Friday, September 5, 2014


 Died 304.

 Feast day: February 11

A group of 49 martyrs in Albitina in North Africa.   Arrested during the liturgy, they were sent to Carthage for questioning.   Saturnine was a priest, and with him suffered his four children, Saturnine and Felix, readers, Mary, a virgin, and Hilarion, a young child.   Dativus and another Felix were senators.   Others from this group, whose identities have remained known to us are: Thelica, Ampelius, Emeritus, Rogatian and Victoria, a holy virgin of undaunted courage.   The child Hilarion, when threatened by the magistrates while his companions were being tortured, replied: 'Yes, torture me too; anyhow, I am a Christian'.

 The Acta of these African martyrs are believed to be authentic, contemporaneous to their deaths. Emperor Diocletian had order Christians to give up the holy Scriptures during a year- long persecution.  In the town of Abitina, Saturninus celebrated the Eucharist on a Sunday in the house of Octavius Felix. The officials became aware of it and sent soldiers to arrest the entire congregation of 49 people. Arrested with Saturninus were his four children Saturninus junior and Felix both lectors, Mary who had consecrated her virginity to God, and Hilarianus a child; and Dativus and another Felix (enators, Thelica, Emeritus, Ampelius, Rogatus, and
Victoria. The procession of prisoners was led by the senator and Saturninus, who were followed immediately by the latter's children. Their courage in professing Jesus was in stark contrast to the infamous sacrilege committed just before by Bishop Fundanus of Abitina, who had given up the sacred books to be burned, but a violent storm put out the fire.  After their resolute confession, the Christians were shackled and set to Carthage, residence of the proconsul Anulinus. They thought themselves blessed to be chained for Christ and sang hymns of praise along the way.

 Dativus was the first to be questioned, racked, torn with iron hooks, and then beaten with cudgels as was each in turn. The women no less than the men resolutely underwent the trials.  When Anulinus continuously asked why they presumed to celebrate the Lord's Day against imperial orders, they repeatedly answered:
"The obligation of Sunday is indispensable. It is not lawful for us to omit the duty of that day. We celebrated it as well as we could. We never passed a Sunday without meeting at our assembly. We will keep the commandments of God at the expense of our lives." No dangers nor torments could deter them from this duty, from which so many now seek to excuse themselves.  Previously, Victoria, a professed virgin of pagan parents, had leaped from her window on her wedding day to prevent the marriage but was miraculously saved from death and escaped to the refuge of a church. Because she was counted among the nobility and her brother was a pagan, Anulinus tried every means to prevail upon her to renounce her faith and save herself.  She continued to profess her faith. Her pagan brother Fortunatianus undertook her defense, but she refuted his intimation that she had simply been led astray. Anulinus asked Victoria if she would return home with her brother. She said that she could not because she only acknowledged as brethren those who kept the law of God. Continued entreaties did not move her.  Anulinus then turned his attention to the child Hilarianus, son of Saturninus, thinking that he could sway one of such a tender age. But the child showed more contempt than fear of the tyrant's threats, and continued to answer that he was a Christian of his own free will. While his elders were being tortured, he replied, "Yes, torture me, too; anyhow, I am a Christian."  These Christians died from the hardships of their confinement and are all honored in the ancient calendar of Carthage and the Roman Martyrology on February 11, though only two both named Felix actually died on that day .

Names of all 49
Saturninus, Presbyter ;Saturninus, son of Saturninus,  Reader ;Felix, son of Saturninus,  Reader;
Maria, daughter of Saturninus ; Hilarion infant son of Saturninus; Dativus, also known as Sanator ; Felix
another Felix ; Emeritus, Reader; Ampelius, Reader; Rogatianus ;Quintus; Maximianus or Maximus; Telica or Tazelita; another Rogatianus; Rogatus; Ianuarius; Cassianus; Victorianus; Vincentius; Caecilianus; Restituta; Prima;  Eva;  yet another Rogatianus; Givalius; Rogatus ;Pomponia; Secunda ;Ianuaria; Saturnina; Martinus; Clautus ; Felixjunior; Margarits; Maior;Honorata; Regiola; Victorinus; Pelusius; Faustus; Dacianus; Matrona; Caecilia; Victoria, a virgin from Carthage; Berectina; Secunda; Matrona; Ianuaria

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