SS. NEREUS and ACHILLEUS
, according to the Golden Legend
of James of Voragine, as Englished by William Caxton.
Sequence by Adam of St. Victor
Nerei et Achillei,
Quos ad perhennem gloriam
Provexit ardor fidei!
Hi Domitille virginis
Cultores veri numinis
Et puritatis speculum.
Tincti fonte baptismatis
Per Petri ministerium,
Puelle sacri dogmatis
Horum salubri monitu
Rugam cavens et maculam,
Toto refutat spiritu
Mortalis sponsi copulam.
Clementis sacris manibus
Tecta sacro velamine,
Totis flagrat visceribus,
Audito Christi nomine.
Punire jam deliberat
Quam prius desponsaverat.
Succensus ire stimulis,
Ad Pontianam insulam
Cum duobus vernaculis
Christi relegat famulam.
Ibi Priscus et Furius
Simonis Magi complices
A sana fide simplices.
Nereus et Achilleus;
Homo cedit erroneus.
Torquetur in equuleo
Nereus cum Achilleo,
Nec extorquet Christicolis
Lictor, ut litent idolis.
Cesi flammis sunt traditi
Suo junguntur capiti
Quod regnat in coelestibus.
Horum juvemur meritis
Ac prece saluberrima,
Ut in compage capitis
Membra simus vel ultima.
Nos Domitilla Flavia
Pari juvet instantia,
Que viris par victoria
Pari congaudet gloria! Amen.
Englished by Digby S. Wrangham
The triumph let us celebrate
Of Nereus and Achilleus now,
Whom faith's bright ardour did translate
To endless glory from below.
Grooms of the bedchamber they both
To virgin Domitilla were,
True servants of the God of truth,
Mirrors of purity most rare.
By Peter's ministry were they
To the pure font of baptism brought,
And to the maiden they display
The precious truths that Christ had taught.
Led by the arguments they use
Of spot or wrinkle to be ware,
With her whole soul doth she refuse
The couch of mortal spouse to share.
By Clement's sacred hands arrayed
In sacred robes, within is stirred
With fire of holy zeal this maid,
Whene'er the name of Christ is heard.
Therefore Aurelian's vengeful wrath
'Gainst Domitilla breaketh forth,
And her he would before have wed
He plans to punish now instead.
As, roused by anger's sting, he raves,
Christ's handmaid off by him is sent,
Together with these two, her slaves.
To Pontia's isle in banishment.
Priscus and Furius, who were there,
In Simon Magus' footsteps trod;
Perverting with too zealous care
The simple from sound faith in God.
Then Nereus and Achilleus both
With arguments gainsay their lies;
And at the preaching of the truth
The pervert from his error flies.
With torture, to the horse-rack borne.
Is Nereus with Achilleus torn;
But not a whit the lictor stirs
Christ's to be idol-worshippers.
Flames with their mangled limbs are fed,
And they, beheaded here, again
Are re-united with their Head,
Who doth in heavenly places reign.
Grant through their merits, and their prayer
In efficacy unsurpassed,
Of that one Head's one body there
We members be, though least and last.
May Domitilla Flavia be
Our help to a like constancy,
Who, like to men in victory,
Can boast their glory equally! Amen.