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Sts. Injuriosus and Scholastica, patron saints of true lovers

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Anne Bernet - published on 06/03/23

This couple's celibate love was so strong that not even death could separate them!

We all know that St. Valentine is a patron saint of lovers, but he’s not the only saint we can invoke for love and marriage. There’s a saintly couple you may not have heard of who have their own unique love story.

The story takes place in the 4th century. In Auvergne (near the center of what is now France) lived a young man belonging to the Gallo-Roman aristocracy. His name was Injuriosus, “Injurious” in English, which is certainly not a name one would easily give to a new-born baby! Christianity had been well established in the region for nearly two centuries already. Many of those Catholics lived their faith intensely and aspired to be all things to Christ, which explains the flowering of religious vocations.

It seems that Injuriosus was among those attracted to monastic life. However, this was not his family’s plan for him. There was a fortune to be managed, land to be cultivated, a patrimony to be increased, and descendants to be ensured. The heir had to assume his worldly responsibilities, marry, and make a name for himself. His parents had already found him a fiancée. The girl’s name was Scholastica, and she was devout, well-born, and remarkably beautiful — a not insignificant detail, since the radiant charms of his future wife were bound to shake the boy out of his mystical reveries. 

Deeply in love

What the two families didn’t know, or pretended not to know — obsessed as they were with their own earthly plans — is that the beautiful Scholastica also wanted to give herself to God and consecrate her virginity to Christ. 

Whatever the case, no one took the young couple’s opinions into account, and they found themselves forced into a marriage they didn’t want. But — and the parents were counting on this to produce the expected offspring — all it took was one look for Injuriosus and Scholastica to fall deeply in love with each other. There’s nothing wrong with this conjugal sentiment blessed by the Church, and the couple perfectly well could’ve consummated this union. However, they felt bound by the secret commitments they’d made earlier. Hadn’t they both vowed to remain celibate? 

Confronted with the same difficulties, forced into marriage by their parents, some of their contemporaries accepted a little arrangement with Heaven. They would consummate their union, and live as husband and wife until the birth of two or three children who would ensure their lineage. Then they would go their separate ways in the “holy purpose” of the convent and the monastery. The Church was in no way offended by this new arrangement, which saw Melania the Younger and her husband Pinianus raised to the altars. St. Gregory the Great himself descended from a family where this was common practice, so he could boast that his ancestors included priests — and even a pope — who became priests after separating from their wives.

No compromise

Why didn’t these pious spouses do the same? Because compromises with the world were a little too much like worldliness in their eyes. So, on their wedding night, Injuriosus and Scholastica confided their secret to each other. They decided, by mutual agreement, to live as brother and sister without telling anyone.

What they didn’t foresee was that, in love as they were, living side by side day after day without ever touching each other would become an ordeal. Indeed, they would have to struggle not to break their vow.

This struggle lasted until their old age. When the ardor of youth cooled down, they were logically less tempted to succumb to their passion. As one hagiographer nicely puts it:

What at first seemed so painful became sweeter to them towards the end of their days, and the chaste delights they tasted in the service of God compensated them beyond all expression for the sacrifices they were obliged to make to remain constant in their resolve.

This celibate marriage lasted for several decades, without those around them — distressed by the persistent sterility of this beautiful and loving couple — suspecting their secret. Even after the death of their parents, the virgin couple would not reveal the pretense behind their union. In fact, their sublimated affection for each other made the idea of separating to enter religious life intolerable. 

A spotless treasure

Alas, life is such that even the most beautiful love stories in this world must come to an end. One spring day in 388, Scholastica passed away, leaving Injuriosus distraught and heartbroken. The grieving widower organized a beautiful funeral. As he closed the tomb, leaning over his wife one last time, he sighed, “I thank you, Lord, eternal God, for allowing me to place this spotless treasure in the hands of your mercy, as pure as the day I received it from you!”

Did he realize that he had spoken aloud and that those around him had heard this extraordinary confession explaining the long secret of their relationship? Suddenly, there was a reply in a voice which the audience recognized as Scholastica’s. “But my dear friend, why do you dare to say what no one has asked you?”

So, even in blessed eternity, Scholastica would have preferred, in her tenderness for her husband, to remain his true wife in the eyes of the world, even if it meant losing the merits and glory of their incredible, holy chastity. Inconsolable, Injuriosus did not long survive his companion; he joined her in death on the following May 25, just a few weeks after her death.

The tomb of the two lovers

But the story didn’t end there. Perhaps because of the secret he had revealed, or due to a simple mistake or some other family reason, Injuriosus was not buried next to his wife, as was customary. He was interred on the other side of the cemetery, the two graves being a great distance apart. The day after the funeral, many local people — remembering the couple’s charity and grateful for the bequests left by the deceased — went to the cemetery to pray at his grave. There, to everyone’s surprise, they found that the sarcophagus in which Injuriosus’ remains lay had moved during the night to join Scholastica’s, against which it lay in an eternal embrace. This astonishing miracle crowns a union that was no less miraculous.

The tomb became known as the “tomb of the two lovers” or of “the two true lovers.” Scholastica and Injuriosus are invoked to obtain conjugal peace and love, as well as to strenghten the solidity of marriages.

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