Mandeville, LA – Today, January 14th, the feasts of Saint Hilary of Poitier and Saint Felix are celebrated. Both died on this day, Hilary in 368 and Saint Felix circa 330. The legend of Saint Felix and the miracles wrought at his tomb is corroborated by Saint Augustine and Saint Paulinus.
The saint’s story begins with his being ordained priest and serving under Saint Maximus. In 250 the Emperor Decius deigned to make a spectacle of Maximus by martyring him before the pagans. Maximus, who was told of the plot, fled to the desert to pray upon his fate. Felix was left to serve the Maximus’s flock and he happily took the role. When the Romans came for Maximus, not wanting to return to Decius empty handed, they instead seized Saint Felix. Felix was imprisoned in the most awful dungeon conceivable as the Reverend Butler informs us.
The persecutors not finding him, seized on Felix, who in his absence was very vigilant in the discharge of all his pastoral duties. The governor caused him to be scourged; then loaded with bolts and chains about his neck, hands, and legs, and cast into a dungeon, in which, as St. Prudentius informs us, 2 the floor was spread all over with potsherds and pieces of broken glass, so that there was no place free from them, on which the saint could either stand or lie.
One night an angel appearing in great glory, filled the prison with a bright light, and bade St. Felix go and assist his bishop, who was in great distress. The confessor seeing his chains fall off, and the doors open, followed his guide, and was conducted by heaven to the place where Maximus lay, almost perished with hunger and cold, speechless, and without sense: for, through anxiety for his flock, and the hardships of his solitary retreat, he had suffered more than a martyrdom. Felix, not being able to bring him to himself, had recourse to prayer; and discovering thereupon a bunch of grapes within reach, he squeezed some of the juice into his mouth, which had the desired effect. The good bishop no sooner beheld his friend Felix, but he embraced him, and begged to be conveyed back to his church. The saint taking him on his shoulders, carried him to his episcopal house in the city, before day appeared, where a pious ancient woman took care of him.
This is where the story of Saint Felix turns exciting and legendary. Again the Reverend Butler has the details.
Felix, with the blessing of his pastor, repaired secretly to his own lodgings, and there kept himself concealed, praying for the church without ceasing, till peace was restored to it by the death of Decius, in the year 251. He no sooner appeared again in public, but his zeal so exasperated the pagans, that they came armed to apprehend him; but though they met him, they knew him not; they even asked him where Felix was, a question he did not think proper to give a direct answer to! The persecutors going a little further, perceived their mistake, and returned; but the saint in the mean time had stept a little out of the way, and crept through a hole in a ruinous old wall, which was instantly closed up by spiders’ webs. His enemies never imagining any thing could have lately passed where they saw so close a spiders’ web, after a fruitless search elsewhere, returned in the evening without their prey. Felix finding among the ruins, between two houses, an old well half dry, hid himself in it for six months; and received during that time wherewithal to subsist by means of a devout Christian woman. Peace being restored to the church by the death of the emperor, the saint quitted his retreat, and was received in the city as an angel sent from heaven.
The modern church, possessed of so much arrogance and the obsession of scientism, rejects the story of Saint Felix as not being provable and thus of no use. Yet, Saint Felix is buried in the church at Nola and his relics (and life) were venerated by Saint Augustine in his Epistle 78.
God is everywhere, it is true, and He that made all things is not contained or confined to dwell in any place; and He is to be worshipped in spirit and in truth by His true worshippers, John 4:24 in order that, as He hears in secret, He may also in secret justify and reward. But in regard to the answers to prayer which are visible to men, who can search out His reasons for appointing some places rather than others to be the scene of miraculous interpositions? To many the holiness of the place in which the body of the blessed Felix is buried is well known, and to this place I desired them to repair; because from it we may receive more easily and more reliably a written account of whatever may be discovered in either of them by divine interposition.
Then there is the devotion Saint Paulinus had to Saint Felix.
St. Paulinus, a Roman senator in the fifth age, forty-six years after the death of St. Damasus, came from Spain to Nola, desirous of being porter in the church of St. Felix. He testifies, that crowds of pilgrims came from Rome, from all other parts of Italy, and more distant countries, to visit his sepulchre on his festival: he adds, that all brought some present or other to his church, as wax candles to burn at his tomb, precious ointments, costly ornaments, and such like; but that for his part, he offered to him the homage of his tongue, and himself, though an unworthy victim. He everywhere expresses his devotion to this saint in the warmest and strongest terms, and believes that all the graces he received from heaven were conferred on him through the intercession of St. Felix.
Saint Felix of Nola, oremus.