December 31, 2018

Holy Martyr Gaudentius


Altogether inexperienced in the battles of the contest,
Even though by this Gaudentius breathed his last.

The Colosseum of Rome, built on the site of Nero's "Golden House" by the Flavian Emperors, Vespasian, Titus, and Domitian, opened for use in the year 80 A.D. At its dedication, there were battles and combats of gladiators, and five thousand animals were slain within its circuit. The show was crowned with the flooding of the arena and a sea-fight. Nothing is known with certainty as to the architect of the Colosseum, though tradition ascribes the building to Gaudentius, a Christian who, afterwards, suffered on the spot and became its first of many martyrs.

It is said that Gaudentius was buried in the Catacomb of Saint Agnes, on the Nomentan way. The tomb was covered by a marble slab bearing the crown and palm, and near it was a phial of his blood. A rough Latin inscription declared the praises of Gaudentius, the architect of the Colosseum. It reads: "Caesar had promised three great rewards; but false and ungrateful was the pagan; He who is the great architect of the heavens, and whose promises fail not, has prepared for thee in reward of thy virtue a place in the everlasting theater of the celestial city."

Upon discovery, these were eventually transferred to a chapel dedicated to the Saint in the Church of Saint Luca and Martina of the Forum. However, in the seventeenth century, it was determined that the inscription supposedly found at the tomb of the Martyr was a forgery, since its strange style bore no resemblance to other ancient inscriptions, though on the other side of it is an authentic Christian inscription which says AVGVRINA IN PACE. Though we have no details about the Martyr Gaudentius for his commemoration on December 31st in the Synaxarion of Constantinople, it can be assumed that this was perhaps who it refers to.