Tuesday, May 28, 2024

The Great Cloud of Witnesses

Sts. Rogatian and Donatian
Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M.

Sts. Rogatian and Donatian

May 24

The story of St. Donatian and his brother St. Rogatian is known from a 5th century document, "the Passion of Children of Nantes". St. Donatian and St. Rogatian were, it seems, the sons of the first magistrate of the city. Donatian, the youngest, was baptized (probably by St. Similien, third bishop of Nantes, who outlived them). Donatian then evangelized his older brother, Rogatian. The family property, a Gallo-Roman villa, also home to the first Christian church built in Nantes, stood on the site of the current Basilica of St. Donatien-et-Saint-Rogatien. According to tradition, the church was built at the location of their graves, which was in their home, as was customary. According to the story, after being denounced as Christians, they were arrested and appeared before the imperial prefect, the provincial governor, who asked them to sacrifice to idols. When they refused, they were tortured and spent their last night praying together. That night, Rogatian regretted that he was going to die without being baptized, but his brother reassured him, telling him that the blood of his martyrdom would take the place of baptism. They were pierced by the spear of a lictor and then beheaded on the morning of 24 May 304. According to tradition, their martyrdom took place outside the city walls, at the site of the current no. 63 rue Dufour on the old road from Paris, near the Eugene-Livet High School and not far from the basilica dedicated to them. Their feast day is May 24. (Their names come from the Latin words which mean “ask” and “give.”)

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