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E03247: The Martyrdom of *Luxorius/Ruxorius, Cisellus and Camerinus (martyrs of Cagliari, S01877) is written in Latin, presumably in Cagliari (Sardinia) at an uncertain date, between the 6th and the 10th c. It narrates Luxorius’ conversion and baptism, his arrest and trial, the arrest of the small children Cisellus and Camerinus, and the death and burial of all protagonists outside the walls of Cagliari. Contains a mention of *Lucifer (bishop of Cagliari, S02316).

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posted on 11.07.2017, 00:00 by mpignot
Martyrdom of Luxorius/Ruxorius, Cisellus and Camerinus (BHL 5092)

We provide here a summary of the recensio ruxoriana with only significant variants from the recensio luxoriana in square brackets, preceded by the abbreviation “lux”. As a significant difference between the two recensions is the name of the protagonist (Ruxorius/Luxorius), we here omit referring to this variant after its first occurrence. The comparison shows that both recensions are very close to each other, but that the recensio ruxoriana is more detailed. For a full edition of both recensions, see Tuzzo; for their relationship and date see our discussion.

§ 1: Prologue on the persecution of the emperors Diocletian and Maximian. The emperors sent judges over the whole world to force Christians to offer sacrifice or face death. The governor (praeses) Dalasius [lux. Delphius] is sent to carry this out in Sardinia. There, a pagan named Ruxorius [lux. Luxorius] is called to God’s grace and through His Spirit starts reading the psalms.

§ 2: He comes to Psalm 85:9-10 evoking the worship of God and desires to become a Christian. He receives the sign of the cross and is made a catechumen. He enters church and hears Ps. 118:17, is comforted in his faith, starts praying God, rejecting the idols, thinking about God’s judgement and learning the Scriptures.

§ 3: After a few days, he knows the psalter by heart and frequently reads the words of the prophets. He is baptised then learns about the apostolic books and the Gospels [lux. He learns the Apostle and the Gospel by heart]. He seeks to become a soldier of Christ rather than of the world. The assistants of the governor tell him about Ruxorius’ Christianity. He is enraged and orders Ruxorius to be brought before him.

§ 4: The governor interrogates him about his conversion recalling that Ruxorius held a position of honour in his office. Ruxorius states his faith in Jesus Christ emphasising His superiority compared to the mortal emperors and quoting passages of the Christian creed and mocking the cult of idols [lux. is shorter, without the quotes from the creed].

§ 5: Ruxorius is summoned to offer sacrifice or suffer death but Ruxorius refuses and rejects the gods quoting Ps. 96:7 [lux. does not have the quotation]. The governor orders Ruxorius to be sent to prison heavily chained.

§ 6: Two newly baptised small children (parvuli neophiti), Cesellus [lux. Cissilus] and Camerinus, still unable to speak, are brought to the governor, denounced as Christians, and imprisoned. Ruxorius is brought before the governor’s tribunal and summoned to abandon Christianity. He refuses and further rejects the cult of idols, quoting Ps. 113:4-8 [lux. does not include this quotation].

§ 7: The governor orders Ruxorius to be beaten by a body of four soldiers (quaternio) [lux. four bodies of four soldiers] but stays fast. He is then beaten with sticks but praises God chanting Ps. 58:18 [lux. does not include this quotation]. Most angered, the governor orders Ruxorius to be beheaded and Cesellus [lux. Cisillus] and Camerinus to be brought outside the city of Cagliari (civitas Calaritana), killed by the sword and left to dogs [lux. left unburied].

§ 8: God, however, does not abandon those who put their hope in Him as stated in Psalms 61:9 and 115:15 [lux. has a shorter statement without the quotations]. Thus Christians come at night, steal the bodies of the saints and bury them in a place where now there is the sanctuary (aedes) of the holy confessor Luciferus [lux. a place which is now the seat (sedes) of the confessor Lucifer]. The governor however orders Ruxorius to be beheaded in a deserted place, to prevent Christians from finding his body and venerating him as a martyr. Soldiers bring Ruxorius outside Cagliari in a territorium called Forum Traiani [lux. in territorium Fani traianensis] where they behead him on the 12th day before the Calends of September [= 21 August; date not included in lux.]. God however did not abandon Ruxorius and after his death he entered heaven and paradise [lux. simply states that Christ shows him paradise]. Anyone who is suffering or in need and prays to the Lord and Ruxorius will see his prayers fulfilled [lux. does not include this statement]. A multitude of Christians gathers hearing about Ruxorius’ power and with hymns, lights and perfume, bury the body in a crypt outside the city, to receive favours from the martyr [lux. anyone who needs him and invokes him receives his favours]. The blessed Ruxorius, Cisellus and Camerinus were martyred under Diocletian and Maximian on the 12th day before the Calends of September [= 21 August], Dalasius being the governor [lux. does not include this piece of information].

Text: Tuzzo 2008, 18-29. Summary: M. Pignot.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Luxorius (Ruxorius), Cisellus and Camerinus, martyrs of Cagliari (Sardegna) : S01877 Lucifer, bishop of Cagliari and confessor, ob. 370 : S02316

Saint Name in Source

Luxorius/Ruxorius/Ruxurius, Cisellus/Cissilus/Cisillus, Camerinus Lucifer

Type of Evidence

Literary - Hagiographical - Accounts of martyrdom



Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Italy north of Rome with Corsica and Sardinia

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc


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

Cagliari Sardinia Sardinia Sardegna Sardinia

Cult activities - Liturgical Activity

  • Chant and religious singing

Cult activities - Festivals

  • Saint’s feast

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - independent (church)

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs


Cult activities - Rejection, Condemnation, Scepticism

Acceptance/rejection of saints from other religious groupings

Cult Activities - Miracles

Observed scarcity/absence of miracles Miracle after death

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - bishops Unbaptized Christians Pagans Children Monarchs and their family Soldiers Officials

Cult Activities - Relics

Bodily relic - entire body Discovering, finding, invention and gathering of relics Transfer, translation and deposition of relics


Epic martyrdoms The Martyrdom of Luxorius/Ruxorius, Cisellus and Camerinus 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 novelistic 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 light on the rise of the cult of saints. The Martyrdom of Luxorius/Ruxorius, Cisellus and Camerinus The Martyrdom is preserved in one main version (BHL 5092; variant endings BHL 5092b-c). However, the recent editor, Tuzzo, distinguished two recensions that particularly differ in naming the saint respectively “Ruxorius/Ruxurius” and “Luxorius” (recensio ruxoriana and recensio luxoriana). Tuzzo argues that the former is the earliest, while Lanéry rather suggests that the recensio luxoriana might be the earliest. Indeed, a comparison of the versions shows that the recensio ruxoriana contains biblical quotations, longer developments and details about the cult (the feast day) not found in the recensio ruxoriana, that seem to be better explained as additions, rather than parts of the original narrative. The Martyrdom is found in 9 manuscripts, the earliest from the 11th century: Florence, Biblioteca Riccardiana, 225, f. 1r-2r (“Ruxorius/Ruxurius” recension). See Tuzzo for a complete list, with discussion and critical edition.


The Martyrdom is of uncertain date of composition, with hypotheses ranging from the 6th century to the 10th century (repertories of Latin sources suggest the 6th century: Clavis Patrum Latinorum 2205; Gryson, R., Répertoire général des auteurs ecclésiastiques Latins de l’Antiquité et du Haut moyen âge, 2 vols. (Freiburg, 2007), I, 75). See a discussion of hypotheses in Tuzzo and Lanéry.


Editions (BHL 5092): Acta Sanctorum, Aug. IV, 416-417. Tuzzo, S., “Le passioni latine di S. Lussorio martire in Sardegna. Classificazione e edizione dei testi,” Analecta Bollandiana 126 (2008), 5-29 at 18-29. 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, 326-327. Tuzzo, S., “Le passioni latine di S. Lussorio martire in Sardegna. Classificazione e edizione dei testi,” Analecta Bollandiana 126 (2008), 5-29, at 5-17.

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