Marius, Martha, Audifax, and Abachum
|Marius, Martha, Audifax, and Abachum|
Nymphae Catabassi, near Rome
|Roman Catholic Church|
|Major shrine||Rome, Prüm Abbey|
Saints Marius, Martha, Audifax, and Abachum (died 270) were, according to their largely legendary passio of the 6th century, four saints of the same family (a husband, his wife, and their two sons). They came from Persia to Rome, and were martyred in 270 for sympathizing with and burying the bodies of Christians. Some ancient martyrologies place the date of their death between 268 to 270, during the reign of Claudius II, although there was no persecution of Christians during this time.
Their story states that the family's assistance to the Christians exposed them to persecution. They were seized and delivered to the judge Muscianus or Marcianus, who, unable to persuade them to abjure their faith, condemned them to various tortures. Despite the torture, the saints refused to abjure. Maris 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 Nimpha or 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 in on her estate at Buxus, today Boccea. This is said to have occurred on January 20. A church arose at Boccea, and during the Middle Ages, it became a place of pilgrimage.
Their relics 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, 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. The current chest dates from the 19th century.
Their feast day (as indicated in the Roman Martyrology) is on 19 January. They were included in the General Roman Calendar from the 9th century to 1969, when they were excluded because nothing is really known of these saints except their names, their place of burial (the cemetery Ad Nymphas on the Via Cornelia), and the day of their burial (19 or 20 January).
- Form of the names in the Roman Martyrology. In some sources, Marius is called "Maris" and Audifax is placed last.
- Santi Mario, Marta, Abaco e Audiface
- Father Alben Butler: Saints Maris, Martha, Audifax, and Abachum
- Calendarium Romanum (Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1969), p. 113
- Holweck, F. G., A Biographical Dictionary of the Saints. St. Louis, MO: B. Herder, 1924.