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January 14

St Felix-of-Nola January 14

Saint Felix of Nola

Priest, Confessor, Martyr

(Early 3rd Century – Around 260)

Say ‘Christ is God’ and the pain will leave you.

Saint Felix of Nola

Saint’s Life Story

His Early Life 

Felix was born around the early 3rd century in Nola, Italy near Naples.  His father, Hermias was a Syrian officer of the Roman army that retired at Nola, where he had some land. Felix had a younger brother, Hermias, who like his father before him, joined the Roman army and followed Caesar. When Felix’s father died, he bequeathed his property to his two sons. Felix, whose name means happy, resolved to follow the standards given by Jesus Christ. For this purpose, Felix despising of all earthly things, lest the love of them might entangle his soul, distributed his inheritance among the poor. 

Ordained By Bishop Saint Maximus of Nola

Felix was ordained priest by Bishop Saint Maximus of Nola, and became a soldier of Christ. After his ordination, Felix served the aged bishop as his assistant.

Arrested 

In 250, St Maximus fled to the desert at the beginning of the Decius’ persecutiuon of the Christians. Felix. When a search was made for Maximus and he was not to be found, Felix was arrested in his place, and thrown into prison. Maximus, meanwhile, a fugitive in the mountains, was perishing from cold and hunger, and suffering all the more on account of his great age.

Imprisoned and Escaped

In prison, Felix was treated with brutality, but, in course of time, and following a vision, Felix escaped with the help of an angel and sought out his old friend. After prolonged and difficult search he found Maximus, alone, prostrate with illness, and helpless. Felix revived him with food and wine, and carried him on his back, under cover of night, to the home of a pious and aged woman in Nola,  who took him into her care. Felix himself then went into hiding until the outbreak of persecution had passed with the death of Decius in 251.

Fleeing for His Life

St. Felix, who had already once been caught and imprisoned by the pagan Romans, was a breathless priest, all alone, and was hurriedly fleeing for his life. Heaven had miraculously freed him from his past dungeon, so that he could rescue his exiled bishop from dying of cold and hunger.

After some time though, his enemies learnt of St. Felix’ whereabouts. And now, furious at his past escape, the Roman soldiers were in close pursuit of the holy priest. They were determined to capture, torture and even kill the Saint if he should once again refuse to renounce his Catholic Faith.

Hid Away

And so St. Felix, barely keeping ahead of the soldiers, hurried around a corner of an old ruined wall. He was out of sight – for the moment. He knew his persecutors were not far behind. With a desperate prayer in his heart, the priest continued to run. As he rushed past a crumbled wall, St. Felix suddenly saw there was a hollow place among the stones. Following an instinctive inspiration, he quickly hid in it.

Prayers Answered

Quietly, he made his way back as far as he could in that space within the broken wall. Then he turned around. He could no longer see the open hole, nor the path outside. St. Felix put a hand over his racing heart. God’s will be done. With Heaven’s help, he was ready to face death. But if Heaven willed it, he knew They could save him now.

His fervent prayers were soon interrupted by the sound of the approaching soldiers. The Saint listened with bated breath as the heavy footfalls hurried alongside the wall. He waited and hoped to hear them pass by completely. But they stopped. Right outside the wall’s large hole. St. Felix could hear them talk amongst themselves.

Chased by Soldiers

“That wretched priest! What a miserable chase.”

“Which way did he go?” one of them asked aloud, catching his own breath.

“He turned off this way, I know that.” The other mumbled. “He’s not too far ahead.”

“Yeah, let’s hurry or we’ll lose him.”

The Saint almost sighed with relief. It sounded like they were about to move on, when one of the soldiers suddenly cried out:

“Wait! This hole here.”

St. Felix stiffened.

The soldier pointed it out to the others. “It’s a perfect hiding place!”

The poor Saint shut his eyes. 

Saved by the Spider’s Web

“What are you talking about, you fool?” One of the men corrected loudly. “Don’t you see that huge spider’s web? It’s covering the whole thing.”

St. Felix’s eyes opened in curiosity. A spider’s web? There was nothing at all on the hole when he entered. Yet, as he listened intently to the soldiers, the Saint realized with intense gratitude what had happened. No sooner had St. Felix first crawled through the opening than a spider had appeared from the cracks in the wall and gracefully spun a web over the entrance to his hiding-place.

“Come on. Nobody’s been in there. They would have broken the thread.” added another soldier. “Let’s go! we’re wasting time. That wretch is getting away!”

With that, the men continued on their chase, leaving behind a beautifully formed spider web and a very relieved and grateful Felix, who was eventually able to continue in his flight until he reached a place of safety where he remained until the persecution of the Catholics was over.

His Death

When St Maximus died, the people unanimously selected Felix as their bishop. Felix declined the honor in favor of Quintus, a senior priest. Felix spent the rest of his life on a small piece of land sharing what he had with the poor. Felix died there on this land on Jannuary 14 around 260. His tomb soon became famous for miracles reported there. Almost a century later when St Paulinis became Bishop of Nola, he wrote about Felix including a poem and other narratives that have become most of the source of information that we have on Felix. In a poem that St Paulinus wrote, he said that while Felix did not die a martyr he was willing to offer his life as a sacrifice to God. 

 

Beatified:           Pre-Congregation

Canonized:        Pre-Congregation

Feast Day:         January 14

Patron Saint:     Against Eye Troubles; Against Lies; Domestic Animals; Nola, Italy; Spiders

Source:

Reflection

Saint Felix of Nola was fearing for his life as soldiers chased him looking to murder him for his faith. So, he prayed to God as soldiers chased him looking to murder him for his faith. His prayers were answered with a spider’s web that protected him from the soldiers.

Have you ever felt like you were pinned into a corner with no way out? Stop and pray to God for a safe way out. You may not be given spider’s web like Saint Felix of Nola, but God’s love for you is endless.

Prayers

St. Felix, you did not desire to amass earthly wealth for yourself. Instead, you chose to sell your inheritance and to serve God wholeheartedly in the priesthood. When Christians were being persecuted for their Faith under the emperor Decius, you held fast to your Faith and willingly suffered for God. We may not be called to the priesthood or religious life and we may not be persecuted for our Faith. However, we all called by God to use the gifts we have been given to serve others. St. Felix, intercede for our us as we open our hearts and minds to do God’s will every day.

St Felix of Nola, pray for us. Amen

Saint Links 

Aleteia – This saint could rival Spider-Man

AnaStpaul – 14 January – St Felix of Nola (Died c 253)

Bartleby.com – St. Felix of Nola, Priest and Confessor from Rev. Alban Butler The Lives of the Saints.  1866.

Catholic Exchange – An Icon of Christian Hope: St Felix of Nola

Catholic Fire – St. Felix of Nola

Catholic Online – St Felix of Nola

CatholicSaints.Info – Saint Felix of Nola

Loyola Press – Saint Felix of Nola Feast Day January 14

New Advent – Coleman, A. (1909). St. Felix of Nola. In The Catholic Encyclopedia.

Newman Ministry – Saint Felix of Nola

Saint of the Day – St. Felix of Nola

uCatholic – St. Felix of Nola

Wikipedia

Video Link

St. Felix of Nola – YouTube (Pray with me)

Wall And Spider Felix Of Nola – YouTube (Andrew Uska)