Novena to Saint Peter of Verona, Martyred by Manichean Heretics
The victory was thine, O Peter! and thy zeal for the defence of holy Faith was rewarded. Thou ardently desiredst to shed thy blood for the holiest of causes, and, by such a sacrifice, to confirm the Faithful of Christ in their religion. Our Lord satisfied thy desire; he would even have thy martyrdom be in the festive Season of the Resurrection of our Divine Lamb, that His glory might add lustre to the beauty of thy holocaust. When the death-blow fell upon thy venerable head, and thy generous blood was flowing from the wounds, thou didst write on the ground the first words of the Creed, for whose holy truth thou wast giving thy life.
Protector of the Christian people! what other motive hadst thou, in all thy labours, but charity? What else but a desire to defend the weak from danger, induced thee not only to preach against error, but to drive its teachers from the flock? How many simple souls, who were receiving divine truth from the teaching of the Church, have been deceived by the lying sophistry of heretical doctrine, and have lost the Faith? Surely, the Church would do her utmost to ward off such dangers from her children: she would do all she could to defend them from enemies, who were bent on destroying the glorious inheritance, which had been handed down to them by millions of Martyrs! She knew the strange tendency that often exists in the heart of fallen man to love error; whereas Truth, though of itself unchanging, is not sure of its remaining firmly in the mind, unless it be defended by learning or by faith. As to learning, there are but few who possess it; and as to faith, error is ever conspiring against, and, of course, with the appearance of truth. In the Christian Ages, it would have been deemed, not only criminal, but absurd, to grant to error the liberty which is due only to truth; and they that were in authority, considered it a duty to keep the weak from danger, by removing from them all occasions of a fall, just as the father of a family keeps his children from coming in contact with wicked companions, who could easily impose on their inexperience, and lead them to evil under the name of good.
Obtain for us, O holy Martyr, a keen appreciation of the precious gift of Faith, that element which keeps us in the way of salvation. May we zealously do everything that lies in our power to preserve it, both in ourselves and in them that are under our care. The love of this holy Faith has grown cold in so many hearts; and frequent intercourse with heretics or free-thinkers has made them think and speak of matters of Faith in a very loose way. Pray for them, O Peter, that they may recover that fearless love of the Truths of Religion, which should be one of the chief traits of the Christian character. If they be living in a country, where the modern system is introduced of treating all Religions alike, that is, of giving equal rights to error and to truth, let them be all the more courageous in professing the truth, and detesting the errors opposed to the truth. Pray for us, O holy Martyr, that there may be enkindled within us an ardent love of that Faith, without which, it is impossible to please God (Heb. xi. 6). Pray that we may become all earnestness in this duty, which is of vital importance to salvation; that thus our Faith may daily gain strength within us, till at length we shall merit to see in heaven, what we have believed unhesitatingly on earth.