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A Dictionary of Early Christian Biography

Sirmium, Stonemasons of

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Sirmium, Stonemasons of. The Acts giving the history of the martyrdom of the five stonemasons of Sirmium have been known for centuries, being found in substance in Ado's Martyrology, but only last century was their relation to the history of Diocletian's period recognized. They were stonemasons belonging to Pannonia, engaged in the imperial quarries; one of them, Simplicius, was a pagan. They distinguished themselves by their genius and ability, and attracted the notice of Diocletian by the beauty of their carving. Simplicius was converted by his four companions, and baptized secretly by a bishop, Cyril of Antioch, who had been three years a slave in the quarries and had suffered many stripes for the faith. The pagans, jealous of their skill, accused them before Diocletian, who, however, continued to protect them. When, however, the emperor ordered them to make, among other statues, one of Aesculapius, the masons made all the others, but refused to carve that. The pagans thereupon procured an order for their execution. They were enclosed in lead coffins and flung into the Save. Their Acts then proceed to narrate the martyrdom of the saints called the Quatuor Coronati, whose liturgical history has been told at length in D. C. A. t. i. p. 461. Diocletian, coming to Rome, ordered all the troops to sacrifice to Aescuapius. Four soldiers, Carpophorus Severus, Severianus, and Victorinus, refusing, were flogged to death, and their bodies buried by pope Melchiades and St. Sebastian on the Via Lavicana at the 3rd milestone from the city. These Acts are very valuable illustrations of the great persecution, but are full of difficulties. The whole story is in Mason's Diocletian Persecution, p. 259. Attention was first called to the Acts as illustrating Diocletian's period by Wattenbach in the Sitsungsberichte der Wiener Akad. Bd. x. (1853) S. 118–126. They were discussed in Büdinger, Untersuch. zur röm. Kaisergesch , ii. 262, iii. 321–338, with elaborate archaeological and chronological commentaries.


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Bibliography Information
Wace, Henry. Entry for 'Sirmium, Stonemasons of'. A Dictionary of Early Christian Biography. 1911.

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Sunday, September 15th, 2019
the Week of Proper 19 / Ordinary 24
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