The Liturgical Year
Dom Prosper Gueranger, O.S.B.
Saints Chrysanthus and Daria
Chrysanthus was united, in his confession of our Lord, with her whom he had won to Christianity and to the love of the angelic virtue. Our forefathers had a great veneration for these two martyrs, who, having lived together in holy virginity, were together buried alive in a sand-pit at Rome for refusing to honour the false gods.
Dying like the seed in the earth, they yielded the fruit of martyrdom. On the anniversary day of their triumph, numbers of the faithful had gathered in the catacomb on the Salarian Way for the liturgical Synaxis, when the pagans surprised them and walled up the entrance of the vault. Many years passed away. When the hour of victory had sounded for the Church, and the Christians discovered again the way to the sacred crypt, a wonderful spectacle was presented to their gaze: before the tomb where reposed Chrysanthus and Daria, was grouped the family they had begotten to martyrdom. Each person was still in the attitude in which he had been overtaken by death. Beside the ministers of the Altar, which was surrounded by men. women, and children, assistants at that most solemn of Masses, were to be seen the silver vessels of the Sacrifice that Sacrifice in which the conquering Lamb had so closely united to himself so many noble victims. Pope Damasus adorned the venerable spot with monumental inscriptions. But no one dared to touch the holy bodies, or to alter any arrangement in that incomparable scene; ‘The crypt was walled up again ; but a narrow opening was left, so that the pilgrim could look into the august sanctuary, and animate his courage for the struggles of life by the contemplation of what had been required of his ancestors in the faith during the ages of martyrdom. (Greq. Tubon. De gloria Martyrum, i. 38.)
The following is the liturgical Legend of the feast.
Chrysanthus and Daria were husband and wife, noble by birth, and still more by their faith, which Daria had received together with baptism through her husband’s persuasion. At Rome they converted an immense multitude to Christ, Daria instructing the women and Chrysanthus the men. On this account the prefect Celerinus arrested them, and handed them over to the tribune Claudius, who ordered his soldiers to bind Chrysanthus and put him to the torture. But all his bonds were loosed, and the fetters which were put upon him were broken. They then wrapped him in the skin of an ox and exposed him to a burning sun; and next cast him, chained hand and foot, into a very dark dungeon; but his chains were broken, and the prison filled in with a brilliant light. Daria was dragged to a place of infamy; but at her prayer God defended her from, insult by sending a lion to protect her. Finally, they were both led to the sand-pits on the Salarian Way, where they were thrown into a pit and covered with a heap of stones; and thus they together won the crown of martyrdom.
I will give to my Saints a place of honour in the kingdom of my Father, saith the Lord. (Antiphon of the 2nd Nocturn for Martyrs) Thus sings the Church in your praise, O martyrs. And herself following up that word of her divine Spouse, she made the Lateran Basilica your earthly home, and assigned for your resting-place the most hallowed spot, the very Confession, upon which rests the high Altar of that first of all churches. (S. Rit. Congr. 7 Aug. 1857, ad archiep. Colon.) It was a fitting recompense for your labours and sufferings in that city of Rome, where you had shared in the preaching of the Apostles, and like them had sealed the word with your blood. Cease not to justify the confidence of the eternal City; render her faith, which is ever pure, more and more fruitful; and as long as she is ruled by a stranger, maintain unaltered her devotedness to the Pontiff-king, whose presence makes her the capital of the world and the vestibule of heaven. But your holy relics have also, through Rome’s generosity, carried your protection abroad. Deign to second by your intercession the prayer we borrow from your devout clients of Munstereifel (A Monastery and town in the archdiocese of Cologne, which honour Sts. Chrysanthus and Daria as patrons.): “O God, who in thy Saints Chrysanthus and Daria didst enhance the honour of virginity by the consecration of martyrdom, grant that, assisted by their intercession, we may extinguish in ourselves the flame of vice, and may merit to become thy temple, in the company of the pure in heart.”