About this blogger:
Veronica Brandt holds a Bachelor Degree in Electrical Engineering. As editor, she has produced fine publications (as well as valuable reprints) dealing with Gregorian chant, hymnody, Latin, and other subjects. These publications are distinguished on account of their tastefulness. She lives in the Blue Mountains near Sydney, Australia, with her husband Peter and five children.
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“One would be straying from the straight path were he to wish the altar restored to its primitive table form; were he to want black excluded as a color for the liturgical vestments; were he to forbid the use of sacred images and statues in Churches; were he to order the crucifix so designed that the divine Redeemer's body shows no trace of His cruel sufferings; and lastly were he to disdain and reject polyphonic music or singing in parts, even where it conforms to regulations issued by the Holy See.”
— Ven. Pope Pius XII (20 November 1947)

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Why remember gruesome things
published 16 January 2016 by Veronica Brandt

Peter Martyr with Mary HE ROMAN MARTYROLOGY is a compilation of all the official saints arranged by the day of their death (or heavenly birthday). It is intended for daily reading. The most recent official edition is from 2004 but is only available in Latin, though this site gives the day’s entry in French.

Fr Z often mentions the Roman Martyrology on his blog. He reads the 2004 Latin edition, though here he notes editorial changes since the older editions. There are more saints, but fewer details in places. This makes sense when assembling a printed book and gives some consolation for those who read the older editions. We may miss the North American Martyrs, but we do get more Roman tortures.

Here’s an example from a 1916 edition of a more detailed entry from 22nd January:

At Valencia, in Spain, while the wicked Dacian was governor, St. Vincent, deacon and martyr, who, after suffering imprisonment, hunger, the torture, the disjointing of his limbs; after being burned with plates of heated metal and on the gridiron, and tormented in other ways, took his flight to heaven, there to receive the reward of martyrdom. His noble triumph over his sufferings has been elegantly set forth in verse by Prudentius, and highly eulogized by St. Augustine and pope St. Leo.

The first response may be to recoil, but you see how the writer frames the torments in terms of a triumph. That is the supernatural way of viewing suffering – as a precious gift, an opportunity to win grace and ultimately heaven!

Each day’s martyrology contains about a dozen brief eulogies – each helping to bring to mind our heavenly goal. When faced with setbacks or threats or shocking international events, it gives us a viewpoint to see how God is glorified.

When read as part of the office, each day’s listing ends with the prayer:

Precious in the sight of the Lord; is the death of His Saints.

I came across the Roman Martyrology when having a go at saying Prime according to the Liber Usualis. The hour seems to have two endings. After the three psalms is a little reading, then a brief responsory, a collect followed by a “Benedicamus Domino” and “Deo gratias” (let us bless the Lord, thanks be to God) which would usually signal the end of the hour. But instead of ending, then there’s the reading of tomorrow’s martyrology followed by more prayers, another collect, another brief reading then a final blessing. It’s like another mini office in itself tacked on the end of Prime.

As there is no easily found English of the 2004 version, I have been reading from this Roman Martyrology from 1916. I spent a year processing a copy from the Internet Archive and proof-reading each day’s entry. If you find typos, then that shows how lazy I am.

Another option is CatholicSaints.info list of today’s Saints though this gives more detail and is not so suited for reading out aloud – but great for following up any curious entries in the briefer books.

Interestingly, there was an English version of the 2004 martyrology available briefly in 2009 in a project called eCatholicHub.net which folded with the database of Saints transferring to the Catholic News Agency.

The New Liturgical Movement has this Guest Article reviewing the official 2004 edition.

Lastly, the Roman Martyrology is a fantastic resource for expectant parents choosing names for new infants. How about Accursius, Adjutus, and Otto (from 16 January.)