THESE holy martyrs have always been held in singular veneration in the church, as appears from the ancient calendar of Fronto, the sacramentary of St. Gregory, St. Jerome’s Martyrology, that of Thomasius. Valerian was espoused to St. Cecily, and converted by her to the faith; and with her he became the instrument of the conversion of his brother Tiburtius. Maximus, the officer appointed to attend their execution, was brought to the faith by the example of their piety, and received with them the crown of martyrdom, in the year 229. The theatre of their triumph seems to have been Rome, though some have imagined they suffered in Sicily. They were interred in the burying place of Prætextatus, which, from them, took the name of Tiburtius.
These martyrs were all connected with that mysterious and endearing figure of Saint Cecilia. She was a Roman noblewoman, young and much sought after for her beauty and graciousness. She also happened to be a Christian, in an age when Christians lived under the shadow of violent persecution. As a girl she had vowed her virginity to Christ, so deeply did she love him. But her parents, who were not Christians, it seems, insisted on arranging a marriage for her. Thus she was espoused to Valerian, one of the most promising and handsome of noble Roman youths (though not a Christian).
On their wedding night, Cecilia explained her vow to Valerian, and warned him that God had sent her an angel to protect her virginity. She told him about Jesus and encouraged him to become a believer, make his own vow of virginity to the Lord, and live with her in perfect continence. He wanted to see the angel (understandable). She told him he would if he were baptized. He agreed to be baptized, and afterwards he did indeed see the glorious angel, who gave each of them a crown signifying the victory their faith won them.
This holy couple became a source of other conversions. First among them was Valerian’s brother, Tiburtius. But soon their spreading fame exposed them to the merciless Roman law against Christianity. As Valerian and Tiburtius refused to worship the pagan gods (the supposed protectors of Rome´s earthly glory and wealth), they were executed. Their courage and composure in the face of death was so remarkable that it converted their guard, Maximus, who ended up joining them on the chopping block. Cecilia followed a few days later, incompetently executed in her house – severed incompletely at the neck so that she slowly bled to death over the course of forty-eight hours.
INTROIT Psalm 63:3
Thou hast protected me from the assembly of the malignant, alleluia; from the multitude of the workers of iniquity, alleluia, alleluia. Ps. 63:2 Hear, O God, my prayer, when I make supplication to thee: deliver my soul from the fear of the enemy. V. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost. R. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen. Thou hast protected me from the assembly of the malignant, alleluia; from the multitude of the workers of iniquity, alleluia, alleluia.
Almighty God, for Whom holy Tiburtius, Valerian, and Maximus uplifted their testimony, grant, we beseech Thee, unto all whosoever call the same to solemn memory, grace to imitate the example of their godly courage. Through Jesus Christ, thy Son our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. R. Amen.
of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Grant, we beseech thee, O Lord God, unto all thy servants, that they may remain continually in the enjoyment of soundness both of mind and body, and by the glorious intercession of the Blessed Mary, always a Virgin, may be delivered from present sadness, and enter into the joy of thine eternal gladness.
for the Church
Mercifully hear the prayers of thy Church, we beseech thee, O Lord, that all adversities and errors being overcome, she may serve thee in security and feedom. Through Jesus Christ, thy Son our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. R. Amen.
EPISTLE Wis 5:1-5
Lesson from the book of Wisdom. Then shall the just stand with great constancy against those that have afflicted them, and taken away their labours. These seeing it, shall be troubled with terrible fear, and shall be amazed at the suddenness of their unexpected salvation. Saying within themselves, repenting, and groaning for anguish of spirit: These are they, whom we had some time in derision, and for a parable of reproach. We fools esteemed their life madness, and their end without honour. Behold how they are numbered among the children of God, and their lot is among the saints.
Allelúja, allelúja Ps 88:6. The heavens shall confess thy wonders, O Lord: and thy truth in the church of the saints. Alleluia. Ps 20:4 For thou hast prevented him with blessings of sweetness: thou hast set on his head a crown of precious stones. Alleluia.
GOSPEL John 15:1-7
In that time, Jesus said to his disciples: I am the true vine; and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me, that beareth not fruit, he will take away: and every one that beareth fruit, he will purge it, that it may bring forth more fruit. Now you are clean by reason of the word, which I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abide in the vine, so neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine: you the branches: he that abideth in me, and I in him, the same beareth much fruit: for without me you can do nothing. If any one abide not in me, he shall be cast forth as a branch, and shall wither, and they shall gather him up, and cast him into the fire, and he burneth. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, you shall ask whatever you will, and it shall be done unto you.
OFFERTORY ANTIPHON Psalm 88:6
The heavens shall confess thy wonders, O Lord: and thy truth in the church of the saints, alleluia, alleluia.
We beg, O lOrd, that the sacrifice we offer in memory of the birthday of thy holy Martyrs may losen the bonds of our sins and win for us the gist of thy mercy. Through Jesus Christ, thy Son our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. R. Amen.
of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Through thy mercy, O Lord, and the intercession of blessed Mary ever Virgin, may this oblation obtain for us prosperity and peace both now and forever.
for the Church
Protect us, O Lord, who celebrate thy mysteries, that holding fast to divine things, we may serve thee with body and soul. Through Jesus Christ, thy Son our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. R. Amen.
PREFACE of Easter
It is truly meet and just, right and for our salvation, at all times to praise Thee, O Lord, but more gloriously especially in this season when Christ our Pasch was sacrificed. For He is the Lamb Who hath taken away the sins of the world: Who by dying hath destroyed our death: and by rising again hath restored us to life. And therefore with Angels and Archangels, with Thrones and Dominations, and with all the hosts of the heavenly army, we sing the hymn of Thy glory, evermore saying:
COMMUNION ANTIPHON Psalm 63:11.
The just shall rejoice in the Lord, and shall hope in him: and all the upright in heart shall be praised, alleluia, alleluia.
Having taken our fill of thy sacred gift we humbly entreat thee, O Lord, that for the due service which we pay thee, we may enjoy an increase of thy saving grace. Through Jesus Christ, thy Son our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. R. Amen.
of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Grant, O Lord, that we, who had partaken of the aids of salvation, may be everywhere protected by the patronage of blessed Mary ever Virgin, in whose honor we have offered these gifts of thy majesty.
for the Church
We beseech thee, O Lord, our God, that thou permit not those, to whom thou hast given a participation of divine things to be subjected to human dangers. Through Jesus Christ, thy Son our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. R. Amen.