Lives of the Saints

Our Models and Protectors

May 15
  

Saints Peter, Andrew, Paul and Dionysia

Martyrs
(† 250)

Saint Peter, Martyr
Saint Peter, Martyr

In the Decian persecution of the year 250 the blood of the Christians flowed at Lampsacus, a city of Asia Minor. A young Christian named Peter was the first to be led before the proconsul; he was told to sacrifice to the goddess Venus. His energetic condemnation of impurity and his defense of his God, the king of all ages, caused him to be condemned to die for the name of Christ, and he went joyfully to his torments. He was bound to a wheel by iron chains and his bones were broken, but he raised his eyes to heaven with a smiling countenance and said, I give Thee thanks, O Lord Jesus Christ, because Thou hast given me patience, and made me victorious over the cruel tyrant. The proconsul saw how little the tortures availed, and ordered the martyr to be beheaded.

About the same time, the same proconsul who condemned Peter was on his way to Troas, when three Christians were brought to him; the first two, Andrew and Paul, were scourged and imprisoned, after being condemned to be stoned to death in a short time. The third of these apostatized. But a Christian virgin named Dionysia showed a great willingness to suffer, and by it gained the crown which the unfortunate apostate lost. His history shows us that those who abandon Christ to avoid suffering with Him, lose all. With the other spectators Dionysia saw him undergo torture, and heard him cry out, with the strength that was left to him, I never was a Christian! I will sacrifice to the gods! Thereupon he was untied, and he offered sacrifice. But he immediately became possessed by the devil, and fell to the earth in a fit, bit out his tongue, and expired. Wretched man! Dionysia cried; Why, in exchange for one hour of life, have you chosen eternal and indescribable pains? She was seized and led away to be exposed to outrage, but her Guardian Angel appeared by her side and protected the spouse of Christ.

While Andrew and Paul were under execution, Dionysia heard the commotion made by the crowd of spectators and began to weep; and having escaped from those who guarded her, ran to the place where they were. Upon seeing them, she cried out, That I may live with you eternally in heaven, I will die with you on earth. And Christ, who is the crown of virgins and the strength of martyrs, gave her the desire of her heart; the proconsul commanded that she be decapitated.

Les Petits Bollandistes: Vies des Saints, by Msgr. Paul Guérin (Bloud et Barral: Paris, 1882), Vol. 5; 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).