Skip to content

St. Maximilian

Author and Publisher - Catholic Online

Facts

Feastday: March 12
Death: 296

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.

Deacon Keith Fournier Hi readers, it seems you use Catholic Online a lot; that's great! It's a little awkward to ask, but we need your help. If you have already donated, we sincerely thank you. We're not salespeople, but we depend on donations averaging $14.76 and fewer than 1% of readers give. If you donate just $5.00, the price of your coffee, Catholic Online School could keep thriving. Thank you. Help Now >

St. Maximilian Comments


More Saints






Browse Saints by Category






Saint of the Day

Image of St. Clare of Montefalco

St. Clare of Montefalco

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 reading

More Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day by E-Mail

Saint of the Day newsletter icon

Learn about the lives of the saints and other saint resources, including a calendar, over 5,000 saint biographies, our most popular saints, and a list of patron saints. 7 days / week. See Sample


Required


Female Saints

Image of St. Rose of Lima

St. Rose of Lima

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 reading

More Female Saints



Saint Calendar
Saint Feast Days
Saint Fun Facts

Angels

Image of St. Michael the Archangel

St. Michael the Archangel

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


Image of St. Gabriel, the Archangel

St. Gabriel, the Archangel

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



Saints Fun Facts

Saints Fun Facts for St. Hugh of Lincoln

St. Hugh of Lincoln

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

Saints Fun Facts for St. Ignatius Loyola

St. Ignatius Loyola

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


Deacon Keith Fournier Hi readers, it seems you use Catholic Online a lot; that's great! It's a little awkward to ask, but we need your help. If you have already donated, we sincerely thank you. We're not salespeople, but we depend on donations averaging $14.76 and fewer than 1% of readers give. If you donate just $5.00, the price of your coffee, Catholic Online School could keep thriving. Thank you. Help Now >

Christian Saints & Heroes

Image of

Get your gorgeous Knights Templar certificate today!

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 reading

More Christian Saints & Heroes

Never Miss any Updates!

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers.

Information
Learn about Catholic world

Catholic Online
Inform - Inspire - Ignite

Catholic Online Saints
Your saints explained

Catholic Online Prayers
Prayers for every need

Catholic Online Bible
Complete bible online

Catholic Online News
Your news Catholic eye

Daily Reading
Today's bible reading

Lent / Easter
Death & resurrection of Jesus

Advent / Christmas
Birth of Jesus

Rest of Catholic Online
All Catholic world we offer

Services
Products and services we offer

Catholic Online Shopping
Catholic medals, gifts & books

Advertise on Catholic Online
Your ads on catholic.org

Catholic Online Email
Email with Catholic feel

Education
Learn the Catholic way

Catholic Online School
Free Catholic education for all

Student Classes
K-12 & Adult Education Classes

Support Free Education
Tax deductible support Free education

Socials
Connect with us online

Catholic Online on Facebook
Catholic social network

Catholic Online on Twitter
Catholic Tweets

Catholic Online on YouTube
Enjoy our videos

Catholic Online on Instagram
Shared Catholic moments

Catholic Online on Pinterest
Catholic ideas style inspiration

Catholic Online Logo

Copyright 2019 Catholic Online. All materials contained on this site, whether written, audible or visual are the exclusive property of Catholic Online and are protected under U.S. and International copyright laws, © Copyright 2019 Catholic Online. Any unauthorized use, without prior written consent of Catholic Online is strictly forbidden and prohibited.

Catholic Online is a Project of Your Catholic Voice Foundation, a Not-for-Profit Corporation. Your Catholic Voice Foundation has been granted a recognition of tax exemption under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Federal Tax Identification Number: 81-0596847. Your gift is tax-deductible as allowed by law.