November 13, Sts Benedict, John, Matthew, Isaac and Christian (Benedykt, Jan, Mateusz, Izaak i Krystyn)

November 13
SAINTS BENEDICT, JOHN, MATTHEW, ISAAC AND CHRISTIAN,
THE FIRST POLISH MARTYRS
Obligatory memorial
In the Diocese of Zielona Góra-Gorzów:
Patron saints of the diocese – Feast

Benedict and John were Benedictine hermits, who arrived in Poland from Italy at Boleslaus the Brave’s invitation and settled in Międzyrzec, near the mouth of the river Obra flowing into the Warta. There they prepared for their missionary work. Soon three more Polish men joined them – two novices, Matthew and Isaac and a cook, Christian. In the night of 10 and 11 November 1003 the monks were attacked by rogues and murdered. When Saint Bruno of Querfurt appeared in Poland, the cult of Martyrs had been widespread. He described their lives in a work entitled “The Life of Five Brothers.” They became the first Polish martyrs to be raised to the altars of sainthood.

Common of Several Martyrs, except:

[PDF Version]

OFFICE OF READINGS

HYMN as in Evening Prayer.

SECOND READING

From “The Life of Five Martyred Brothers” written by Saint Bruno, bishop and martyr
(Writings from the Age of Boleslaus the Brave, Warszawa 1966)
Wonderful Is God in His Saints

Carrying in his left hand a candle, and in his right a sword, an evil brigand of terrifying face turned up in front of the awakened saints. John, a paragon of patience, who knew the language best and would speak to the strangers, and was to be sanctified soon by martyrdom, began to thus speak, “My friend, what have you come for and what do these armed men want?” The confused brigand, who now wishes that he had done this good, acting badly, replied, “The Lord of this Land, Boleslaus, sent us to tie you up mercilessly.” The saint face said, smiling, “Never would such an order be given out by the good prince, who for the love of God loves us very much. Why are you lying in vain, my son?” The brigand answered, “Yet we wish to kill you. What is why we have come.” And Saint John says, “May God help you and us!” Upon hearing these words, the paled killer immediately drew his cruel sword and killed him, wounding his saint body twice.

Afterwards he struck with only one blow to the forehead Blessed Benedict, this especially valuable pearl, when he rushed to others. His blood gushed out so high that it reddened the edges of the walls, as can be seen to this day, and coloured the house with beautiful stains.

One of the two of Slavic background and tongue who had followed the vocation of blessed masters Benedict and John, named Isaac, third in a row, a well-built man, having been unpleasantly waken up, called twice, “God help us! God help us!” This noble cry, according to the words, “The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the just man runs to it and is safe.” And when he wanted to get up as if to pray, he felt a blow of the ferocious sword in his shin, and when he lifted his arms, he was cruelly hurt for the second time in his pious hands. Isaac himself was surprised that at the request of Christ, the Saviour of all believing in Him, to his house came a desired end – the long-awaited death, for through martyrdom man sheds a great weight of ever-growing sins that they bear. Isaac testifies to the joy of his heart by saying, “Blessed are we who solely thanks to the Saviour’s mercy have found such a good night and such a happy hour which we would never have deserved by our good deeds.” And again he spoke, “May God bless you, for you are doing us good.”

Matthew, in turn, terrified by the peculiarity of the events, darted away outside; pierced through by javelins, he managed to get close to the church where he laid down his body spread as if in prayer.

Christian, the cook, whose brother had gone to the village in the evening, according to the words, “One will be taken, the other left,” defended himself with a piece of wood, and not knowing of the death of the brothers, he called their help in vain, for they had died and no longer heard him. The mentioned Christian, knit to the killed ones, as a man worthy of love and pleasant in their service, joined the four godlessly murdered saint as the fifth victim, by the grace of the One from whose fifth wound of the side blood and water of salvation flowed out, giving all the forgiveness of sins.1

RESPONSORY cf. Proverbs 31:17; 18; 20

We are warriors now, fighting on the battlefield of faith, and God see all we do; the angels watch and so does Christ.
What honour and glory and joy, to do battle in the presence of God, and to have Christ approve our victory.

Let us arm ourselves in full strength and prepare ourselves for the ultimate struggle with blameless hearts, true faith and unyielding courage.
What honour and glory and joy, to do battle in the presence of God, and to have Christ approve our victory.

If feast TE DEUM You are God: we praise you.

CONCLUDING PRAYER as in Morning Prayer.

MORNING PRAYER

CANTICLE OF ZECHARIAH

Ant. If a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it produces much fruit.

CONCLUDING PRAYER

O God,
you sanctified the beginnings of the faith of the Polish nation by the blood of Saint martyrs Benedict, John, Matthew, Isaac and Christian,
help our weakness with your grace so that we, imitating the Martyrs who did not hesitate to die for you, may bravely confess you with our lives.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
Amen.

EVENING PRAYER

HYMN

May our Land rejoice,
For today it bore its first fruit
Of faithfulness to God, Lord of the universe,
Given by the martyrdom of the chosen ones.

Pierced by the sword they gave up their spirits,
Calling for grace for their killers,
And their death served the faith more
Than their wish to proclaim the Gospel.

Their blood flowed with a rapid spring,
To moisten the soil for the new seed,
From which grew hundredfold crops,
Exceeding the sowers’ hopes.

For if the seed dies in the soil,
It shall live in the crops on God’s field
To become bread that gives strength
To the weary on their paths.

May there be glory to the Trinity
And thanksgiving of the Polish men
For Five Brothers who gave us
A fervent example of love for the Lord. Amen.

CANTICLE OF MARY

Ant. The Saint Martyrs received the palm of martyrdom they had striven for and fertilised the soil for the seeds of Gospel with their own blood.

1 Translated by DChojnacki (2014).

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