Martyrs (ca. 362)
+ Because of inconsistent historical details in early accounts of the lives of Saint John and Paul, it is difficult to re-tell their story with certainty. However, we do know that these Roman martyrs were greatly loved and that a basilica was built in their honor on the Coelian Hill within a generation of their martyrdom.
+ According to ancient sources, John and Paul were brothers and Roman soldiers in the service of Constantia, the daughter of Constantine. She held them in high regard, giving them important positions within her household.
+ The two soldiers served Constantine and his family until the emperor’s death in 337. In 360, one of Constantine’s nephews, Julian—now remembered as “Julian the Apostate”—became emperor.
+ Julian rejected Christianity and tried to restore the worship of the Roman gods. Many Christians refused to obey these laws and suffered as martyrs, including Saints John and Paul.
+ Saints John and Paul died around the year 362. The emperor Jovian, who succeeded Julian, honored the martyrs and their names were eventually included in both the Roman Canon (the First Eucharistic Prayer) and the Litany of the Saints.
On this day, the Church also honors the memory of Blessed Ya`Qub of Ghazir. A Capuchin friar, Ya`Qub was born in Lebanon and spent his life ministering in that country. He worked tirelessly on behalf of the poor and had a special care for physically and mentally disabled. Blessed Ya`Qub died in 1954 and was beatified in 2008.
“These also were godly;
their virtues have not been forgotten…
Their bodies are buried in peace,
but their name lives on and on.
At gatherings their wisdom is retold,
and the assembly proclaims their praises.”—Sirach 44:10, 14-15
We beseech you, almighty God, that on this day’s feast we may receive a twofold joy in the triumph of Blessed John and Paul, whom the same faith and suffering truly united as brothers. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
(from The Roman Missal [1962 edition])
Saint profiles prepared by Brother Silas Henderson, S.D.S.