By l'Abbé Bérenger Saunière, priest of Rennes-le-Château 1885-1909
Tomorrow, Monday July 28, the Church celebrates the festival of St. Nazarius and St. Celsus, martyrs and principal patrons of the Cathedral Church of Carcassonne and the diocese as a whole. The celebration of this festival has been postponed to next Sunday, August 3.
St Nazarius was born in Rome in the 1st century of the Church under the pontificate of Saint Peter and the reign of Nero. His father was pagan and occupied high office in the armies of the empire; his mother was a Christian and served God with enthusiasm. She took great trouble over the education of her son and managed to irrevocably attach him to the service of Jesus Christ. Saint Nazarius received baptism at the hands of St Linus.
His father, seeing the high hopes he had for his son disappear, resorted to ill-treatment to try and detach him from the faith; finding him unshakeable in his resolve he not only returned his affection but even assisted him in a bold project that the latter had conceived to go and preach the Gospel. From this moment on, for a period of ten years, we know nothing about his Apostolic wanderings.
He came to Milan where the Prefect, irritated by the conversions he was achieving, had him whipped and driven out of the city. St Nazarius then went to Cisalpine Gaul. Near Nice, in the little village of Cimiès, a mother brought to him her son called Celsus so that he could instruct and baptise him. Celsus instantly became the inseparable companion of St Nazarius. They were arrested because of the many conversions that they were making, and had it not been for the mediation of the Governor's wife they would have paid for their zeal in propagating the faith with their lives.
Celsus and St Nazarius crossed the Alps and arrived at Embrun, where they soon gained many disciples; they then built a chapel and, leaving it to others to continue with what they had so happily begun, they went to preach the Gospel in Vienna, Geneva and Trier. Denounced by the idolaters of the last of these cities, the Prefect had them imprisoned. After a few days they were brought to the temple to be sacrificed; in response to their prayers the idols toppled to the ground. They were condemned, as a punishment, to be thrown into the sea. A terrible storm arose, and everyone was going to perish. But Celsus and Nazarius walked quietly on the surface of the waters. Terrified, their torturers entreated them to save them. At the sound of the Saints' voices the storm was calmed and the torturers stepped calmly ashore.
After this miracle our two Saints returned to Milan. Arrested by order of the Prefect, they resisted both his threats and his blandishments and were then decapitated. Their bodies were buried outside the Roman gate. After being long ignored they were finally found, by divine revelation, by the Blessed Amboise. Their bodies were still covered in vermilion blood. They were then transported into the city and placed in a splendid sepulchre.