St. Nereus and Achilleus

Friends in Christ, today is the feast of Saints Nereus and Achilleus. They lived back in the 1st century, and were baptized by St. Peter himself. They were servants of the niece of the Emperor. Her name was Domitilla. Now the day came when Domitlla was preparing to get married. As she was putting on her jewels and wedding garments, Nereus and Achilleus began to explain to her how great it was to live as virgins for Christ, for they had made a promise of virginity. They showed her that virginity was dear to God and an imitation of Christ.
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Friends in Christ, today is the feast of Saints Nereus and Achilleus. They lived back in the 1st century, and were baptized by St. Peter himself. They were servants of the niece of the Emperor, her name was Domitilla.
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Now the day came when Domitlla was preparing to get married. As she was putting on her wedding garments and her jewelry, Nereus and Achilleus began to explain to her how great it was to live as virgins for Christ, for they had made a promise of virginity. They showed her that virginity was dear to God and an imitation of Christ.
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Now Domitilla admired these young Christians, and as they explained the beauty of virginity, she decided to renounce her marriage; she was baptized, and received the veil of a Consecrated virgin from Pope Clement himself. Pledged now as a virgin, she converted many to the Christian Faith because of her influence.
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Her husband-to-be, Aurellian, was outraged by all of this. Some of these new Christians he put into forced labor on his estate, and at night he gave them dog food to eat. But they would not leave the Faith, and so he had one beaten to death, and another he suffocated.
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A third man, Marcos – he ordered that an enormous rock be dropped onto him, but instead, Marcos miraculously carried the rock on his shoulders for 2 miles as if it were light as a feather – many more converted to the Catholic Faith by this miracle alone.
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Aurellian banned Nereus and Achilleus and sent them into exile on the island of Pontus, until they should change their mind. But they did not. So they were ordered to their death. They showed the courage of Christians, and were beheaded about the year 80.
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Next Aurellian dragged Domitilla forcibly to his wedding. He ordered the musicians to play music for entertainment and dancing. Meanwhile, Domitilla prayed to God that this marriage would not be. Aurellian, upon hearing the music, began uncontrollably to dance. He danced, and danced, and danced… No matter how much he tried, he could not stop dancing, and after 2 days he fell over dead. His brother, outraged by this, set fire to the house, and so Domitilla also, became a martyr for Jesus Christ.
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In the early years of the Faith, martyrdom was and still is, the greatest thing one could do with one’s life. But as with these women saints today, virginity is another way to give a bold witness to Christ with one’s life.

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