Today is the feast of St. Venantius, bishop and martyr. This fellow is not to be confused with Venantius Fortunatus, whose magnificent poetry we lately heard in the Roman liturgy during Holy Week. Here is his entry in an old Martyrologium Romanum of 1878:
Eodem die sancti Vanantii Episcopi et Martyris
Not too helpful.
Here is the entry in the 2005MartRom:
Romae, commemoration sanctorum martyrum Venantii, episcopi, atque sociorum Dalmatiae et Histriae, scilicet Anastasii, Mauri, Pauliniani, Telii, Asterii, Septimii, Antiochiani et Gaiani, quos communi laude honorat Ecclesia.
That is a little more helpful.
I am guessing that we honor Venantius, at the others, on this day because it, probably, is the anniversary of the translation of their relics to Rome from Dalmatia by Pope John IV (+642) or to the chapel dedicated to them.
Next to the Lateran Basilica you find the very ancient Baptistry, itself a little church called San Giovanni "in fonte" originally build by Constantine, making it one of the oldest baptistries in the world, if not the oldest. Pope John IV built a chapel in the church for the remains of Venantius, et al.
I went to the Lateran University, right next to the Basilica and Baptisty, and used to pop in just to gaze at the place and ponder it. Among the interesting details are poetic distichs about baptism by Pope Leo the Great (+461) when he was still the archdeacon of Pope Sixtus III (+440). Remember that, as archdeacon, Leo also did the grand mosaics in St. Mary Major, which convery Catholic teaching in the face of Manichean errors. But back to those distichs… this is a 16 line poem divided into eight distichs, which is from Greek distikhon, refering to "two rows, lines", so a distich is a couplet. You find distichs in, for example, Elegaic poetry. Leo’s couplets are carved in the octagonal archtrave on top of the pillar which are arranged around the baptismal font in the center of the building:
GENS SACRANDA POLIS HIC SEMINE NASCITUR ALMO
QUAM FECUNDATIS SPIRITUS EDIT AQUIS.
VIRGINEO FETU GENITRIX ECCLESIA NATOS
QUOS SPIRANTE DEO CONCIPIT AMNE PARIT.
CAELORUM REGNUM SPERATE HOC FONTE RENATI:
NON RECIPIT FELIX VITA SEMEL GENITOS.
FONS HIC EST VITAE QUI TOTUM DILUIT ORBEM,
SUMENS DE CHRISTI VULNERE PRINCIPIUM.
MERGERE PECCATOR SACRO PURGANDE FLUENTO,
QUEM VETEREM ACCIPIET, PROFERET UNDA NOVUM.
INSONS ESSE VOLENS ISTO MUNDARE LAVACRO,
SEU PATRIO PREMERIS CRIMINE SEU PROPRIO.
NULLA RENASCENTUM EST DISTANTIA QUOS FACIT UNUM
UNUS FONS, UNUS SPIRITUS, UNA FIDES.
NEC NUMERUS QUEMQUAM SCELERUM NEC FORMA SUORUM
TERREAT HOC NATUS FLUMINE SANCTUS ERIT.
Here it is, but not in my translation:
Here is born a people of noble race, destined for Heaven,
whom the Spirit brings forth in the waters he has made fruitful.
Mother Church conceives her offspring by the breath of God,
and bears them virginally in this water.
Hope for the Kingdom of Heaven, you who are reborn in this font.
Eternal life does not await those who are only born once.
This is the spring of life that waters the whole world,
Taking its origin from the Wounds of Christ.
Sinner, to be purified, go down into the holy water.
It receives the unregenerate and brings him forth a new man.
If you wish to be made innocent, be cleansed in this pool,
whether you are weighed down by original sin or your own.
There is no barrier between those who are reborn and made one
by the one font, the one Spirit, and the one faith.
Let neither the number nor the kind of their sins terrify anyone;
Once reborn in this water, they will be holy.
Perhaps some of you would like to take a crack at the distichs!