Tuesday, April 13, 1999
First Reading: Acts 4: 32-37
Psalms: Psalm 93: 1-2, 5
Gospel Reading: John 3: 7-15
FEAST OF POPE SAINT MARTIN I, MARTYR
Born in Todi in the Umbrian region of Italy , Saint Martin I became the 74th successor of Peter taking the name Pope Martin I on July 5, 649. During his pontificate he established the feast of the Immaculate Virgin Mary. His six-year papacy was wrought with persecution and ultimate imprisonment and suffering that ended in "moral martyrdom." Because of their adherence to the heresy that Jesus was only divine and possessed no human nature, Martin condemned the Eastern bishops at a Council he convened at the Lateran shortly after his elevation to the papal throne. Those bishops who had received the bell, book and candle appealed to the Byzantine Emperor Constans II who retaliated by sending his men to capture Martin and bring him back in chains to Constantinople where we was thrown into prison. The horrible conditions of the jail made Martin very, very ill, so much so that Constans sought to rid himself of the headache and responsibility by condemning him to death, but Paul, Patriarch of Constantinople intervened and rather than having Martin executed, the Roman Pontiff was exiled to the Crimea and the island of Cherso where he suffered terrible hardships and, having never recovered from his illness contracted in the filthy elements of Eastern incarceration, he died on April 13, 655. His martyrdom was a long, drawn-out torture that was complicated because of his illness. He was the last Pope to be martyred.