Saint Victorian and Companions
Huneric, the Arian king of the Vandals in Africa, succeeded his father Genseric in 477. He acted at first with moderation towards the Catholics of Carthage, but in 480 began a grievous persecution of the clergy and holy virgins, which in 484 became general. Vast numbers of Catholics were put to death.
Saint Victorian, at that time one of the principal lords of the kingdom, had been made governor of Carthage with the Roman title of Proconsul. He was the wealthiest subject of Huneric, who placed great confidence in him, and Victorian always behaved with inviolable fidelity. Now, however, when the king, after publishing his cruel edicts, sent him a message in which he promised, if Victorian would conform to his religion, to heap on him the greatest wealth and the highest honors which it was in the power of a prince to bestow, Victorian could not grant that request.
The Saint, who amid the glittering pomps of the world perfectly understood its emptiness, made this generous answer to the messenger: Tell the king that I trust in Christ. His Majesty may condemn me to any torments, but I shall never consent to renounce the Catholic Church, in which I have been baptized. Even if there were no life after this, I would never be ungrateful and perfidious to God, who has granted me the happiness of knowing Him, and bestowed on me His most precious graces. The tyrant became furious at this answer, and the tortures which he caused the Saint to endure cannot be imagined. Saint Victorian suffered them with joy, and amid them completed his glorious martyrdom.
The Roman Martyrology for this day joins with him four others who were crowned in the same persecution. Two of those who were apprehended for the faith were brothers who had promised each other to die together, if possible; and they begged of God, as a favor, that they might both suffer the same torments. The persecutors suspended them in the air with great weights at their feet. One of them, under the excess of pain, begged to be taken down for a little ease. His brother, fearing that this might move him to deny his faith, cried out from the rack, God forbid, dear brother, that you should ask such a thing. Is this what we promised to Jesus Christ? The other was so wonderfully encouraged that he cried out, No, no; I ask not to be released; increase my tortures, exert all your cruelties till they are exhausted upon me. They were then burned with red-hot iron plates, and tormented so long that the executioners finally left them, saying, Everyone follows their example; no one embraces our religion now. This they said seeing that although these two had been so long and so grievously tormented, there were no scars or bruises visible upon them.
Among many glorious confessors at that time, one Liberatus, an eminent physician, was sent into banishment with his wife. He only grieved to see his infant children torn from him. His wife checked his tears by these words: Think no more of them; Jesus Christ Himself will take care of them and protect their souls. In prison she was told that her husband had conformed, and when she met him at the bar before the judge, she reproached him in the court for having abandoned God. She learned from his answer, however, that a base lie had attempted to separate her from her holy faith and from eternal life.
Two merchants of Carthage, who both bore the name of Frumentius, suffered martyrdom about the same time. Twelve young children were dragged away by the persecutors, and cruelly scourged every day for many days; yet by God’s grace every one of them persevered to the end of the persecution, firm in the faith.
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).