October 12, 2018

Holy Martyrs Juventinus and Maximinus (+ 363)


Juventinus and Maximinus together were decapitated,
Together with Maximinus he joined the chorus of Martyrs.

Saints Juventius and Maximinus were imperial shield-bearers in the army of Julian the Apostate (361-363), from Antioch in Syria, who were martyred because they were overheard during a military drinking party decrying the emperor's edicts in restoring pagan sacrifices during a campaign against the Persians. Called before Julian, they were stripped of their estates, scourged, and beheaded when they refused to recant and sacrifice to the gods. At risk to their own lives, other Christians stole away the bodies of the martyrs and, after Julian's death in Persia the following June, erected a magnificent tomb for the relics.

Saint John Chrysostom wrote their eulogy in 388 saying, "They support the Church as pillars, defend it as towers, and repel all assaults as rocks. Let us visit them frequently, let us touch their shrine, and embrace their relics with confidence, that we may obtain from them some blessing. For as soldiers, showing to the king the wounds which they have received in his battles, speak with confidence, so they, by a humble representation of their past sufferings for Christ, obtain whatever they ask of the King of heaven."

Theodoret writes of them in his Ecclesiastical History (Bk. 3, Ch. 11):

"Now Julian, with less restraint, or shall I say, less shame, began to arm himself against the true faith, wearing indeed a mask of moderation, but all the while preparing gins and traps which caught all who were deceived by them in the destruction of iniquity. He began by polluting with foul sacrifices the wells in the city and in Daphne, that every man who used the fountain might be partaker of abomination. Then he thoroughly polluted the things exposed in the Forum, for bread and meat and fruit and vegetables and every kind of food were aspersed. When those who were called by the Savior's name saw what was done, they groaned and bewailed and expressed their abomination; nevertheless they partook, for they remembered the apostolic law, "Everything that is sold in the slaughterhouse eat, asking no question for conscience sake."

Two officers in the army, who were shield-bearers in the imperial suite, at a certain banquet lamented in somewhat warm language the abomination of what was being done, and employed the admirable language of the glorious youths at Babylon, "Thou hast given us over to an impious Prince, an apostate beyond all the nations on the earth." One of the guests gave information of this, and the emperor arrested these right worthy men and endeavored to ascertain by questioning them what was the language they had used. They accepted the imperial inquiry as an opportunity for open speech, and with noble enthusiasm replied, 'Sir we were brought up in the true faith; we were obedient to most excellent laws, the laws of Constantine and of his sons; now we see the world full of pollution, meats and drinks alike defiled with abominable sacrifices, and we lament. We bewail these things at home, and now before your face we express our grief, for this is the one thing in your reign which we take ill.'

No sooner did he whom sympathetic courtiers call 'most mild' and 'most philosophical' hear these words than he took off his mask of moderation, and exposed the countenance of impiety. He ordered cruel and painful scourgings to be inflicted on them and deprived them of their lives; or shall we not rather say freed them from that sorrowful time and gave them crowns of victory? He pretended indeed that punishment was inflicted upon them not for the true faith for sake of which they were really slain, but because of their insolence, for he gave out that he had punished them for insulting the emperor, and ordered this report to be published abroad, thus grudging to these champions of the truth the name and honor of martyrs. The name of one was Juventinus, of the other Maximinus. The city of Antioch honored them as defenders of true piety, and deposited them in a magnificent tomb, and up to this day they are honored by a yearly festival. Other men in public office and of distinction used similar boldness of speech, and won like crowns of martyrdom."