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

May 31

SS. Cantius and Cantianus, Brothers, and Cantianilla, Their Sister, Martyrs

IF riches are loaded with the curses of the gospel, because to many they prove dangerous, and afford the strongest incentives to the passions, the greater is their crown who make them the means of their sanctification. This circumstance enhances the glory of these holy martyrs. They were of the most illustrious family of the Anicii in Rome, and near relations to the emperor Carinus, who was himself a favourer of the Christians in Gaul. They were brought up together in their own palace in Rome, under the care of a pious Christian preceptor named Protus, who instructed them in the faith, and in the most perfect maxims of our divine religion. When the persecution of Dioclesian began to fill Rome with terror, they sold their possessions in that city, and retired to Aquileia, where they had a good estate. The bloody edicts had also reached that country, and Sisinnius, general of the forces, and Dulcidius, the governor of the province, were busied night and day in making the strictest search after Christians, and in filling the prisons with crowds of confessors. No sooner were they informed of the arrival of our saints, but they summoned them to appear and offer sacrifice, and at the same time by a messenger acquainted the emperor with what they had done, begging his instructions how they ought to proceed with regard to persons of their rank. Dioclesian sent an order that they should be beheaded in case they refused to worship the gods. The martyrs had left Aquileia in a chariot drawn by mules, but were stopped by an accident four miles out of the town at Aquæ-Gradatæ. Hither Sisinnius pursued them, carrying with him the order of the emperor. He entreated and conjured them to comply; but they answered, that nothing should make them unfaithful to God, declaring that all who should worship idols would be punished with everlasting fire. Wherefore they were all beheaded, together with Protus their preceptor, in the year 304. Zœlus, a priest, honourably embalmed and buried their bodies in the same monument. The place hath since changed its name of Aquæ-Gradatæ for that of San-Cantiano. See their acts published genuine by Mabillon, in an appendix to his Gallican Liturgy, p. 467, and a panegyric, probably of St. Maximus of Turin, extant among the sermons of St. Ambrose, t. 2, Append. col. 458.