Today (Saturday) Vespers are for the Immaculate Conception; this Sunday is the Second Sunday of Advent.
The saints celebrated in the Office this week are:
Monday 10 December – in some places, Blessed Mark Barkworth, John Roberts and companions, martyrs
Mark Barkworth was a Catholic priest martyred in 1601. Born about 1572, he studied at Oxford and was received into the Church at Douai in 1593.
Because of an outbreak of the plague he was sent to Rome in 1596, and from their to Spain where he entered the English College on 28 December 1596. On his way to Spain he is said to have had a vision of St Benedict, who told him he would die a martyr, in the Benedictine habit.
Ordained priest at the English College some time before July 1599, he set out for the English Mission together with Father Thomas Garnet. On his way he stayed at the Benedictine Monastery of Hyrache in Navarre, where his wish to join the order was granted by his being made an Oblate with the privilege of making profession at the hour of death.
After having escaped from the hands of the Huguenots of La Rochelle, he was arrested on reaching England. He was executed at Tyburn with Jesuit Roger Filcock and Anne Line, on 27 February 1601. He sang, on the way to Tyburn, the Paschal Anthem: "Hæc dies quam, fecit Dominus exultemus et lætemur in ea". On his arrival he kissed the robe of Line, who was already dead, saying: "Ah, sister, thou hast got the start of us, but we will follow thee as quickly as we may"; and told the people: "I am come here to die, being a Catholic, a priest, and a religious man, belonging to the Order of St Benedict; it was by this same order that England was converted."
Tuesday 11 December - St Damasus I, Pope
Pope St Damasus I (305-384) is most famous now for appointing St Jerome as his personal secretary and encouraging his Vulgate translation of the bible and presiding over the Council of Rome in 382, which set down the canon of scripture (the picture left is a letter of St Jerome to him).
In two Roman synods (368 and 369) he condemned Apollinarianism and Macedonianism, and sent legates to the First Council of Constantinople that was convoked in 381 to address these heresies. A fierce opponent of the Arians, he did much to promote veneration of the martyrs and enrich the churches and liturgy.
Thursday 13 December – St Lucy, Class III
Saint Lucy (283–304), was a Christian during the Diocletian persecution.
According to her legend, her mother was cured dysentery by them praying together at Saint Agatha's tomb (pictured). She consecrated her virginity to God, refused to marry a pagan, and had her dowry distributed to the poor. Her would-be husband denounced her as a Christian to the governor of Syracuse, Sicily, who ordered her to burn a sacrifice to the emperor's image. Lucy replied that she had given all that she had: "I offer to Him myself, let Him do with His offering as it pleases Him."
Sentenced to be defiled in a brothel, St Lucy asserted:
“ No one's body is polluted so as to endanger the soul if it has not pleased the mind. If you were to lift my hand to your idol and so make me offer against my will, I would still be guiltless in the sight of the true God, who judges according to the will and knows all things. If now, against my will, you cause me to be polluted, a twofold purity will be gloriously imputed to me. You cannot bend my will to your purpose; whatever you do to my body, that cannot happen to me.”