Saint Romanus was a soldier in the legion of emperor Valerian in Rome, at the time of the arraignment and interrogation of Saint Lawrence. Seeing the joy and constancy and the absolute silence of that holy martyr during his first torments, he could not understand how a creature of flesh and blood could be thus tormented without opening his mouth to complain. He was moved to embrace the Faith, and at that very moment, he beheld beside the Saint a young man of incomparable grace and beauty, who was wiping away the perspiration of the martyr’s face and the blood of his wounds. Addressing himself to Saint Lawrence, still on the rack, he asked to become a Christian. The Saint was untied and imprisoned, and later was able to respond to the pressing request of the soldier, who brought him in prison the water for his baptism.
Saint Romanus was summoned before the tribunal, for everyone soon learned of his conversion. He said fearlessly and joyfully, there as he had said elsewhere, I am a Christian! He was condemned and beheaded immediately, the day before the martyrdom of Saint Lawrence, on August 9, 258. The body of Saint Romanus was buried by a priest in a cavern on the road to Tibur, but his remains were translated to Lucca, where they are kept under the high altar of a beautiful church which bears his name.
Reflection: We are bound to glorify God by our lives, and Christ commands that our good works shine before men. It was the usual saying of the apostle Saint Matthias, The faithful sins if his neighbor sins. Each one of us should have zeal to instruct and edify his neighbor, by example first of all, and by words when fitting.
Les Petits Bollandistes: Vies des Saints, by Msgr. Paul Guérin (Bloud et Barral: Paris, 1882), Vol. 9; Little Pictorial Lives of the Saints, a compilation based on Butler’s Lives of the Saints and other sources by John Gilmary Shea (Benziger Brothers: New York, 1894).