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E01910: The Martyrdom of *Adventor, Octavius and Solutor (martyrs of Turin, S01116) is written in Latin, presumably in Turin or Ivrea (northern Italy), probably in the 6th c. It narrates the escape to northern Italy of these martyrs, from the massacre of the Theban legion at Acaunus (Agaune); their own martyrdoms (at Turin and Ivrea) and burial at Turin; and the building of an oratory and later a basilica over their graves.

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posted on 2016-10-11, 00:00 authored by mpignot
Martyrdom of Adventor, Octavius and Solutor (BHL 85)


Martyrs should be imitated in many respects, but after hearing their story.

Adventor, Octavius and Solutor are members of the Theban Legion, and like many others, they escape the massacre of Christians in Acaunus to be martyred in other regions. They flee to Turin, where the persecutors reach them and kill them by the sword on the other side of the river Dora Riparia close to the walls of the city.

People say, however, that Solutor, who was younger and faster, was only injured and managed to escape to Ivrea. He hides in a cave of sand near Ivrea shown to him by a little boy well known to him, but then is discovered by the persecutors and beheaded on top of a rock close by, in a marsh near the river Dora. Traces of his blood are still visible today. A church is nowadays built on top of it, and every day healing and miracles occur.

Juliana, a Christian matrona concealed the body of Solutor and, pretending to be pleased by the killing, welcomes the killers into her house, providing them with food and drink. She learns from them about the death of Octavius and Adventor and offers them more wine until they fall asleep.

Then, she brings the body of Solutor to Turin at night. With God’s help, she crosses all the rivers between Ivrea and Turin with her chariot and finds the bodies of Adventor and Octavius. Following God’s command she buries the three martyrs in an oratory at the other side of the city and prepares her own burial close to them. The holy bishop of Turin Victor then built there a great basilica with an atrium.

Every year, at the martyrs' feast, people come from all provinces to share the benefits offered by the martyrs. The saints Adventor, Octavius and Solutor were martyred in Turin on the 13th day before the Calends of February [= 20 January] under the emperor Maximian. We should pray God that celebrating the feast of the martyrs, and through their intercession, we shall merit a place of mercy in heaven and be forgiven.

Text: Zaccaria-Carminati 1844, 184-190 (no paragraph numbers provided). Summary: M. Pignot.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Adventor, Octavius and Solutor, martyrs of Turin : S01116

Saint Name in Source

Adventor, Octavius, Solutor

Type of Evidence

Literary - Hagiographical - Accounts of martyrdom


  • Latin

Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Italy north of Rome with Corsica and Sardinia Italy north of Rome with Corsica and Sardinia

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Turin Ivrea

Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)

Turin Sardinia Sardinia Sardegna Sardinia Ivrea Sardinia Sardinia Sardegna Sardinia

Cult activities - Festivals

  • Saint’s feast

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - independent (church)

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Composing and translating saint-related texts

Cult Activities - Miracles

Power over elements (fire, earthquakes, floods, weather) Miracle after death Healing diseases and disabilities

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Soldiers Women Ecclesiastics - bishops

Cult Activities - Relics

Bodily relic - entire body Discovering, finding, invention and gathering of relics Transfer, translation and deposition of relics Construction of cult building to contain relics


Epic martyrdoms The Martyrdom of Adventor, Octavius and Solutor is an anonymous literary account of martyrdom written long after the great persecutions of Christians that provide the background of the narrative. It is part of a widely spread literary genre, that scholars often designate as "epic" Martyrdoms (or Passiones), to be distinguished from earlier, short and more plausible accounts, apparently based on the genuine transcripts of the judicial proceedings against the martyrs. These texts narrate the martyrdom of local saints, either to promote a new cult or to give further impulse to existing devotion. They follow widespread stereotypes mirroring the early authentic trials of martyrs, but with a much greater degree of detail and in a novel-like style. Thus they narrate how the protagonists are repeatedly questioned and tortured under the order of officials or monarchs, because they refuse to sacrifice to pagan gods but profess the Christian faith. They frequently refer to miracles performed by the martyrs and recreate dialogues between the protagonists. The narrative generally ends with the death of the martyrs (often by beheading) and their burial. These texts are literary creations bearing a degree of freedom in the narration of supposedly historical events, often displaying clear signs of anachronism. For these reasons, they have been generally dismissed as historical evidence and often remain little known. However, since most certainly date from within the period circa 400-800, often providing unique references to cult, they are an essential source to shed new light on the rise of the cult of saints. The Martyrdom of Adventor, Octavius and Solutor There are two versions of the Martyrdom, BHL 85 and 86. According to Lanéry, the latter, not considered here, seems to be a medieval expanded and reworked version of the former, which is attested in a single 15th century manuscript. BHL 85, thought to be the earliest and our focus here, is attested in four manuscripts before 1500 (see Bibliotheca Hagiographica Latina Manuscripta at and additions in Lanéry 2010, 275). All are from northern Italy and two from Turin itself: Bergamo, Biblioteca Radini Tedeschi 227, f. 31rv (11th-12th c.); Milan, Biblioteca Ambrosiana D.22 (12th c.), f. 11v-112v; Turin, Biblioteca Nazionale Universitaria K.II.24 (12th c.), f. 110v-112r; Turin, Biblioteca Nazionale Universitaria, I.I.3 (15th c.), f. 7r-22v. The Martyrdom was first published by Mombritius in the 15th century and later by Zaccaria-Carminati (1844) and others.


Cult of these three martyrs is well attested in Turin from quite an early date. Outside our text, the cult of Adventor, Octavius and Solutor is attested in Sermon 12 of Maximus of Turin from the early 5th century (Maximus died between 408 and 423) on the martyrs (De passione vel natale sanctorum id est Octavi Adventi et Solutoris taurinis, see E01910), without any reference to the circumstances of their martyrdom, however. The sermon refers to relics of the saints kept in Turin and burial ad sanctos. The title of the sermon bears "Adventius" instead of "Adventor", perhaps suggesting that Adventor may be a later corruption of the original. Later, the three saints are named in the Martyrologium Hieronymianum: XII kal. Decembris: Taurinis civitate sanctorum Octavi Solutoris Adventoris (Acta Sanctorum, Novembris II, 2 (Brussels, 1931), 145 see EXXXX). The date of the feast listed there (20 November), however, does not correspond to the date suggested in the Martyrdom (20 January). Finally, Ennodius of Pavia (Carmina I, 1) mentions the three saints, see EXXXX. When precisely the text we are considering was written is less certain, although it has been traditionally dated broadly to Late Antiquity (see Clavis Patrum Latinorum 2157; Gryson, R., Répertoire général des auteurs ecclésiastiques Latins de l’Antiquité et du Haut moyen âge, 2 vols. (Freiburg, 2007), I, 50). This hypothesis has been recently reinforced as Lizzi Testa suggested that the Martyrdom may have borrowed its prologue linking the saints to the Theban legion from the beginning of Sermon 25 of Avitus of Vienna for the dedication of a monastery in Acaunus. For Lizzi Testa (followed by Lanéry), this means that the Martyrdom was written after 515, when the sermon is thought to have been preached. Lizzi Testa more precisely situates the writing of the Martyrdom perhaps after the episcopacy of Victor of Turin (attested in 494 and mentioned in the Martyrdom), in the aftermath of the rule of the Goth Sisinnius over the region in the early 6th century. This period, she argues, may have witnessed the promotion of local saints in the region. The Martyrdom would thus have been composed in that context, perhaps around 550. Our text would be the first evidence to link Adventor, Octavius and Solutor to the famous martyrs of the Theban legion massacred in Acaunus. While Maximus' sermon does not differentiate between the martyrs, Lizzi Testa notes that our Martyrdom focusses on Solutor's martyrdom in Ivrea. It would show, she argues, that the author wanted to link a martyr, perhaps particularly venerated in Ivrea, to the saints Adventor and Octavius in Turin, who are barely mentioned in our Martyrdom. Moreover, linking the three local martyrs to the better known saints of the Theban legion, may have been felt particularly desirable, in order to give more prominence to their cult.


Editions (BHL 85): Mombritius, B., Sanctuarium seu vitae sanctorum, 2 vols. with additions and corrections by A. Brunet and H. Quentin (Paris, 1910), I, 30-31. The original edition was published c. 1480. Zaccaria, F. A., Carminati, I., Della passione e del culto de’ santi martyri Solutore, Avventore e Ottavio (Turin, 1844), 184-190. Chiuso, T., La Chiesa in Piemonte dal 1797 ai giorni nostri (Turin, 1887), I, Appendice, 243-263. Cerisola, S., I santi martiri torinesi Solutore, Avventore ed Ottavio nella storia, nel culto, nella leggenda, Tesi di laurea in Storia del Cristianesimo, Università di Torino, Facoltà di lettere, Torino 1961-1962, 109-114. Further reading: Lanéry, C., "Hagiographie d'Italie (300-550). I. Les Passions latines composées en Italie”, in: Philippart, G. (ed.), Hagiographies. Histoire internationale de la littérature hagiographique latine et vernaculaire en Occident des origines à 1550, vol. V (Turnhout, 2010), 15-369, at 274-277. Lizzi Testa, R., “Il culto dei martiri tebei nell’Italia nordoccidentale: un veicolo di cristianizzazione,” in: Wermelinger, O., et al., Mauritius und die thebäische Legion (Akten des internationalen Kolloquiums Freiburg, Saint-Maurice, Martigny, 17.-20. Sept. 2003) – Saint Maurice et la légion thébaine (Actes du colloque international Fribourg, Saint-Maurice, Martigny, 17-20 sept. 2003 (Fribourg, 2005), 461-476.

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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