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first confessor who was honoured with a public festival; that distinction being reserved, in the earliest ages, for the martyrs, and those who had suffered bodily torments for Christ'. In the Missal of S. Gregory his festival is celebrated on the 11th of November, with a Preface, and his name occurs in the prayer Communicantes, after SS. Cosmas and Damian, with others in this order, "Hilary, Martin, Augustin, Gregory, Hierome, Benedict, and all Saints." In the present Canon, this prayer mentions by name only the Blessed Virgin Mary, the twelve Apostles, and as many holy martyrs immediately connected with Rome, and "all Saints." A church existed in Rome under the invocation of S. Martin in 500. When S. Augustin arrived at Canterbury, he found a church there dedicated in his honour, which had been built before the Romans left Britain, in the middle of the fifth century. In the same age, an Arian king of Gallicia, in Spain, became a Catholic, out of gratitude for the restoration of his son to health by a relic of S. Martin. One of the homilies of S. Bernard of Clairvaux was delivered on his festival. The council of Maçon, in 581, decreed that the feast of Advent should begin on the day after his festival, and should last till Christmas. This rule prevailed in France, till the time of Charlemagne; and in the churches of Spain, which followed the Mozarabic rite. In the British churches also, Advent anciently lasted for forty days, as Ven. Bede testifies. Hence this penitential season was sometimes called S. Martin's Lent. At Milan, the

1 Rer. Liturg. lib. i. 15. ii. 12. 2 Eccl. Hist. 1. iii. c. 27.

first Sunday in Advent is still the next after the feast of S. Martin. The name of the saint is still given to one of the principal quarter-days in Scotland, which falls on the 15th of November.

Fair camp in arms of peaceful fortitude,
And no ungentle warfare, in one band
Together knit of holy brotherhood,—

One faith, one hope, one Leader, sternly trained,
Far from earth's noise, to learn the eternal song,
And gain the conquest of a heavenly land.

By prayer, and holy plaints which heaven's gate throng,
And discipline of penitential days,

The flesh is weakened, but the soul is strong.

Hymns from the Parisian Breviary, p. 310.


S. Britius, Bishop.


S. BRITIUS was a native of Tours, and of humble birth. He was educated in the monastery of Marmoutier, under the watchful care of the blessed Martin; but in his youth his wayward levity gave much offence to the brethren. Nevertheless, S. Martin, foreseeing his future sanctity, ordained him deacon and priest, and foretold that he should be his successor in the see of Tours. For a time his ordination seemed only to increase his pride and wilfulness. He was not indeed guilty of any open vice, but he polluted his soul by the love of the world. Though he had been originally poor, he

began to purchase horses and slaves, and other things ill suited to his holy office. On one occasion, when S. Martin reproved him for a fault, he poured forth a torrent of abuse, which the saint meekly bore, for he saw that he was for the time possessed by an evil spirit. He delivered the erring youth from its power by his prayers. Some persons urged S. Martin to depose him, but his prophetic eye beheld a coming change, and he refused. "O truly blessed man," cries S. Sulpicius Severus, "in whom guile was not; judging no one, condemning no one, rendering to no one evil for evil. Such patience had he assumed against all injuries, that when he was the bishop he was wounded with impunity, and did not on that account remove the offenders from their places, nor cast them from his charity.”

At length the heart of Britius was touched, and he bitterly lamented his former course of life. S. Martin comforted him, but predicted that he should be purified by suffering. Prayer and devout contemplation then became the employment of his life. On the decease of S. Martin, the people of Tours elected him in his stead, though some of the clergy opposed him. He built a chapel over the remains of his indulgent father, which soon became celebrated for miracles.

But the temporal debt which was due to the justice of God for the offences of his youth still remained unpaid. He was at first harassed by frequent accusations, which were successfully refuted before councils of the bishops: but about the year 430 he was charged with a violation of chastity, and though his innocence was attested by miracles, he

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was obliged to leave Tours, and another was chosen to fill the see. He retired to Rome, and appealed to Cœlestin, who pronounced him innocent of the crime. Seven years he passed in exile, bewailing his early sins with many tears, and confessing that his punishment was just. When his penance was accomplished, God interfered in his behalf. Sixtus III. confirmed the sentence of Coelestin, and sent him back to Tours, with letters of recommendation. In the meanwhile his successor had died, and Armentius, who had come after him, also deceased as Britius was on his way to Tours. Nothing then remained to oppose his return. He lived in peace for seven years longer, and in 444 he slept in the Lord. His body was laid near the remains of S. Martin, in the chapel which he had built. About thirty years after his death his festival was first observed, on the 13th of November. His name occurs in nearly all the martyrologies.

The feast of S. Britius, in 1002, is memorable for the general massacre of the Danes, which was made by the command of King Ethelred. Gunhilda, the sister of Sweyn, with her husband and children, was among the victims. She foretold the vengeance which would fall on the authors of such cruelty.

In the history of this holy bishop we behold a glorious example of the mercy of God, which can raise the fallen to the companionship of the saints. Wondrous is the grace which flows from the Cross of Christ, through the appointed channel of salutary penitence; but for the erring and the lapsed there lies no return to baptismal innocence and higher sanctity, except through tears, and mortification,

and bitter self-reproach. "Turn ye to Me, saith the Lord, with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning." And when the Lord turned and looked upon Peter, he went out and wept bitterly. "Alas! confusion of face covereth me," such must be the language of the penitent; "O accursed pride, from which my destruction took its beginning, with my whole soul I abominate and shudder at thee, and execrate thee, as the Stygian pool of so many evils. Never more will I think, or do, or say anything, which may savour of elation of mind. And you, O contempt, and injuries, and shame, band together and rush in upon me as towards a goal, and avenge the despite which I have offered to God'." And, again, S. Bernard remarks, "Against the consciousness of sin, the remedy of confession has been appointed and all things are washed away in confession. Behold, these are the things which cleanse the

eye of the heart, prayer and confession"."

Judge of Justice, Thee, I pray,
Grant me pardon while I may,
Ere that awful reckoning Day.

O'er my crimes I guilty groan,
Blush to think what I have done ;
Spare thy suppliant, Holy One.
Thou didst set th' adulteress free,
Heardst the thief upon the tree,
And hast given hope even to me.
Suppliant, fallen, low I bend,
My bruised heart to ashes rend,
Care Thou, Lord, for my last end.
Dies Ira.

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1 Exercit. Spir. S. Ignatii Loyola. Dies ii. auct. Bellecio. 2 In fest. Om. Sanct. Serm. i.

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