Saturday, January 20, 2018

Bones of the Martyrs

I paid my respects at the Catacombs of Domitilla where the bones of 900,000 Christians and pagans are buried and the Crypt of the Capuchin monks where the bones of 3,900 Franciscans are lovingly arranged in nine different chapels.  In the evening I began reading the Life of Melania written by Cardinal Mariano Rampolla del Tindaro (1900).  The book begins with a detailed description of the extent of corruption Roman Society in the 4th and 5th centuries. The barriers and distinctions between castes and classes of Roman society were insurmountable.  Melania the Younger wanted to break away from the excessive depravity and corruption of the court and live as a child of God in faith as it says in Galatians 3:26-28, “neither Jew nor gentile, neither slave nor free, neither male nor female.” To relieve the wretched condition of the poor, Melania sold her extensive estates and gave up her wealth in penance for the insatiable avarice, arrogance, extravagance and unbridled sensuality of the elite Roman class in which she was raised. Saint Athanasius and Saint Jerome awakened religious fervor in Rome at a time when the Christian martyrs, buried five layers deep and three miles in circumference around the city, inspired Melania and young women like her to sacrifice their inheritance to build a new way of life in accordance with the ideal of the Gospel.