Saint Venantius

Feast Day: May 18

 Saint Venantius


    Saint Venantius, born at Camerino in Italy, during the persecution of Decius was taken into custody at the age of fifteen years as a Christian who was preaching Christ to others. His history is one of the most miraculous in the annals of the early martyrs.

    Having learned that he was about to be arrested, he presented himself to the governor of Camerino, Antiochus, at the city gates, and said to him that the lives of the gods were filled with every kind of crime, that there was only one God, whose unique Son had become a man to deliver his fellow humans from the tyranny of sin. When it was found impossible to shake his constancy either by threats or promises, he was condemned to be scourged, but was miraculously saved by an Angel. He was then burnt with torches and suspended over a low fire that he might be suffocated by the smoke. The judge’s secretary, while admiring the steadfastness of the Saint, saw an Angel robed in white, who stamped out the fire and again set free the youthful martyr. This man proclaimed his faith in Christ and was baptized with his whole family. Shortly afterwards he won the martyr’s crown.

    Venantius was summoned to appear before Antiochus. Unable to make him renounce his faith, the governor cast him into prison with an apostate soldier, who strove in vain to tempt him. Antiochus, furious, then ordered his teeth and jaws to be broken and had him thrown into a furnace, from which the Angel once more delivered him. The Saint was sent to a city magistrate to be condemned, but this judge after hearing his defense of Christianity, fell headlong from his seat and expired, saying, “The God of Venantius is the true God; let us destroy our idols.”

    When this circumstance was told to Antiochus, he ordered Venantius to be thrown to the lions. These brutes, however, forgetting their natural ferocity, crouched at the feet of the Saint. Then, by order of the tyrant, the young martyr was dragged through a heap of brambles and thorns and retired half-dead, but the next day he was cured; God had manifested the glory of His servant once more. On behalf of soldiers who had dragged him outside the city over stones and rocks, and were suffering from thirst, the Saint knelt on a rock and signed it with a cross; immediately a jet of clear, cool water welled up from the spot. This miracle converted many of those who beheld it. The rock remained imprinted by his knees and was placed in a church in Camerino, where it still remains.

    The governor finally had Venantius and his converts beheaded on the same day, in the year 250. The bodies of these martyrs are kept in the same church at Camerino. The Acts of Saint Venantius’ martyrdom have been carefully studied and declared authentic by the Church.

Prayer to Saint Venantius

Dear youthful Martyr, loved of the Angels, and aided by them in thy combat! pray for us. Like thyself, we too are soldiers of the Risen Jesus, and must give testimony, before the world, to the Divinity and the Rights of our King. The world has not always in its hands those material instruments of torture, such as it made thee feel; but it is always fearful in its power of seducing souls. It would rob us, also, of that New Life, which Jesus has imparted to us and to all them that are His members; holy Martyr, protect us under these attacks! Thou hadst partaken, during the days of thy last Easter, of the divine Flesh of the Paschal Lamb, and thy courage in Martyrdom redounded to the glory of this heavenly nourishment. We, also, have been guests at the same holy Table; we, also, have partaken of the Paschal Banquet. Like thee, we have known our Lord in the breaking of bread (St. Luke, xxiv. 35): obtain for us the appreciation of the divine mystery, of which we received the first-fruits at Bethlehem, and which has been gradually developed, within our souls, as well as before our eyes, by the merits of the Passion and Resurrection of our Emmanuel. We are now, at this very time, preparing to receive the plenitude of the divine gift of the Incarnation. Pray for us, O Holy Martyr, that our hearts may more than ever fervently welcome, and faithfully preserve, the rich treasures, which are about to be offered us, by the sublime mysteries of the Ascension and Pentecost. Amen

Venantius, hail! God's Martyr bright,
Thy country's honour and her light;
Who dost with joy in triumph sing,
Thy judge and tortures conquering.

A child in years, yet heeds no pain,
Nor dungeon damp, nor galling chain;
Then he, for beastly bait, is thrown
To lions mad with hunger grown.

O wondrous sight! the beasts of prey
Their food reject, and turn away;
Then tamely lick the Martyr's feet,
A tribute to his virtue meet.

Next downwards hung, he is exposed
To clouds of smoke beneath disposed,
Whilst with slow torches, burning clear,
His naked breasts and sides they sear.

Praise to the Father, and the Son,
And Holy Spirit, Three in One;
Oh! grant that through this Martyr's prayer,
Your blissful joy we all may share. Amen
The golden star of morn
Is climbing in the sky;
The birthday of Venantius
Awakes the Church to joy.

His native land in depths
Of pagan darkness lay;
He o'er her guilty regions poured
The light of heavenly day.

Her in baptismal streams
Of grace he purified;
E'en those who came to take his life,
With him as Martyrs died.

With Angels now he shares
Those joys which never cease;
Look down on us, O Spirit blest,
And send us fits of peace.

Praise to the Father, Son,
And Holy Ghost, to Thee;
O, grant us through the Martyr's prayer
A blest eternity. Amen.

Noble champion of the Lord!
Armed against idolatry!
In thy fervent zeal for God
Death had naught of fear for thee.

Bound with thongs, thy youthful form
Down the rugged steep they tear,
Jagged rock and rending thorn
All thy tender flesh lay bare.

Spent with toil, the savage crew,
Fainting, sinks with deadly thirst;
Thou the Cross dost sign; and lo!
From the rock the water burst,

Saintly warrior-prince! who thus
Thy tormentors couldst forgive;
Pour the dew of grace on us,
Bid our fainting spirits live.

To Thee O Father, with the Son
And Holy Spirit, glory be;
Oh, grant us through thy Martyr's prayer
The joys of immortality. Amen.