Friday, October 26, 2018

Saints Lucian and Marcian: Two Former Magicians Who Died for their Faith in Christ

Sts. Lucian and Marcian the Martyrs (Feast Day - October 26)

The Holy Martyrs Lucian and Marcian, living in the darkness of idolatry, applied themselves to the vain study of the black arts; but were converted to the faith of Christ by finding their charms lose their power upon a Christian virgin, and the evil spirits defeated by the sign of the cross. Their eyes being thus opened, they burned their magical books in the middle of the city of Nicomedia and, when they had effaced their crimes by baptism, they distributed their possessions among the poor, and retired together into solitude, that by exercising themselves in mortification and prayer, they might subdue their passions, and strengthen in their souls that grace which they had just received, and which could not safely be exposed to dangers, and occasions of temptations in the world till it was fenced by rooted habits of all virtues, and ascetic exercises.

After a considerable time spent in silence they made frequent excursions abroad to preach Christ to the Gentiles, and gain souls to the kingdom of his love. With the edicts of Decius against the Christians being published in Bithynia, in 250, they were apprehended and brought before the proconsul Sabinus, who asked Lucian by what authority he presumed to preach Jesus Christ? “Every man,” said the martyr, “does well to endeavor to draw his brother out of a dangerous error.” Marcian likewise highly extolled the power of Christ. The judge commanded them to be hung on the rack and cruelly tortured. The martyrs reproached him, that whilst they worshiped idols they had committed many crimes, and had made open profession of practicing black magic without incurring any chastisement; but, when they were become Christians and good citizens they were barbarously punished. The proconsul threatened them with more grievous torments. “We are ready to suffer,” said Marcian, “but we will never renounce the true God, lest we be cast into a fire which will never be quenched.” At this word Sabinus condemned them to be burned alive. They went joyfully to the place of execution, and, singing hymns of praise and thanksgiving to God, expired amidst the flames. Thus they suffered at Nicomedia in 250 and gained crowns of martyrdom.

During the fourteenth century the veneration of the holy martyrs Saints Lucian and Marcian received a considerable boost in Vic. This urn (depicted above) contained their relics, which were venerated in the old chapel of Sant SadurnĂ­ (later absorbed by the church of La Pietat). The front contains the depiction of three episodes from their lives. Thus, the first scene (left) presents us with Lucian and Marcian using the diabolical arts to tempt, insistently and fruitlessly, a pure and chaste maiden. The second scene (centre) shows the moment when Lucian and Marcian, by now converted to Christianity, are led before the praetor Sabinus, who interrogates them and condemns them. In the third scene (right) we see the scene of their martyrdom, in which we find an early portrayal of the iconographical formula that would eventually impose itself in the depiction of the holy martyrs: tied to a column surrounded by flames.