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The Catholic Defender: Saints Marian and James

Born in North Africa, Marian was a lector or reader; James was a deacon. For their devotion to the faith they suffered during the persecution of Valerian.

In 257, during the reign of the Roman Emperor Valerian (253 – 260), all Christian gatherings were banned, the visiting of burial grounds denied and clergy exiled.

St’s Marian & James were eventually arrested and imprisoned for continuing to practice their Christian faith. While in prison, awaiting execution, they had a vision from the Bishops Agapius and Secundinus. They were martyred at either Cirta or Lambesa.

A year later, the persecution of Christians was made even more merciless by immediately executing all clergy and imprisoning others with chains while expecting them to perform hard labour. Among the many executed were the Bishops Agapius and Secundinus whom St’s Marian & James had once met.

Prior to their persecution Marian and James were visited by two bishops who encouraged them in the faith not long before they themselves were martyred. A short time later, Marian and James were arrested and interrogated.

The two readily confessed their faith and, for that, were tortured. While in prison they are said to have experienced visions, including one of the two bishops who had visited them earlier.

On the last day of their lives, Marian and James joined other Christians facing martyrdom. They were blindfolded and then put to death. Their bodies were thrown into the water. The year was 259.

The old saying that the more things change the more they stay the same may apply to today’s celebration. Two faithful people facing the hardships of life during persecution in the third century may have a lot in common with those facing persecution for their faith today.

The place of the martyrs' execution was in a river valley with high banks on each side. A number of others unnamed suffered with Marian and James. The martyrs were arranged in rows and blindfolded, then beheaded. Their bodies were thrown in the river Rummel.

Marian prophesied that epidemics, famine, earthquakes, and poisonous flies would soon afflict the neighbourhood. His mother Mary was present and embraced his lacerated body, but through their suffering, said the writer, they were ‘at last restored to the patriarchs in glory and delivered from the distress of this world’. Feast: 6 May.

Pray for us that we will hold fast to our faith through our words and actions.

and their bodies are said to be kept in the cathedral there The names of these martyrs are consecrated in the Roman Martyrology.


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