July 28—Sts. Nazarius and Celsus, Martyrs
St. Nazarius’s father was a heathen, and held a considerable post in the Roman army. His mother, Perpetua, was a zealous Christian, and was instructed by St. Peter, or his disciples, in the most perfect maxims of our holy faith. Nazarius embraced it with so much ardor that he copied in his life all the great virtues he saw in his teachers; and out of zeal for the salvation of others, he left Rome, his native city, and preached the Faith in many places with a fervor and disinterestedness becoming a disciple of the apostles. Arriving at Milan, he was there beheaded for the Faith, together with Celsus, a youth whom he carried with him to assist him in his travels. These martyrs suffered soon after Nero had raised the first persecution. Their bodies were buried separately in a garden without the city, where they were discovered and taken up by St. Ambrose, in 395. In the tomb of St. Nazarius, a vial of the Saint’s blood was found as fresh and red as if it had been spilt that day. The faithful stained handkerchiefs with some drops, and also formed a certain paste with it, a portion of which St. Ambrose sent to St. Gaudentius, Bishop of Brescia. St. Ambrose conveyed the bodies of the two martyrs into the new church .of the apostles, which he had just built. A woman was delivered of an evil spirit in their presence. St. Ambrose sent some of these relics to St. Paulinus of Nola, who received them with great respect, as a most valuable present, as he testifies.
Reflection.—The martyrs died as the outcasts of the world, but are crowned by God with immortal honor. The glory of the world is false and transitory, and an empty bubble or shadow, but that of virtue is true, solid, and permanent, even in the eyes of men.
Taken from the “Pictorial Lives of the Saints: with Reflections for Every Day in the Year”