08 November 2013

8 November - Four Crowned Martyrs; Old Fashioned Rocks

Today we honor the patrons of sculptors and stonemasons.

“On the Lavican way, the birthday of the saintly brothers, Severus, Severian, Carpophorus and Victorinus, called the Four Crowned, who were scourged to death with leaded whips, during the reign of the Diocletian.  As their names, known some years afterwards by revelation, could not then be ascertained, it was ordered that their anniversary should be commemorated with the preceding five, under the name of the Four Saints Crowned.  This appellation was retained by the Church, even after their names had been revealed.”

The ‘preceding five’ saints referenced were “Claudius, Nicostratus, Symphorian, Castorius and Simplicius, who were first sent to prison, then scourged with whips set with metal, and as they could not be made to forsake the faith of Christ, Diocletian ordered them to be thrown into the river.”

The Golden Legend calls them “The Four Crowned Martyrs” and says of them: “… And these martyrs knew all the craft of sculpture or of carving, and Diocletian would have constrained them to carve an idol, but they would not entail nor carve it, nor consent to do sacrifice to the idols.  And then by the commandment of Diocletian, they were put into tuns of lead all living, and cast into the sea… And Melchiades, the pope, ordained these four saints to be honored and to be called the four crowned martyrs before that their names were found.  And though their names were afterward found and known, yet for the usage they be always called the four crowned martyrs.”

The Golden Legend also explains that for a long time after their martyrdom, their true names were unknown, so they were honored under the names of the other five martyrs.  It is under these names that they were entered in an Old English Martyrology [Simplicius became a fellow workman].  Here quatuor coronati  is translated as ‘the four victorious men’: “On the eighth day of the month is the martyrdom of the holy martyrs that are called in the books, quatuor coronate, that is the four victorious men, whose names were Claudius, Castorius, Symphorianus, and Nicostratus.  These were four skilful workers in stone at Rome; six hundred and twenty-two workers were there altogether, and no others were equal to them.  Every morning they marked their iron tools with the sign of the cross, and then they were never broken, but they carved each stone as the emperor designed.  One of the workmen was named Simplicius; he believed in God and received baptism, and since he did all that the others did.  Then God granted greater gifts to these five workmen than to the others.  The other workmen then complained of them to the emperor and told him that they were Christians and that they performed their artificial work by sorcery, because they marked their work with the sign of Christ’s Cross.  The emperor was angry and commanded them to be locked up alive in leaden chests and these to be thrown into the water.  After forty-two days, a Christian pulled up the chests with the bodies and placed them in his house, and many miracles since happened through these holy men.”

Subsequent embellishments and research have muddied the waters even further, so that it is not known which group (the four or the five) handled the carving tools (the other group being either government officials or soldiers); even the locations of their executions – Rome and modern Bosnia – are ascribed to one set or the other.  Or perhaps the Quattro Coronati are an entirely different group of martyrs, as proposed by the entry in the Catholic Encyclopedia.

Whatever.  Our ancestors didn’t care.  They honored four (or five) workmen – with or without names – who gave their lives for their faith. In the 15th century, an English stonemason’s guild entered this in their records:

“Pray we now to God Almighty,
And to His Mother, Mary bright,
That we may keep these articles here
And these points well altogether,
As did those holy martyrs four
That were in this craft of great honor.

They were as good masons as on earth shall go,
Gravers and image makers they were also,
For they were workmen of the best

The emperor had them in great liking;
He invoked them an image to make,
That might be worshiped for his sake;
Such idols he had in his day
To turn the people from Christ’s law,

But they were steadfast in Christ’s religion
And to the craft, without denial;
They loved well God and all His doctrines,
And were in His service evermore.
True men they were, in that day,
And lived well in God’s law;

They resolved no idols for to make,
For no good that they might take;
To believe on that idol for their god,
They would not do so, though he were mad,
For they would not forsake their true faith,
And believe on his false religion.

The emperor caused to take them at once
And put them in a deep prison.
The sorer he punished them in that place,
The more joy was to them of Christ’s grace.
Then when he saw no other way,
To death he caused them to go.

Who so will of their life more know,
By the book he may in learn,
In the legend of the saints,
The names of the four crowned ones.
Their feast will be, without denial,
After All Hallows, the eighth day.”

We can honor the patrons of sculptors and stonemasons with OLD FASHIONED ROCKS:

Heat oven to 350° F.
Grease cookie sheets (enough for 2 – 3 dozen cookies)

Bring ½ cup of water to boiling and pour it over 2 cups of raisins.  Set aside.
Soften ½ cup of butter.
Sift 2-½ cups of flour, then add a teaspoon EACH of baking powder, salt, and ground cinnamon, and sift again.

In a large bowl, cream the softened butter with 1-½ cups of firmly packed dark brown sugar.  Add 2 eggs, one at a time, beating the mixture until light after each addition.

Stir in ½ cup of chopped walnuts, then add the flour mixture and the raisins with the soaking water, and mix well.

Drop by teaspoonfuls onto the cookie sheets and bake for about 15 minutes.