In the year 119 the Emperor Hadrian consecrated his great palace at Tivoli, and sought an oracle from the demons whom he worshipped as his gods. They would give none till Symphorosa and her seven sons ceased to insult them by their Christian faith, and consented to offer sacrifice. Symphorosa was brought before the emperor, who tried to win her by smooth words. She told him boldly that her husband and her husband’s brother had held high command in the imperial army. Both had confessed Jesus Christ, and had died deaths shameful in the eyes of men, but full of glory in the sight of Christ and His angels. Symphorosa had but one desire – to share in their confession, and to join them in heavenly glory. Her courage did not fail when her face was blackened with blows, and she was hung up by the hair of the head. At last she was drowned in the Tiber, and her sons followed her one by one. They were hoisted on seven single stakes, planted round the temple of Hercules, and were there tortured and stretched till their bones were disjointed; at last, as they yielded nothing under the torment, they were singly put to death. The Christians gathered up their relics, venerated them with religious honour, and inscribed their names on the tombs under which they had been laid. For they knew that Christ had set their names in the Book of Life, and written them there in characters of light.
When we despise worldly honours, and listen to the voice of faith rather than the maxims of carnal wisdom, Christ rewards the sacrifice which we make for Him. But He rewards us in His mercy for a sacrifice which is nothing in itself. Your true glory consists in following Christ and proving yourself the child of the Saints.
Suffer with Christ and for Christ if you would reign with Christ. – Imitation of Christ
Hadrian threatened to burn Symphorosa alive in sacrifice to his gods. She told him this was beyond his power. If she was burnt alive, she would be offered up as a victim, not to the demons, but to Christ the Son of God, and the fire which consumed her body would increase her crown and the confusion of the devils. So it is with every trial which can assail us ; come whence it may, it is a means of consecrating ourselves anew to Christ, and working an eternal weight of glory.
But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews indeed a stumbling-block, and unto the Gentiles foolishness, but unto them that are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. – 1st Corinthians 1:23,24
- Henry Sebastian Bowden. “Saint Symphorosa and her Sons”. , 1877. CatholicSaints.Info. 27 February 2015. Web. 28 March 2017. <>