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E02484: The Martyrdom of *Basilides and Companions (martyrs of the via Aurelia near Rome, S01227) is written in Latin in two early related versions, composed by the 9th c. at the latest. The first version narrates that Basilides, with his brothers Tripodes and Mandalis, reach the eighth milestone from Rome to Aurelia with the help of Jesus Christ himself and angels, then die, and are buried by clerics and other Christians where a basilica is built. The second version narrates that Basilides alone travels to Aurelia in Italy where he is tortured and killed, then buried by Christians.

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posted on 08.03.2017, 00:00 by mpignot
Martyrdom of Basilides and Companions

We provide here summaries of the two earliest attested and most widespread versions, BHL 1019 and 1018.


BHL 1019
§ 2: In an Eastern city, Basilides, a member of the office of the prefect Plato, is exhorted to abandon the service of the prefect and to serve the Lord Jesus Christ instead. To be stoned for the Lord is to receive His crown. Basilides seeks and obtains permission from the prefect to stay away for a year and visit his parents in the province of Italy, in the city of Aurelia, although he is warned by the prefect that there a certain Aurelian persecutes Christians.

§ 3: Basilides asks Christ the Lord to send one of His disciples to guide his way to Italy. The Lord however tells him to go with his brothers Tripodes and Mandalis. The Lord promises them eternal life and tells them to give away all their possessions to the poor. After this is done, the Lord tells them that they are ready to go to Italy, where they should do good works.

§ 4: The Lord tells them to go by sea on a boat that He will provide; they do not need to carry anything superfluous, as He will assist them on their journey. At the seashore they find the boat and Jesus Christ as its pilot. They fall at His feet and kiss Him. They tell Jesus Christ that they are going to Rome, to the city called Aurelia at the eighth milestone. Christ warns them that there Christians are persecuted, but they still want to go, He welcomes them on His boat although they have nothing to give him, but only after asking them to confirm that they are His servants. Basilides, sitting next to Jesus Christ, is interrogated by Him and tells about the miracles of Christ and what the Jews say about Him.

§ 5: Basilides is amazed that the boat sails so well and asks Christ to show him how He does that. Christ calls an angel who brings bread and water for them. He blesses them, they eat and thank the Lord Jesus Christ. He then orders them to disembark and take some rest. They do so, and as they are asleep, Christ tells his angels to bring them to the seashore at the eighth mile from the city of Rome to Aurelia. After this is done, they wake up in the morning, see where they are, thank Jesus Christ, and give away their spirit, on the fourth day before the Ides of June [= 10 June]. Priests, deacons, clerics and Christians come, collect the bodies and bury them in the same place. A basilica is built where miracles happen up to the present day.

Text: Acta Sanctorum, Iun. II, 510; paragraph numbers (starting at §2) are taken from this edition. Summary: M. Pignot.


BHL 1018
§ 1: At a time of persecution, Basilides is in an Eastern city governed by the prefect Plato. Following an exhortation to be ready to suffer, made by the Lord Himself, Basilides seeks and obtains permission from the prefect to visit his parents in the province of Aurelia in Italy, although he is warned by the prefect that there a certain Aurelian persecutes Christians.

§§ 2-4: He reaches his parents after praying to God for help. Aurelian hears about him and has him arrested and interrogated. Aurelian threatens him and summons him to offer sacrifice to the gods, but Basilides refuses, stating that he is ready to suffer, recalling the deeds of a number of pagan gods and rejecting them as wicked. Aurelian orders him to be sent into prison and his mouth to be crushed. Then Basilides prays to God and is ready to fight as an athlete of Christ. Three days later, interrogated by Aurelian about his faith, Basilides recalls and rejects pagan religious practices as being ridiculous.

§§ 5-6: Aurelian tells him to stop blaspheming the gods and threatens him with tortures, but Basilides further mocks pagan worship. It is ordered that he be tortured and beaten with lead-weighted scourges. Basilides stays fast and proclaims his faith. Aurelian sentences him to death; he is taken outside the city and, after praying and signing himself with the cross, he is beheaded. Christians praise God, take the body and bury it in a fitting place where miracles abound. Basilides was martyred on the day before the Ides of June [= 12 June].

Text: Acta Sanctorum, Iun. II, 508-509 (paragraph numbers taken from this edition). Summary: M. Pignot.

History

Evidence ID

E02484

Saint Name

Basilides and Companions (martyrs of Lorium on the via Aurelia near Rome : S01227

Saint Name in Source

Basilides, Tripodes, Mandalis

Type of Evidence

Literary - Hagiographical - Accounts of martyrdom

Language

Latin

Evidence not before

450

Evidence not after

800

Activity not before

400

Activity not after

800

Place of Evidence - Region

Rome and region

Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)

Rome Rome Roma Ῥώμη Rhōmē

Cult activities - Festivals

  • Saint’s feast

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - independent (church)

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Prayer/supplication/invocation

Cult Activities - Miracles

Apparition, vision, dream, revelation Invisibility, bilocation, miraculous travels Miracles experienced by the saint Healing diseases and disabilities

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Angels Ecclesiastics - lesser clergy Relatives of the saint Soldiers Officials

Cult Activities - Relics

Bodily relic - entire body Discovering, finding, invention and gathering of relics Transfer, translation and deposition of relics Construction of cult building to contain relics

Source

Epic martyrdoms The Martyrdom of Basilides and Companions is an anonymous literary account of martyrdom written long after the great persecutions of Christians that provide the background of the narrative. It is part of a widely spread literary genre, that scholars often designate as "epic" Martyrdoms (or Passiones), to be distinguished from earlier, short and more plausible accounts, apparently based on the genuine transcripts of the judicial proceedings against the martyrs. These texts narrate the martyrdom of local saints, either to promote a new cult or to give further impulse to existing devotion. They follow widespread stereotypes mirroring the early authentic trials of martyrs, but with a much greater degree of detail and in a novel-like style. Thus they narrate how the protagonists are repeatedly questioned and tortured under the order of officials or monarchs, because they refuse to sacrifice to pagan gods but profess the Christian faith. They frequently refer to miracles performed by the martyrs and recreate dialogues between the protagonists. The narrative generally ends with the death of the martyrs (often by beheading) and their burial. These texts are literary creations bearing a degree of freedom in the narration of supposedly historical events, often displaying clear signs of anachronism. For these reasons, they have been generally dismissed as historical evidence and often remain little known. However, since most certainly date from within the period circa 400-800, often providing unique references to cult, they are an essential source to shed new light on the rise of the cult of saints. Martyrdom of Basilides and Companions There are three related versions of the Martyrdom, BHL 1018 and BHL 1019 (with variants BHL 1019b and 1020d) being the most widespread and earliest attested, and our focus here, while BHL 1020 seems to be a later medieval reworking. The date of composition of both versions is uncertain but cannot be later than the 9th century, when they are found in manuscripts. Repertories date the versions between the 6th and 8th century: Clavis Patrum Latinorum 2168; Gryson, R., Répertoire général des auteurs ecclésiastiques Latins de l’Antiquité et du Haut moyen âge, 2 vols. (Freiburg, 2007), I, 55. It is disputed however which of BHL 1018 and 1019 is the earliest. According to Lanéry 2010, 327-328, the version BHL 1018 would be a Carolingian reworking of BHL 1019, the earliest version. Of uncertain place of composition, it is a patchwork of earlier sources bearing numerous inconsistencies, and it was written before 850 (it is already known to Ado in his 9th c. martyrology and found in 9th to 10th c. manuscripts). Lapidge 2018, 625-626, however argues that BHL 1018, a shorter and more straightforward narrative (already found in one 9th c. manuscript), would be the earliest. It would have been composed at Lorium, perhaps using the entry referring to Basilides in the Itinerarium Malmesburiense, between c. 650 and 700 (see E07896). Later, BHL 1019 would have been written to expand the earlier story and situate the shrine of the martyrs at the eighth mile on the via Aurelia. However, as noted by Lanéry, BHL 1019 does not mention the via Aurelia but the ‘city of Aurelia’, which for Lanéry would show that the author was not familiar with Rome and wrote somewhere else, perhaps not even in Italy. Both versions are preserved in 20 manuscripts according to the database Bibliotheca Hagiographica Latina Manuscripta (bhlms.fltr.ucl.ac.be), the earliest from the 9th c. For BHL 1018: Vatican City, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, Reg. Lat. 516, f. 113v-114v (9th c.). For BHL 1019: Brussels, Bibliothèque des Bollandistes, 14, f. 21v-22v (9th-10th c.; Vatican City, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, Pal. Lat. 846, f. 100v-101v (9th-10th c.).

Bibliography

Editions: BHL 1018: Mombritius, B., Sanctuarium seu vitae sanctorum, 2 vols. with additions and corrections by A. Brunet and H. Quentin (Paris, 1910), I, 153-155. The original edition was published c. 1480. Acta Sanctorum, Iun. II, 507-508. BHL 1019: Acta Sanctorum, Iun. II, 510. English translation of BHL 1018: Lapidge, M., The Roman Martyrs: Introduction, Translations, and Commentary (Oxford, 2018), 627-632. Further reading: Lanéry, C., "Hagiographie d'Italie (300-550). I. Les Passions latines composées en Italie,” in: Philippart, G. (ed.), Hagiographies. Histoire internationale de la littérature hagiographique latine et vernaculaire en Occident des origines à 1550, vol. V (Turnhout, 2010), 15-369, at 327-328. Lapidge, M., The Roman Martyrs: Introduction, Translations, and Commentary (Oxford, 2018), 625-627.

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