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Sunday, January 17, 2010

A Week of Commemoration of Holy Martyrs

At least three martyrs are commemorated this week: St Agatha,St Sebastian and Pope St Fabian


Print made by Jan van Haelbeck (Flemish; French; Male; 1600 - 1630; fl.)
Published by Jean Leclerc IV (1560 - 1621/1622)
Plate 18 Non svnt condignæ passiones hvivs temporis. Rom.VIII.
From Ecclesiae Militantis Triumphi (Triomphes de l'Eglise Militante) 1600-1620
Engraving on paper
201 millimetres x 136 millimetres
The British Museum, London

The engraving above depicts Martyrdom scenes with St Agatha being tied to a pillar in foreground, her sheared breasts lying in front of her, the Popes Fabian and Cornelius being beheaded in left background, St Tryphon hung from a tree and beaten in left background, Abdon and Senna attacked by lions in central background; letters A-D within composition indicating different scenes.

The full title of the work from which the plate comes is  "ECCLESIAE / MILITANTIS TRIVMPHI / SIVE / Deo amabilium Martyrvm / gloriosa pro Christi fide / certamina." and "Les Triomphes de l'Eglise Militante, / ou sont representez par figures les / glorieuz contbatz des Martires bien / aÿmes de Diev pour la loÿ de / Jesv Christ, / durant les persecutions de l'Eglise.".

It depicts Christian martyrs under the reigns of several Roman emperors

Pope Saint Fabian was Pope, or Bishop of Rome, from January 236 to January 20, 250, succeeding Pope Anterus.

Fabian died a martyr (20 Jan., 250) at the beginning of the Decian persecution, and was buried in the Crypt of the Popes in the catacomb of St. Callistus, where in recent times (1850) De Rossi discovered his Greek epitaph (Roma Sotterranea II, 59): "Fabian, bishop and martyr."

His head and arm are preserved in the Cappella Albani of the Basilica di San Sebastiano fuori le mura in Rome

Pope Clement XI commissioned the construction of a family chapel in the Basilica. The family name was "Albani". In 1706-12 the Chapel was built by Carlo Fontana under the direction of Carlo Maratta. Clement XI was a great patron of the arts and was also interested in the emerging discoveries from the Catacombs.

The chapel was dedicated to the the Pope and Martyr St Fabian.

In the Chapel (see below) the altar has a statue of St Fabian by Francesco Papaleo. (1710-12). Other works on the theme of St Fabien in the Chapel are: Giuseppe Passeri, “S. Fabian baptises the Emperor”; and Ghezzi, The Election of St Fabian