Butler’s Lives of the Saints – The Martyrs of Utica, Called the White Mass


In the persecution of Valerian, in the year 258, the proconsul of Africa went from Carthage to Utica, and commanded all the Christians who were detained in the prisons of that city to be brought before him. Saint Austin says their number amounted to one hundred and fifty-three. The proconsul had ordered a great pit of burning lime to be prepared in a field, and by it an altar of idols with salt and hog’s liver placed on it ready for sacrifice. He caused his tribunal to be erected near this place in the open air, and he gave the prisoners their choice either to be thrown into this pit of burning lime, or to offer sacrifice to the idols which were set by it. They unanimously chose the first, and were all consumed together in the furnace. Their ashes were afterwards taken out, and as they made up but one common mass cemented with the lime, these martyrs were called The White Mass.

MLA Citation

  • Father Alban Butler. “The Martyrs of Utica, Called the White Mass”. Lives of the Fathers, Martyrs, and Principal Saints, 1866. CatholicSaints.Info. 9 August 2014. Web. 23 April 2019. <>