SAINTS

MARCH 12: ST. MAXIMILIAN

(Died 296 AD)

Maximilian was the son of the Roman army veteran Fabius Victor. About 295, when Maximilian was 21 years old, 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 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 feet 10.

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 were 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 (Algeria today), 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 St. Cyprian.

Adapted by A.J. Valentini from: Online, C. (n.d.). St. Maximilian – Saints & Angels. Catholic Online. Retrieved March 3, 2021, from https://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=5018