Author and Publisher - Catholic Online
St. Maximilian of Theveste, Martyr (Also known as Maximilian of Tebessa) Died 296. In the African churches of the late Roman Empire, it was not uncommon for liturgies to include readings from the acta and passios of martyrs. The one often included for Saint Maximilian is the authentic record of his trial in Numidia (now Algeria) and execution for refusing to be conscripted into the Roman army.
Maximilian resisted because he didn't want to be tainted by the idolatry of wearing the emperor's image around his neck. Maximilian also refused because he was a pacifist, perhaps one of the earliest conscientious objectors. There has long been a debate within the Church concerning the radical pacifism advocated by Our Lord and the less stringent, but more practical, position allowing self-defense and just war.
Prior to the Edict of Milan and the toleration of Christianity, Christians believed that bearing arms contradicted the Gospel. Tertullian, for example, prohibited military service. Saint Hippolytus said that it was impossible to be a soldier and a catechumen-as contradictory as being a prostitute and catechumen (at least part of his reasoning dealt with the association of soldiers with pagan gods and sacrifices).
The Church moderated its position. The Council of Arles (314) said that soldiers who left the army during peacetime would be excommunicated. About 295, the proconsul Dion went to Theveste to recruit soldiers for the third Augustan legion stationed there. At this time the Roman army was mainly volunteers, but sons of veterans were obliged to serve. Maximilian, the 21-year-old son of the Roman army veteran Fabius Victor, was presented to the recruiting agent. The advocatus Pompeianus, seeing that Maximilian would make an excellent recruit, asked for him to be measured: he was 5'10" tall.
The ensuing dialogue between the proconsul Dion and Maximilian has been preserved to this day. When asked his name, Maximilian replied, "Why do you wish to know my name? I cannot serve because I am a Christian." Nevertheless, orders were given for him to be given the military seal. He answered, "I cannot do it: I cannot be a soldier." When told he must serve or die, he said, "You may cut off my head, but I will not serve. My army is the army of God, and I cannot fight for this world," it was pointed out to him that there were Christians serving as bodyguards for the emperors Diocletian and Maximian.
To this he replied, "That is their business. I am a Christian, too, and I cannot serve." Dion then told Victor to correct his son. Victor, who had become a Christian like his son, said, "He knows what he believes, and he won't change his mind." Dion insisted, "Agree to serve and receive the military seal." "I already have the seal of Christ, my God . . . I will not accept the seal of this world; if you give it to me, I will break it for it is worthless. I cannot wear a piece of lead around my neck after I have received the saving sign of Jesus Christ, my Lord, the son of the living God. You do not know Him; yet He suffered for our salvation: God delivered Him up for our sins. He is the one whom all Christians serve; we follow Him as the Prince of Life and Author of Salvation."
Again Dion stated that there are other Christians who are soldiers. Maximilian answered, "They know what is best for them. I am a Christian and I cannot do what is wrong." Dion continued, "What wrong do those commit who serve in the army?" Maximilian answered, "You know very well what they do." Threatened with death if he remained obstinate, Maximilian answered, "This is the greatest thing that I desire. Dispatch me quickly. Therein lies my glory." Then he added, "I shall not die. When I leave this earth, I shall live with Christ, my Lord."
He was sentenced accordingly: "Whereas Maximilian has disloyally refused the military oath, he is sentenced to die by the sword." Just before his execution, Maximilian encouraged his companions to persevere and asked his father to give his new clothes to the executioner. We are told that Fabius Victor "went home happily, thanking God for having allowed him to send such a gift to heaven."
The place of Maximilian's death is given as Theveste (Tebessa) in Numidia, but it may have been nearer Carthage, where his body was taken for burial by a devout woman named Pompeiana. It was buried close to the relics of Saint Cyprian.
St. Faustina Kowalska
Find SaintsPopular Saints
Saints by Alphabet
Saint Feast Days by Month
Patron Saints by Alphabet
Saint Feast Days by Month
Clare was born at Montefalco, Italy, around 1268. As a young woman she joined a convent of Franciscan tertiaries. This group established Holy Cross Convent at Montefalco in 1290, adopting the Rule of ... continue readingMore Saint of the Day
Historians remember St. Rose of Lima for her piety and chastity. Born in 1586 in Lima, Peru to Spanish colonists, and named Isabel Flores de Olivia, she was exceptionally beautiful. Her beauty was so great that she was nicknamed "Rose," a name that remains with her to ... continue readingMore Female Saints
Saint Michael the Archangel isn't a saint, but rather he is an angel, and the leader of all angels and of the army of God. This is what the title "Archangel" means, that he is above all the others in rank. St. Michael has four main responsibilities or offices, as we ... continue reading
St. Gabriel is an angel who serves as a messenger for God to certain people. He is one of the three archangels. Gabriel is mentioned in both the Old and the New Testaments of the Bible. First, in the Old Testament, Gabriel appears to the prophet Daniel to explain his ... continue reading
Hugh of Lincoln was the son of William, Lord of Avalon. He was born at Avalon Castle in Burgundy and was raised and educated at a convent at Villard-Benoit after his mother died when he was eight. He was professed at fifteen, ordained a deacon at nineteen, and was made ... continue reading
Born Inigo Lopez de Loyola in 1491, the man known as Ignatius of Loyola entered the world in Loiola, Spain. At the time, the name of the village was spelled "Loyola," hence the discrepancy. Inigo came of age in Azpeitia, in northern Spain. Loyola is a small village at ... continue reading
By Marshall Connolly (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
Nearly 100 people have completed their adventure with the Knights Templar on Catholic Online School. Are you next? LOS ANGELES, CA (California Network) - Nearly 100 certificates have been issued to students who have successfully completed Catholic Online School's ... continue readingMore Christian Saints & Heroes