The Holy Martyrs Nazarius, Gervasius, Protasius and Celsius
Commemorated on October 14
The Holy Martyrs Nazarius,
Gervasius, Protasius and Celsius suffered during the reign of the emperor Nero
(54-68). Saint Nazarius (son of the Christian Perpetua and the Jew Africanus)
was born at Rome and was baptised by Bishop Linus. From his youthful years
Nazarius decided to devote his life to preaching the teachings of Christ and to
aid wandering Christians. With this intent he left Rome and arrived in
Mediolanum (Milan). While visiting Christians at the Mediolanum prison,
Nazarius made the acquaintance of the twins Protasius and Gervasius. The twin
brothers had been born in the city of Mediolanum into a family of rich Roman
citizens – Vitalius and Valeria. But having been left orphans (their parents
had been martyred for the Christian faith), the brothers distributed their
substance to the poor, emancipated their slaves, and occupied themselves with
fasting and prayer. The pagans locked them up in prison for their confession of
faith in Christ. Saint Nazarius esteemed the twins, and as much as he was able
he relieved their sufferings. But for this the pagans gave him a beating and
banished him from Mediolanum. Saint Nazarius proceeded on to Gaul (modern
France), and there he successfully preached Christianity and converted many
pagans. In the city of Kimel he baptised the son of a certain Christian by name
Celsius, and in teaching him, acquired a faithful student and co-worker in
their missionary labours. For their confession of faith in Christ, the pagans
gave them over for devouring by wild beasts, but the beasts would not touch the
saints. Afterwards they tried to drown the martyrs in the sea, but they went
through the water, as though on dry land. the soldiers, carrying out the
orders, were so amazed, that they themselves accepted Christianity and released
the holy martyrs.
Set free, Nazarius and Celsius went to Mediolanum and visited Gervasius and Protasius in prison. For this, they were delivered over to Nero, who ordered that Saints Nazarius and Celsius be beheaded. Soon after this they executed also the holy brothers Gervasius and Protasius.
Many years later, during the reign of the holy Emperor Theodosius (408-450), Saint Ambrose, Bishop of Milan, through a revelation from above discovered the relics of the holy martyrs. The holy relics, glorified by many an healing, were solemnly transferred to the Mediolanum cathedral.
© 1996-2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos.