Martyrs: 2nd Century
+ The little we know of these martyrs comes from the writings of Pope Saint Damasus.
+ Nereus and Achilleus were Roman soldiers, serving under the Emperor Trajan, who were converted to Christ and ultimately martyred for their faith.
+ Buried in the Roman cemetery known as the “Cemetery of Domitilla,” their relics were later moved by Pope Siricius to a church he built in their honor.
Historically, a third martyr was honored on this day—Saint Domitilla. According to a pious legend, Domitilla had been exiled with Nereus and Achilleus to the island of Terracina and the three were together there. Most scholars think this explanation of the connection between the three martyrs evolved to explain why Nereus and Achilleus were buried in the cemetery dedicated to Domitilla.
“These saints, before whom we are assembled, despised the world and trampled it under their feet when peace, riches, and health gave its charms.”—Saint Gregory the Great
Grant, we pray, almighty God,
that we, who know the great courage
of the glorious Martyrs Nereus and Achilleus
in confessing you,
may experience their loving intercession for us in your presence.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
(from The Roman Missal)
Saint profiles prepared by Brother Silas Henderson, S.D.S.