The Archdiocese of Birmingham - The Parish of the Immaculate Conception

Saints and Feast Days this week.

Beginning Sunday, 25th June 2017 ~ The Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time.

Lectionary - Sundays Year A, Weekdays Year 1




27th June ~ Optional memorial of St. Cyril of Alexandria, Bishop, Doctor of the Church

Born: c. 376. Died: 444. Declared a Doctor of the Church: 1882.

Little is known of Cyril’s early life. He was born c. 376 at Alexandria and first comes to note as a young priest who was the nephew of the patriarch of Alexandria, Theophilius, whom he succeeded in 412. He vigorously attacked the Novatians, the Neoplatonists, the Jews and the imperial governor Orestes. It was his opposition to Nestorius that was the most important in his life. Nestorius taught that there were two distinct persons in Christ who were joined in a merely moral union. Therefore the Blessed Virgin Mary could not be called the Theotokos, the Mother of God. Cyril certainly and Nestorius probably appealed for support to Pope Celestine who, after examining the question at a council in Rome condemned Nestorius’ teaching and excommunicated and deposed him unless he retracted. Cyril was appointed to carry out the sentence. Nestorius refused to retract and the Council of Ephesus was summoned in 431. Cyril presided and 200 bishops took part. Nestorius effused to appear before the arrival of the bishops of the patriarchate of Antioch. They in turn condemned Cyril but later reached agreement with him. The condemnation of Nestorius was upheld by the emperor. Traditionally Cyril is regarded as a fearlessly outspoken champion of orthodox thought about the Person of Christ. His writings contain some fine passages about the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist and the place of Mary in the Incarnation. As the moving force behind the third Ecumenical Council his is of great importance in the development of Christian doctrine. He died in 444 and was declared a Doctor of the Church by Pope Leo XIII in 1882.

Almighty and ever living God, you made the Bishop Saint Cyril of Alexandria an invincible champion of the divine motherhood of the most Blessed Virgin Mary, grant, we pray, that we, who believe that she is truly the Mother of God, may be saved through the Incarnation of Christ your Son.

New Advent


28th June - Memorial of St. Irenaeus, Bishop and Martyr.

Born: c. 130. Died: c. 202.

Ireneus was born c. 130 possibly in Smyrna whose bishop Polycarp, a disciple of John the Apostle, he had known as a boy. Ireneus studied in Rome becoming a priest at Lyons at the invitation of its first bishop, Pothinus becoming, in turn, its bishop when Pothinus was killed during the persecution. He was an important theological writer his most important works being Adversus Haereses and the Demonstration of Apostolic Preaching which effectively refuted Gnosticism. His main points concerned a clear reassertion of Christian monotheism identifying the God of the Old Testament with that of the New and stressing the unity of the Father and the Son in the work of Revelation and Redemption. He also stressed the importance of Tradition that manifested itself in the apostolic succession of the episcopate and in the formulation of the Canon of Scripture. He died in c. 202 at Lyons possibly as part of a more general uprising against Christians for refusing to join the pagans in gtheir sacrifices at the decenial games in honour of Severus. Some nineteen thousand are supposed to have died in this persecution. His remains were buried by his priest Zachary between the bodies of the martyrs St. Epipodius and St. Alexander. The relics remained in the subterranian chapel in the Cathédrale Saint-Jean-Baptiste de Lyon until 1562 when they were scattered by Calvinists and a great part of them were thrown into the river. His head was later recovered and was restored to the church.

O God, who called the Bishop Saint Irenaeus to confirm true doctrine and the peace of the Church, grant, we pray, through his intercession, that, being renewed in faith and charity, we may always be intent on fostering unity and concord.

New Advent



29th June ~ Solemnity of St. Peter and St. Paul, Apostles

First century AD.

Then Simon Peter spoke up and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus replied, "Simon son of Jonah, you are a blessed man! Because it was no human agency that revealed this to you but my Father in heaven. So I now say to you: You are Peter and on this rock I will build my community. And the gates of the underworld can never overpower it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of Heaven: whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven; whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

Matthew 16: 13-19.

It happened that while he was travelling to Damascus and approaching the city, suddenly a light from heaven shone all round him. He fell to the ground, and then he heard a voice saying. “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” “Who are you Lord?” he asked, and the answer came, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.”

Acts of the Apostles 9: 3-5.

Almighty and ever living God, on this Solemnity of your Apostles, Peter and Paul, give us the noble and holy joy of this day and grant that your Church may in all things follow the teaching of those through whom she received the beginnings of right religion.


30th June ~ Optional memorial of the First Martyrs of the Holy Church of Rome

First Centtury AD

The First Martyrs of the Church of Rome were Christians martyred in the city of Rome during Nero's persecution in 64. The event is recorded by both Tacitus and Pope Clement I in his Letter to the Corinthians, among others.

"First, Nero had some of the members of this sect arrested. Then, on their information, large numbers were condemned -- not so much for arson, but for their hatred of the human race. Their deaths were made a farce." . . . Instead of executing the Christians immediately at the usual place, Nero executed them publicly in his gardens nearby and in the circus. "Mockery of every sort accompanied their deaths. Covered with the skins of beasts, they were torn by dogs and perished, or were nailed to crosses, or were doomed to the flames and burnt, to serve as a nightly illumination, when daylight had expired." . . . "There arose in the people a sense of pity. For it was felt that they (the Christians) were being sacrificed for one man's brutality rather than to the public interest." (Tacitus)

Almighty and ever living God, you consecrated these first fruits of your Church by the blood of their martyrdoms, grant us, we pray, that same courage so that we may together draw strength from so great a struggle and ever rejoice at the triumph of faithful love.


1st July ~ Optional memorial of St. Oliver Plunkett, Bishop, Martyr

Born: 1629. Died: 1681. Canonised: 1976

Oliver was born in 1629 into a noble, royalist family at Loughcrew, Co. Meath and studied under Jesuit guidance at the Irish College in Rome. After brilliant academic success in theology and law he was ordained to the priesthood in 1654 becoming professor of theology at the Propaganda College and procurator of the Irish bishops. In 1669 he was appointed archbishop of Armagh being favourably received by Charles II’s queen, Catherine of Braganza. The long years of persecution of the church in Ireland had resulted in such disorder and neglect that in the first few months of his episcopate he confirmed 10,000 people. He was falsely accused of involvement in the Titus Oates plot in 1678 and with plotting to bring 20,000 French soldiers into Ireland. Imprisoned in Newgate until 1681 he was convicted on the basis of perjured evidence and was hung, drawn and quartered at Tyburn that same year. He was canonised in 1976.

Almighty and ever living God, you filled Saint Oliver with fortitude enabling him to feed your people with your word and to lay down his life for the faith, grant that through his intercession we may be made strong in that faith and fearlessly proclaim it in our day.