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E03219: The Martyrdom of *Marcellus and Apuleius (martyrs of Capua, S01400) is written in Latin, presumably in Capua, mostly as a compilation of earlier sources, notably the Acta Archelai and the African Martyrdom of Marcellus (EXXXX), by the mid 9th c. It narrates the trial and death of Marcellus, a rich and generous man, followed by his servant Apuleius.

online resource
posted on 2017-07-11, 00:00 authored by mpignot
Martyrdom of Marcellus and Apuleius (BHL 5252b)


§§ 1-4: Marcellus is a rich and most honourable Christian man. He helps everyone, notably giving alms to the poor, and is liked by all. Marcellus pays the ransom to free prisoners offered to the bishop Archelaus, he helps them and buries the dead. His great piety becomes known in the whole region.

§ 5: At the time of the emperor Tiberius, who was educated by Marcellus, there is a great persecution against Christians. Tiberius knows that Marcellus is Christian and wants to kill him. He sends Marcellus with Apuleius to Apulia and Calabria with a fake request, asking the governor of Campania Dracontius to compel him to sacrifice to the gods. When this is done Marcellus refuses.

§ 6: A feast is celebrated for the emperor. Marcellus who is one of the centuriones antesigitani [who take care of the emblems of the legion] throws away his belt and his weapon and declares that he is Christian. The governor Fortunatus sends him to jail; Marcellus prays on the way.

§§ 7-9: A few days later, Marcellus is interrogated and rejects the pagan gods and the emperor. He is further interrogated by Aurelianus Agricolanus, the deputy praefectus praetorio and again states that he is Christian. He is sentenced to death. After praying to God, he is beheaded.

§ 10: Apuleius, Marcellus’ servant who is also Christian, asks to share his death and is beheaded as well. They were martyred on the day of the Nones of October [= 7 October].

Text: Delehaye 1923, 282-287. Summary: M. Pignot


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Marcellus and Apuleius, martyrs of Capua : S01400

Saint Name in Source

Marcellus, Apuleius

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 south of Rome and Sicily

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc


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

Capua Adriatic Sea Adriatic Sea Adriaticum Mare

Cult activities - Festivals

  • Saint’s feast

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Distribution of alms

Cult Activities - Miracles

Observed scarcity/absence of miracles

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - bishops Aristocrats Pagans Soldiers Officials Slaves/ servants Monarchs and their family Prisoners


The Martyrdom of Marcellus and Apuleius is mostly a compilation of earlier sources, notably the Acta Archelai (for §§ 1-4) and the Martyrdom of Marcellus (martyr of Tangier, EXXXX, for §§ 6-9). According to Lanéry, BHL 5252b is the earliest version, BHL 5252 and BHL 5251 being later reworkings. BHL 5252b is preserved in two manuscripts according to the database Bibliotheca Hagiographica Latina Manuscripta (, the earliest being Rome, Bibliotheca Nazionale Centrale, Farf. codex 29 (alias 341), f. 85v-88v (9th-10th c.).


The Martyrdom is of uncertain date of composition. It is generally dated to the 6th century (Clavis Patrum Latinorum 2182; Gryson, R., Répertoire général des auteurs ecclésiastiques Latins de l’Antiquité et du Haut moyen âge, 2 vol.s (Freiburg, 2007), I, 61). However, Lanéry underlines the fact that it is a compilation, still unknown to Ado in his martyrology; thus it is more likely to date from a later period, perhaps shortly before the second half of the 9th century, when the earliest manuscript preserved may have been copied.


Edition (BHL 5252b): Delehaye, H., “Les actes de s. Marsel le centurion,” Analecta Bollandiana 41 (1923), 257-287, at 282-287. 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 325-326.

Usage metrics

    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity