Butler’s Lives of the Saints – Saints Nazarius and Celsus, Martyrs

illustration of Saint Nazarius and Saint Celsus being led to their martyrdom; from Pictorial Lives of the SaintsArticle

About the Year 68.

Saint Nazarius’s father was a heathen, and enjoyed a considerable post in the Roman army. His mother Perpetua was a zealous Christian, and was instructed by Saint Peter, or his disciples, in the most perfect maxims of our holy faith. Nazarius embraced it with so much ardour that he copied in his life all the great virtues he saw in his teachers; and out of zeal for the salvation of others left Rome, his native city, and preached the faith in many places with a fervour and disinterestedness becoming a disciple of the apostles. Arriving at Milan he was there beheaded for the faith, together with Celsus, a youth whom he carried with him to assist him in his travels. These martyrs suffered soon after Nero had raised the first persecution. Their bodies were buried separately in a garden without the city, where they were discovered and taken up by Saint Ambrose in 395. In the tomb of Saint Nazarius a vial of the saint’s blood was found as fresh and red as if it had been spilt that day. The faithful stained handkerchiefs with some drops, and also formed a certain paste with it; a portion of which Saint Ambrose sent to Saint Gaudentius, bishop of Brescia. Saint Ambrose conveyed the bodies of the two martyrs into the new church of the apostles, which he had just built. A woman was delivered of an evil spirit in their presence. Saint Ambrose sent some of these relics of Saint Paulinus of Nola, who received them with great respect, as a most valuable present, as he testifies.

The martyrs died as the outcasts of the world, but are crowned by God with immortal honour. The glory of the world is false and transitory, and an empty bubble or shadow; but that of virtue is true, solid, and permanent, even in the eyes of men; for, to use the comparison of Saint Basil, as the more we look upon the sun the more we admire it, and by reviewing it never find it less bright or less beautiful; so the memory of the martyrs which we celebrate, after so many years, is only more fresh in our minds, and will be more flourishing in all ages to come.

MLA Citation

  • Father Alban Butler. “Saints Nazarius and Celsus, Martyrs”. Lives of the Fathers, Martyrs, and Principal Saints, 1866. CatholicSaints.Info. 3 July 2014. Web. 23 November 2017. <>