Lives of the Saints
ST. MAMAS is ranked by the Greeks among the great martyrs. His martyrdom is upon
the death of Claudius II, in 270, was chosen emperor by the army at Sirmium, and
his election was confirmed by the unwilling senate. Could the majesty of the Roman
name be reduced to a meaner slavery than that of obeying any slave or barbarian
whom the fortune of war had advanced in the army, and on whom it pleased the
soldiery to bestow the empire? Aurelian was a good soldier, bold, enterprising, and
severe in military discipline. Being raised to the imperial throne he discovered his
inclination to cruelty by putting to death many senators upon the slightest
pretenses, and was insolent, haughty, and proud, excessively fond of magnificence,
pomp, jewels, and gold. Aurelius Victor says he was the first among the Roman
emperors that wore a diadem. He was author of the ninth persecution raised against
the Christians. To this he was excited in an expedition he made into Asia.
Zenobia, queen of the East, by the concession of Gallien, was mistress of large
dominions, the reward of her and her late husband Odenatus's valor in bravely
repulsing the Persians. Aurelian determined to divest her of her kingdom; but she
defended herself by the counsels of Longinus, the most judicious critic and
rhetorician, who had been her preceptor and counselor. Aurelian defeated her armies,
destroyed Palmyra in Syria, the capital city of her kingdom, in 273, took her and
Longinus prisoners, basely put the latter to death, and led her in triumph. He indeed
spared her life and gave her very great estates in Italy, and she lived at Rome in
great dignity many years till her death. Zenobia had favored the Christians in the
East; and, though none of them had taken up arms against Aurelian, being returned
to Rome from this war, he published most bloody edicts against them in 275, but
was himself cut off by a conspiracy in Thrace as he was marching at the head of his
army against the Persians, in April the same year. Lactantius says that by his
persecution he drew down the divine displeasure on himself; and he lived not long
enough to execute what he had designed, ending his days in the beginning of his
rage. Nevertheless St. Austin and others mention his bloody persecution, and the
calendars testify that many suffered in it. Among these none is more famous than St.
Mamas. St. Basil and St. Gregory Nazianzen inform us that he was a poor shepherd's
boy at Caesarea in Cappadocia who, seeking from his infancy the kingdom of God
with his whole heart, distinguished himself by his extraordinary fervor in the divine
service. Being apprehended by the persecutors about the year 274 or 275, he
suffered the most cruel torments with a holy joy, and attained in his youth a glorious
crown of martyrdom. Sozomen and St. Gregory Nazianzen tell us that Julian the
Apostate and his brother Gallus, being educated at Caesarea, diverted themselves,
when children, in building churches to the martyrs particularly one to St. Mamas; but
that while Gallus's part advanced, that of Julian fell down again every day.
Every Christian ought to rejoice exceedingly, that, how mean soever his condition
may be as to the world an eternal kingdom compared to which all the scepters of the
earth are mere shadows and dust, is offered him by God, and that it is in his power,
through the divine grace, to obtain it; for heaven is justly called in the holy
scriptures a kingdom, and all its glorious inhabitants are truly great kings, God
communicating to every one of them a full partnership of that honor, in an entire
possession of overflowing joy and unspeakable pleasure of all riches, honor, power,
and liberty of doing and commanding according to their own will which is in all things
subject and conformable to the divine. Our faith must be exceedingly weak if we do
not, with the saints, offer violence, and strain every sinew to make sure our election;
if we do not find our joy in all sufferings and disgraces here, by which we may
purchase an eternal weight of glory, and if we do not scorn from our hearts this little
point of the earth with all its empty and false enjoyments and promises, making no
other use of its goods than as steps to conduct us to God's immense and immortal
kingdom, framed by his almighty hand to display his infinite power, munificence,
love, and goodness in favor of his faithful chosen servants to all eternity.
From the panegyrics composed in his honor by St. Basil, hom 26; and St. Gregory
Nazianze, Or. 43. No use is made of the modern Greek Acts of his martyrdom.
[1]  Butler's Lives of the Saints Aug 17th.
St. Mamas  Martyr
A.D. 275