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

January 25

St. Juventinus and St. Maximinus, Martyrs

        From the elegant panegyric of St. Chrysostom, T. 2. p. 578. ed Montf. and from Theodoret, Hist. l. 3. c. 11.

A.D. 363.

THESE martyrs were two officers of distinction in the footguards of Julian the Apostate. 1
  When that tyrant was on his march against the Persians, they let fall at table certain free reflections on his impious laws against the Christians, wishing rather for death than to see the profanation of holy things. The emperor being informed of this, sent for them, and finding that they could not be prevailed upon by any means to retract what they had said, nor to sacrifice to idols, he confiscated their estates, caused them to be cruelly scourged, and, some days after, to be beheaded in prison at Antioch, January the 25th, 363. The Christians, with the hazard of their lives, stole away their bodies, and after the death of Julian, who was slain in Persia on the 26th of June following, erected for them a magnificent tomb. On their festival St. Chrysostom pronounced their panegyric, in which he says of these martyrs: “They support the church as pillars, defend it as towers, and repel all assaults as rocks. Let us visit them frequently, let us touch their shrine, and embrace their relics with confidence, that we may obtain from thence some benediction. For as soldiers, showing to the king the wounds which they have received in his battles, speak with confidence: so they, by an humble representation of their past sufferings for Christ, obtain whatever they ask of the king of heaven.” 2  2
Note 1. Julian, surnamed the Apostate, rebelled against Constantius, his cousin-german, in the Spring, in 360, and by his death, in November, 361, obtained the empire. He was one of the most infamous dissemblers that ever lived. Craft, levity, inconstancy, falsehood, want of judgment, and an excessive vanity, discovered themselves in all his actions, and appear in his writings, namely, his epistles, his satire called Misopogon, and his lives of the Cæsars. He wrote the last work to censure all the former emperors, that he might appear the only great prince: for a censorious turn is an effect of vanity and pride. He was most foolishly superstitious, and exceedingly fond of soothsayers and magicians. After the death of Constantius, he openly professed idolatry, and by besmearing himself with the blood of impious victims, pretended to efface the character of baptism. He was deceived almost in every step by ridiculous omens, oracles, and augurs, as may be seen in his heathen historian, Ammianus Marcellinus. (b. 22.) Maximus, the magician, and others of that character, were his chief confidants. He endeavoured, by the black art, to rival the miracles of Christ, though he effected nothing. He disqualified Christians for bearing offices in the state: he forbade them to teach either rhetoric or philosophy, that he might deprive them of the advantages of human literature, a thing condemned by Ammianus himself. He commanded, by an edict, that they should be no longer called Christians, but Galileans, and though he pretended to toleration, he destroyed more souls by recompenses, caresses, and stratagems, than he could have done by cruelties. He levied heavy fines and seized the estates of Christians, saying, in raillery, that he did it to oblige them to follow the gospel, which recommends poverty. He often put them to death, but secretly, and on other pretences, that he might deprive them of the honour of martyrdom: which artifice might have its influence on philosophers, the lovers of vanity: but not on the servants of God, who desired to be known to him alone, and to suffer, regardless of the applause of men, as St. Gregory Nazianzen observes. (Or. 3. in Julian.) That father, when he knew him a student at Athens, in 355, prognosticated (Or. 4. in Julian. p. 122.) from his light carriage, wandering eye, haughty look, impertinent questions, and foolish answers, what a monster the Roman empire was fostering and breeding up. In his march to his Persian expedition, he was made a subject of mockery and ridicule at Antioch, on account of his low stature, gigantic gait, great goat’s beard, and bloody sacrifices. In answer to which, he wrote his Misopogon, or Beardhater, a low and insipid satire. He every where threatened the Christians upon his return from the Persian war. The oracles of Delos, Delphos, Dodona, and others, promised him victories, as Theodoret, St. Gregory Nazianzen, Philostorgius, and Libanius himself, (Libanius, Or. 12.) a heathen, and the chief favourite of Julian, testify: all the pagan deities wherever he passed, gave him the like assurances, as he himself writes. (Julian, ep. 2.) But in Persia he rashly ventured into wilds and deserts, with an army of sixty-five thousand men, where he was defeated and slain in June, 363. Ammianus, who was then in the army, only says that he was mortally wounded in the battle, and died in his tent the same day, before noon. Theodoret, Sozomen, and the acts of St. Theodoret the martyr, say, that finding himself wounded, he threw up a handful of blood towards heaven, crying out: “Thou hast conquered, O Galilean, thou hast conquered.” It was revealed to many holy hermits, that God cut him off to give peace to his church. [back]
Note 2. Hom. in SS. Juv. et Max. T. 2. p. 583. [back]