Saints of the Day – 18 June – Saints Marcus and Marcellian (Died c 286) Martyrs, Twin Brothers, Laymen, Confessors. Sons of Saint Tranquillinus of Rome who raised them as pagans before his own conversion. They may have been Deacons. Imprisoned for their faith during the persecutions of Diocletian. They were visited in prison by Saint Sebastian who encouraged them in perseverance in the footsteps of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Also known as Mark and Marcellianus, respectively.
The Roman Martyrology states of them today: “At Rome, on the Ardeatine Road, in the persecution of Diocletian, the birthday of the saintly brothers, Marcus and Marcellian, Martyrs, who were arrested by the Judge Fabian, tied to a stake and had sharp nails driven into their fet. As they ceased not, to praise the name of Christ, they were pierced through the sides with lances and thus went to the Kingdom of Heaven, with the glory of Martyrdom.”
Saint Marcus and Saint Marcellian were twin brothers of an illustrious family in Rome, who had been converted to the Faith in their youth and were honourably married.
When Diocletian ascended the imperial throne in 284, the pagans raised persecutions; the brothers were then thrown into prison and condemned to be beheaded. Their friends obtained a delay of the execution for thirty days, that they might prevail on them to worship the false gods. Tranquillinus and Martia, their afflicted pagan parents, accompanied by their sons’ wives and their little babes, endeavoured to move them by the most tender entreaties and tears. But Saint Sebastian, an officer of the Emperor’s household, arriving in Rome soon after their confinement, daily visited and encouraged them.
The issue of the conferences was the happy conversion of the father, mother and wives, also of Nicostratus, the public stenographer and soon afterwards, of Chromatius, the Judge, who set the Saints at liberty and abdicating the magistracy, retired into the country. Marcus and Marcellian were concealed by a Christian officer of the imperial household, in his apartments in the palace but they were betrayed by an apostate and re-imprisoned. Fabian, a Judge who had succeeded Chromatius, condemned them to be bound to two pillars, their feet nailed to them. In this posture they remained a day and a night and on the following day were stabbed with lances. Their Martyrdom occurred in the year 286.
The bodies of Marcus and Marcellianus and that of their father, Saint Tranquillinus, were moved, probably during the ninth century, to the Church of Saints Cosmas and Damian. They were re-discovered there in 1583 during the reign of Pope Gregory XIII. The bodies now remain there in a tomb, next to the Martyred Pope, Saint Felix II. Nearby is an ancient painting of the two Martyrs with a third person, who appears to be the Virgin Mary. In 1902, their basilica in the catacombs of Saint Balbina was rediscovered.
They are honoured particularly in Spain, where the City of Badajoz escaped destruction by their intercession.