Salvete flores Martyrum
All hail, ye little Martyr flowers
Author: Prudentius (348-413).
Meter: Iambic dimeter.
Translation By Athelstan Riley. There are about twenty-five translations.
Liturgical Use: Hymn for Lauds on the
Feast of the Holy Innocents. This hymn is a cento from
the Cathemerinon. See the Notes on the preceding hymn.
- Salvete flores Martyrum
Quos lucis ipso in limine
Christi insecutor sustulit,
Ceu turbo nascentes rosas.
- Vos prima Christi victima,
Grex immolatorum tener,
Aram sub ipsam simplices
Palma et coronis luditis.
- Jesu, tibi sit gloria,
Qui natus es de Virgine,
Cum Patre, et almo Spiritu
In sempiterna sæcula.
- All hail, ye little Martyr flowers,
Sweet rosebuds cut in dawning hours!
When Herod sought the Christ to find
Ye fell as bloom before the wind.
- First victims of the Martyr bands,
With crowns and palms in tender hands,
Around the very altar, gay
And innocent, ye seem to play.
- All honor, laud, and glory be,
O Jesu, Virgin-born to Thee;
All glory, as is ever meet
To Father and to Paraclete.
- “Hail, flowers of the martyrs, whom on the very
threshold of life, the persecutor of Christ snatched away
even as the whirlwind, the budding roses.” Lucis, lit.,
light; fig., life; or in a mystical sense, Christ.
- “As the first sacrifice for Christ, a tender flock of
victims, with sweet simplicity, ye play with your palms
and crowns at the very altar side.” Aram sub ipsam:
The Original Text has ante for sub. Vidi. subtus altare
animas interfectorum propter verbum Dei (Apoc. 6, 9).
This stanza has been greatly admired. It presents a picture
of great beauty. The following is Father Caswall’s
translation of this hymn, of which Monsignor Henry says:
“Not to speak of the beauty and fidelity of the rendering,
the trochaic rhythm vividly conveys the sense of the suddenness
of the onslaught, the ruthlessness and swiftness of
the destruction.” (Cath. Encycl. Vol. XII, p. 607).
- Flowers of martyrdom all hail!
Smitten by the tyrant foe
On life’s threshold,—as the gale
Strews the roses ere they blow.
- First to bleed for Christ, sweet lambs!
What a simple death ye died!
Sporting with your wreaths and palms
At the very altar side!
- Honor, glory, virtue, merit,
Be to Thee, O Virgin’s Son!
With the Father, and the Spirit,
While eternal ages run.
Copyright Benziger Brothers, 1922. Online Edition Copyright David M. Cheney, 2019.