Lives of the Saints

Our Models and Protectors

August 22
  

Saint Symphorian

Martyr
(† 180)

About the year 180 a great procession in honor of the Roman goddess Ceres was organized at Autun in southern France. Among the crowd was one who refused to pay the ordinary marks of worship. That non-conformist was therefore dragged before the magistrate and accused of sacrilege and sedition. When asked his name and condition, he replied, My name is Symphorian; I am a Christian. He was the son of a noble Christian family, still young and so innocent that he was thought to converse with the holy Angels. The Christians of Autun were few in number and little known, and the judge could not believe that the youth was serious in his purpose. He caused the laws enforcing pagan worship to be read, expecting a ready compliance. The young man replied that it was the law of the King of kings that he must obey. Give me a hammer, he said, and I will break your idol in pieces.

He was scourged and thrown into a dungeon. Some days later this son of light came forth from the darkness of his prison, haggard and worn, but full of joy. He despised the riches and honors offered to him as he had despised torments. He died by the sword, and went to the court of his heavenly King. The mother of Saint Symphorian stood on the city walls and saw her son taken out to die. She knew the honors he had refused and the dishonor of his death, but she esteemed the approval of Christ better than all the riches of the earth, and she cried out to him, My son, my son, keep the living God in your heart; look up to Him who reigns in heaven! Thus she shared in the glory of his passion, and her name lives with his in the records of the Church. Many miracles spread the glory of Saint Symphorian, and of Christ, the King of all Saints.

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).