St. Sabinus, Bishop of Assisium, and His Companions, Martyrs
Abridged from their acts in Baluze and Baronius.
THE CRUEL edicts of Dioclesian and Maximian, against the Christians, being published in the year 303, Sabinus, bishop of Assisium, and several of his clergy, were apprehended and kept in custody till Venustianus, the governor of Etruria and Umbria, came thither. Upon his arrival in that city, he caused the hands of Sabinus, who had made a glorious confession of his faith before him, to be cut off; and his two deacons, Marcellus and Exuperantius, to be scourged, beaten with clubs, and torn with iron nails or broad tenters, under which torments they both expired. Sabinus is said to have cured a blind boy; and a weakness in the eyes of Venustianus himself, who was thereupon converted, and afterwards beheaded for the faith. Lucius, his successor, commanded Sabinus to be beaten to death with clubs at Spoleto. The martyr was buried a mile from that city; but his relics have been since translated to Faënza. St. Gregory the Great 1 speaks of a chapel built in his honour near Fermo, in which he placed some of his relics which he had obtained from Chrysanthus, bishop of Spoleto. These martyrs are mentioned on this day in Ado, Usuard, and the Roman Martyrology. 1
How powerfully do the martyrs cry out to us by their example, exhorting us to despise a false and wicked world! What have all the philosophers and princes found by all their researches and efforts in quest of happiness in it! They only fell from one precipice into another. Departing from its true centre they sought it in every other object, but in their pursuits only wandered further and further from it. A soul can find no rest in creatures. How long then shall we suffer ourselves to be seduced in their favour! be always deceived, yet always ready to deceive ourselves again! How long shall we give false names to objects round about us, and imagine a virtue in them which they have not! Is not the experience of near six thousand years enough to undeceive us! Let the light of heaven, the truths of the gospel, shine upon us, and the illusions of the world and our senses will disappear. But were the goods and evils of the world real, they can have no weight if they are compared with eternity. They are contemptible, because transient and momentary. In this light the martyrs viewed them. Who is not strongly affected with reading the epitaph which the learned Antony Castalio composed for himself, and which is engraved upon his tomb in the cathedral of Florence. 2
That peace and rest, now in the silent grave,
At length I taste, which life, oh! never gave.
Pain, labour, sickness, tortures, anxious cares,
Grim death, fasts, watchings, strife, and racking fears,
Adieu! my joys at last are ever crowned;
And what I hop’d so long, my soul hath found.
Note 1. L. 7, ep. 72, 73; l. 11, ep. 20. [back]
Quam vivens nunquam potui gustare quietem,
Mortuus in solida jam statione fruor:
Passio, cura, labor, mors, tandem et pugna recessit,
Corporea; et solum mens quod avebat, habet.
Rev. Alban Butler (1711–73). Volume XII: December.
The Lives of the Saints. 1866.