So often we hear people or even ourselves excuse an action by saying "I was only following orders." But for Nereus and Achilleus this excuse could not stand in the face of the cross.
Everything we know from authority about the two first- century martyrs comes from a testimony written by Pope St. Damasus in the fourth century and inscribed on a memorial tablet that commemorates their lives. But even this commentary comes 300 years after they died.
Damasus tells us that Nereus and Achilleus were soldiers in the Roman army where they helped carry out the persecution of Christians. They probably had nothing against Christians and didn't carry for the bloody slaughter they were commanded to perform, but they obeyed these cruel orders out of fear of dying themselves. After all, that was what soldiers have always been expected to do.
We are not told how they were converted, only that it was a "miracle of faith." After this miracle, they threw down their weapons and escaped from their camp, discarding armor and arms as they went toward their new life in Christ. As participants in the persecution they knew perhaps better than any other Christian what pain awaited them. Faith, however, had triumphed over fear of death and the victory of faith was the sweetest they had known.
We are told they were martyred but Damasus doesn't mention how.
Later legend had it that they served Flavia Domitilla, the great-niece of Emperor Domitian, and were exiled and executed with her when she converted. This legend probably originated in the fact that the martyrs were buried in what was later known as the cemetery of Domitilla.Prayer:
One of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales. He was born at Dufton, at Westmoreland, England, and studied at Oxford. Becoming a Catholic in 1576, he went to Reims and received ordination in 1581. ... continue readingMore Saint of the Day
She is called "the Penitent". St. Mary was given the name 'Magdalen' because, though a Jewish girl, she lived in a Gentile town called Magdale, in northern Galilee, and her culture and manners were those of a Gentile. St. Luke records that she was a notorious ... continue readingMore Female Saints
St. Michael the Archangel - Feast day - September 29th The name Michael signifies "Who is like to God?" and was the warcry of the good angels in the battle fought in heaven against satan and his followers. Holy Scripture describes St. Michael as "one of the chief ... continue reading
The name Gabriel means "man of God," or "God has shown himself mighty." It appears first in the prophesies of Daniel in the Old Testament. The angel announced to Daniel the prophecy of the seventy weeks. His name also occurs in the apocryphal book of Henoch. He was the ... continue reading
The "Great Martyr," and the leader of converts in the Roman army. While serving as a tribune in the army of General Galerius, Andrew and his men faced a battle with a Persian host. Calling upon ... continue reading
By Deacon Keith A Fournier
On July 15th in the Liturgical Calendar of the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church, we commemorate the life, holiness, work and death of a great Bishop and Doctor named Bonaventure. He was born in 1218, became a Franciscan Friar in 1243, and died in 1274. A friend ... continue readingMore Christian Saints & Heroes