May 8th - St. Victor Maurus, Martyr



May 8th - St. Victor Maurus, Martyr
(Also known as Victor the Moor)

Victor Maurus was a native of Mauretania. He was born in the third century,
and was called Maurus to distinguish him from other confessors named Victor.
He is believed to have been a soldier in the Praetorian guard. Victor was a
Christian from his youth, but it was not until he was an elderly man that he
was arrested for the Faith. After severe tortures, including being basted
with molten lead, he was decapitated under Maximian in Milan around the year
303. Later a church was erected over his grave. According to St. Gregory of
Tours, many miracles occurred at the shrine. In 1576, at the request of St.
Charles of Borromeo, Victor's relics were transferred to a new church in
Milan established by the Olivetan monks. The church still bears St. Victor's
name today. After a life of adherence to the Faith during perilous times,
St. Victor Maurus was taken prisoner and tortured as an old man. Despite
age, infirmity, and declining health, he remained steadfast in the Faith,
gladly giving up his life for the Kingdom. His generous response to the call
to martyrdom stands as a solemn sign to the modern church of the folly of
the things of this world. His feast day is May 8th.


The Passion of St. Victor (BHL 8580)

1. When the impious Maximianus was ruling as emperor there was a great
persecution of Christians in the city of Milan. There was there a certain
soldier by the name of Victor, Moorish by race, who was very well known to
the emperor. Then his ministers made a report to the emperor saying, "O Most
Clement Lord and Emperor, Victor the Moor has become a Christian and
blasphemes against our gods, saying that they are demons. The emperor was
angered and ordered that Victor be brought before him; and he said to him,
"Victor my soldier, what do you think that you are lacking that you have
become a Christian?" Victor responded, "I have not become a Christian just
recently, but have been one since my youth." The emperor Maximianus said,
"You are a Christian, then, so you clearly say?" Victor replied, "I
certainly am a Christian, and I adore Jesus Christ the Son of the Living God
who was born of the Virgin Mary. I believe in my heart, and I never stop
praising him with my mouth." Then the emperor Maximianus was filled with
anger and ordered that he be thrown into the prison which was near the
Circus and on the route to the Ticinese Gate, and that he be closely
guarded, saying to him, "Go Victor, think to yourself how you can escape
those terrible tortures which will viciously rip you unless you offer
sacrifice". Thus he was sent to prison and spent six days there, and the
emperor ordered that neither bread nor water were to be given to him. On the
seventh day the emperor Maximianus ordered a platform to be readied for him
in the hippodrome of the Circus, and that Saint Victor be brought to him. He
said to him, "What is it, Victor, what have you decided about your salvation
?" Saint Victor replied, "Christ is my salvation and my strength. I am
nourished by the spirit of him who I have received into my body."

2. Then the emperor Maximianus was filled with anger and ordered that clubs
be brought, and that Victor be stretched out in his sight and beaten. He
commanded that the torturers should go beyond the third mark of the rack,
and should shout at him, "Sacrifice to the Gods whom the emperor and
everyone worship." When Victor had been beaten the emperor ordered that he
be set up straight, and said to him, "Victor, hear my advice, yield to and
serve those gods: because no-one can better serve them than you, especially
since you are distinguished by your grey hairs". Saint Victor replied,
"Blessed David, king and prophet, teaches, "All the gods of the nations are
demons, but our God made the heavens: if, therefore, they are called demons
from the start, how will I worship them?" Then the emperor Maximianus said
to him, "Behold I give to you the rank of magister militum, much gold and
silver, retinues and property, only sacrifice to the gods whom we worship".
Victor replied, "I have already said, and will say it again: I will not
sacrifice to the demons but I offer myself as a sacrifice of praise to God:
because it is written "everyone who sacrifices to demons and not to God will
be destroyed."" The emperor's consiliarius Anolinus said, "Victor, rewards
have been promised to you by the most clement emperor: why don't you
sacrifice to the gods whom the emperor adores, those to whom he bows his
neck?" Saint Victor replied, "I do not accept the rewards promised by you,
but I accept strength from my God every- day."

3. Then, angered, the emperor Maximianus ordered that he be thrown into
prison again, the prison near the Roman Gate. When he was there for three
days the emperor ordered that he be brought forth from the prison, and said
to him, "Victor, sacrifice to those gods whose real divinity proves them to
be gods". Saint Victor replied, "I do not sacrifice to the gods of the
pagans: for it would be shameful for me to desert what I learned in the
sanctification of my baptism, even if in a situation of necessity and under
the compulsion of an evil man, you. I will not. Do what you will do, for I
know that he who fights on my behalf is stronger than you." Then the emperor
Maximianus and his Consiliarius Anolinus ordered clubs to be brought, and
Victor to be stretched out. They ordered that the torturers should go beyond
the fifth mark of the rack, and should shout at him, "Sacrifice to the gods
whom the emperor and everyone worship." Then Saint Victor, although he was
in the middle of his punishment, did not show any feeling of pain but prayed
thus to the Lord, saying, "Lord Jesus Christ by whose bread I am nourished
today, my king and my God, help me in the midst of these tortures." Then the
emperor Maximianus said to him, "Victor, take thought for your life and
sacrifice to the gods whom all adore. For I swear by the gods, by my welfare
and by the government of the state, that unless you sacrifice through
various punishments I will make you breathe your last breath. And do not
hope that if you are punished by me that the Christians will make my servant
one of their martyrs: for I will order that you be flung where your body
will never be found." Saint Victor replied, "I am not sacrificing: do what
seems best to you: you will not make a servant of yours breathe his last as
you said, but a servant of Christ." Then the emperor Maximianus, angered
because Victor had replied in this manner, ordered that he be thrown into
the prison near the Roman Gate again, and that his legs be stretched apart
on a slab.

4. When Victor had been let out from there, the Consiliarius Anolinus sent
messengers to him saying, "Go and say to Victor "Fellow, you have badly
given up hope of your life, take thought for your safety, and do not further
provoke your emperor to anger. Hear my advice, sacrifice to our gods and
seek from the emperor whatever honour you wish: for by the gods and the
welfare of the emperor you are readying many torments for yourself."" Saint
Victor said to those who came to him, "Go and tell Anolinus. I do not
sacrifice to the gods of the pagans because scripture teaches us that all
those who worship idols and glory in their statues will be destroyed. I
worship the living and true God that I may live forever." When this had been
reported to Anolinus it was reported to the emperor also. Both were
extremely angry. On the next day the emperor Maximianus ordered him to be
led out of prison, and Anolinus said to him, "Is your heart so stubborn that
you will not listen to the commands of the emperor and sacrifice?" Saint
Victor replied, "I do not sacrifice to gods which are unclean and senseless.
"Then the emperor ordered that all kinds of instruments of torture be
brought before him, and he said to him, "Do you see, Victor, what great
torments await you if you do not sacrifice?" Saint Victor replied, "Those
torments which you wish to inflict upon me are nothing: but greater torments
will be prepared for you by my god on the day of righteous judgement." Then
the emperor Maximianus, taking it badly that Victor had openly insulted him,
ordered lead to be brought forward, melted, and poured over the whole of
Victor's body. And when he was being covered in this way, Victor prayed thus
to the Lord, saying, "O Lord Jesus Christ, for whose name I endure these
things, help me and free me, just as you freed unharmed the three boys from
the midst of the burning furnace, and confounded the tyrant: send an aide
now in that manner, and free your servant to the embarrassment of Maximianus
and his lackeys." And there immediately appeared an angel of the Lord who
made the lead as cold as springwater and it did not burn any part of
Victor's body. Then, stretching out his hands, Blessed Victor gave thanks to
the Lord, saying, "I thank you, Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, that
you deigned to pity your servant, and sent your holy angel who cooled the
lead and soothed with the ointment of your mercy the wounds which the wicked
Maximianus inflicted upon me." Then Maximianus and all those who were
present were amazed that Victor's body had not been burned. Then Saint
Victor said, "I thank you, Lord God, Father of Our Lord Jesus Christ, you
who cooled the lead and enabled me to overcome the terrible tortures; do not
allow me, I beg you, to be overcome by those men."

5. Then the emperor Maximianus ordered that he be led to the Vercelline
Gate: and while they awaited the emperor's commands they paused there. Then
the soldiers who were guarding Saint Victor fell asleep, and rising Victor
fled and hid himself in a stable in front of the theatre. Then the soldiers
rose and pursued him, and finding a lone woman they questioned her, asking,
"Did you not see a white-haired man with torn clothing come this way?" The
woman replied, and said, "I did see a white-haired man with torn clothing
flee this way." Then the soldiers continued their pursuit along the road
which was named after the stables, and they arrived in front of the theatre;
and entering the stables they found Saint Victor hidden in front of the
horses. Then the soldiers assaulted him and brought him outside. When
Maximianus heard that Victor had fled he was furious with his soldiers, and
he ordered other soldiers to take them outside the city to a place called
the Garden of Philippus. The emperor himself strolled about in the
hippodrome of the circus, and sent runners to Victor, saying "Go and tell
Victor "you have despaired for your life, and you are not willing to offer
sacrifice: by the gods, if you do not sacrifice I will sentence you to
capital punishment."" To these Victor replied, "Go and tell your emperor "do
quickly what you are about to do because I want to receive my reward from
God, the reward for which I suffer these things, and because it is time: if
it should please him who has given me my soul and spirit."" Then the emperor
Maximianus ordered his servants to be called, and he told them that Victor
was to be led to a small wood named The Elms, where he the emperor had a
garden, and that he was to be beheaded there. And when Saint Victor was
being brought there, he said to the soldiers who were bringing him, "Tell
the emperor Maximianus that he will die this year, and that when he is dead
no grave will accept him unless his legs are broken." When he had said these
things they reached the place, and Victor made a speech, saying, "I thank
you, Lord Jesus Christ, that you have not separated me from your saints, my
fellow citizens, Nabor and Felix. I bless and thank you forever. Amen." When
the speech was complete his head was cut off by a servant.

6. Then the emperor ordered that no one should bury his body in order that
it might be eaten by the wild animals. And after six days the emperor sent
his quaestor with soldiers in order to see if it had been eaten by the
beasts and serpents. They went and found Victor's body intact, in no part
damaged, and two beasts guarding it, one at his head and the other at his
feet. They returned and reported to the emperor. Then the emperor ordered
that the body should be buried. After permission had been given to bury the
martyr the saintly and most blessed bishop Maternus went for it, and found
two beasts, one guarding his head and the other guarding his feet. The body
itself was as it had been left at the very hour of execution. But the
beasts, when they saw the saintly bishop Maternus, gave way; as long as they
had stood there the body had been protected. Maternus wrapped the corpse in
linen, brought it not far from the little wood, and buried it in peace. Then
Anolinus the consiliarius ordered all the exceptores in the palace to be
seized, and made them swear by their gods that if any of them had any
written record no one would conceal it. Then they all swore by the gods and
by the safety of the emperor that no one would conceal such, and all the
papers were brought forward, and Anolinus had them burned before him by a
servant. This greatly pleased the emperor. Saint Victor was beheaded on 8
May, and buried by the bishop Saint Maternus on 14 May, during the reign of
Our Lord Jesus Christ with the Father and the Holy Spirit, forever and ever.
Amen.

Select Bibliography
Primary Texts
Act. Sanct. Mai II, 288-90 [BHL 8580]


Spiritual Bouquet: He who seeks the glory of the One who sent him is
truthful, and there is no injustice in him. St. John 7:18


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My Queen! My Mother! I give myself entirely to thee;
and to show my devotion to thee, I consecrate to thee
this day my eyes, my ears, my mouth, my heart, my
whole being without reserve. Wherefore, good Mother, I
am thine own, keep me, guard me, as thy property and
possession.




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