Saints Peter and Marcellinus, Martyrs

June 2

Today is the feast day of Saints Peter and Marcellinus.  Orate pro nobis. 

“Through the martyrdom of Peter and Marcellinus, God gives us proof of his constant presence to his Church.”

Summary of Ss Marcellinus and Peter Martyrs who died in 304, beheaded at Rome under the emperor Diocletian. Reputedly members of the Roman clergy, they are held in special honour in Rome itself, as evident in the basilica built over their tombs and their mention in Eucharistic Prayer I (The Roman Canon). (2)

by Fr. Francis Xavier Weninger, 1877

St. Peter was an exorcist, which is one of the minor orders by which the Church gives-power and authority to cast out evil spirits. The many miracles he wrought by this means, actuated the heathens to accuse him before the governor, Serenus, who had him so cruelly scourged, that his whole body seemed to be but one great wound. After this they dragged him to a dark dungeon, and loaded him with heavy chains, in order that he might thus pine away in a slow martyrdom. Artemius, the jailor, had an only daughter, named Pauline, who was most miserably tormented by the devil, to the great grief of her father. One day, Peter perceived the man’s sadness, and asked him the cause. Having been informed of it, Peter said: “If you have no other grief, you can easily be helped.” “How can this be done?” asked Artemius; “who is the man able to cure my daughter?” “I,” replied Peter, “I can, by the omnipotence of the true God whom I worship.”

Artemius laughed in derision, and said: “If this be true, you must be a fool, that you do not use the power of God to free yourself from your fetters and escape from the prison.” Peter answered: “I love my chains and prison too dearly, to pray to God to set me free. If you, however, promise to believe in Christ, the Son of the living God, I assure you that He will soon free me from my fetters and my prison.” “Very well,” said Artemius, more in mockery than in earnest, “if you free yourself this night and come to visit me, I will believe.” After this he went away; but first had Peter more strongly chained, and also doubled the guards. Peter, nevertheless, promised to visit him; and he kept his promise.

Artemius, meanwhile, told his wife, Candida, all that had taken place, and while he was yet laughing at Peter’s presumption, behold! the holy confessor of Christ entered the room, in a white garment, with a cross in his hand. This evident miracle frightened Artemius and his wife to such a degree, that they knew not what to say. Having somewhat recovered, they fell at his feet and cried, while tears streamed from their eyes: ” Truly, there is no God but the God of the Christians! “Upon this, Pauline came into the room, and also threw herself at the feet of the Saint, when a new miracle took place. The evil spirit of which she was possessed, unable to endure the presence of St. Peter, left her immediately, crying loudly: “The power of Christ in you compels me to leave the place where I have dwelt.”

These miracles could not remain concealed. All the domestics of the house, all the neighbors, and relatives came in haste, and when they had heard what had happened, they all desired to be baptized. St. Peter, rejoiced at the conversion of so many souls, called the holy priest Marcellinus to instruct and baptize the proselytes. Artemius, meanwhile, went back to the dungeon and liberated not only all the imprisoned Christians, but offered freedom to all the other prisoners who promised to become Christians. Serenus, the governor, was fortunately just then dangerously sick, so that St. Marcellinus and St. Peter had time to baptize and instruct all those who wished to embrace Christianity, and also to prepare them for the martyrdom which doubtless awaited them.

No sooner had Serenus recovered than he ordered Artemius to send all the prisoners to him. Artemius went to him and related all that had happened, confessing at the same time that he and his whole household had embraced the Christian faith in consequence of the great miracles which they had beheld with their own eyes. Serenus, beside himself with rage, ordered Artemius to be beaten with clubs so terribly, that he would most certainly have expired, had not God, by a new miracle, preserved his life. After this he summoned Marcellinus and Peter and menaced them with the most cruel tortures should they refuse immediately to sacrifice to the idols. Seeing their fearless constancy, he ordered Peter to be thrown into a dungeon and stretched upon the rack; and Marcellinus to be scourged and then placed naked and tightly bound upon pieces of glass, so that he would be unable to move. God, however, sent an angel in the middle of the night, who took the chains from Marcellinus, healed his wounds, led him into the dungeon of St. Peter and freed him also from his fetters. The two Saints then went together to the house where the newly baptized Christians were assembled at prayer. When Serenus, on the following day, was informed of these events, all his rage fell upon Artemius and his wife, whom he sentenced to be buried alive. Whilst these martyrs were led to the place of execution, Saints Peter and Marcellinus encouraged them to constancy in their martyrdom, which they joyfully and faithfully endured. Marcellinus and Peter were again seized on this occasion, and after having been tortured, were beheaded by order of the prefect, in the year 304.

Their relics were transported from Rome to Germany in the reign of Louis the Pious. They are at present honored in the famous abbey of Seligenstadt. (1)

In art
In art, both Marcellinus and Peter are depicted together, in ministerial garments, and bearing palms. In the early 17th century, the archaeologist Antonio Bosio (called the “Columbus of the Catacombs”) claimed in his book Roma Sotterranea that an ancient fragment he found represents Peter, Marcellinus, and Paulina standing together. (2)

Research by Ed Masters, REGINA Staff


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