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E02505: The Martyrdom of *Processus and Martinianus (martyrs of Rome, buried on the via Aurelia, S00556), is written in Latin, presumably in Rome, during Late Antiquity, perhaps in the first half of the 6th c. It narrates the imprisonment of the Apostles *Peter (S00036) and *Paul (S00008) in Rome under Nero, where they perform miracles and convert many, including Processus and Martinianus, who then free the Apostles; the tortures endured and martyrdom of Processus and Martinianus, and burial by Lucina on her estate on the via Aurelia.

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posted on 08.03.2017, 00:00 by mpignot
Martyrdom of Processus and Martinianus (BHL 6947)


§ 1: Events occur at the time when Simon Magus died, and when Nero had given over the blessed apostles Peter and Paul to the magistrate Paulinus. Peter and Paul are incarcerated in the Mamertine prison (custodia Mamertini). Many Christians, who are lame or possessed by demons, come to them and are cured through prayers of the apostles. Among the soldiers watching over them are Processus and Martinianus, two magistriani melloprincipis [this term, from the Greek μαγιστριανοί means agentes in rebus, or agents placed under the jurisdiction of the magister militum]. They are amazed by the miracles and tell Peter and Paul that Nero must have forgotten them now that they have spent nine months in prison. They ask them therefore to be baptised. Peter and Paul tell them that if they believe with all their heart and soul in the Trinity, they can perform the same miracles. All prisoners hear this and want to be baptised. Peter asks all to believe in God the Father Almighty, Jesus Christ his unbegotten son and in the Holy Spirit.

§ 2: They all throw themselves at the apostles’ feet and ask for baptism. Peter and Paul pray to God, then Peter makes the sign of the cross on the Tarpeian rock (mons Tarpeius); whereupon water gushes from the rock, and Peter baptises Processus and Martinianus. Then a further 47 people, who are in the prison, are baptised. The Eucharist is then celebrated. Processus and Martinianus release the apostles from prison. They leave the prison and take the via Appia, reaching the porta Appia. On his way, Peter loses a small bandage (fasciola), that was put over his feet that had been chained, apud sepem on the via Nova. At the porta Appia Peter sees Jesus walking towards Rome. He asks Jesus where he is going (quo vadis), who replies that he is going to Rome and that Peter too should go back there. Peter returns and is captured by soldiers. Paulinus discovers that Processus and Martinianus have become Christians, and sends soldiers to arrest them and send them into prison. The next day they are led to him and he interrogates them, demanding that they venerate the ancestral gods and wondering how come they are ready to lose their military rank. They reply emphasising that they have now begun their heavenly military service. Paulinus insists, addressing them as fellow soldiers and promising them honours, but he fails to convince them, as they again state that they are Christian, servants of God and the Lord Jesus Christ.

§ 3: Paulinus, vir clarissimus, repeats his plea for good sense, but Processus and Martinianus stay quiet. Paulinus, seeing that nothing else will work, orders them to be stoned. They both cry out in praise of God. Paulinus still seeks their submission, ordering a tripod to be brought so they can sacrifice. They reply that they have offered themselves as sacrifice to God Almighty. A golden statue of Jupiter is also brought, but the martyrs mock it and spit out at the statue in front of Paulinus. Paulinus orders them to be stretched and beaten on a rack. However, they gladly thank Jesus Christ. Paulinus orders their sides to be burnt, but they bless Jesus Christ and evoke Peter and Paul.

§ 4: A certain Christian matrona Lucina galvanises Processus and Martinianus in their faith. Paulinus, however, orders them to be tortured with scorpions (scorpiones), telling them not to despise the emperors’ orders. Then, however, he loses his left eyeball, and, exclaiming that they use magic, he orders that they be taken down from their torture racks and returned to the Mamertine prison, where, however, Lucina ministers to them. After three days, Paulinus is seized by a demon and dies. At this point, his son, Pompinius, makes for the palace (palatium), and demands that the government (moderatores et gubernatores reipublicae) stamp out this magic. On hearing this, Caesarius, the urban prefect, informs the emperor Nero, who orders that Processus and Martinianus be put to death. They are led outside the walls of Rome, on the via Aurelia, and beheaded near an aqueduct, where their bodies are left to the dogs. Lucina collects their bodies, embalms them with precious perfumes, and buries them in a sand-pit (in arenario) on her own property (praedium) near the place where they were beheaded, on the via Aurelia on the 6th day before the Nones of July [= 2 July]. There, their favours are bestowed up to this day.

Text: Acta Sanctorum, Iul., I, 303-304. Summary: M. Humphries, The Roman Martyrs Project, adapted and expanded by M. Pignot.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Processus and Martinianus, martyrs in Rome, ob. c. 65 (?) : S00556 Peter the Apostle : S00036 Paul, the Apostle : S00008

Saint Name in Source

Processus, Martianus Petrus Paulus

Type of Evidence

Literary - Hagiographical - Accounts of martyrdom



Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Rome and region

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

Rome Rome Roma Ῥώμη Rhōmē

Cult activities - Places

Burial site of a saint - unspecified

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Composing and translating saint-related texts

Cult Activities - Miracles

Miracle during lifetime Miracles causing conversion Material support (supply of food, water, drink, money) Healing diseases and disabilities Apparition, vision, dream, revelation

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Women Pagans Monarchs and their family Soldiers Officials

Cult Activities - Relics

Bodily relic - entire body Contact relic - other object closely associated with saint


Epic martyrdoms The Martyrdom of Processus and Martinianus 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 novelistic 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 light on the rise of the cult of saints. The Martyrdom of Processus and Martinianus The earliest and most widespread version of the Martyrdom is BHL 6947, our focus here, while BHL 6948, as argued by Lanéry, is a less diffused and abbreviated version. BHL 6947 is found in more than 120 manuscripts (see the database Bibliotheca Hagiographica Latina Manuscripta at and additions in Lanéry 2010, 217-218 n. 461). The earliest from the 9th century: Brussels, Bibliothèque des Bollandistes, 14, f. 62r-63r (9th-10th c.); Graz, Universitätsbibliothek 412, f. 157v-160r (9th c.); Karlsruhe, Badische Landesbibliothek, Aug. XXXII, f. 1r-v (9th c.); Montpellier, Bibliothèque Interuniversitaire, Section de Médecine, H 154, f. 1r-v (9th c.); Paris, BNF, lat. 5299, f. 26v-29v (9th c.); Vienna, ÖNB, lat. 357, f. 150-152 (9th-10th c.).


On cult of Processus and Martinianus outside the Martyrdom, see Lanéry 2010, 218-220, and Lapidge 2018, 382-383. The Martyrdom is of uncertain date of composition, but must have been written by the 9th century, when it is found in manuscripts and borrowed by Ado in his martyrology (Quentin, H., Les martyrologes historiques du Moyen Âge. Etude sur la formation du martyrologe romain (Paris, 1908), 565-566). Moreover, Verrando (followed by Lanéry and Lapidge), has argued that it was not written before the early 6th century, since it borrowed from the late antique apocryphal Acts of Peter written by Pseudo-Linus (BHL 6655), dated by him to the Laurentian schism (498-506). Furthermore, Verrando (followed by Lanéry and Lapidge) argues that Lucina's role in our Martyrdom was inspired by her role in the biography of Cornelius in the first redaction of the Liber Pontificalis (E00344), while our Martyrdom was borrowed in turn by the Martyrdom of Marcellus ($02501) which would itself date from before the mid 6th century, when the second redaction of the Liber Pontificalis was produced (since Marcellus’ biography in the Liber, E00399, would make use of it). Nevertheless, although broadly following this dating, Lanéry rightly underlines that the supposed borrowings remain uncertain in a highly stereotyped genre.


Editions (BHL 6947): Mombritius, B., Sanctuarium seu vitae sanctorum, 2 vols. with additions and corrections by A. Brunet and H. Quentin (Paris, 1910), II, 403-404. The original edition was published in c. 1480. Acta Sanctorum, Iul., I, 303-304. Franchi De’Cavalieri, P., Note agiografiche IX (Rome, 1953), 47-52. Translation: Lapidge, M., The Roman Martyrs: Introduction, Translations, and Commentary (Oxford, 2018), 384-389. 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 216-223. Lapidge, M., The Roman Martyrs: Introduction, Translations, and Commentary (Oxford, 2018), 381-384. Verrando, G. N., “Osservazioni sulla collocazione cronologica degli apocrifi Atti di Pietro dello Pseudo-Lino,” Vetera Christianorum 20 (1983), 391-426. Verrando, G. N., “Note sulle tradizioni agiografiche su Processo, Martiniano e Lucina,” Vetera Christianorum 24 (1987), 353-373.

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