Weninger’s Lives of the Saints – Saint Gereon, Saint Victor, Saint Cassius and Saint Florentius, Martyrs

sculpture of Saint Gereon; date unknown, aritst unknown; Church of Saint Gereon, Berkum, Wachtberglifte, Germany; photographed on 30 April 2010 by GFreihalter; swiped from Wikimedia CommonsArticle

This day is commemorated by the death of Saint Gereon, Saint Victor, Saint Cassius, Saint Florentius and other holy martyrs, who suffered under the reign of the Emperor Maximian. The following account of them has been handed down to us: –

When the Emperor heard that Carausius, the Roman Governor in the Netherlands, entertained a suspicious intercourse with the enemies of the Empire, the fear took possession of him that a revolution might be the result of it. Hence he sent a considerable army on the Rhine, to prevent an insurrection, and to keep the people in subjection. The commanders of this army were Gereon, Victor, Cassius, and Florentius. When they were already on their journey, the Emperor issued an order to all the Roman Governors in Gaul, to kill without any exception every soldier who confessed Christianity and refused to worship the gods. Having been informed that the commanders, Gereon, Victor, Cassius and Florentius, had confessed themselves Christians, he sent some armed heathen soldiers after them to treat them in accordance with his order. They found Saint Cassius, Saint Florentius and seven other Christian knights near Bonn on the Rhine, and asked them whether they were willing to obey the imperial command and worship the gods? “We worship no other God but the one true and living God of heaven and earth,” replied they, fearlessly. With these words they spoke their own death, sentence. They were all cut to pieces on the spot. After this the soldiers marched on till they came to Cologne. At the gates of the city, they found Saint Gereon with his soldiers in number 318. When the Saint saw the bloodthirsty Pagans coming, he assembled his soldiers, not to put himself into a posture of defence, but to admonish them to remain faithful to their God. He had hardly begun to address his men when the heathen soldiers reached them. Their leader informed Saint Gereon and the soldiers of the imperial decree, and asked whether they would obey the Emperor or lose their lives. Gereon, answering for all of them, said: “We are Christians, and we would rather die a thousand deaths than depart from our faith. We have always faithfully served the Emperor against his enemies, but we cannot at his command forsake the true God and sacrifice to lifeless idols.” These words had scarcely passed his lips when the swords of the heathens were drawn, mowing the Christians down right and left until all were lying dead upon the ground. There was not one of them who had not cheerfully suffered martyrdom. Especially Saint Gereon had manifested great joy to suffer for Christ’s sake, and animated his men to remain faithful. He thanked God that He had given him the grace to die for his faith.

The same happened to the Christian hero, Saint Victor, whom the Pagan murderers found near Xanthen, with 330 soldiers, who refusing to obey the wicked order of the Emperor, were immediately cut to pieces.

On the spot where Saint Gereon suffered martyrdom, Saint Helena, mother of Constantine the Great, erected, during her residence in Gaul, a magnificent church, which is still standing at Cologne, and bears the name of the Saint. His holv relics are preserved there and greatly honored by all the faithful.

Practical Considerations

• Saint Gereon rejoiced during his martyrdom, and thanked God that he was deemed worthy to die for his faith. Saint Dionysius praised and thanked God also during his tortures. “Even the heathen can praise and thank God in happy days,” says Saint Jerome, “but Christians praise and thank Him in their suffering as well.” Do you not in this regard act more like a heathen than like a true Christian? You praise and thank God when everything goes according to your wishes, but in adverse circumstances, you murmur and complain against Him. The Saints did not act thus, and no true Christian ought to be guilty of so doing. “Let us become accustomed to thank God, not only in prosperity, but also in suffering,” says Saint Gregory. If you have to suffer, regard it as something which God sends you for your welfare, and praise and thank Him for being so kind to you. Praise Him, as I have already told you, not only in word but still more in action. Job praised God with his mouth during his sufferings; so did the three companions of Daniel in the burning furnace, Saint Tobias in his blindness, Saint Dionysius, and thousands of others during their martyrdom. But they also praised God in action, because they bore their crosses patiently. Follow their example. You also will praise God in action, if you do well all that you have to do, and according to the will of the Almighty. In this manner will you be able to praise your God without ceasing. “If you wish to praise God always,” says Saint Augustine, “do rightly that which you have to do, and every one of your actions will be praise to the Almighty.”

• Saint Dionysius became 106, or as others say, no years old. All these years, except those that he lived in the blindness of paganism, he employed in the service of God and the salvation of souls. O! how great a treasure of merit he gathered for himself during this long time. How great must be the glory and happiness therefore, which he now enjoys in heaven! You will probably not live so long: but this matters not, as the question is not how long we live, but how well. Many suffer in hell who lived long but not well; and many are in heaven whose life was short but virtuous. Your principal care ought to be to employ the time God gives you, be it long or short, in His service, thus gathering for yourself a great treasure of merits for eternity, by practising good works and by patiently enduring trials and sufferings. “As long as time is left to us,” writes Saint Chrysostom, “let us at least employ as much industry to gain spiritual treasures, as the children of the world employ to gain worthless and perishable earthly goods.” Temporal gain, temporal goods have brought no one comfort in his last hour, have made no one happy in eternity. On the contrary, what fear, what pain have many endured on their death-bed, at the thought that they had spent the most of their time in gaining temporal goods, which they have to leave behind, as they cannot take them into eternity. How many are unhappy in the other world on account of their temporal goods, because they either gained them sinfully, or were too much attached to them, or employed them wrongly. If they had only used half the time which they bestowed on temporal goods, in order to obtain spiritual, eternal blessings, how happy might they now be! May you become wise by the misfortune of others. Employ the time which God yet grants you, in securing the salvation of your soul. Be zealous in good works, patient in trials; and you will lay up for yourself a great treasure of merits tor eternity. “Thou shalt have treasures in heaven!” (Luke 18)

MLA Citation

  • Father Francis Xavier Weninger, DD, SJ. “”. Lives of the Saints, 1876. CatholicSaints.Info. 10 May 2018. Web. 20 January 2019. <>