Today's saints lived in the Vandal kingdom of North Africa, where the Arian form of Christianity was the established religion and the orthodox view was considered heresy. A commander in the army of King Genseric had many slaves, among whom were Maxima (the woman who ran his household), Martinian (his armor-bearer), and three of Martinian's brothers (one of whom was named Saturian).
|Saint Maxima, looking vaguely cake-like.|
Maxima and the four brothers were captured and returned to their master, who promptly insisted that they accept Arian baptism. They declined. The inevitable torture began.
The commander was in no hurry. Perhaps he did not want to lose his investment in the four brothers. Perhaps he desired the quality of their service. Yet he recognized that they would not serve him and the orthodox Christ -- so he slowly, methodically sought to break down their resistance to the Arian heterodoxy. He was thwarted in this by the resolution of their faith as well as the divine destruction of the torture implements. The most ingenious engines of pain broke down when applied to the brothers. Not taking the hint, the commander persisted, so the divine message got a little louder. His cattle died. His crops failed. His kids died. He died.
|Rough road to salvation|
His widow took the hint and gave the brothers to Genseric's kinsman, identified in one source as Sersaon, a word that looks suspiciously like Saracen. The plague followed them -- illness struck Sersaon's family and so the slaves were quickly sent on to Capsur, the King of the Moors. In another source, Capsur is identified as a Berber chieftain, probably a more accurate description. In any event, Capsur sensed that Maxima might be the problem, so in spite of her beauty and cleverness, he turned her loose. She headed for a convent and lived piously ever after. The brothers began preaching in their new master's home, but he had little patience for the Christian proselytizing. He ordered them dragged by horses until the abrasions and contusions killed them.
Today is also the traditional feast of Saint Longinus, the centurion who administered the coup de grace to Jesus. How he wound up in hagiomajor on March 15 is passes explanation right now, but here's a link to the post anyway.