Rev. Alban Butler (171173). Volume V: May. The Lives of the Saints. 1866.
St. Conon and His Son, Martyrs of Iconia
THIS faithful servant of Jesus Christ, after the death of his wife, lived in retirement with his son, whom he offered to the church, and who was made a lector1 at the age of twelve, and afterwards became a deacon. About this time Domitian, an officer under the Emperor Aurelian, came to Iconia in order to execute the edict which that prince had issued against the Christians; and Conon and his son were among the first who were brought before him. The officer, moved with compassion for the venerable old man, asked him why he had chosen so severe and mortified a life? To which the saint replied, Those who live according to the spirit of the world are fond of pleasures and ease; but those who live according to the Spirit of God, study to purchase the kingdom of heaven by pain and tribulation. As for me, my desire is to forfeit my life here, that I may for ever reign with Jesus Christ. Whereupon both the father and son were ordered to be stretched on a burning gridiron, and afterwards to be hung up by the feet over a suffocating smoke. Conon, amidst these torments, reproached the executioners for the weakness of their efforts; which so provoked the tyrant, that he caused the hands of the martyrs to be cut off with a wooden saw. Conon then said to him: Are you not ashamed to see two poor weak persons triumph over all your power? The martyrs having prayed for some time, calmly breathed their last. They suffered about the year 275, before notice had arrived of the death of Aurelian. Their relics are kept in a church of their name at Acerra, near Naples, to which they were brought in the ninth age, or later. St. Conon and his son are mentioned in the ancient Martyrologies. See their acts, which, though not original, are nevertheless of great antiquity, and written with equal piety and simplicity. The Bollandists give them on the 29th of May. See also Tillemont, Hist. Eccles. t. 4. p. 354.
Note 1. Those who aspire to the priesthood are first initiated by the clerical tonsure, which is not properly an order, but only a preparation for orders; after which they must pass through the minor or lesser orders, according to the practice of the primitive church. These are, the orders, of porter or door-keeper of the church, called ostiarius; lector or reader of the lessons in the divine office; exorcist, whose function is to read the exorcisms and prayers of the church over those who are possessed by the evil spirit; and acolyte, whose function is to serve the holy sacrifice of the mass, to light the candles, &c. From the minor orders they are promoted to the order of subdeacon, which is the first of those that are called holy; the subdeacon is for ever engaged to the service of God and his church in the state of perpetual continence, and is obliged to the canonical hours in the church office, and to assist the deacon in his ministry. From this order they are advanced to that of deacon, whose office is to assist the bishop or priest at mass, to preach the gospel, to baptize, &c. The next ascent is to the order of priest or presbyter; above this is the order of bishops, amongst whom the chief is called the pope. [back]