Butler’s Lives of the Saints – Saints Donatian and Rogatian, Martyrs


May 24

There lived at Nantes an illustrious young nobleman called Donatian, who having received the holy sacrament of regeneration, led a most edifying life, and laid himself out with much zeal in converting others to faith in Christ. His elder brother Rogatian was not able to resist the moving example of his piety, and the force of his discourses, and desired to be baptised. But the bishop having withdrawn and concealed himself for fear of the persecution, he was not able to receive that sacrament, but was shortly after baptized in his blood; for he declared himself a Christian at a time when to embrace that sacred profession was to become a candidate for martyrdom. The emperor Maximian sent an order to the prefect, directing him to put to death all who refused to sacrifice to Jupiter and Apollo. This must have happened when that emperor was in Gaul occupied in his expedition either against the Bagaudæ in 286, or against Carausius, who having assumed the purple in Britain maintained himself in that usurped dignity seven years. The acts of these martyrs attribute this order, to the emperors Dioclesian and Maximian, but we find it usual to ascribe to both those emperors the decrees of one. The prefect to whom it was addressed seems to have been the cruel persecutor Rictius Varus, prefect of the Belgic, and probably also of the Celtic Gaul. The title of president which the acts give him, only belonged to a governor who had power of life and death. The prefect arriving at Nantes, Donatian was impeached before him for professing himself a Christian, and for having withdrawn others, particularly his brother, from the worship of the gods. Donatian was therefore apprehended, and having boldly confessed Christ before the governor, was cast into prison and loaded with irons. Rogatian was also brought before the prefect, who endeavoured first to gain him by flattering speeches, but finding him inflexible, sent him to prison with his brother. Rogatian grieved that he had not been able to receive the sacrament of baptism, and prayed that the kiss of peace which his brother gave him might supply it. Donatian also prayed for him that his faith might procure him the effect of baptism, and the effusion of his blood that of the sacrament of chrism, that is, of confirmation. They passed that night together in fervent prayer. They were the next day called for again by the prefect, to whom they declared that they were ready to suffer for the name of Christ whatever torments were prepared for them. By the order of the inhuman judge they were first stretched on the rack, afterwards their heads were pierced with lances, and lastly cut off, about the year 287. Their bodies were buried near the place where they suffered. The Christians some time after built them a sepulchre, at the foot of which the bishops of Nantes chose their burial-place. Toward the close of the fifth century, the Christians built a church upon the place, which has been successively in the hands of monks and canons, and is at present parochial. The bodies of these two martyrs in 1145 were translated by Albert bishop of Ostia to the cathedral, where they remain in great veneration.

MLA Citation

  • Father Alban Butler. “Saints Donatian and Rogatian, Martyrs”. Lives of the Fathers, Martyrs, and Principal Saints, 1866. CatholicSaints.Info. 25 May 2012. Web. 23 September 2020. <http://catholicsaints.info/butlers-lives-of-the-saints-saints-donatian-and-rogatian-martyrs/>