Preface of a Saint (3)
Collects and Lessons revised at GC 2009.
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BISHOP AND MARTYR (20 JANUARY 250)
by James Kiefer
Upon the death of Pope Saint Antherus in 236, a council was convened in Rome to elect his successor. In the crowd was Fabian (Fabianus), a layman from another part of Italy (it is not known where). According to the historian Eusebius, a dove flew into the building and landed on Fabian's head. The people immediately interpreted this to be an omen, and unanimously acclaimed Fabian their new pope. He turned out to be an excellent leader. He organized the parochial (parish) structure of the Church that is in use to this day. He developed the custom and rites of veneration of the martyrs buried in the catacombs, and appointed fourteen scholars to record the lives of the martyrs, so that they would not be forgotten in future years. In 239 the Emperor Decius instituted a persecution of Christians. This was the first persecution to be waged throughout the entire Empire instead of just locally. Fabian was captured and brutally executed. The courage with which he went to his death was an inspiration to thousands who followed him in martyrdom. His broken tombstone in Rome still exists, and three words on it are still barely legible; "Fabian ... bishop ... martyr." by Fr. Rick Losch