Sixtus II and his Companions

Martyrdom of Sixtus II and Companions. 14th century ms.

Today we remember the martyrs, Pope Sixtus II and four deacons who were martyred August 6, 258 while celebrating the Eucharist in the catacombs of Calixtus in Rome. Four days later, Lawrence the deacon was executed. I’ll tell his story that day.

History has its lessons for us. With the execution of Sixtus and his deacons who were key leaders, the church in Rome was deprived of its leadership and also, as we see in the story of Lawrence, its financial resources. It was a way Rome’s emperors, like Valerian, got rid of annoying groups like the Christians: kill the leaders and take away the group’s assets.

Is today’s pandemic doing something of the same thing, I wonder? It’s silencing the leaders of the church and taking away its resources.

The church recovered stronger than ever from the Valerian persecution, history tells us. Will that happen to the church today?

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