01 July 2011

St. Nicasius - Martyr of the Order of Malta

Today in the Order of Malta we remember St. Nicasius who was martyred.

One of the Kameti family (who were later known as de Burgo), he was born in Sicily in the twelfth century. He became a knight of the Order of St. John, fought as one of the defenders at the siege of Acre in Palestine and was captured and beheaded there in 1187 with many others, including, it is said, his brother Ferrandino.


O God, every year you give us joy in the commemoration of your martyr, blessed Nicasius: grant that through his prayers and example the companions of our Order may grow in faith and always follow you with all their hearts. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ your Son who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
(From: The Missal with readings of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem of Rhodes, & of Malta, London 1997)
All that is known of Saint Nicaise, a martyr Knight, is that he lived shortly after the Blessed Gerland. His picture, painted in several churches (in Saint Dominic of Palermo, Saint Catherine dell'Olivella - not far from the altar of the Madonna of Itria - Saint Mary of Miracles, in Palermo, as well as in Saint John Decapitated, in Valletta, Malta) goes to show that we are not speaking of a myth but of a martyr of our Order.

Under the effigy of Saint Nicaise, drawn on a column of Saint Dominic of Palermo, can be read this inscription, bearing witness to a popular belief:
" S. Nicasius Martyr et Miles Domini nostri Jesu Christi, multas in collo habuit glandulas et imperavit a Domino nostro Jesu Christo ut quicumque nomen suum supra se portaverit, glandulae ei nocere non poterint. Amen".
Therefore, our Knight was either scrofulous or suffered from scrofula as a consequence of his tortures. He will guard us from scrofula from his high place in heaven, on one simple condition: if our "glands" worry us or trouble our children, let us write with confidence the name of Saint Nicaise and let us wear it on us or put it in the clothing of the patient; the holy martyr will indeed know how to cure the disease he knew.

And if our curiosity impels us to know more about his life, with Frà Bosio I shall tell you to act in such a way that "we shall be worthy of knowing what he has done ... in Heaven".
(From: Ducaud-Bourget, Msgr. François: The Spiritual Heritage of The Sovereign Military Order of Malta, Vatican 1958)

Thanks to Father Gerard of the Brotherhood of Blessed Gerard which is the South African Relief Organization of the Order of Malta for his original posting of this information.

1 comment:

joven said...
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