St. Diocletius

S. Dioclezio
St. Diocletius, together with other Christian companions, including Anthimus, was a prisoner in the Roman province of Asia, at the time when the Emperor Diocletian had divided the Empire into two, and was promoting persecution of Christians. The proconsul of the province was a certain Faltonius Pinianus, a noble from the Marches who had been given the difficult task of managing a region where the Parthians were attacking the borders and where there were numerous Christian communities which had found Asia to be a favourable area to find new believers and which, in the eyes of Rome, posed a threat. It seems that Pinianus became seriously ill and that, when all medical cures failed, his wife, Anicia Lucina, appealed to the Christians held prisoners for advice. Anthimus, the priest of this community, told her that her husband would be cured only if he converted. And so it was. In gratitude, Pinianus pledged to free as many Christians present in the region as he could, hiding them in his lands in Sabina and in Piceno. One of these was Diocletius, who together with Sisinnius and Florentius obtained some land in Osimo. Their peace did not last long, however: the three were stoned by an angry crowd, because they did not want to make sacrifices to pagan divinities. Anthimus and the others were martyred in Rome, while Pinianus and Anicia Lucina died from natural causes. Or at least this is the story told by the Acta Sancti Anthimi, which tell of the life of Anthimus. Diocletius is also mentioned in the Martyrologium Hieronymianum: the monastery of St. Florentius was erected on the site of his tomb, next to those of Sisinnius and Florentius, and the remains of the three were permanently removed to the Cathedral of Osimo in 1437. Powerful Roman personages like this Pinianus, and the matrons, often appear in the Acta of the martyrs. Whether or not they actually existed, they represent the aristocracy that was attracted to Christianity, and felt compassion for a persecuted community, which it protected with its authority. Soon the new religion would begin to be followed by the senators and notables of Rome too: the cross would appear alongside the imperial eagle. The world was radically changing.