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Authorities differ as to the place of his birth, about 304 A.D., probably in Spain or Portugal. He was the thirty-ninth Bishop of Rome, consecrated 366 A.D., and died in 384. His character is of renowned or doubtful virtue, according to the prejudices of the historians. During his occupancy of the papal throne, a law was promulgated by the Emperor Valentinian prohibiting the clergy from permitting or influencing penitents to enrich them. Damasus had a conflict with the antipope, Ursinus, to maintain his position as pope, and the struggle resulted in bloodshed. Gibbon says that Damasus “had the good sense or the good fortune to engage in his service the zeal and abilities of the learned Jerome, and the grateful saint has celebrated the merit and purity of a very ambiguous character.” Theodoret, however, places him “at the head of the famous doctors of the Latin Church."
HYMNUS DE S. AGATHA
Martyris ecce dies Agathae
Stirpe decens, elegans specie,
Fortior haec trucibusque viris
Deliciae cui carcer erat,
A HYMN OF ST. AGATHA
Now behold, the glad day of Saint Agatha comes,
Blessed martyr and virgin renowned, In the which Christ hath taken her unto Himself,
And with diadenı twofold hath crowned.
Though distinguished by birth, and of beauteous
form, Yet in faith and in works she excelled; Disregarding all earthly possessions and wealth,
In her heart God's commandments she held.
And this maiden far braver than barbarous men,
To their scourges her body laid bare; With what mighty endurance her soul was endowed
Let her tortured breast plainly declare.
To this lamb for whose comfort a dungeon was given,
Comes the shepherd, Saint Peter, to bless; Thence, rejoicing and evermore ardent, she ran,
Through all tortures exultant to press.
Ethnica turba rogum fugiens
Iam renitens quasi sponsa polo
Gloria cum Patre sit Genito,
Lo, the throng of barbarians fleeing from death,
Her assistance deservedly claim; But in those whom the name of the faithful adorns,
May she quench passion's deadlier flame.
As a bride, with thy Lord interceding in heaven,
For the wretched, kneel at His throne;
As He favors those keeping His own.
To the Son, with the Father and Spirit, henceforth
Be all glory and honour and laud: We beseech Thee to keep her still mindful of us,
O Thou one and omnipotent God.