Weninger’s Lives of the Saints – Saint Maximilian, Bishop of Lorch

Saint Maximilian of CeleiaArticle

Saint Maximilian was born in Styria, in the once celebrated town of Celaja, now called Cilly, of which at that period the greater portion of the inhabitants were heathens. His parents, famous for their high nobility and Christian virtues, gave their son, in his seventh year to the charge of a holy priest, named Oranius. Maximilian made so much progress under the guidance of this learned and pious master, that he was regarded with admiration, and greatly edified all by his conduct. He was scarcely thirteen years old when he lost his father; and, six years later, his mother was taken from him. The liberty thus given him he nobly used to increase his virtues. He gave the large fortune which he had inherited to the poor, and began to lead a life of sanctity, and persevered in it with admirable constancy. Some years later, he went to Rome desiring to visit the tombs of the holy Apostles, Peter and Paul, and also to tender his services to the Vicar of Christ. Sixtus II, who reigned at that period, rejoiced at so pious an offer, ordained him priest and gave him power to preach the gospel, wherever he thought he could do good to souls. Maximilian returned to Germany and employed the power given him to the benefit of many. In the district of Upper-Austria, he remained a long time, and was indefatigable in converting the heathens who dwelt there to the Christian faith. In Lorch, on the Danube, a town quite considerable at the time we speak of, he converted, with the aid of the Almighty, a great number of the inhabitants and led them in the path of virtue. Hence they desired a bishop and would have no other than Maximilian, whose apostolic zeal had delivered them from paganism and vice. The saint, who had no other desire than to save souls, consented to their wish, and, with the permission of the Pope, received the episcopal consecration. He was the brightest example of virtue to all under him and led them in the path of holiness. He especially exhorted them to observe those precepts of which I spoke in the life of Saint Wolfgang: to think of God, to fear Him, and never voluntarily to offend Him. Twenty-seven years had the holy bishop unweariedly labored in the apostolic functions, when he felt an invincible desire to exterminate the last vestige of paganism in his native land; and he set out for it in the year 288. Hardly had he arrived at Cilly, when he heard that Eulassius, a heathen Roman Governor, was persecuting the Christians of the town, and that he left nothing untried to induce them to forsake their faith. Indescribable were the pains the bishop took to strengthen the Christians in their faith, and to prepare them worthily for their impending martyrdom. For some time, this was done only by words, but soon he had occasion to preach by his example; as Eulassius commanded that all the inhabitants of the town should under a heavy penalty appear, on a certain day, in the temple of Mars, the god of War, and there assist at the sacrifice. Maximilian, going to Eulassius upbraided him for this impious command, for his cruelty to the Christians, and, in the presence of a great many witnesses, placed the nothingness of his gods so clearly before his eyes, that no one could say a word against it. Eulassius, indignant at the Saint’s fearlessness, ordered him to be brought into the temple and to be forced to sacrifice to the god, threatening him with the most cruel death, in case he refused obedience. The holy bishop now practised himself what he had taught to others. He thought of God whom he feared, more than all the menaces of the tyrant, and chose rather to die than offend Him by sin. Hence he was led out of the town and beheaded, by order of Eulassius, on the 12th of October, in 288. The holy body was secretly buried, on the following night, near the town by the Christians. After many years, Saint Rupertus, the great apostle of Bavaria, bought it of the barbarians and removed it to a church which was built in honor of Saint Maximilian. The Emperor Henry, of the house of Bavaria, afterwards had the sacred relics brought, with great solemnities, to Passau, where they are yet held in great veneration. It is related that Frederick IV., Roman Emperor, gave his eldest son the name of Maximilian, having promised to do so when, by the intercession of this saint, he had been miraculously delivered from the enemy who besieged the castle in which he was. From that time the Saint’s name has been given to many persons of high rank.

Practical Considerations

Take notice of what Saint Maximilian recommended to his newly converted flock, and Saint Wolfgang to his disciples; the same which Tobias impressed upon his son centuries ago. If I ever desire to impress a lesson deeply into your heart, it is this very one. It consists but of three points. The first is: Always have God before your eyes; the second: Fear God; the third: Guard against all sin. These three points contain the most useful lessons I can give you; they contain all that is necessary to save your soul. Numberless men go to destruction because they have not God before their eyes, they fear Him not and guard not against sin. To escape eternal damnation and to gain Heaven, I entreat you most earnestly to make today the resolution to keep those three points always in your memory and to observe them continually. Have God always before your eyes. Do not forget Him. Keep ever in mind that God is always present; that He sees, hears and knows everything. Fear God; He is great, powerful and awful in His judgment. He can seize and punish you everywhere, at all times, and for all eternity. He is your Judge, who will, one day, demand of you a strict account of all your works. You cannot oppose His wrath, nor flee from His might. Guard against all sin. Sin is an injury done to. the Almighty. If you fear God, you will not dare to offend Him; hence you will not sin. Sin alone can do you more harm than the Evil One himself; it can eternally close the gates of heaven against you. Do you desire more reasons for avoiding it? But remember that you must guard yourself against all sin; for, one mortal sin may cast you into hell. The thought of the presence of the Almighty is the most efficacious means to guard yourself against all sin, as I have already told you. Hence, think always of God; keep Him before your eyes; fear Him. Avoid all sin. “This is the way” to heaven, “walk in it.” (Isaias 30)

MLA Citation

  • Father Francis Xavier Weninger, DD, SJ. “Saint Maximilian, Bishop of Lorch”. Lives of the Saints, 1876. CatholicSaints.Info. 22 May 2018. Web. 23 April 2019. <>