Saint of the Day – 7 May – Saint Flavia Domitilla of Terracina (1st Century) Virgin and Martyr.
The Roman Martyrology states of her today: “At Terracina, in Campania, the birthday of blessed Flavia Domitilla, Virgin and Martyr, niece of the Consul Flavius Clemens. She received the religious veil at the hands of St Clement and in the persecution of Domitian, was exiled with many others to the island of Pontia, where she endured a long Martyrdom for Christ. Taken afterwards to Terracina, she converted many to the faith of Christ by her teaching and miracles. The judge ordered the chamber in which she was, with the virgins Euphrosina and Theodora, to be set on fire and she thus consummated her glorious Martyrdom. She is also mentioned with the holy Martyrs Nereus and Achilleus, on the 12th of this month.”
Flavia was niece to the consul and Martyr St Flavius Clemens, being the daughter of his sister as Eusebius testifies; “consequently she was little niece of the Emperor Domitian, who, having put to death her illustrious uncle, banished her for her faith into Pontia. There she lived with her holy eunuchs, Nereus and Achilleus, in exercises of devotion, they all dwelling in separate cells which remained standing three hundred years after. “
St.Jerome tells us, that St Paula, going from Rome to Jerusalem, took this is and in her way, visited them with respect and devotion,and, by the sight of them, was animated with fervour. That holy Father , St Jerome, calls her banishment ,a long Martyrdom.
The acts of Sts Nereus and Achilleu say ,that she returned to Terracina and was there burnt under Trajan because she refused to sacrifice to idols. Her relics are kept together with those of Sts Nereus and Achilleus; who, though her servants here on earth, enjoy an equal honour and condition with her, in glory.
This royal virgin found true happiness and joy in suffering for virtue, whilst worldly pomp and honours are only masks which often cover the basest slavery,and much inward bitterness. Sinners who seem the most fortunate in the eyes of the world, feel in their own breasts, frequent returns of fear, anxiety and remorse. They are only enemies to solitude and retirement and, to all serious and calm reflection because they cannot bear to look into themselves and tremble at the very sight of their own frightful wounds. To turn their eyes from themselves, they study to drown their faculties in a hurry of dissipation, business, or diversion. Nay, though nauseated and tired with a dull and tasteless repetition of follies, they choose to repeat them still, for fear of being left alone, at liberty to think of themselves. But what becomes of them when sickness, disasters, or a wakeful hour forces them to take a view of their own miserable state and the dangers which hang over them? Their gaudy show of happiness is merely exterior and only imposes upon others but their pangs and agonies, are interior, these they themselves feel.
The servant of God, who in his sweet love enjoys an inward peace and comfort which the whole world cannot rob him of, carries his paradise within his own breast, whatever storms hover about him. – Fr Alban Butler (1711–1773).