Weninger’s Lives of the Saints – The Life of Saint Maternus, Bishop

Article

The Roman martyrology also records on this day Saint Maternus, who was a disciple of the holy Apostle, Saint Peter. Directed by him, he set out, with two other zealous men, Eucharius and Valerius, for Trier, or Treves, at that period a famous city of Germany, to preach the gospel. On the way, he became sick and died. Eucharius and Valerius, greatly distressed, returned to Rome and informed Saint Peter of what had taken place. The Saint consoled them, and gave them his staff with which he had already worked more miracles than Moses with his rod, telling them to place it upon the body of Maternus, and to command him, in the name of Jesus Christ, to rise and preach the gospel. The body had already lain in the grave forty days, but no sooner had the two Saints done as the holy Apostle had commanded, than Maternus arose to life in the presence of a multitude of people, and forthwith commenced to preach the gospel. This miracle induced the inhabitants of the surrounding country to believe the words of the preacher, risen from the dead, and to embrace the Christian faith. After remaining for some time, the three holy men continued their voyage to Triers.

This city was yet in the darkness of paganism; but the preaching of Saint Maternus and his companions, and the many miracles that God wrought through them, soon convinced the people that these men were sent by heaven to lead them to the path of salvation. Hence, they willingly listened to their instructions and were baptized. After Christianity had been well grounded in the city, Saint Maternus went to Cologne, and thence to Tongres, where he announced the word of God with equal success, although at the beginning, he had much to suffer. The new Christians of all these places desired to have Saint Maternus as bishop, especially after his two holy companions had departed this life. He consented to their wishes, which burdened him greatly with work. But his love for God and man aided him to bear it cheerfully. By word and example, he endeavored to lead them to a Christian life, and exhibited an indescribable solicitude for their welfare. Among the many miracles by which God increased the fame of His servant, was the following: The Saint, on Christmas day, offered the holy sacrifice of the Mass in the three principal cities of his diocese, in the presence of a crowd of people. Having said Mass in the first, he was carried by an angel, in one instant, to the second, and then to the third. The love and esteem of the people for their shepherd increased greatly when this miracle became known. Having labored for many years in the vineyard of the Lord, he, one day, went to the church, and after long prayers, he was overtaken by sleep, during which his two holy companions appeared to him, surrounded by a heavenly light, with crowns upon their heads. They carried a still more beautiful crown in their hands, and said to the Saint: “Behold the never-fading crown which in three days you shalt receive.” The holy bishop awoke, but was so weak that he could not return to his residence without assistance. On the following day, he called the clergy, and afterwards some of the people of his flock, and, having exhorted all to remain faithful to their church, he spent the rest of the time in reciting the Psalms. Being thus prepared for death like a Saint, he raised his hands upwards and went to heaven, where the crown of everlasting life was awaiting him. As his death had taken place not far from Cologne, the inhabitants of this city desired his holy body to bury it. But the people of Tongres and Treves had the same wish, and there was great contention between these three cities. At length, following the advice of a venerable old man, they placed the holy body in a skiff, without oars or boatman, and prayed to God to direct it to the place where He wished that the body should rest. The boat was pushed out into the middle of the Rhine, when, going against the stream, it landed at some distance from Cologne. It was hence inferred that the holy relics should be buried at Treves, which was accordingly done with great solemnity.

Practical Considerations

Saint Maternus died twice; and some historians say that he was the youth whom Christ raised from the dead at Nain. Had this been so, then he would have died three times. You surely do not flatter yourself that you will die twice or three times, but only once, as it is appointed to all men according to the words of the Apostle. You know that on this once dying, your whole eternity depends. How is it then possible that you are so little solicitous that this once dying should be happy? Why are you not constantly prepared, and doing everything that you know is necessary or of advantage for a happy death? The crown awaiting Saint Maternus in heaven was shown to him before his death. He had prepared himself for a holy death, by a holy life; and this gained for him the heavenly crown. If you wish to obtain the crown of everlasting life, prepare yourself for a happy death, by a pious and truly Christian life. If you live thus, you will die happily whenever death comes. “Death preceded by a pious life, cannot be considered an evil or a misfortune; and he who has lived piously, cannot die unhappily,” says Saint Augustine.

MLA Citation

  • Father Francis Xavier Weninger, DD, SJ. “The Life of Saint Maternus, Bishop”. Lives of the Saints, 1876. CatholicSaints.Info. 5 May 2018. Web. 15 December 2018. <>