Commemorated on June 7
Marcellinus, Pope of Rome, and with him the Holy Martyrs Claudius, Cyrinus and
Antoninus: Saint Marcellinus was Pope of Rome during the height of the
persecution against Christians under Diocletian and Maximian (284-305), when
during the course of a single month 17,000 men were martyred. During this time
also Pope Marcellinus was arrested. Terrified of the fierce tortures, he burned
incense and offered sacrifice to idols. The emperor called him his friend and
attired him in splendid clothes. Torn with agonising remorse, he wept bitterly
that, having roused many to accept torture for Christ, he himself gave his
flock an example of cowardice.
During this time at
the city of Sinuessa (in Campania) there met a Council consisting of 180
bishops and presbyters. Pope Marcellinus appeared at the assembled Council in
penitential hair-shirt, his head sprinkled with ashes, and he asked to be
judged for his betrayal. The fathers of the Council said: "Judge thyself
with thine own lips. From thy lips the sin did come forth, from thy lips
likewise let judgement be pronounced. We know, that even Saint Peter out of
fear denied Christ, but he bitterly bewept his sin and again received blessing
of the Lord".
pronounced sentence upon himself: "I recognise myself deprived of the
priestly dignity, of which I am unworthy. After death let my body not be given
over to burial, but rather thrown for devouring to the dogs; cursed be the one
who dares to bury it".
Upon his return to
Rome Marcellinus went to the emperor, threw down at his feet the fine clothing
given him and said, that he bitterly regretted his renunciation of Christ. The
enraged emperor gave orders to torture him and sentenced him to death.
prayed to the Lord Jesus Christ, Who mercifully receives sinners that do
repent, the martyr willingly placed his head beneathe the sword. With him were
beheaded the holy Martyrs Claudius, Cyrinus and Antoninus (+ 304).
The body of Saint
Marcellinus lay for 36 days along the wayside. Appearing in a vision to the
newly-made Pope Marcellus, the holy Apostle Peter said: "Why all this time
hast thou not given burial to the body of Marcellinus?" "I fear his
curse," – answered Saint Marcellus. "Perhaps thou dost not remember,
– said the Apostle Peter, – that it is written: 'He that humbleth himself
shalt be exalted'. Wherefore go bury his body with reverence".
command of the Apostle Peter, Saint Marcellus buried the body of holy Pope
Marcellinus in a crypt, built for burial of the bodies of martyrs by the
illustrious Roman Priscilla, along the Via Salaria.
© 1996-2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos.