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

August 22

St. Symphorian, Martyr

HE was son of Faustus, of a noble Christian family, and suffered at Autun in Gaul, soon after the martyrs of Lyons, in the reign of Marcus Aurelius. He had been baptized by St. Benignus, was well instructed in polite literature and in his faith, was then in the bloom of life, and remarkable for his modesty, prudence, charity, and the innocence of his manners. The city of Autun was one of the most ancient and famous of all Gaul; but at that time the most superstitious, and particularly addicted to the worship of Cybele, Apollo, and Diana. On a certain day of the year, the statue of Cybele was with great pomp carried through the streets in a chariot richly adorned. Symphorian, because he had not on that occasion adored it, was seized by the mob, and carried before Heraclius, a man of consular dignity, and governor of the province, who happened to be then at Autun, very busy in calling the Christians to an account. Heraclius, being seated on his tribunal, asked him why he refused to adore the image of the mother of the gods. He answered, because he was a Christian, and adored the true God who reigneth in heaven. The judge then inquired of the officers, whether he was a citizen of the place. One of them answered: “He is of this place, and of a noble family.” The judge said to Symphorian: “You flatter yourself on account of your birth, and are perhaps unacquainted with the emperor’s orders.” He then ordered him to be bound, and said to him: “What say you to this Symphorian?” The martyr continuing to express his abhorrence of the idol, Heraclius commanded him to be cruelly beaten with clubs, and sent him to prison. Two days after, he was brought out of his dark dungeon, and presented before the tribunal. Heraclius courted him by proffers of preferment, saying: “It would be much better for you to serve the immortal gods, and to receive a gratuity from the public treasury, with an honourable military office. If you have a mind, I will cause the altars to be adorned with flowers, that you may offer to the gods the incense which is due to them.” Symphorian testified by his answer, that he despised the offers that were made him, and abhorred the cruel and extravagant superstitions that were made use of in the worship of Cybele. At length the judge condemned him to die by the sword. He heard the sentence with joy. As he was carried out of the town to execution, his mother, standing on the walls of the city to see him pass by, cried out to him: “My son, my son Symphorian: remember the living God, and be of good courage. Raise your heart to heaven, and consider him who reigneth there. Fear not death which leads to certain life.” He suffered about the year 178. Some religious persons carried away his body privately, and buried it in a cave, near a fountain, without the common field. His tomb became famous for miracles, and in the middle of the fifth century Euphronius, a priest, afterwards bishop of Autun, built over it a church in his honour. See his authentic acts in Ruinart, p. 70, and St. Gregory of Tours, Hist. 1, 2, c. 15, and l. de Gloria Mart. Also Tillemont, t. 4, Ceillier, t. 2, p. 99.  1