Saint Romanus, Martyr

August 9

Today is the feast day of Saint Romanus.  Ora pro nobis.

According to tradition, Saint Romanus was a soldier in the legion of emperor Valerian in Rome, at the time of the arraignment and interrogation of Saint Lawrence. Seeing the joy and constancy and the absolute silence of that holy martyr during Lawrence's first torments, Romanus could not understand how a creature of flesh and blood could be thus tormented without opening his mouth to complain. 

Romanus was moved to embrace the Faith, and at that very moment.  Addressing himself to Saint Lawrence, still on the rack, he asked to become a Christian. The Saint was untied and imprisoned, and later was able to respond to the pressing request of the soldier, who brought him in prison the water for his baptism.

Romanus was summoned before the tribunal, for everyone soon learned of his conversion. He said fearlessly and joyfully, there as he had said elsewhere, I am a Christian! He was condemned and beheaded immediately, the day before the martyrdom of Saint Lawrence, on August 9, 258. The body of Saint Romanus was buried by a priest in a cavern on the road to Tibur, but his remains were translated to Lucca, where they are kept under the high altar of a beautiful church which bears his name.

A Roman martyr Romanus is mentioned in the “Liber Pontificalis” (ed. Duchesne, I, 155) with three other ecclesiastics as companions in the martyrdom of St. Lawrence (10 August, 258). There is no reason to doubt that this mention rests upon a genuine ancient tradition. Like St. Lawrence Romanus was buried in the Catacomb of the Cyriaca on the Via Tiburtina.

The grave of St. Romanus is explicitly mentioned in the Itineraries of the seventh century (De Rossi, “Roma sotterranea”, I, 178-9). In the purely legendary Acts of St. Lawrence, the ostiary Romanus is transformed into a soldier, and an account in accordance with this statement was inserted in the historical martyrologies and in the present Roman Martyrology, which latter places his feast on 9 August (cf. Duchfourcq, Les Gesta Martyrum romains”, I, 201).

Image: Saints on South Colonnade, St Peter's, Rome, Artist:  Sculptor – Lazzaro Morelli; Statue Installed – c.1665-1667, This statue is part of a group of 24 that were placed between September 1662 and March 1667. Height – 3.1 m. (10ft 4in) travertine (3)

Research by Ed Masters, REGINA Staff

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