Many early Christians were martyred by the Roman Empire, including the third-century Pope St. Sixtus and several other members of the Church of Rome. Sixtus was elected Bishop of Rome (Pope) in 257; that same year the Emperor Valerian issued a decree forbidding Christians to hold assemblies (thereby making it impossible for them to celebrate Mass legally).
Twelve months after his election, Sixtus was arrested while addressing a gathering of Christians in a cemetery outside Rome (for the early Church could not yet legally possess its own buildings). Four deacons were also arrested, including St. Lawrence (August 10).
Sixtus and his companions were put to death by the sword; Roman Christians buried him in the nearby cemetery of St. Callistus (named after another Bishop of Rome who was himself martyred in 222). St. Sixtus was one of the most venerated martyrs of the early Roman Church.
From Johnnette Benkovic’s Graceful Living: Meditations to Help You Grow Closer to God Day by Day
“My daughter, I want what is good for myself; I beg the same for you. Now there is no other way to bring this about than to ask the Virgin Mary constantly to come to you with her glorious Son. Be bold! Ask her to give you her Son, who in the Blessed Sacrament of the altar is truly the food of your soul. Readily will she give Him to you, still more readily will He come to you, giving you strength to make your way fearlessly through this dark wood. In it large numbers of our enemies lie in wait, but they cannot reach us if they see us relying on such powerful help.”
— From a letter of St. Cajetan
In what one area of my life do I most need the Virgin Mary to bring her Son to me? Right this minute, with faith and confidence, I will be bold and ask Our Lady for her intercession.
Other Saints We Remember Today
St. Cajetan (1547), Priest, Founder of the Theatines
St. Donatus (362), Bishop, Martyr