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Sunday, March 25, 2012

Feast of St Dismas, the Good Thief and Patron of Penitents

from the Golden Legend:

The passion of our Lord was bitter for the sorrow that he suffered in derisions despitous and of many filths fructuous. The sorrow was cause of five things. The first, because it was shameful, for the place of the Mount of Calvary, whereas malefactors and criminal persons were put to execution, and he was there put to death right foul. The cross was the torment of thieves, and if the cross was then of shame and of villainy, she is now of glory and of honour. Wherefore saith S. Austin: Crux latronum qui erat supplicium, etc. The cross which was the justice of thieves is now become the sign of glory in the foreheads or fronts of emperors. And if he had such honour at his torment, what did he to his servant for the shameful fellowships that he did to him? For he was set with malefactors, but the one of them was converted, which was called Dismas, like as it said in the gospel of Nicodemus. And he was on the right side of our Lord, and that other on the left side was damned, which was called Gesmas. So that one then he gave the realm of heaven, and to that other hell. Whereof saith S. Ambrose: Auctor pietatis in cruce, etc. He saith the author of pity hanging on the cross divided offices of pity in secular errands; that is to say, the persecution to the apostles, peace to his disciples, his body to the Jews, his spirit to the Father, to the Virgin the messages of the wedding of the sovereign spouse, to the thief paradise, to sinners hell, and to christian penitent he commanded the cross.

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