Sts. Faustinus and Jovita, Feast 15 February (and comment on St. Calocerus)

Sts. Faustinus and Jovita, Feast 15 February (and comment on St. Calocerus)

Martyrs, members of a noble family of Brescia;

Faustinus, a priest, and Jovita, a deacon, were preaching the Gospel fearlessly in the region of their city of Brescia in Lombardy, during the persecution of Hadrian (Adrian). when Julian, a pagan officer, apprehended them. They were commanded to adore the sun, but replied that they adored the living God who created the sun to give light to the world. The statue before which they were standing was brilliant and surrounded with golden rays. Saint Jovita, looking at it, cried out: “Yes, we adore the God reigning in heaven, who created the sun. And you, vain statue, turn black, to the shame of those who adore you!” At his word, it turned black. The Emperor commanded that it be cleaned, but the pagan priests had hardly begun to touch it when it fell into ashes.

They were tortured and dragged to Milan, Rome and Naples, and then brought back to Brescia.

The two brothers were sent to the amphitheater to be devoured by lions, but four of those came out and lay down at their feet. They were left without food in a dark jail cell, but Angels brought them strength and joy for new combats. The flames of a huge fire respected them, and a large number of spectators were converted at the sight. Finally sentenced to decapitation by the Emperor Hadrian, they knelt down and received the death blow in the year 120 A. D. (or 118 A. D.). The city of Brescia honors them as its chief patrons and possesses their relics, and a very ancient church in that city bears their names.

On April 18 the Roman Martyrology names the martyr St. Calocerus, who figures largely in the legendary history of St. Faustinus and Jovita, whose heroic confession he is said to have witnessed when, as a court official, he accompanied Hadrian to his native city Brescia and was present in the amphitheatre. The constancy of the two confessors and the refusal of the wild beasts to touch them brought about his conversion, and he was baptized by Bishop Apollonius with twelve thousand other citizens. He was tortured and imprisoned in several Italian towns notably in Asti, where he instructed St. Secundus who visited him in gaol. Eventually, we are told, he was taken to Albanga in Liguria and beheaded on the seashore.

Rome, Bologna and Verona share with Brescia the possession of their relics.

Their feast is celebrated on 15 February, the traditional date of their martyrdom.

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