Sunday, August 26, 2012
August 26 -- Saint Victor of Caesarea
Victor's another happy martyr, pleased to be crucified for his faith and cheerfully helpful to those who were about to kill him. When he was hauled into court before the prefect, he not only declared that he knew he would receive the death sentence, but that the prefect's gout would be cured once he (Victor) had died. If the prefect had been having any doubts about the sentence, Victor had helpfully provided a robust incentive for death.
Crucifixion is death by slow suffocation (the lungs, already expanded by the stretched position, eventually do not have the strength to inhale). If a condemned man can push with his legs to take strain off his chest, he will live longer. Thus nailing a victim's feet to the cross would give him some (albeit painful) purchase against which to push, while breaking a victim's legs (though seemingly cruel) would hasten his death.
When the soldier nailing Victor to his cross drove the spike through his feet, it failed to enter the wood. Victor helpfully pointed this out to the soldier so that he could correct this, extending the execution to its intended duration.
Graphic Note: The illustration of the crucified man is from Biblearcheology.org. After studying the remains of a crucified Temple worker found in Jerusalem (a fella named Yehohanan), some folks concluded that it was done like this. Of course nothing says that they wouldn't have driven spikes through the hands or arms as well if they really didn't like someone, but rope would be better for holding someone up.
Ambiguation Note: There are lots of saints named Victor, many of them martyrs. At least one other, a priest who was martyred by Moors in Spain around 950, shares August 26 as his feast.
Geographic Note: There were lots of cities called Caesarea scattered around the Mediterranean, though not as many as Alexandrias. Saint Victor lived in Caesarea in Mauretania, in western North Africa.
Posted by Tom Major at 8:35 AM