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These Pentecost martyrs were strengthened by the Holy Spirit


Antoine Mekary | ALETEIA

Philip Kosloski - published on 05/20/24

The Church honors the courage of several martyrs who were killed on the feast of Pentecost, highlighting the strength the Holy Spirit can give.

Among the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, fortitude is one that provides for all Christians the strength to persevere in the faith, even during persecution.

While the gifts of knowledge and wisdom help us know what we should do, the gift of fortitude strengthens our will so that we can actually accomplish what is true, good and beautiful.

This gift is sometimes called the gift of courage and helps a person stand firm, even when persecuted, in doing the right thing:

[T]hey will lay their hands on you and persecute you … This will be a time for you to bear testimony … I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which none of your adversaries will be able to withstand or contradict … you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But not a hair of your head will perish.

Luke 21:12-17

Pentecost martyrs

In the Roman Martyrology, which includes a listing of saints who were historically commemorated on each day of the year, there is listed on May 21 a collection of martyrs who were killed on Pentecost.

At Alexandria, the commemoration of the holy martyrs Secundus, a priest, and others, whom the Arian bishop George caused to be barbarously killed during the holy days of Pentecost, under the emperor Constantius.

This is referring to Constantius II, who reigned between 337-361, and Bishop George of Cappadocia. Both promoted the heresies of Arianism during this time period.

Tracing itself back to Arius, Arianism, according to the Catholic Encyclopedia, was a heresy that arose in the 4th century and denied the Divinity of Jesus Christ.”

It was a popular heresy that many Christians believed, but was condemned at the First Council of Nicaea in 325.

While we do not know much about Secundus or the other martyrs who died on Pentecost, we can say that they stood firm in their belief in Jesus’ divinity and were strengthened by the Holy Spirit so that they could withstand persecution, even from other Christians.

It must have been difficult, as both a bishop and emperor were persecuting them, trying to persuade them to drop their beliefs in Christ’s divinity.

They received the gift of fortitude and stood courageously against the popular opinions of their day, desiring to stand firm next to Jesus Christ and his Church.

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