March 19, 2018

The Tomb of Saints Chrysanthos and Daria in Rome (St. Gregory of Tours)

By St. Gregory of Tours

(Glory of the Martyrs 37)

According to the history of his suffering, after the martyr Chrysanthos received the crown of martyrdom with the virgin Daria he graciously performed many healings for people. For this reason a crypt of wonderful workmanship was constructed over their tombs.* The crypt was vaulted in the manner of arches and stood on a very solid foundation. When a crowd of people gathered for his festival, an evil emperor had a wall constructed across the entrance to the crypt to trap the people inside and ordered that the shrine be covered by sand and rocks. A large mound was built on top. The records of the martyr's struggle clearly state that this is what happened. For a long time the crypt remained buried by this covering. Finally the city of Rome discarded its idols and yielded to Christ the Lord. Already during previous years no one knew the location of this mausoleum, until the Lord Jesus revealed and exposed it. A wall divided the place; on one side the tombs of the martyrs Chrysanthos and Daria were separated, on the other side the bodies of the other saints were placed in one tomb. But the builder left an open window in this wall that had been placed in the middle, so that a panorama was available for viewing the bodies of the saints.

Some report that when the people gathered for the sacred rituals and were walled in, they had brought with them small silver pitchers fashioned from metal and filled with the wine that was presented as an offering of the divine sacrifice [i.e. the Eucharist]. It is obvious that the silver is still there and that spectators can today still see it. But because the human mind is continually overcome by evil and embarrassing desires, a subdeacon who had seen the silver through the window and whom avarice overwhelmed thought to himself what he would later do. He got up during the night, entered the church of the saints, and crawled into the burial chamber through the window. Since the night was dark, he felt with his hands and found some of the pitchers. Then, although he wanted to leave with his booty, he wandered about for the entire night, but never was able to find the window through which he had entered. At daybreak, because he was self-conscious of his wrongdoing and wished to conceal his misdeeds, in accordance with the record of the Lord's pronouncement that 'everyone who does evil hates the light, lest his deeds be exposed' [John 3:20], he hid himself in the comer of the burial chamber for the entire day, so no one would detect him. The next night he again searched for the entrance but could not find it; he did the same during the third night. But on the third day when he was starving, he revealed himself to the people at the window, abandoned the silver vessels, confessed his misdeed, and with great shame exited. The people who were present knew of the crime he had committed. Much later Damasus, bishop of this holy apostolic see [of Rome],** learned of the deed and ordered that the window be carefully closed over. He commemorated the spot with some verses. And still today our Lord Jesus Christ is blessed by the praise of his name at this spot.


* Chrysanthos (whose name Gregory spelled as Crisantus) and Daria were thought to have been martyred at Rome in the later third century. Chrysanthus and Daria were interred on the Salarian Way, with their companions, whose bodies were found with theirs in the reign of Constantine the Great. This part of the catacombs was long known by the name of the Cemetery of Saints Chrysanthos and Daria.

** Damasus was Bishop of Rome from 366 until 384. Among his many poems about saints is one in honor of Chrysanthos and Daria that was placed on their tomb.