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Rev. Alban Butler (1711–73). Volume I: January. The Lives of the Saints. 1866.

January 1

St. Almachus, or Telemachus, Martyr

HE was a holy solitary of the East, but being excited by the ardours of a pious zeal in his desert, and pierced with grief that the impious diversion of gladiators should cause the damnation of so many unhappy souls, and involve whole cities and provinces in sin; he travelled to Rome, resolved, as far as in him lay, to put a stop to this crying evil. Whilst the gladiators were massacring each other in the amphitheatre, he ran in among them; but as a recompense for his kind remonstrance, and entreating them to desist, he was beaten down to the ground, and torn in pieces on the 1st of January, 404. His zeal had its desired success; for the effusion of his blood effected what till that time many emperors had found impracticable. Constantine, Constantius, Julian, and Theodosius the elder, had, to no purpose, published several edicts against those impious scenes of blood. But Honorius took occasion, from the martyrdom of this saint, to enforce their entire abolition. His name occurs in the true martyrology of Bede, in the Roman and others. See Theodoret Hist. l. 5. c. 62, T. 3. p. 740. 1  1
Note 1. The martyrologies of Bede, Ado, Usuard, &c. mention St. Almachus, M. put to death at Rome, for boldly opposing the heathenish superstitions on the octave of our Lord’s nativity. Ado adds, that he was slain by the gladiators at the command of Alypius, prefect of Rome. A prefect of this name is mentioned in the reign of Theodosius, the father of Honorius. This name, the place, day, and cause, seeming to agree, Baronius, (Annot. in Martyr. Rom.) Bolland, and Baillet doubt not but this martyr is the same with St. Telemachus, mentioned by Theodoret. Chatelain, canon of the cathedral at Paris, (Notes sur le Martyr. Rom. p. 8.) and Benedict XIV. (in Festo Circumcis. T. 10. p. 18.) think they ought to be distinguished, and that Almachus suffered long before Telemachus. Wake, (on Enthusiasm,) Geddes, &c. pretends the name to have been a mistake for Almanachum: but are convicted by Chatelain of several unpardonable blunders, and of being utterly unacquainted with ancient MSS. of this kind, and the manner of writing them. Scaliger and Salmasius tell us that the word Almanach is of Arabic extraction. La Crosse observes (Bibl. Univ. T. 11.) that it occurs in Porphyry, (apud Eus. Præp. Evang. l. 3. c. 4.) who says that horoscopes are found [Greek], where it seems of Egyptian origin. But whatever be the meaning of that term in Porphyry, Du Cange, after the strictest search, assures us that the barbarous word Almanach is never met with in any MS. Calendars or Ephemerides. Menage (Origine de la Langue Françoise, V. Almanach,) shows most probably that the word is originally Persian, with the Arabic article prefixed. It seems to have been first used by the Armenians to signify a calendar, ib. [back]