(4th century)

The persecutions of Christians were brutal under the Emperor Diocletian.

One of the worst scenes was in Abitina, a town in North Africa, Diocletian issued an order that all Christians, under penalty of death, had to deliver up Holy Scriptures to be burned. The bishop of Abitina complied with the magistrates and brought them the sacred Scriptures to be consumed by fire. This act of sacrilege was followed by a hailstorm, which ravaged the whole country, and a violent rainstorm that extinguished the fire.

During a Sunday service in the home of Octavius Felix, Roman soldiers seized 49 people including their priest, Saturninus and his four children. When they were brought before their judges, however, they so zealously professed Jesus that even their tormentors were impressed with their faith.

It did little to spare them, however. They were shackled and sent to Carthage, the residence of the proconsul. Upon their arrival, some were put on the rack, their bodies torn with iron hooks. Other forms of torture were inflicted on the rest.

The proconsul focused on the youngest child of Saturninus and tried to get him to reject his faith. Young Hilarianus, however, filled with the Holy Spirit, was not afraid and announced, “I am a Christian; I have been at the collect (gathering to worship), and it was of my own voluntary choice, without any compulsion.” The proconsul then threatened him by telling him that he would cut off his nose and ears.

The child replied, “You may do it; but I am a Christian.” With this, the proconsul ordered the child and all the others to prison. They all ended their lives under the hardships of their imprisonment except for two, who on Feb. 11 died from their wounds.

Adapted by A. J. Valentini from: St. Saturninus and Companions (martyrs) – Your Bible Verse Daily. (n.d.). Your Bible Verses Daily. Retrieved Feb. 3, 2021, from