Lives of the Saints

Our Models and Protectors

August 17
  

Saint Liberatus and his Companions

Martyrs
(† 483)

The Arian Vandal king Huneric, in the seventh year of his reign in Africa, published new edicts against the Catholics, and ordered that all their monasteries be demolished. The abbot Liberatus and six monks, Boniface, Servus, Rusticus, Rogatus, Septimus, and Maximus, who were living in a monastery near Capsa, were at that time summoned to Carthage. They were first tempted with great promises, but as they remained constant in their confession of the Trinity and of one Baptism, they were charged with irons and thrown into a dark dungeon.

The faithful by bribing the guards were able to visit the Saints, and did so day and night to be instructed by them. All mutually encouraged one another to suffer for the faith of Christ. The king, learning of this, commanded them to be more closely confined, loaded with heavier irons, and tortured with a cruelty never heard of before that time. Soon after, he condemned them to be put into an old ship and burnt with it at sea. The martyrs walked cheerfully to the shore, indifferent to the insults of the Arians as they passed by. Particular endeavors were used by the persecutors to gain the young monk Maximus; but God, who makes the tongues of children eloquent in His praises, gave him strength to withstand all their efforts. He boldly told them that they would never be able to separate him from his holy Abbot and his brethren, with whom he had borne the labors of a penitential life for the sake of everlasting glory.

An old vessel was filled with dry branches, and the seven martyrs were placed on board and bound tightly to the wood. Fire was put to it several times but went out immediately, and all endeavors to kindle it were vain. The tyrant, in rage and confusion, gave orders that the martyrs' brains should be dashed out with oars, which was done, and their bodies cast into the sea, whose waves carried them all to the shore. The Catholics interred them honorably in a monastery at Bigua. They suffered in the year 483.

Reflection: Saint Peter wrote: Let it not be as a murderer or a thief, a malefactor or a coveter of other men's goods that any of you suffer; but if it is for the name of Christian, let him be not ashamed, but glorify God in that name. (First Epistle 4:15-16)

Little Pictorial Lives of the Saints, a compilation based on Butler's Lives of the Saints and other sources by John Gilmary Shea (Benziger Brothers: New York, 1894).