Today, June 2, we celebrate the feast of *Saints Marcellinus and Peter*, early Church martyrs, who suffered under the Diocletian persecution, about the year 303; the first was an exorcist, the second a priest. Their names are mentioned in the Canon of the Mass (Eucharistic Prayer I).
The story of the lives and martyrdom of Marcellinus and Peter was recorded by Pope Saint Damasus, who learned of their heroic acts directly from their executioner—a man who converted to Christianity shortly after their deaths. The executioner was deeply troubled following his role in the martyrdom, and could not shake the feeling that a faith that had given Marcellinus and Peter such peace of mind and steady joy in the face of death must be authentic.
Imprisoned during the persecution of Christians under the reign of Diocletian, Marcellinus and Peter embraced their suffering, seeing it as an opportunity for evangelization, and quickly had converted the majority of prisoners in jail with them, including the jailor and his entire family.
When Diocletian heard of their activities, he was greatly incensed and had them tortured, stripped naked, and thrown into cells filled with only broken shards of glass. When it was observed that this only served to increase their faith and joy in suffering, he had them taken to the forest of Silva Nigra, and dig their own graves. Then, he had them beheaded in the forest, so that other Christians would not find their bodies, bury them properly, and then subsequently venerate them.
Shortly following their death, a Christian matron by the name of Lucilla learned of their martyrdom through a prophetic vision, and came with some fellow faithful to the gravesite. The relics of the holy martyrs were removed and translated to a more proper burial place, a set of catacombs in Rome. Later, Constantine built a great basilica over their tomb, in their honor.
*Saint Marcellinus and Peter, pray for us.*
O God, who surround us with protection through the glorious confession of the Martyrs Saints Marcellinus and Peter, grant that we may profit by imitating them and be upheld by their prayer.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen