You step into a giant forest of marble, when you enter the cathedral of Milan.
Then I found myself next to the famous statue of St. Bartholomew, flayed alive for the faith.
St. Charles Borromeo lies in the crypt, under the high altar.
They don’t make it easy to pray in the Duomo Milano. Large parts of the church lie behind impenetrable barricades. Couldn’t even find the Blessed Sacrament.
But across town, the Basilica di Sant’Ambrogio has the great Father of the Church, entombed with two martyrs to whom he was devoted, Sts. Gervase and Protase.
Ambrose made them the patrons of Milan, as narrated in St. Augustine’s Confessions. (St. Ambrose baptized St. Augustine.) After Ambrose died, they re-interred the martyrs with him, since he had become the city’s perennial patron.
The martyrs are vested as St. Ambrose’s deacons. They lie beneath this mosaic:
The Holy Apostles acted with such great courage that they seem superhuman.
Among the Apostles, we know St. Paul the most intimately, since so many of his writings have been passed down to us. We know the details of how he willingly suffered every possible hardship for the sake of expanding the kingdom of Christ.
St. Paul nearly starved; he nearly drowned; was repeatedly imprisoned, flogged, beaten within an inch of his life. He patiently endured painful mistreatment of every kind—the willful misunderstanding of his motives by people he had helped, betrayal by people he loved, the unfair judgment of countless supposed allies. In the end, he willingly bent his neck under the executioner’s axe, rather than deny Christ.
All the Apostles acted with similarly astonishing zeal and dedication. The Church expanded from a small band of dreamers, apparently beaten in an obscure Roman province, to a unified worldwide organization.
In other words, a great miracle of social development occurred. And at the heart of this miracle lies the Apostles’ superhuman zeal. Where did it come from?