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

March 23

SS. Victorian, Proconsul of Carthage, &c., Martyrs

HUNERIC, the Arian king of the Vandals in Africa, succeeded his father Genseric in 477. He behaved himself at first with moderation towards the Catholics, so that they began to hold their assemblies in those places where they had been prohibited by Genseric: but in 480, he began a grievous persecution of the clergy and holy virgins, which in 484, became general, and occasioned vast numbers of the Catholics being put to death. Victorian, a citizen of Adrumetum, one of the principal lords of the kingdom, had been made by him governor of Carthage with the Roman title of proconsul. He was the wealthiest subject the king had, who placed great confidence in him, and he had ever behaved with an inviolable fidelity. The king, after he had published his cruel edicts, sent a message to the proconsul in the most obliging terms, promising, if he would conform to his religion, and execute his orders, to heap on him the greatest wealth and the highest honours which it was in the power of a prince to bestow. The proconsul, who, amidst the glittering pomp of the world perfectly understood its emptiness, made on the spot this generous answer: “Tell the king that I trust in Christ. If his majesty please he may condemn me to the flames, or to wild beasts, or to any torments; but I shall never consent to renounce the Catholic church in which I have been baptized. Even if there were no other life after this, I would never be ungrateful and perfidious to God, who hath granted me the happiness of knowing him, and who hath bestowed on me his most precious graces.” The tyrant became furious at this answer: nor can the tortures be imagined which he caused the saint to endure. Victorian suffered them with joy, and amidst them finished his glorious martyrdom. The Roman Martyrology joins with him on this day four others, who were crowned in the same persecution. Two brothers of the city of Aquæ-regiæ, in the province of Byzacena, were apprehended for the faith, and conducted to Tabaia in the same province. They had promised each other, if possible, to die together; and they begged it of God as a favour, that they might both suffer the same torments. The persecutors hung them in the air with great weights at their feet. One of them, under the excess of pain, begged to be taken down for a little ease. His brother, fearing this desire of ease might by degrees move him to deny his faith, cried out from the rack on which he was hanging: “God forbid, dear brother, that you should ask such a thing. Is this what we promised to Jesus Christ? Should not I accuse you at his terrible tribunal? Have you forgotten what we have sworn upon his body and blood, to suffer death together for his holy name.” By these words the other was so wonderfully encouraged that he cried out: “No, no; I ask not to be released; on the contrary, add new weights if you please, increase my tortures, exert all your cruelties till they are exhausted upon me.” They were then burnt with red-hot plates of iron, and tormented so long and by so many new engines of torture, that the executioners at last, left them, saying: “Every body follows their example, no one now embraces our religion.” This they said, chiefly, because, notwithstanding they had been so long and so grievously tormented, there were no scars or bruises to be seen upon them. Two merchants of Carthage, who both bore the name of Frumentius, suffered martyrdom about the same time, and are joined with St. Victorian in the martyrologies. Among many glorious confessors at that time, one Liberatus, an eminent physician, was sent into banishment with his wife. He only grieved to see his infant children torn from him. His wife checked his tears by these generous words: “Think no more of them, Jesus Christ himself will have care of them, and protect their souls. Whilst in prison, she was told by the heretics that her husband had conformed: accordingly, when she met him at the bar before the judge, she upbraided him in open court for having basely abandoned God: but discovered by his answer that a cheat had been put upon her to deceive her into her ruin. Twelve young children, when dragged away by the persecutors, held their companions by the knees till they were torn away by violence. They were most cruelly beaten and scourged every day for a long time; yet, by God’s grace, every one of them persevered to the end of the persecution firm in the faith.—See St. Victor, De Persec. Vandal. l. 5. n. 4.  1