A holy subdeacon, who in the reign of Marcus Antoninus, was apprehended in a desert, and brought before Torquatus, governor of Umbria, then residing at Spoletto, about the year 178. The martyr, paying no regard to his promises or threats, in the first interrogatory was beaten with clubs, and in the second was hung on the rack, but in the height of his torments he cheerfully sang: “Glory be to thee, Lord Jesus!” Three days after, two soldiers were sent by Torquatus, to behead him in the dungeon, unless he would offer sacrifice to an idol, which a priest who accompanied them carried with him for this purpose. The saint showed his indignation by spitting upon the idol, upon which one of the soldiers struck off his head. In the Roman Martyrology his name occurs on the 1st, in some others on the 2nd of January.
Circumcision was a sacrament of the Old Law, and the first legal observance required by Almighty God of that people, which he had chosen preferably to all the nations of the earth to be the depository of his revealed truths.– These were the descendants of Abraham, whom he had enjoined it, under the strictest penalties, several hundred years before the giving of the law to Moses on Mount Sinai; and this on two several accounts: First, as a distinguishing mark between them and the rest of mankind. Secondly, as a seal to a covenant between God and that patriarch: whereby it was stipulated on God’s part to bless Abraham and his posterity; while on their part it implied a holy engagement to be His people, by a strict conformity to His laws. It was, therefore, a sacrament of initiation in the service of God, and a promise and engagement to believe and act as he had revealed and directed. Circumcision is also looked upon by St. Austin, and by several eminent modern divines, to have been the expedient, in the male posterity of Abraham, for removing the guilt of original sin which in those who did not belong to the covenant of Abraham, nor fall under this law was remitted by other means, probably by some external act of faith.
This law of circumcision continued in force till the death of Christ: hence our Savior being born under the law, it became him, who came to teach mankind obedience to the law of God, to fulfill all justice, and to submit to it. Therefore, he was made under the law, that is, was circumcised, that he might redeem them that were under the law, by freeing them from the servitude of it; and that those, who were in the condition of servants before, might be set at liberty, and receive the adoption of sons in baptism — which by Christ’s institution, succeeded to circumcision.
Christ being not only innocent, but incapable of sin, could stand in no need of circumcision, as an expedient then in use for the remission of sin.
These two celebrated apostles of the East are bound by more than one tie to the history of Papal Rome. The Slav nations are indebted to Cyril and Methodius for their civilization, their faith, and their original communion with the See of Peter. To this day the Slav pilgrim who visits Rome and kneels at the sepulcher of the Prince of the Apostles sees upon that tomb a painting representing the Savior between St. Peter and St. Paul. That venerated icon, on which is traced an inscription in the Slavonic tongue, is said to have been placed there by Sts. Cyril and Methodius as a mark of their homage and devotion to the Apostolic See.