Weninger’s Lives of the Saints – Saint Secundianus, Saint Marcellianus and Saint Varianus, Martyrs

14th century fresco of Saints Secundian, Marcellian and VerianArticle

Today, Saint Secundianus, Saint Marcellianus and Saint Varianus, three noble Romans, ended their lives by a glorious martyrdom. The first of these, Secundianus, who enjoyed a great reputation in Rome, on account of his learning and eloquence, was, while in the darkness of heathenism in which he was born, a valuable assistant to the Emperor Valerian, in persecuting the Christians. Observing their constancy in their faith and their willingness to suffer for it, he began to consider whence came this fidelity and endurance in suffering. Whilst he was pondering on this, Marcellianus, his most intimate friend, a heathen like himself, came to see him, and Secundianus without hesitation confided to him the subject of his reflections. Marcellianus said, that he would explain what seemed to be so incomprehensible. “This silly people, said he, believe that, after this life, a much better one awaits them, which they will surely attain if they shed their blood for love of their Christ; while they believe that we shall be eternally lost. Hence, none of them can possibly be persuaded to worship our gods, and all remain obstinately true to their faith.” “If this be their belief,” said Secundianus, “they are not silly, but right, rather to let themselves be tortured and killed, than abandon their faith.” During this discourse Varianus, a friend of both, entered. Having listened to their remarks, he said: “I believe that something invisible and supernatural sustains these Christians, as what we daily witness is more than human. Therefore, I propose that we should think over the matter carefully, and have these teachings of Christ explained to us, that we may be better able to resolve what to do.” Marcellianus and Secundianus agreeing to this proposal, they invited a Christian priest, named Timotheus, to come and expound the Gospel to them. He came, and soon convinced them of the truth of his words, so that they all three received baptism in the church of Christ. Their conduct, after this sacred act, became so edifying and pure, that it was noticed by the heathens themselves, who soon suspected that they had forsaken their gods and joined the Christians. Valerian being informed of this, called Secundianus, who came into his presence, accompanied by Marcellianus and Varianus. “What has come to my ears? said Valerian. Can it be possible that you have allowed yourselves to be seduced by the idle fancies of the Christians and have adopted their doctrines?” “Yes, I am a Christian,” replied Secundianus; “and the belief in Christ is no idle fancy, but sound and indisputable truth. The faith which we formerly followed, was a tissue of fables; and we are unspeakably grateful to God that He has deigned to enlighten us.” Valerian, unwilling to dispute with the three fearless confessors of Christ, ordered the prefect Promotus either to force them to sacrifice to the gods or execute them in any manner he thought best. Promotus had all three cast into prison, and soon after, holding court in the open market-place, he ordered them into his presence. When they arrived before him, he commanded them to sacrifice to the god Saturn; but the three holy men refusing to do this, declared they could worship but the one, true God of Heaven. Enraged at this, the prefect ordered their clothes to be torn off, and their bodies to be so inhumanly beaten with clubs, torn with iron hooks, and burnt with torches, that the executioners themselves were horrified at the cruelty and refused to continue the torments. During this martyrdom, it was observed that they were as fearless and joyful as other Christians had been, who had gone before them. They praised God and were never weary of declaring that, for love of Christ, they were willing to suffer still more. Valerian, infuriated at their constancy, and ashamed of being defied so long before the people, ordered them to be dragged out of the city and beheaded. This happened in the 253d year of the Christian Era.

MLA Citation

  • Father Francis Xavier Weninger, DD, SJ. “Saint Secundianus, Saint Marcellianus and Saint Varianus, Martyrs”. Lives of the Saints, 1876. CatholicSaints.Info. 30 March 2018. Web. 30 October 2020. <>