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E07938: Latin text of the account of martyrdom of *Lucius, Montanus and their companions (S02404) in Carthage (North Africa) on 23 May 259.

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posted on 2020-07-02, 00:00 authored by sadamiak
The acts and vision of the martyrs Lucius, Montanus, and their companions, which took place on the 10th day before the Kalends of June [23 May]

First part: The letter of the martyrs from the prison to the Church of Carthage

1. (…) Qua ui, qua ratione hic amor, hoc officium ad has nos inpulit litteras ut fratribus post futuris et magnificentiae Dei fidele testimonium et laboris ad tolerantiam nostri per Dominum memoriam relinqueremus !

‘The power of love and duty have obliged us to write this letter, so that we can leave to the future brothers a faithful testimony of God’s magnificence and the record of our labours and sufferings undertaken for the Lord’.

2. Post popularem tumultum quem ferox uulgus in necem praesidis concitarat, postque sequentis diei in acerrimam persecutionem Christianorum praeuaricatam uiolentiam, adprehensi sumus Lucius, Montanus Flauianus, Iulianus, Victoricus, Primolus, Renus et Donatianus cathecuminus, qui baptizatus in carcere statim reddidit, ab aquae baptismo ad martyrii coronam inmaculato itinere festinans.

‘There was a popular riot of the defiant people who wanted to kill the governor. In the following days most cruel violence raged against the Christians. We: Lucius, Montanus, Flavianus, Julianus, Victoricus, Primolus, Renus and Donatianus, were arrested; Donatianus was only a catechumen, and was baptized in the prison, going quickly in an immaculate way from the water of baptism to the crown of martyrdom’.

3. The first-person narration starts. The authors describe how the governor wanted to have them burned alive; however, the prepared fire was miraculously extinguished by rain, in analogy to the miraculous delivery of the Three Youth in the Book of Daniel.

Et incumbentes precibus adsiduis tota fide statim quod petebamus accepimus: accensus paene in exitium nostrae carnis ignis extinctus est et flamma caminorum ardentium dominico rore sopita est. Nec difficile credentibus fuit noua posse ad uetera exempla contingere, domino in spiritu pollicente, quia qui gloriam istam operatus est in tribus pueris, uincebat in nobis.

‘We were constant in our prayers, with all trust, and immediately we obtained what we were asking for. When only the fire had been lit to destroy our bodies, it went out, and the flames of the blazing ovens were put to sleep by the Lord’s dew. It was not difficult for the believers to join these new miracles to the old examples, as the Lord promised in his Spirit, and the same glory that worked for the Three Youth was victorious with us’.

4. The martyrs are thrown into prison.

5. One of them, Renus, has a vision during his dream. He himself and his companions are marching with lighted lamps, which symbolized following Christ.

6. The martyrs are interrogated by the procurator (standing for the defunct proconsul). This ends in ‘the defeat of the devil’. The martyrs are conducted back to the prison, where several of them suffer because of malnourishment.

7. One of them, the presbyter Victor, has a vision: A young boy entered the prison, his face was resplendent, He comforted the prisoners, saying to them “I am with you”, and promising them the most glorious crown. Victor demands a sign he can show to his companions. He is denied the vison of paradise, being told that the faith should be enough, but is told to say to his companions about the ‘sign of Jacob’.

8. A woman called Quartillosa, whose husband and son were martyred three days earlier has a vision. She firstly saw her son sitting on the edge of a large watering trough (aquarium). Then a very high young man appeared with two cups of milk, and gave it to drink to everyone.

9. Lucius is able to bring some more supplies to the prison, through subdeacon Herennianus and catechumen Ianuarius.

10. The authors reflect on the mutual harmony and charity between the Christians.

11. After a disagreement between Iulianus and Montanus, Montanus describes the vision in which the martyrs are guided towards an immense field, where they meet *Cyprian and Leucius [most probably bishop Leucius of Theveste, executed in Carthage in 258/259]. Everyone is in resplendent vestments, but there are stains on that of Montanus; Lucianus explains it to Montanus that it is because of not having reconciled with Iulianus in time. The letter ends here.

Second part: the anonymous account

12. The account of martyrdom continues, especially as Flavianus personally asked for it to be written down, before he died.
After several months all the prisoners are brought back to judgement. All confess to be Christians, but the advocates of Flavianus claim that he is not a deacon. Therefore Lucius, Montanus, Iulianus and Victoricus are condemned, and Flavianus is sent back to prison.

13. The martyrs are conducted to the place of execution. Many pagans and Christians, who owe their faith to the teaching of Cyprian, attend. In their humility, Lucius and his companions mutually ask each other for prayer:

Cui cum dicerent fratres: “Memento nostri!”. “Vos”, inquit, “mei mementote”. Quanta martyris humilitas, de gloria sua nec soli nec sub ipsa passione praesumere!

‘The brothers were saying to Lucius: “Remember us”, and he responded: “You remember me!”. Behold the humility of the martyr, who would not take his glory for granted himself even at the moment of his martyrdom.

14. Montanus firmly admonishes the idolaters, the heretics and the lapsi:
Haereticorum quoque superbam et inprobam contumaciam retundebat, contestans
eos ut uel de copia martyrum intellegerent ecclesiae ueritatem, ad quam redire deberent. Deinde lapsorum abruptam festinantiam, negationem pacis, ad plenam paenitentiam et Christi sententiam differebat, nec non integros quoque ad tutelam integritatis exhortans.

‘He blunted at the pride and wicked stubbornnes of the heretics, indicating that at least they should understand the truth of the Church, to which they should return, from the abundance of the martyrs. He criticised also the precipitous haste of the lapsi, putting off granting them peace until the full penitence and the sentence of Christ’.

He asks for the unity of the Christian leaders.

15. When Montanus is at the point of being beheaded, he prays so that Flavianus can follow him soon. He divides the band with which his eyes are to be covered and asks to keep the second part for Flavianus. Indeed, Flavianus will be executed two days later. Montanus also orders that the place is reserved for the burial of Flavianus, so their bodies will not separated.

16. For now, Flavianus is conducted back to prison. On his way there, he is comforted by his mother, called by the author “Machabeic mother”, who also strives to see his martyrdom.

17. When they arrive at the prison gate, it takes considerably more time than usually to open it. Flavianus finally can come in, and spends his last days full of hope and trust.

Dicam quod sentio: dies ille post biduum tertius non quasi passionis sed quasi resurrectionis dies sustinebatur, admirans denique turba gentilium qui uocem Montani petentis audierant.

‘I will say what I feel: this third day was expected not as the day of suffering, but as the day of the resurrection; even the multitude of the pagans admired Flavianus, when they heard his prayers’.

18. Flavianus is finally conducted to the pretorium, this being a cause of joy for him and for everyone.

19. The author says that he was there, holding the hand of Flavianus. Meanwhile the disciples of Flavianus try to convince him to offer sacrifice and save his life. He responds that he is more afraid of the ‘second death’, and that even the pagans affirmed it to be foolish to be more afraid of death than of life.

20. Flavianus is against interrogated in front of the tribunal, he confirms that he is a deacon and he is finally sentenced to death.

21. Flavianus charged personally the author to edit this account. He wants him to add the account of his visions from the last days to what he has already written down himself. He describes one of them: after the death of Cyprian, Flavianus asked him in vision whether the fatal blow was painful.

Qui mihi respondit et dixit : Alia caro patitur cum animus in caelo est, nec quicquam corpus hoc sentit cum se Deo tota mente deuouit.

‘And [Cyprian] answered me: different body suffers when the soul is in heaven, and the body does not feel anything when the mind devotes itself entirely to God’.

Flavianus later sees another man who tells him not to be sad, because he has confessed twice, and at the third occasion, he will be martyred with the sword. He has another vision, of Bishop Successus, martyred earlier. Successus is hardly recognizable, as the mortal eyes are pierced by his angelic splendour. Successus announces to Flavianus that he will be conducted to martyrdom immediately, and this indeed happens. Flavianus is conducted to martyrdom by two soldiers. A crowd of soldiers accompany him, among them his mother, who cries:

Laudate, laudate, quia nemo sic martyrium duxit.

‘Give praise, give praise, for nobody has been conducted to the martyrdom in this way’.

22. The author agrees with the opinion, given how many people, among them priests, escorted him as if he was a military chief. This was to show that the martyr was to reign together with God.

Sed nec de caelo testimonium defuit. Imber largus et lenis temperato rore descendens fluebat ad multa proficiens : primo ut gentiles perniciter curiosos interuentu pluuiae refrenaret, tune deinde ut diuertendi daretur occasio ut sacramentis legitimae pacis nullus profanus arbiter interesset, et, quod Flauianus ipse ore suo dixit, ad hoc pluebat ut dominicae passionis exemplo aqua sanguini iungeretur.

‘Even the heavens witnessed it. An abun


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Lucius and Montanus, disciples of Cyprian of Carthage and martyrs, 3rd cent. : S02404 Cyprian, bishop and martyr of Carthage : S00411

Saint Name in Source

Lucius; Montanus Cyprianus

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

Latin North Africa

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc


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

Carthage Carthage Carthago Karthago قرطاج‎ Qarṭāj Mçidfa Carthage

Cult Activities - Miracles

Miracle at martyrdom and death Apparition, vision, dream, revelation Power over elements (fire, earthquakes, floods, weather)

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Unbaptized Christians Ecclesiastics - lesser clergy Relatives of the saint


The text (BHL 6009 = CPL 2051) recounts the martyrdom of the group of Christians, mainly clergy, in North Africa, most probably in Carthage, after the second edict of Emperor Valerian, in 259. The text is generally considered to be authentic, even if edited later. According to Franchi de’ Cavalieri, the recension, particularly regarding the first part (the prison letter) was done in the second half of the third century. Dolbeau suggests that there may have been two recensions, one Catholic, and the second Donatist. Thirteen medieval manuscripts of the text survived to our times, the oldest from the middle of the ninth century. The account was printed for the first time in 1570 by Laurent Surius. The first modern edition was produced in 1898 by Franchi de’ Cavalieri, who aimed at proving the historical accuracy of the account, against the recent accusations of J.R. Harris and S.K. Gifford who considered it to be “a deliberate forgery”, i.e. a much later account, based on the martyrdom of Perpetua and Felicitas, deliberately written to look like an early one. The thesis of Franchi de’ Cavalieri has been generally accepted, also by Dolbeau, who offered a new edition in 1983.


The text is under the influence of the accounts of the martyrdom of Perpetua and Felicitas, and of Cyprian. The parallel to the former can be seen in the importance paid to the visions, and in the stress on the equal dignity of the contemporary deeds and miracles to the ancient ones. The authority of Cyprian is taken for granted, and repeatedly invoked. Chapter 14 may have been problematic for the Catholics of the fourth century, with its harsh stance towards the lapsi, and the invoking the authority of martyrs. Similarly Chapter 23, which suggests the charismatic authority of the martyrs over the nomination of the clergy. Some manuscripts omit these embarrassing pieces, and Dolbeau hazards an opinion that these versions might have been Catholic recensions, deliberately playing down potentially Donatist elements in the story. Lucius, Montanus and Flavianus are mentioned in the early 5th century calendary of Carthage (E02196), but there are no other traces of their cult. There are some inscriptions honouring Montanus, but they refer rather to another person, as he is mentioned always alone [I will add references later, when I do those inscriptions] Lucianus (or Lucilianus) is mentioned as the bishop of Carthage after Cyprian and Carpoforus by Optatus of Milevis (Adv. Don. 1.19.3; SCh 412:214).


Text: Dolbeau, F., "La passion des saints Lucius et Montanus. Histoire et édition du texte," Revue d'études augustiniennes et patristiques 29 (1983), 39-82. Franchi de' Cavalieri, P., "Gli Atti de SS. Montano, Lucio e compagni," Römische Quartalschrift 8, Supplementheft (1898), 71-86. Musurillo, H. The Acts of the Christian Martyrs (Oxford Early Christian Texts; Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1972), 214-239. Further reading: Dupuis, X., "Hagiographie antique et histoire: l'example de la Passion de Lucius et Montanus," Revue des Études Augustiniennes 49 (2003), 253-265. Franchi de' Cavalieri, P., "Nuove osservazioni critiche ed esegetiche sul testo della Passio Sanctorum Montani et Lucii," in: Note agiografiche, fascicolo 3 (Studi e Testi 22; Roma, 1909), 3-31. Lucca, C., "Tratti profetici dei martiri nella Passio Mariani et Iacobi e nella Passio Montani et Lucii," in: A. D'Anna, C. Zamagni (ed.), Cristianesimi nell'antichità. Fonti, istituzioni, ideologie e confronto (Spudasmata 117, Hildesheim: G. Olms, 2007), 149-173. Mertens., C., "Les premiers martyrs et leurs rêves: Cohésion de l'histoire des rêves dans quelques Passions latines d'Afrique du Nord," Revue d'histoire ecclésiastique 81 (1986), 5-46. Meslin, M., "Vases sacrés et boissons d'éternité dans les visions des martyrs africains," in: Epektasis: Mélanges patristiques offerts au Cardinal Jean Daniélou (Paris, 1972), 139-153.

Continued Description

dant rain began to fall, and the downpour was mild and moderate, which was very useful. Firstly, the curiosity of the pagans was restrained. Then, the outsiders were diverted by it and no profane witness saw the sacrament of the legitimate peace. Finally, as Flavianus himself said, because of the rain water could be mixed with blood, as it happened at the Lord’s Passion’.23. Flavianus is eventually conducted to death. Before it, he exhorts the faithful to keep unity. As his testament, he indicates that the presbyter Lucianus should become the bishop.O martyrum gloriosa documenta! O testium Dei experimenta praeclara, quae ad memoriam posterorum merito conscripta sunt, ut quemadmodum de scripturis ueteribus exempla, dum discimus, sumimus, etiam de nouis aliqua discamus. ‘O most glorious example of the martyrs! O most illustrious trials of the witnesses of God! They were written down for the memory of the future generations so that as we learn when we take up examples from the ancient writings, so we can learn something from the new ones.’Text: F. Dolbeau. Summary and translation: Stanisław Adamiak.

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