O God, who hast hallowed this day by the triumph of Thy blessed Martyr Venantius: graciously hear the prayers of Thy people and grant that we who venerate his merits, may also imitate the constancy of his faith. Through Christ, Our Lord. Amen.
Today, May 18, we celebrate the feast of Saint Venantius of Camerino (235-250), a teenage martyr for the faith. Even as a boy of fifteen, Saint Venantius preached and lived the word of God. His suffering was only exceeded by his Love for the Lord, earning him the golden martyr’s crown.
Venantius was born at Camerino in Italy, during the persecution of Christians by the Roman Emperor Decius. Venantius was to be taken into custody at the age of fifteen, having been caught preaching the Gospel of Christ to all who would listen. The events of his martyrdom are nothing short of miraculous, and continue to inspire us today.
Having learned that he was about to be arrested, Venantius instead presented himself to the governor of Camerino, Antiochus. There, outside the city gates, Venantius preached the Gospel to the governor, comparing the sinful Roman gods to the one, true Lord, Jesus Christ. The governor, irate, made every effort to get this confident boy to recant his preaching and sacrifice to the gods. However, Venantius stood firm in his conviction, withstanding horrible threats and generous promises of wealth and power. Out of options, the governor ordered him arrested and scourged, but every stroke of the whip was miraculously blocked by an angel who appeared from heaven.
Antiochus then ordered Venantius to be burnt with torches and suspended over a low fire that he might be suffocated by the smoke. Again, an angel, as reported by the judge’s secretary, saved the young saint. While admiring the steadfastness of the boy, he observed an angel robed in white, who stamped out the fire and again set free the youthful martyr. This man proclaimed his faith in Christ immediately and was baptized with his whole family. Shortly afterwards he was martyred for his beliefs.
Venantius was then summoned again to appear before Antiochus. Unable to make him renounce his faith, the governor cast him into prison, but he held firm to his beliefs. It was then ordered that his teeth and jaws to be broken, and that he be thrown into a furnace to burn to death. Again, an angel of the Lord rescued him.
The governor was at a loss of what to do next, given that every attempt to harm the youth had failed. He sent him to the city magistrate to be condemned to death, but Venantius converted the magistrate, eloquently proclaiming the Gospel. It is said that the judge, upon hearing his testimony, fell from his seat and died, saying, “The God of Venantius is the true God; let us destroy our idols.”
Having returned to Antiochus, Venantius was ordered to be sacrificed to the lions. However, the beasts failed to attack, instead reclining docilely by his feet as common pets. Venantius was then dragged through a heap of brambles and thorns, until he was bruised and broken, and near death. Being a hot day, the soldiers who dragged him outside the city over stones and rocks to inflict his wounds, were suffering from thirst and heat exhaustion, and complained of their ailments. Despite his suffering, Venantius knelt on a rock, made the sign of the cross, and immediately a stream of cool water welled up on the spot. The soldiers drank, many of them converted. The rock itself remained imprinted by his knees and was placed in the Basilica in Camerino, where it still remains.
Returned to his cell, near death, the governor was convinced he had achieved his goals. However, the following morning, Venantius was found unscathed and healthy, miraculously cured of all his wounds. Along with many of the soldiers who had been converted, Venantius was beheaded that morning. Christians in the community gave an honorable burial to the bodies of these martyrs, who now rest in Camerino, in the church dedicated to Saint Venantius. The spring, which had miraculously been produced, has been recorded to have healing powers.
The brief life of Saint Venantius is one of love, praise of the Lord, suffering, and eventual martyrdom. Throughout, Venantius never wavered from his convictions, holding true to the truth of the Gospel. He was willing to patiently suffer, awaiting the glory of his reunification with the Risen Lord.
|Church of Saint Venantius|
Saint Venantius, whom reflected the love of suffering marks; the most perfect degree in the love of our God. Our Lord Himself was consumed with the desire to suffer, because He burnt with the love of God. Pray for us to begin with patience and detachment. So we may at last shall learn to love the sufferings which conform us to the Passion of our Redeemer. Amen