Bright jewels of our Father’s crown

Daily Reading for January 22 • Vincent, Deacon of Saragossa, and Martyr, 304

S. Vincent, the most illustrious martyr of the Spanish Church, was born at Saragossa, and suffered in the persecution under Diocletian and Maximinian, A.D. 304. The Governor Datian, after trying persuasion in vain, had recourse to the most horrible torments to subdue S. Vincent’s Faith; but all to no purpose: his pain was turned into joy, and he heard angelic songs in the midst of his torture. When it was over, the Christians laid him in a soft bed; but as soon as he was placed thereon, he yielded up his soul.

Ye blessed Saints of high renown,

Who now ’mid heavenly treasures stored,

Bright jewels of our Father’s crown,

Await the coming of the Lord,

Meek sufferers while ye walked below,

In varied forms of pain and woe,

Content for Jesus’ blessed Name

To suffer loss, and grief, and shame,—

Whom, still a pilgrim here on earth,

The Church esteems of priceless worth,

Her children once in faith and love,

Martyrs in glory now above,—

Who but with awful joy can dwell

On the bright course ’twas yours to run,

And all the fruits of love which tell

Of victory by long suffering won?

We joy in that triumphant train;

But awe with joy is mingled still;

For we, who feebly shrink from pain,

Whose hearts with earthly pleasures thrill,

Scarce dare in trembling hope to gaze

Upon the Cross’s burning rays,—

Too bright, alas! for earth-dimmed sight,

Which shudders at its awful light.

And meet it is in humble shame

Our own repentant life to frame,

And pray that, if our lot it be

To suffer earthly agony,

Our feeble hearts may wax more bold,

To bear with gladness pain and loss,

As they who fought the fight of old

Beneath the banner of the Cross.

Blest Saint! this day in thankful praise

Our love would humbly think of thee,

As thou to heaven thine eye dost raise

Amid the searching agony,

Thy Cross of torture and of woe,

Thy bed of flame, the racking glow

Of steel, prepared in grim array

To chafe a Martyr’s strength away.

But forms unseen are hovering near;

An Angel’s voice is in his ear;

And flowers, that never bloomed below,

Their heavenly odours round him throw.—

But when the foe could do no more

And sorrowing mourners thronged around,

Thou mightst not stay; the strife was o’er,

And thou a tearless home hadst found.

O for the strength of faith and love,

That droops not in the tempest drear,

That, all intent on joys above,

Thirsts with the Lamb to suffer here!

For they who now bear pain and loss

Shall conquer with the Saviour’s Cross:—

O blessed power to suffering given,

The Red Sea wave, the gate of Heaven!

Poem in honor of S. Vincent, Deacon and Martyr, in Lyra Sanctorum by William John Deane (London: Joseph Masters, 1850).

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