The earthly remains of Saint Peregrin, a second century martyr, are enshrined in the Relic Chapel of St. John's Abbey Church, Collegeville, Minnesota. Our Peregrin is not the Italian confessor, Peregrinus Laziosi O.Serv. (1265-1345), patron of cancer patients. Martyrdom The story of our saint, according to trustworthy tradition, begins with the issuance of a decree by Emperor Commodus in the year 192. On the anniversary of the emperor's birthday all Rome was to pay homage to him as the demigod Hercules. On the appointed day Commodus appeared quite indecently clad in a lion-skin, crowned, a club in hand, expecting not only adulation but also adoration from the populace. He received, of course, what he demanded; but the more intelligent began to chew on laurel leaves to hide their laughter and so to save their heads. A community of Christians who were very devoted to prayer and to the poor and who were most eager to die for Christ were living at that time in the quarter of Rome called Carnarius. Four especially were prominent, Eusebius, Vincent, Pontian and the boy Peregrin. When they had heard of the blasphemous conduct of emperor and people, they became inflamed with holy fervor and incited by the Spirit hurried into the streets defiantly condemning the revolting Roman practices. "O dearest friends," they entreated, "abandon the worship of demons. Give honor to the one God, the Blessed Trinity, the omnipotent Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost. Do penance and be baptized, lest you perish together with Commodus!" Among the fruits of their heroic street preaching was the conversion of the Roman Senator Julius. The newly-received gift of faith burnt brightly within his soul; the poor became the object of his wealth, his pagan associates the object of his zeal and eloquence, and Christ the object of his love stronger than death. Soon the wicked Commodus had heard. Julius in chains was given the alternative. No hesitation. Peregrin along with his companions found the battered body outside the amphitheater and lovingly buried it. The senator Julius had been wealthy. "Where," asked the emperor and others of his type, "where had his wealth gone?" The senator's Christian friends, Eusebius, the boy Peregrin and the rest, would know; they must be made to speak -- the dungeon would reveal the truth. If not, the Roman rack would surely wrench from them their unworldly faith, would draw from them the desired knowledge. No results? Then let whips and lashes be added. Yet constancy in Christ prevailed. A final torture: let burning torches be thrust against their naked limbs. But from the tongues of the sufferers arises a joyous song: "Glory be to the Lord who has deigned to exalt us with such visitations!" Look! Look, a radiant youth, an angel, is now standing among them -- with a sponge he is soothing their scorched members, shielding them from the flames. Instantly one of the torturers who witnessed the apparition shouted his belief in the faith of the tortured and hurried off for baptism. Back in prison, the four Christians passed day and night in prayer and holy meditation. Christians came to console and left consoled. The gift of miracles was attributed to the heroic sufferers. Had not Lupulus, a priest of Jupiter, regained his eyesight after he had been converted by them? Had not the jailer himself asked for baptism? The emperor became furious; their evil influence must be stopped. A final chance for apostasy would be given; if spurned, then the sentence: death by flogging with leaden scourges. Devout Christians recovered the bodies and buried them in the peace of the Lord, 25 August A.D. 192. St. Peregrin, pray for us.
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By Justin Soutar
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