Sts. Abdon and Sennen were Persians who, coming to Rome in the Third Century, courageously confessed the faith of Christ and were put to death in the persecution of Decius in 250.
The emperor Decius, enemy of Christians, had defeated the king of Persia and become master of several countries over which he reigned. He had already condemned to torture and death Saint Polychrome, with five members of his clergy. Saint Abdon and Saint Sennen, illustrious Persian dignitaries of the third century whom the king of Persia had highly honored, were secretly Christian; it was they who had taken up the body of the martyred bishop, which had been cast contemptuously before a temple of Saturn, to bury it at night, with honor. The two royal officials, now fallen under the domination of Rome, were grieved to witness the emperor’s cruelty towards the faithful, and believed it their duty to make known their love for Jesus Christ; thus, without fear of their new sovereign, they undertook by all possible means to spread and fortify the faith, to encourage the confessors and bury the martyrs.
Decius, learning of their dedication, was extremely irritated. He sent for the two brothers to appear before his tribunal, and attempted to win them over to sacrifice to the gods, by appealing to his recent victory as a sign of their favor. The Saints replied, however, that this victory was not at all a proof of such power, since the unique true God, Creator of Heaven and earth with His Son, Jesus Christ, gives victory to some and defeat to others, for reasons hidden in the designs of His providence. They said they could never adore any but Him, and Decius imprisoned them. Soon afterwards, when he learned of the death of the viceroy he had left to govern in his place at Rome, he returned to Rome and took his two captives with him to serve as splendid trophies of his Persian victory. In effect, these magistrates were wearing jewels and rich fabrics under their chains.
He arraigned them before the Senate, in whose presence they again testified to the divinity of Christ, saying they could adore no other. The next day they were flogged in the amphitheater; then two lions and four bears were released to devour them. But the beasts lay down at their feet and became their guardians, and no one dared approach for a time. Finally the prefect sent out gladiators to slay them with the sword, which with the permission of God was done. Their bodies remained three days without burial, but a subdeacon, who afterwards wrote their history, took them up and buried them on his own terrain.
Under Constantine the Great, their tombs were discovered by divine revelation and their relics reburied in the Pontian cemetery, which afterwards was called by their names. We see them in a picture of the catacombs, crowned by Our Lord Himself. Their glorious martyrdom occurred in the year 254.
INTROIT Ps 78:11; 78:12; 78:10
Let the prisoners’ sighing come before You, O Lord; repay our neighbors sevenfold into their bosoms; avenge the shedding of Your servants’ blood. Ps 78:1 O God, the nations have come into Your inheritance; they have defiled Your holy temple, they have made Jerusalem as a place to keep fruit. v. Glory be…etc
O God, Who didst endow Thy saints Abdon and Senne with abundant gifts of grace and so bring them to their present glory: grant to Thy servants pardon and their sins that throug the merits and intercession of Thy Saints, they may deserve freedom from all adversity. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, Forever and ever.
EPISTLE II Cor. 6:4-10
Brethren: In all things let us exhibit ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in tribulation, in necessities, in distresses, In stripes, in prisons, in seditions, in labours, in watchings, in fastingsd\, In chastity, in knowledge, in longsuffering, in sweetness, in the Holy Ghost, in charity unfeigned, In the word of truth, in the power of God; by the armour of justice on the right hand and on the left; By honour and dishonour, by evil report and good report; as deceivers, and yet true; as unknown, and yet known; As dying, and behold we live; as chastised, and not killed; As sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as needy, yet enriching many; as having nothing, and possessing all things..
GRADUAL/ALLELUIA Ex. 15:11,6
God is glorious in His Saints, wonderful in majesty, a worker of wonders. V. Your right hand, O Lord, is magnificent in power; Your right hand has scattered the enemy. Alleluia, alleluia. Sir 44:14 V. The bodies of the Saints are buried in peace, but their name lives on and on. Alleluia.
GOSPEL Mt. 5:1-12
At that time Jesus seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain, and when he was set down, his disciples came unto him. And opening his mouth, he taught them, saying: Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are the meek: for they shall possess the land. Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after justice: for they shall have their fill. Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the clean of heart: for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called children of God. Blessed are they that suffer persecution for justice’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye when they shall revile you, and persecute you, and speak all that is evil against you, untruly, for my sake: Be glad and rejoice, for your reward is very great in heaven. For so they persecuted the prophets that were before you.
OFFERTORY ANTIPHON Ps 67:36
God is wonderful in His Saints; the God of Israel is He Who gives power and strength to His people. Blessed be God! Alleluia.
We beseech Thee, O Lord, that this Sacrifice which we offer in celebration of the heavenly birthday of Thy holy Martyrs, may loosen the bonds of our sins and obtain for us the gifts of Thy mercy. Through our Lord Jesus Christ Thy Son our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God Forever and ever.
PREFACE of the Common
It is truly meet and just, right and for our salvation that we should at all times and in all places, give thanks unto Thee, O holy Lord, Father almighty, everlasting God: through Christ our Lord. Through Whom the Angels praise Thy Majesty, the Dominations worship it, the Powers stand in awe. The Heavens and the Heavenly hosts together with the blessed Seraphim in triumphant chorus unite to celebrate it. Together with them we entreat Thee, that Thou mayest bid our voices also to be admitted, while we say in lowly praise:
COMMUNION ANTIPHON Ps. 78:2,11
They have given the dead bodies of Thy servants, O Lord, to be meat for the fowls of the air, the flesh of Thy saints for the beasts of the earth. According on possession of the children of them that have been put to death.
By the working of this mystery, O Lord, may our sins be purged away: and through the intercession of Thy holy Martyrs Adbon and Sennen, may our righteous desires be fulfilled. Through the Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God For ever and ever.