Weninger’s Lives of the Saints – Saints Timothy and Maura, Martyrs

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In the fourth century, on this day, Saint Timothy and Saint Maura ended their lives by a glorious martyrdom. Timothy was the son of Christian parents and was born in the hamlet of Perape, in the province of Thebes, in Egypt. He had himself instructed carefully in the Christian faith from his early youth, in order to meet any persecution well prepared. His conduct was such that it edified every one. He wished for an opportunity to give his life for his faith, and it was at last afforded him. Arianus, the heathen governor of the province, came to Perape with orders to exterminate Christianity. Hence, calling all the Christians into his presence, he announced to them the imperial command, that they must leave the new faith and worship the gods. Timothy was among the first called to the governor and commanded to sacrifice to the idols. As he said in plain words that he would rather suffer the most painful martyrdom than become guilty of such wickedness, the governor demanded that he should at least deliver up the Christian books of which he had the charge. Timothy knew that the heathen would immediately burn these books; therefore he refused them, saying: “These Christian books are my beloved children. A father who would give his children into the hands of an assassin would be a monster.” Enraged at these words, the tyrant ordered red-hot irons to be put into Timothy’s ears, which caused him indescribable pain. While suffering this cruel martyrdom, the holy man praised the Almighty with a loud voice, which roused the wrath of the governor to such a degree, that he ordered the Christian hero to be hung by the feet to a pillar, a large stone to be bound to his neck, and a sharp bridle put in his mouth, so that he might no longer praise the God of the Christians.

While he was thus suffering, it was announced to the tyrant that Timothy had been but three weeks married, and that perhaps he might be influenced more by means of his young spouse than by tortures. Arianus had her brought before him, and commanded her to use her utmost endeavors to persuade her husband to sacrifice, at least apparently, to the gods, as otherwise he would have to suffer the most terrible torments. Maura, who loved her husband dearly, promised to do all in her power to save his life. Although she was herself a Christian, she had not, at that time, sufficient fortitude to suffer for the sake of her faith. When brought to Timothy and seeing his dreadful suffering, she fainted away. Timothy was then loosened from the pillar and the bridle was taken from his mouth, that he might be able to converse with his spouse. Maura, forgetting her faith, endeavored to persuade him with caresses and tears to submit to the imperial command. Timothy, indignant at her, said: “How is this, Maura? Are you a Christian or a heathen? Is that the language of one educated in the Christian faith? Instead of persuading me to suffer fearlessly, you endeavor to alienate me from Christ? Shall I then, to enjoy a short happiness on earth, forfeit the eternal joys of heaven? or, to escape a short martyrdom, cast myself into the never-ending pains of hell?” This and more Saint Timothy said to her, and God gave such power to his words, that Maura, deeply! moved, recognized her fault and repented of it with her whole heart. Throwing herself at Timothy’s feet, she asked his pardon, and exhorted him to remain constant in suffering. “But what shall I do for the fault I have committed?” asked she. “Go to the governor, by whose persuasion you committed it,” said Timothy, “and tell him that instead of inducing your husband to forsake his faith, you yourself are ready to suffer martyrdom with him.” Maura, terrified at this proposal, said, “Oh! I am still so young, hardly 17 years old, of delicate health and timid by nature. I dare not present myself before the tyrant, much less to endure a cruel martyrdom.” Saint Timothy, however, encouraged her to put her trust in God, and represented to her the example of many others, who, though younger than she, had endured the most cruel torments cheerfully. Kneeling down with her, he prayed for grace and strength. During his prayer, every trace of fear and despondency vanished from Maura’s heart, and she even felt so strong a desire to suffer for Christ s sake, that going to the tyrant, she informed him that not only she had not persuaded her husband to forsake the Christian faith, but that she was ready to share his sufferings. Arianus, surprised at this unexpected change, ordered her immediately to be tortured. He had her hair torn from her head, her fingers cut off, and her whole body burnt with sulphur and tar, and at last ordered that she, as well as Timothy, should be crucified, that their torments might be increased by seeing each other suffer. This, however, proved a great consolation to both of them; for they animated each other to persevere, praised the Almighty with a loud voice, and admonished the people, who witnessed their suffering, to abandon the false gods, and become converted to Christianity; until their souls went to heaven to receive the crown of martyrdom.

Practical Considerations

• The death of an only son in whom centered the hopes of perpetuating a noble name must in truth have been deeply painful to the heart of Megengaudius. Not less must it have grieved him to see his beloved spouse, his equal in virtue, depart before him. But in both of these events he submitted to the inscrutable judgment of the Almighty, and neither uttering a complaint against God or man, nor giving way to immoderate sadness, he bent his will to that of the Most High. How do you behave in similar circumstances? Are you one of those who grieve inordinately, who murmur against Providence, and, so to say, demand an account of God, or desire to know the reason why He has permitted affliction to fall upon you? Oh, how wrongly you act.

First, what avails your inordinate grief; will it raise the dead again to life? Secondly, what right have you to murmur against God? Is He not the Master over the life and death of all human beings? Can He not call each one of us at any time He may see fit? Or shall He first ask you whether He may let this one or that one die? To demand an account of God, is a presumption that deserves greater punishment than you imagine. Listen to the words of Saint Augustine, though they treat of a different subject. He speaks of the prohibition concerning the tree of knowledge in Paradise, saying: “If the tree is good, why then shall I not touch it?” Adam might have said; if it is bad, why does it stand in Paradise? God could have answered him: It stands in Paradise because it is good; but I forbid you to touch it; for, it is my desire that you should be an obedient and not a contradicting servant. And why? Because you are the servant and I am the Lord, and in these words I give you a hundred reasons in one. God is our Lord and has not told us His will that we should question it, but that we should obey it. We are only servants of the Lord: hence it is right that we go whither the Lord wills.” Consider these words well, and when circumstances require it, make use of this saying of Saint Jerome: “God is good and all that He does must be good. If God takes my husband away, I weep because of the bereavement; but as it has so pleased the Lord, I will suffer with an obedient heart. My only son has been taken from me; but as it was done by Him who gave him to me, I will bear it.”

• Maura advised her husband to commit a great sin when she counselled him to submit to the Governor’s command and at least apparently to sacrifice to the gods. It is not seldom the case that wives desire their husbands to do wrong. Eve did this in Paradise when she persuaded Adam to eat of the forbidden fruit. Jezabel advised her husband, king Achab, to take possession of the vineyard of Naboth. But Saint Timothy followed not the advice of his spouse, but brought her to the knowledge and repentance of her fault, and persuaded her also to atone for it by shedding her blood for Christ’s sake. How happy would Adam have been had he not followed Eve’s advice! As he, however, did so, God announced to him his punishment, and banished him and Eve from Paradise, as we read in Genesis. The Almighty foretold also, by the prophet Elias, a terrible punishment to queen Jezabel and king Achab, who followed her counsel, as we read in the third book of Kings. How much more sensibly did Job act, when his wife advised him to offend the Lord and then die. “Thou hast spoken like one of the foolish women, said he. If we have received good things at the hand of God, why should we not receive evil?” (Job 2) This example was followed by Saint Timothy, who listened not to the bad counsel of his wife. All husbands should do as he did when they are tempted to sin by their wives. But what I have said of the husbands, has also reference to the wives: for, experience teaches that they also are frequently incited by their husbands to do wrong. Before the judgment-seat of the Almighty, the excuse, my husband advised me to do it; or, my wife incited me to it, will be of no more avail than what Adam said: “The woman whom you gavest me to be my companion, gave me of the tree, and I did eat.” The sentence of God will be the same. “Because you hast harkened to the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree whereof I commanded thee that you should not eat, cursed is the earth in thy work.” (Genesis 3) Before God, he is as guilty who advises to sin, as he who follows the wicked counsel.

MLA Citation

  • Father Francis Xavier Weninger, DD, SJ. “Saints Timothy and Maura, Martyrs”. Lives of the Saints, 1876. CatholicSaints.Info. 3 June 2018. Web. 19 June 2018. <>