Saints of the Day – John and Paul

Pictorial Lives of the Saints illustration of Saints John and Paul, Martyrs, refusing to worship a statueArticle

Died 362?. There is debate as to whether or not the stories about the two brothers named John and Paul are true or fiction. If true, there is debate about the date. Their existing Passio is simply an adaptation of the story of Saints Juventinus and Maximinus, army officers who were martyred at Antioch under Julian the Apostate in 363. Nevertheless, they are named in the canon of the Mass.

Traditionally, it is said that they served as army officers in the court of Constantia, daughter of Emperor Constantine. One became her steward, the other the master of her household.

The emperor next sent them to serve under his general Gallicanus, who was defending Thrace from the Scythians. The Scythians were such formidable enemies that some of Gallicanus’s army surrendered. John and Paul told him that victory would be is if he would become a Christian. He did so, and the Scythians were routed.

The two brothers prospered until shortly after 360 AD, when Emperor Julian began a policy of systematically degrading Christianity and promoting paganism. The two saints declared that they would no longer serve him. Summoned to his court, they simply stayed away and reiterated their dislike of his pagan ways. He gave them ten days to reconsider their attitude, but they remained firm. Julian then sent a captain of his bodyguard, and the two Christian brothers were executed on the Coelian Hill in Rome, in their own home.

About 35 years later a wealthy senator named Pammachius built a church dedicated to their honor on the site of their home. This church, Santi Giovanni e Paolo, has been excavated, and underneath 12th century alterations has been uncovered the original facade. One wall consists of a former pagan house, several stories high. Usually burials were allowed only outside the city walls, but here bodies of martyrs have been discovered – fitting in with the legend that the captain of Julian’s bodyguard secretly buried the bodies of John and Paul in their own garden, announcing that they had gone into exile (Attwater, Benedictines, Bentley, Encyclopedia).

MLA Citation

  • Katherine I Rabenstein. Saints of the Day, 1998. CatholicSaints.Info. 30 June 2020. Web. 12 July 2020. <>