April 30, 2019

Holy Martyr Maximus of Ephesus

St. Maximus of Ephesus (Feast Day - April 30)


Within Maximus is found the syllable xi,
Indicating the sword within his belly.

According to the Synaxarion of Constantinople, the Holy Martyr Maximus met his end by being wounded with a sword within his belly. This is all the information we have about him.

In the Roman Martyrology, however, we are informed that on April 30th is commemorated the Holy Martyr Maximus of Ephesus, whose details are given in his Acts, which are recorded in Butler's Lives of Saints as follows:

Maximus was an inhabitant of Asia, and a merchant by profession. Decius, having formed an impious but vain design of extirpating the Christian religion, published edicts over the whole empire to enforce idolatry, commanding all to adore idols. Maximus, having openly declared himself a Christian, was immediately apprehended, and brought before Optimus, the proconsul of Asia, who, after asking him his name, inquired also after his condition. He replied:—“I am born free, but am the slave of Jesus Christ.” Proconsul.—“What is your profession?” Maximus.—“I am a plebeian, and live by my dealings.” Proconsul.—“Are you a Christian?” Maximus.—“Yes, I am, though a sinner.” Proconsul.—“Have you not been informed of the edicts that are lately arrived?” Maximus.—“What edicts? and what are their contents?” Proconsul.—“That all the Christians forsake their superstition, acknowledge the true prince whom all obey, and adore his gods.” Maximus.—“I have been told of that impious edict, and it is the occasion of my appearing abroad.” Proconsul.—“As then you are apprised of the edicts, sacrifice to the gods.” Maximus.—“I sacrifice to none but that God to whom alone I have sacrificed from my youth, the remembrance of which affords me great comfort.” Proconsul.—“Sacrifice as you value your life: if you refuse to obey you shall expire in torments.” Maximus.—“This has ever been the object of my desires: it was on this very account that I appeared in public, to have an opportunity offered me of being speedily delivered out of this miserable life, to possess that which is eternal.” Then the proconsul commanded him to be bastinadoed, and in the meantime said to him, “Sacrifice, Maximus, and you shall be no longer tormented.” Maximus.—“Sufferings for the name of Christ are not torments, but comfortable unctions: but if I depart from his precepts contained in the Gospel, then real and eternal torments would be my portion.” The proconsul then ordered him to be stretched on the rack, and while he was tortured said to him: “Renounce, wretch, your obstinate folly, and sacrifice to save your life.” Maximus.—“I shall save it if I do not sacrifice; I shall lose it if I do. Neither your clubs, nor your iron hooks, nor your fire give me any pain, because the grace of Jesus Christ dwells in me, which will deliver me out of your hands to put me in possession of the happiness of the saints, who have already in this same conflict triumphed over your cruelty. It is by their prayers I obtain this courage and strength which you see in me.” The proconsul then pronounced this sentence on him: “I command that Maximus, for refusing to obey the sacred edicts, be stoned to death, to serve for an example of terror to all Christians.” St. Maximus was immediately seized by the executioners and carried outside the city walls, where they stoned him on the 14th of May. Thus his acts. The Greeks honor him on the day of his death: the Roman Martyrology on the 30th of April. He suffered in 250 or 251.


* The author of these iambic verses was Christopher the Patrician, and here he plays on the name Maximus (Mάξιμος), saying the syllable xi in the middle of the name, in between the syllables ma and mus, appear in the Greek word for sword, which is xiphos (ξίφος), in the first two letters xi, and this xiphos entered within his belly.