St. Sabbatius

S. Sabazio
Sabbatius was, together with Trophimus and Dorymedon, one of the eastern saints martyred under the Emperor Aurelius Probus (276 – 282) who was very devoted to the pagan Sol Invictus, Unconquered Sun cult. The passion in which the story of the three is told is not considered to be reliable by scholars, both due to the many affinities with other passiones, above all that of Saints Probus and Tarachus, and due to the relative peace which Christians enjoyed under Emperor Aurelius Probus. It is said that Trophimus and Sabbatius were in Antioch in Pisidia when they came upon an edict of the emperor which forced Christians to make sacrifices to the gods. Refusing to follow this practice, they were arrested, put on trial and brutally tortured, so much so that Sabbatius died. Trophimus survived and was imprisoned, where he was visited by Dorymedon, a Christian senator who would soon be imprisoned with Trophimus because he refused to burn incense to the Dioscuri. Both men, when taken before the wild beasts in the circus, were spared by them. They were then martyred by the gladiators, who beheaded them. Having ruled out the real possibility of a persecution under Aurelius Probus, the Syriac Martyrology also denies the possibility of a persecution under Diocletian, since the formulary is previous to the reign of the emperor. In 1907, however, an archaeological find seemed to provide historical grounds to the story of these three eastern saints: at Sinnada, in Phrygia, a small stone sarcophagus was discovered, the inscription on the front of which states that the bones of the martyr Trophimus are alleged to be buried, while an inscription on the lid states that anyone coming upon these bones, should know that they are offered to God. The absence of the term “saint”, a sign of its antiquity, would seem to indicate that Trophimus was martyred, as the sources state, in the 3rd century. Whether truth or legend, the story of these three saints, like many others, bears witness to the growing conversion of princes and rulers in the East, even involving a senator. The empire was being transformed from within, and would not have been able to stop a faith that permeated the palaces, villas, universities and squares from Persia to Portugal.