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Mar 19, 2022 885 Shalom Tidings
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A Boy Martyr of the Eucharist

Imagine having to meet secretly in underground catacombs to celebrate the Eucharist. Such was the plight of Christians in the Third century under the persecution of emperor Diocletian. Imprisonment and even death could be the punishment for anyone discovered to be a Christian.

One day, as the bishop was about to celebrate Holy Mass in one of the catacombs, he received a letter from Christian prisoners requesting he send them the Eucharist. As soon as the Mass was over, the bishop asked who would be willing to carry out this dangerous task. Young Tarcisius—an altar server—stood up and said, “Send me.” The bishop thought the boy was too young, but Tarcisius convinced the bishop that nobody would suspect him precisely because he was just a boy. All the Christians knew of Tarcisius’—a boy with deep love for Jesus in the Eucharist, and so the bishop accepted the boy’s offer.

The Blessed Sacrament was carefully wrapped in linen cloth and placed in a small case which Tarcisius hid within his tunic, just over his heart. On the way, he passed a group of his schoolmates who called to him to join their games, but Tarcisius refused saying he was in a hurry. Seeing that he was holding something close to his breast, they became curious and together tried to pull away his hands.

As they struggled, one of the boys heard him whisper “Jesus” and cried out to the others: “He is a Christian. He is hiding some Christian mystery there.”The boys struck him and kicked him fiercely to make him loosen his grip. When a man passing by heard that the boy was a Christian, he gave a cruel blow that threw him to the ground. Just then a soldier dispersed the attackers, lifted Tarcisius onto his arms and hurried off to a quiet lane.

Tarcisius opened his eyes and recognized the soldier as a Christian whom he had often met in the catacombs.

“I am dying,” he said, “but I have kept my God safe from them.” And he handed his precious treasure to the soldier, who placed it reverently inside his tunic. “Carry Him to the prison for me,” said Tarcisius, and with a gentle sigh he fell back into the soldier’s arms. His little soul was already with God for whom he so willingly had given his life.

Jesus said, “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” Young Tarcisius as a boy martyr of the Eucharist gave his life for the Friend of friends, Jesus the Lord.

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