Saints of the Day – 19 January – St Marius and Family of Perisa – Martha, Audifax, Abacjum (Died c 270) Martyrs, Husband, Wife and 2 Sons – in the time of Emperor Claudius. Born in Persia and died on the Nymphae Catabassi Way in Rom in c 270. Patronage – Caselette, Italy. Also known as – Maris, Mario.
The Roman Martyrology today states: “At Rome, on the Cornelian road, the holy Martyrs, Marius and his wife Martha, with their sons, Audifax and Abachum, noble Persians, who came to Rome, through devotion, in the time of the Emperor Claudius. After they had been beaten with rods, tortured on the rack and with fire, lacerated with iron hooks and had endured the cutting off their hands, Martha was put to death in the place called Nympha. The others, were beheaded and cast into the flames.”
Marius, a Persian nobleman, his wife Martha and his sons Audifax and Abachum, came to believe in Christ and became Christians. In imitation of the early Christians of Jerusalem, they gladly gave away their fortune to the poor.
Then the family travelled to Rome to venerate the tombs of the Apostles and lend their aid to the persecuted Christians. Among other things, they gathered the ashes of the Martyrs and buried them with respect.
The family’s assistance to Christians exposed them to persecution. They were seized and delivered to the judge Muscianus or Marcianus, who, unable to persuade them to deny their faith, condemned them to various tortures. Despite the torture, the Saints refused to deny Christ.
Marius and his two sons were thus beheaded on the Via Cornelia and their bodies were burnt. Martha, meanwhile, was killed at a place called in Nymphae Catabassi (later called Santa Ninfa), thirteen miles from Rome. Tradition states that Martha was cast into a well.
According to tradition, a Roman lady named Felicitas secured the half-consumed remains of the father and sons and also the mother’s body from the well and had the sacred relics secretly interred on her estate at Buxus, today Boccea. This occurred on 20 January. A Church arose at Boccea and during the Middle Ages, it became a place of pilgrimage.
The Relics of the Martyrs later suffered various vicissitudes – some were transferred to the Churches of Sant’Adriano al Foro and Santa Prassede, in Rome and part of these Relics were sent to Eginhard, the biographer of Charlemagne, who lodged them in the Monastery of Seligenstadt. Some Relics went to Prüm Abbey where their presence was recorded in the early 11th century. The original reliquary chest was destroyed during the French occupation at the end of the 18th Century. The current chest dates from the 19th Century.
The Martyrs Feast was included today, 19 January, in the General Roman Calendar from the 9th century to 1969, when they were excluded because nothing is known with certainty about them except their names, their place of burial (the cemetery at Nymphas on the Via Cornelia) and the day of their burial (19 or 20 January).