May 12 - SS Nereus, Archilleus and Pancras, Memorial

Rubens, SS Domitilla, Neus and Archilleus

SS Nereus and Achilles were soldiers in the praetorian guard who were baptized by Saint Peter and decided that they must give up fighting. They escaped from the guard, but were discovered and sent into exile first to the island of Pontia with Saint Flavia Domitilla and then to Terracina. They were beheaded in the reign of Emperor Trajan.

In the traditional Roman rite, the feast of St Domitilla is also celebrated today - she was a niece of the Emperor Domitian and was a victim of a purge that prevented one of those near misses of history for the reasons of providence, when the Empire almost became Christina two centuries earlier than it actually did.  She has since become the victim one again of a purge, namely that of the calendar in 1969!

St Pancras was born in Syria or Phrygia and died in Rome around 304. According to his legend, St Pancras was orphaned and brought to Rome by an uncle, where both were converted to Christianity. As a boy of fourteen, he was beheaded in Rome for his faith during the reign of Diocletian.

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