Home  »  Volume IX: September  »  SS. Gorgonius, Dorotheus, and Companions, Martyrs

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

September 9

SS. Gorgonius, Dorotheus, and Companions, Martyrs

        From Lact. l. de Mort. Persec. et l. 6, Instit. Euseb. l. 8.

A.D. 304.

DOROTHEUS was first chamberlain to the Emperor Dioclesian; Gorgonius and Peter were under chamberlains. They were the three principal eunuchs of the palace; had sometimes borne the weight of the most difficult affairs of state, and been the support both of the emperor and of his court. When the palace of Nicomedia was set on fire, probably by the contrivance of Galerius, who unjustly charged the Christians with it, Dorotheus, with Gorgonius, and several others under his dependence, were very cruelly tortured, and at length strangled. Peter having refused to sacrifice, was hung up naked in the air, and whipped on all parts of his body. After the executioners had torn his flesh in such a manner that the bones started out, without being able to shake his constancy, they poured salt and vinegar into his wounds; then had a gridiron brought, and a fire made, on which they broiled him as we do meat, telling him at the same time that he should continue in that condition if he would not obey; but he was resolute to the last, and died under the torture. The bodies of St. Dorotheus and his companions were cast into the sea by an order of Dioclesian, lest the Christians should worship them as gods, as Eusebius mentions, which mistake of the heathens could only arise from the veneration which Christians paid to the relics of martyrs. The martyr Gorgonius, whose name was famous at Rome, seems different from the former. The Liberian Calendar, published by Bucherius, mentions his tomb on the Lavican way, and he was honoured with an office in the sacramentary of Pope Gelasius. Sigebert in his chronicle on the year 764, Rabanus Maurus in his martyrology, and others, relate that St. Chrodegang obtained from Rome, of Pope Paul, the relics of St. Gorgonius, and enriched with that treasure his great monastery of Gorze, situated two leagues from Metz. Among the poems of Pope Damasus is an epitaph on St. Gorgonius. 1
  The martyrs show by example, that a true Christian is invincible in virtue and fortitude; for, as St. Gregory Nazianzen says, he looks upon misfortunes and crosses as the seeds of the most heroic virtues; therefore he exults in adversity. Torments do not discompose the serenity of his countenance; much less do they change the steadfastness of his heart. Nothing is able to pull him down; everything yields to the magnanimity and wisdom of this philosopher. If he be stripped of the goods and conveniences of life, he has wings to raise him even to heaven. He flies even to the bosom of God, who abundantly makes him amends for all, and is to him all things. He is in the world with a body as if he were a pure spirit. In the midst of passions and sufferings, he is as invincible as if he were impassible: he lets himself be vanquished in every thing except in courage; and where he submits he triumphs by humility, patience, and constancy, even in torments, and in death itself. Do we maintain this character even under the light trials we meet with?  2
Note 1. Damas. Carm. 14, p. 156. [back]