Butler’s Lives of the Saints – Saint Apian, Martyr

Article

Called by the Greeks and Latins Aphian, and sometimes Amphian. He was born of rich and illustrious parents in Lycia, and by them sent in his youth to study eloquence, philosophy, and the Roman laws, in the famous schools of Berytus, in Phœnicia. He made a most rapid progress in learning: but it was his greatest happiness that, having embraced the Christian faith, he, by the means of prayer and retirement, preserved his innocence and virtue untainted in the midst of vice and lewdness. Returning home after his studies, he found his parents yet idolaters; and therefore withdrew to Cæsarea in Palestine, being at that time eighteen years of age. Saint Pamphilus there expounded the holy scriptures with great piety and learning, and Apian became one of his auditors. Such was his conduct in that school of martyrs, as prepared him to take the lead among them, and set the rest an example. Dioclesian having abdicated the empire at Nicomedia, on the 1st of May, in 305, Galerius Maximianus, the chief promoter of his bloody persecution, was declared Emperor of the East, which Maximinus Daia governed under him, as Cæsar. There came letters to Cæsarea from the last-mentioned, containing orders to the governor to compel all persons whatever to attend the public solemn sacrifices. Then Apian, without having communicated his design to any person, “not even to us,” says the historian Eusebius, with whom he dwelt, went to find out the governor Urbanus, as he was sacrificing, and came near to him without being perceived by the guards that surrounded him; and taking hold of his right hand, with which he was performing the ceremony, stopped him, saying, it was an impious thing to neglect the worship of the true God, and to sacrifice to idols and demons. God inspired this generous youth, not yet twenty years of age, by this daring and extraordinary action, to confound the impiety of the persecutors, and to show them the courage of his servants. The guards instantly fell upon him, like so many wild beasts, cruelly buffetted his face, beat him down to the ground, kicked him unmercifully, hideously tore his mouth and lips, and wounded him in every part of his body. He was then thrown into a dark dungeon, where he remained a day and a night with his feet stretched very wide in the stocks. The next day he was brought before the governor, who commanded he should suffer the most exquisite tortures. He had his sides torn so that his bones and entrails appeared: and his face was so swoln with the blows he had received, that he could not be known by his most intimate acquaintance. His only answer to all questions was: “I am a servant of Christ.” His constancy having thrown the tyrant into a transport of rage, he ordered the executioners to apply to his feet lighted matches of flax dipped in oil. The fire burned up his flesh and penetrated even to the very bones, and the juice of his body dropped from him like melted wax, but he still continued resolute. His patience struck the persecutors with astonishment: and when pressed by his tormentors to sacrifice and obey the judge, fixing his eyes upon them, he only replied: “I confess Christ the only God, and the same God with the Father.” He was then remanded to prison, where he continued three days. Being then brought before the judge, he persisted in his confession, and, though half-dead, was by his order cast into the sea. A prodigy ensued, of which there were as many witnesses, says Eusebius, as citizens of Cæsarea. He was no sooner thrown into the water, with stones tied to his feet, but both the sea and the city were shook with an earthquake, accompanied with a dreadful noise, and the sea, as if it was not able to endure the corpse of the martyr, threw it up before the gates of the city: all the inhabitants went out to see this prodigy, and gave glory to the God of the Christians, confessing aloud the name of Jesus Christ. The triumph of Saint Apian happened on the 2nd of April, 306, in the nineteenth year of his age.

MLA Citation

  • Father Alban Butler. “Saint Apian, Martyr”. Lives of the Fathers, Martyrs, and Principal Saints, 1866. Saints.SQPN.com. 26 February 2014. Web. 23 September 2014. <>