According to the 1962 Missal of St. John XXIII the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, today is the feast of St. Agapitus, a martyr of Palestrina, not far from Rome. His cult, which is very ancient, was particularly popular in the eternal city where Felix III (492) caused a church to be built in his honor.
Ancient inscriptions show clearly the great confidence placed in the intercession of this martyr. It is also the feast of St. Helena, empress and mother of Constantine the Great. She discovered the True Cross in a rock-cistern near Mt. Calvary.
The Office offers these legendary details: “Agapitus was only fifteen years old but already his heart was all aglow with the desire to die as a martyr. Upon orders from the Emperor Aurelian (ca. 257), he was mercilessly whipped with leaded scourges, then thrown into a vile basement to remain there four days without food. After further punishment under the lash, he was suspended head downwards over a smoldering fire so that he should die from the smoke; boiling water was dashed against him, and his jaws were battered. When wild beasts hesitated to harm him, he was beheaded with the sword.”
Excerpted from The Church’s Year of Grace, Pius Parsch.