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E03248: The Martyrdom of *Secundus (martyr of Amelia and Gubbio, S02489) is written in Latin, presumably in at an uncertain date, perhaps in the 8th or 9th c. It narrates Secundus’ trial in Spoleto and his death and burial near Amelia.

online resource
posted on 2017-07-11, 00:00 authored by mpignot
Martyrdom of Secundus (BHL 7559)


There is a persecution against Christians under the emperor Maximian, and among them Maximian’s sister Arthemia, daughter of Diocletian, is killed. Many Christians hide, among them Secundus, who hides in the house of the matrona Eudoxia, giving thanks to God with hymns and vigils. The proconsul Dionysius, residing in Spoleto, has him arrested. He is brought to Spoleto, interrogated (revealing that he is a relative of the emperor Aurelian) and summoned to sacrifice to Hercules but refuses. As he is tortured on a rack, he prays for the destruction of pagan temples and a earthquake follows, destroying the huge temple of Hercules.

Dioynsius orders him to be brought to Amelia and thrown into the river Tiber with a huge stone bound to his neck that can only be carried by twenty men. Secundus is thrown into the river after a prayer, then on their return, the executioners are attacked by a bear that kills eight of them. The survivors go to the priest Euticius asking to be become Christian. All twelve of them are baptised by Euticius. A fisherman named Maurus finds Secundus’ body and buries it under a tree. Learning about this, the religious woman (religiosa femina) Eudoxia takes the body and buries it on her estate not far from Amelia (urbs Amerina) on the day of the Calends of January [= 1 January], where the favours of Secundus abound.

Text: D’Angelo-Lucci 2016, 248-252. Summary: M. Pignot.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Secundus, martyr of Amelia and Gubbio : S02489

Saint Name in Source


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

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc


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

Amelia Sardinia Sardinia Sardegna Sardinia

Cult activities - Liturgical Activity

  • Chant and religious singing

Cult activities - Festivals

  • Saint’s feast

Cult activities - Places

Burial site of a saint - tomb/grave

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs


Cult Activities - Miracles

Miracle after death Miracle at martyrdom and death Punishing miracle Miracles causing conversion Miracle with animals and plants Power over elements (fire, earthquakes, floods, weather)

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Women Ecclesiastics - lesser clergy Pagans Monarchs and their family Aristocrats Torturers/Executioners Officials Animals

Cult Activities - Relics

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


Epic martyrdoms The Martyrdom of Secundus 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 Secundus As discussed in detail in a recent study (D’Angelo-Lucci 2016, 144-154), the three earliest versions of the Martyrdom can be divided into two main recensions about the saint, either situating his life and cult in Gubbio (BHL 7558-7558a) or in Amelia (BHL 7559-a-b and BHL 7560). The earliest version from which the others derive is BHL 7559-a-b (our focus here, the two letters a-b referring to only slightly variant versions of BHL 7559), while BHL 7560 is a rewriting of it, using the martyrdom of George written by Peter, subdeacon of Naples (BHL 3393a + 3393b + 3394), and probably composed in the 11th century. Concerning the Gubbio recension, the version BHL 7558-a is already attested in a manuscript from the 10th-11th century (Karlsruhe, Badische Landesbibliothek, Aug. LXXXIV). As discussed by see D’Angelo-Lucci 2016 149-153, this version notably makes use of the same prologue found in Anastasia’s martyrdom (E02482) and borrows from the martyrdom of Tranquillinus in the Martyrdom of Sebastianus (E02512). All the versions here discussed have been critically edited in D’Angelo 2010 and D’Angelo-Lucci 2016. The database Bibliotheca Hagiographica Latina Manuscripta ( lists 6 manuscripts for BHL 7559, the earliest from the 11th century (see further discussion of manuscripts in D’Angelo 2010 and D’Angelo-Lucci 2016, 159-170).


The Martyrdom was generally dated to the 6th century (Lanzoni; Clavis Patrum Latinorum 2231; Gryson, R., Répertoire général des auteurs ecclésiastiques Latins de l’Antiquité et du Haut moyen âge, 2 vols. (Freiburg, 2007), I, 87). However, recent studies (Lanéry, Susi, D’Angelo) suggest a later dating, in the 8th or 9th century. As recently summarised by D’Angelo, our Martyrdom bears connections to the martyrdoms of Valentinus and Hilarius of Viterbo (BHL 8469 + 8470 from the 9th century), and of Ireneus and Mustiola (E04779). The dating however remains open to debate: while Lanery and Susi (2008b, 175) emphasise borrowings from the martyrdom of Valentinus and Hilarius (which in turn would make use of the Martyrdom of Euticius E02493) and thus suggest a composition in the 9th century in connection to Farfa, D’Angelo notes that the borrowings are uncertain and that an earlier date in the Lombard period, in the 8th century, is still possible, depending on how the political context betrayed by the description of Secundus’ trial in the 'pagan' city of Spoleto and death near Amelia is interpreted.


Edition (BHL 7559): D’Angelo, E., "Il dossier "amerino" di san Secondo (B.H.L. 7559, 7559a, 7559b, 7560, 7560b)," Bollettino per la Deputazione di Storia Patria per l'Umbria 107 (2010), 57-86; reproduced in D’Angelo, E., and Lucci, E., Amelia e i suoi santi. Storia, culti, liturgia, agiografia (Spoleto, 2016), 248-252. Further reading: D’Angelo, E., "Il dossier "amerino" di san Secondo (B.H.L. 7559, 7559a, 7559b, 7560, 7560b)," Bollettino per la Deputazione di Storia Patria per l'Umbria 107 (2010), 57-86. D’Angelo, E., “Bibliotheca Hagiographica Umbriae – pars altera – (314-1130),” in: Goullet, M. (ed.), Hagiographies. Histoire internationale de la littérature hagiographique latine et vernaculaire en Occident des origines à 1550, vol. VII (Turnhout, 2017), 269-344, at 290-292. D’Angelo, E., and Lucci, E., Amelia e i suoi santi. Storia, culti, liturgia, agiografia (Spoleto, 2016), 85-93 and 144-154. 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 303-305. Susi, E., “I santi patroni di Amelia,” in: Susi, E., Geografie della santità (Spoleto, 2008), 161-198, esp. 175.

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