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Marian and James

(d. 259)


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Perpetua (d. 203)

St Augustine (354—430) Doctor of the Church

St Cyprian (c. 200—258) Carthaginian bishop and martyr

 

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(d. 259),

martyrs. James was a deacon, Marian a lector. They died at Cirta Iulia (later Constantina), the chief city of Numidia. They were condemned to death by the legatus of Numidia, probably C. Macrinius Decianus. Their Acts, somewhat rhetorical, borrow something from those of Perpetua and Felicitas, and record visions as well as tortures. They were written by an anonymous friend of the martyrs who was arrested with them, but subsequently released. They were known in their final form to Augustine (Sermon 284).

In the course of this particular persecution two bishops named Agapius and Secundinus suffered first, having called in at the writer's house on their way to martyrdom. Not only their example but also their positive encouragement helped to inspire Marian and James. A large band of centurions surrounded the house and made several arrests. Marian and James both openly confessed their faith and acknowledged their holy orders; they were then subjected to tortures of the rack and imprisoned. This was the point when they experienced visions, including one of Cyprian, who invited them to come and sit with him and gave them a drink of pure water to encourage them.

The place of the martyrs' execution was in a river valley with high banks on each side. A number of others unnamed suffered with Marian and James. The martyrs were arranged in rows and blindfolded, then beheaded. Their bodies were thrown in the river Rummel. Marian prophesied that epidemics, famine, earthquakes, and poisonous flies would soon afflict the neighbourhood. His mother Mary was present and embraced his lacerated body, but through their suffering, said the writer, they were ‘at last restored to the patriarchs in glory and delivered from the distress of this world’. Feast: 6 May. Gubbio cathedral claims their relics.

A.C.M., xxxiii–xxxiv, 194–213;Augustine, Sermo 284; Propylaeum, pp. 163–4;B.L.S., v. 33–4.

Subjects: Christianity.


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