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

April 30

St. Maximus, Martyr

        From his original acts in Surius, Baronius, Henschenius, Ruinart, Fleury, Tillemont, &c.

A.D. 251.

MAXIMUS was an inhabitant of Asia, and a merchant by profession. Decius having formed an impious but vain design of extirpating the Christian religion, published edicts over the whole empire to enforce idolatry, commanding all to adore idols. Maximus having openly declared himself a Christian, he was immediately apprehended, and brought before Optimus, the proconsul of Asia, who, after asking him his name, inquired also after his condition. He replied:—“I am born free, but am the slave of Jesus Christ.” Proconsul.—“What is your profession?” Maximus.—“I am a plebeian, and live by my dealings.” Proconsul.—“Are you a Christian?” Maximus.—“Yes, I am, though a sinner.” Proconsul.—“Have not you been informed of the edicts that are lately arrived?” Maximus.—“What edicts? and what are their contents?” Proconsul.—“That all the Christians forsake their superstition, acknowledge the true prince whom all obey, and adore his gods.” Maximus.—“I have been told of that impious edict, and it is the occasion of my appearing abroad.” Proconsul.—“As then you are apprised of the edicts, sacrifice to the gods.” Maximus.—“I sacrifice to none but that God to whom alone I have sacrificed from my youth, the remembrance of which affords me great comfort.” Proconsul.—“Sacrifice as you value your life: if you refuse to obey you shall expire in torments.” Maximus.—“This has ever been the object of my desires: it was on this very account that I appeared in public, to have an opportunity offered me of being speedily delivered out of this miserable life, to possess that which is eternal.” Then the proconsul commanded him to be bastinadoed, and in the mean time said to him, “Sacrifice, Maximus, and thou shalt be no longer tormented.” Maximus.—“Sufferings for the name of Christ are not torments, but comfortable unctions: 1 but if I depart from his precepts contained in the gospel, then real and eternal torments would be my portion.” The proconsul then ordered him to be stretched on the rack, and while he was tortured said to him: “Renounce, wretch, thy obstinate folly, and sacrifice to save thy life.” Maximus.—“I shall save it if I do not sacrifice; I shall lose it if I do. Neither your clubs, nor your iron hooks, nor your fire give me any pain, because the grace of Jesus Christ dwelleth in me, which will deliver me out of your hands to put me in possession of the happiness of the saints, who have already in this same conflict triumphed over your cruelty. 2 It is by their prayers I obtain this courage and strength which you see in me.” The proconsul then pronounced this sentence on him: “I command that Maximus, for refusing to obey the sacred edicts, be stoned to death, to serve for an example of terror to all Christians.” St. Maximus was immediately seized by the executioners and carried without the city walls, where they stoned him on the 14th of May. Thus his acts. The Greeks honour him on the day of his death: the Roman Martyrology on the 30th of April. He suffered in 250 or 251.
Note 1. Hæc non sunt tormenta, sed sunt unctiones. [back]
Note 2. Omnium sanctorum orationibus qui in hac colluctatione certantes, vestras superaverunt insanias, nobisque virtutum exempla reliquerunt. Ruin, p. 145. [back]