Wednesday, November 2, 2011


Born . 3rd century
Died . 303Rome

The Martyrdom of Martinian and Processus. Valentin de Boulogne. 1629.
Feast 27 July

Saints Martinian and Processus or Saints Processus and Martinian (Italian: Martiniano and Processo) were Christian martyrs of ancient Rome. The dates of these martyrs are unknown, as well as the circumstances of their deaths.

St. Maximian, Malchus, Martinian, Dionysius, John Serapion, and Constantine "The Seven Sleepers" (Martyrs) July 27 A.D. 250     Having confessed the faith before the proconsul at Ephesus under Decius in 250, they were walled up together in a cave in which they had hid themselves, and there slept in the Lord. Some moderns, mistaking this expression, have imagined that they only lay asleep, till they were found in 479, under Theodosius the younger The truth seems to be, that their relics were then discovered. They are much honored by the Greeks, Syrians, and all the Oriental nations. Their relics were conveyed to Marseilles in a large stone coffin, which is still shown there in St. Victor s church. In the Museum Victorium at Rome is a factitious plaster or stone (made of sulphur melted with fire and mortar), formed in imitation of a large precious stone in which is cut a group of figures representing the Seven Sleepers with their names and near Constantine and John are exhibited two clubs; near Maximian a knotty club; near Malchus and Martinian two axes; near Serapion a burning torch, and near Danesius (whom others call Vionysius) a great nail. That large nails (clavi trabales, or such as were used in joining great rafters or beams in buildings) were made use of as instruments of torture is evident from St. Paulinus and Horace. From this ancient monument some infer that these martyrs were put to death by various torments, and that their bodies were only buried in the aforesaid cave. In this group of figures, these martyrs are represented all as very young, and without beards. In ancient Martyrologies and other writings they are frequently called boys. The cave in which their bodies were found became a place famous for devout pilgrimages, and is still shown to travelers, as James Spon testifies.


The Martyrologium Hieronymianum (ed. G. B. de Rossi-L. Duchesne, 85) gives their names under July 2. The Berne manuscript of the Martyrology also gives their burial-place, viz. at the second milestone of the Via Aurelia, or at the catacombs of St. Agatha on the Via Aurelia. The old catalogues of the burial places of the Roman martyrs likewise mention the graves of both these saints on this road (De Rossi, "Roma sotterranea", I, 182-3). Other sources state simply that they were buried in the cemetery of Damasus.

One legend makes them imperial soldiers assigned as the warders of Saint Peter and Saint Paul in the Mamertine Prison (Richard Lipsius, Apokryphe Apostelgeschichten und Apostellegenden, II, Brunswick, 1887, 92, 105 sqq., 110 sq.). It cannot be shown how the legend came to give them this identification.

The legend states that they were converted and baptized by Peter after a spring flowed miraculously in the prison, and the two wardens were baptized in the miraculous waters. They were martyred along with Paul after being arrested and tortured. They were beheaded by order of the emperor Nero. After their martyrdom, a woman called Lucina is said to have buried them in her own cemetery.

In fact, as the Bollandist Hippolyte Delehaye and the Roman Martyrology state, they were buried in some unknown year in the Cemetery of Damasus at the second milestone of the Via Aurelia.

They were publicly venerated in Rome from the fourth or perhaps the third century. They were buried in the cemetery of Damasus. In the fourth century a church was built over their tomb. At this church, Saint Gregory the Great preached a homily on their feast day, "in which he referred to the presence of their bodies, to the cures of the sick, to the harassment of perjurers, and the cure of demoniacs there."This church no longer exists. They are mentioned by Bede, and their feast was thus known to have been celebrated in early medieval England.

Pope Paschal I (817-24) translated the bones of the two martyrs to a chapel in the old Basilica of St. Peter. They still rest under the altar dedicated to them in the right (south) transept of the present St. Peter's Basilica. Their relics, originating in their apostolic era cemetery along the Via Aurelia, after being moved to various other locations, were placed in 1605 in a porphyry urn under the altar at St. Peter's, which is flanked by two antique yellow columns. The hemisphere has three roundels with scenes from the life of St. Paul.

Their feast is celebrated on 2 July. "All that is known about these martyrs, apart from their names, is that they were buried in the Cemetery of Damasus on the Via Aurelia on 2 July." Their feast was removed in 1969 from the Roman Catholic calendar of saints wherever the Roman Rite is in use, but they continue to be mentioned in the Roman Martyrology, the official list of saints recognized by the Roman Catholic Church.[1] Pre-1969 calendars grant these saints only a Commemoration within the Mass of the Visitation of Our Lady; but according to the rules in the present Roman Missal,they may be celebrated everywhere with their own Mass on their feast day, unless in some locality an obligatory celebration is assigned to that day.

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