EIGHTEEN MARTYRS OF SARAGOSSA, and ST. ENCRATIS,
or ENGRATIA, Virgin, Martyr.
ST. OPTATUS and seventeen other holy men received the crown of martyrdom on the same day, at Saragossa, under the cruel Governor Dacian, in the persecution of Diocletian, in 304. Two others, Caius and Crementius, died of their torments after a second conflict.
The Church also celebrates on this day the triumph of St. Encratis, or Engratia, Virgin. She was a native of Portugal. Her father had promised her in marriage to a man of quality in Rousillon; but fearing the dangers and despising the vanities of the world, and resolving to preserve her virginity, in order to appear more agreeable to her heavenly Spouse and serve Him without hindrance, she stole from her father's house and fled privately to Saragossa, where the persecution was hottest, under the eyes of Dacian. She even reproached him with his barbarities, upon which he ordered her to be long tormented in the most inhuman manner: her sides were torn with iron hooks, and one of her breasts was cut off, so that the inner parts of her chest were exposed to view, and part of her liver was pulled out. In this condition she was sent back to prison, being still alive, and died by the mortifying of her wounds, in 304. The relics of all these martyrs were found at Saragossa in 1389.
Reflection.—Men do not pursue temporal goods at haphazard, or by fits and starts. Let us be as punctual and orderly in the service of God, not casting about for new paths, but perfecting our ordinary devotions. If we persevere in these, Paradise is ours.