wholly to him! Oh, my soul! base, mean, sinful, and unworthy as thou art, the return which, by thy love and sacrifice thou makest to thy infinite God, bears no proportion, and is on innumerable other titles a debt, and thy sovereign exaltation and happiness. It is an effect of his boundless mercy that he accepts thy oblation, and so earnestly sues for it by bidding thee give him thy heart. Set at least no bounds to the ardour with which thou makest it the only desire of thy heart, and thy only endeavour to be wholly his, by faithfully corresponding to his grace, and by making thy heart an altar on which thou never ceasest to offer all thy affections and powers to him, and to his greater glory, and to become a pure victim to burn and be entirely consumed with the fire of divine love. In union with the divine victim, the spotless lamb, who offers himself on our altars and in heaven for us, our sacrifice, however unworthy and imperfect, will find acceptance; but for it to be presented with, and by, what is so holy, what is sanctity itself, with what purity, with what fervour ought it to be made!

Note 1. Their names, according to Prudentius, are: Optatus, Lupercus, Martial, Successus, Urban, Quintilian, Julius, Publius, Fronto, Felix, Cecilianus, Evotius, Primitivus, Apodemus, and four others of the name Saturninus. [back]

    Hæc sub altari sita sempiterno
Lapsibus nostris veniam precatur
Sterne te totam, generosa sanctis
Civitas mecum tumulis: deinde
Mox resurgentes animas et artus
    Tota sequêris.      Hymn. 4.

Rev. Alban Butler (1711–73).  Volume IV: April. The Lives of the Saints.  1866.

Eighteen Martyrs of Saragossa (RM)

Died c. 304. These eighteen martyrs--Optatus, Lupercus, Successus, Martial, Urban, Julia, Quintilian, Publius, Fronto, Felix, Caecilian, Eventius, Primitivus, Apodemius, and four named Saturninus--suffered under Diocletian and the prefect Dacian. Prudentius, who lived at Saragossa a little later, described their martyrdom. Their relics were found at Saragossa in 1389. Some of these martyrs have separate entries (Benedictines, Husenbeth).

Encratia of Saragossa VM (RM)

(also known as Encratis, Engracia)

Born in Portugal; died at Saragossa, Spain, c. 304. Saint Encratia was a maiden who fled her homeland to evade marriage because she had pledged her virginity to Christ. She was martyred at Saragossa, where the church now stands dedicated to her name, after undergoing tortures, such as flaying, having her breasts cut off, and being disemboweled. Encratia did not die immediately; with these mortal wounds she was sent back to prison, where she died. She is famous for "her ardor in suffering for Christ." She probably died under Diocletian but is not listed as one of the 18 Martyrs of Saragossa (Benedictines, Husenbeth).


Santa Engrazia Vergine e martire

sec. IV

Emblema: Palma

Martirologio Romano: Sempre a Saragozza, commemorazione di santa Engrazia, vergine e martire, che, crudelmente torturata, sopravvisse ad ogni supplizio, recando per qualche tempo ancora sulle sue membra i segni di quelle ferite.

Il Martyrologium Romanum riporta in data odierna, 16 aprile, ben tre distinte commemorazioni a dei santi che subirono il martirio presso la città spagnola di Saragozza durante la medesima persecuzione indetta dall'imperatore Diocleziano:

- Ottato con 17 compagni: Luperco, Successo, Marziale, Urbano, Giulia, Quintiliano, Publio, Frontone, Felice, Ceciliano, Evodio, Primitivo, Apodemio e quattro di nome Saturnino;

- la vergine Engrazia;

- Caio e Crescenzio.

Talvolta questo gruppo viene definito “Innumerevoli Martiri di Saragozza”.

Il poeta Prudenzio (circa 348-410), originario proprio di Saragozza, scrisse un inno dedicati ai martiri suoi concittadini, elencando tutti i loro nomi, ma senza specificare come vennero uccisi. L'inno tratta anche di una certa Santa Encratis (o Engrazia), vergine, che durante tale persecuzione patì orribili torture, dettagliatamente descritte da Prudenzio. Questi la definisce “giovane veemente” per il modo in cui difese la propria fede, da quanto risulta, sopravvisse alle torture, in quanto il poeta definisce la sua casa “santuario di una martire vivente”, fino a quando il suo corpo piagato non si arrese. Agli storici pare probabile che Engrazia abbia subito la persecuzione in un tempo successivo ad Ottato e probabilmente visse in un'epoca più vicina a quella di Prudenzio. Il nome della santa, senza dubbio la più famosa del gruppo, è talvolta riportato in varie forme ed il suo culto si diffuse in tutta la Spagna e sui Pinerei.

Sant'Ottato ed i suoi compagni furono venerati in special modo proprio nella chiesa a lei dedicata. In occasione del sinodo di Saragozza del 592, il santuario dedicato alla memoria dei santi martiri fu riconsacrato e fu redatta una Messa propria, nota come “Messa di Santa Engrazia o dei diciotto martiri”. La nuova consacrazione fu celebrata il 3 novembre e proprio in tale anniversario, per un certo periodo, venne celebrata la festa di questi santi, anche se è più consona la data odierna indicata dal nuovo Martirologio cattolico.

Fabio Arduino