Butler’s Lives of the Saints – Saint Barbasceminus and Sixteen of His Clergy, Martyrs

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He succeeded his brother, Saint Sadoth, in the metropolitical see of Seleucia and Ctesiphon, in 342, which he held six years. Being accused as an enemy to the Persian religion, and as one who spoke against the Persian divinities, Fire and Water, he was apprehended, with sixteen of his clergy, by the orders of king Sapor II. The king seeing his threats lost upon him, confined him almost a year in a loathsome dungeon, in which he was often tormented by the Magians with scourges, clubs, and tortures, besides the continual annoyance of stench, filth, hunger, and thirst. After eleven months the prisoners were again brought before the king. Their bodies were disfigured by their torments, and their faces discoloured by a blackish hue which they had contracted. Sapor held out to the bishop a golden cup as a present, in which were a thousand sineas of gold, a coin still in use among the Persians. Besides this, he promised him a government, and other great offices, if he would suffer himself to be initiated in the rites of the sun. The saint replied that he could not answer the reproaches of Christ at the last day, if he would prefer gold, or a whole empire, to his holy law; and that he was ready to die. He received his crown by the sword, with his companions, on the 14th of January, in the year 346, and of the reign of king Sapor II. the thirty-seventh, at Ledan, in the province of the Huzites. Saint Maruthas, the author of his acts, adds, that Sapor, resolving to extinguish utterly the Christian name in his empire, published a new terrible edict, whereby he commanded every one to be tortured and put to death who should refuse to adore the sun, to worship fire and water, and to feed on the blood of living creatures. 1 The see of Seleucia remained vacant twenty years, and innumerable martyrs watered all the provinces of Persia with their blood. Saint Maruthas was not able to recover their names, but has left us a copious panegyric on their heroic deeds, accompanied with the warmest sentiments of devotion, and desires to be speedily united with them in glory.

MLA Citation

  • Father Alban Butler. “Saint Barbasceminus and Sixteen of His Clergy, Martyrs”. Lives of the Fathers, Martyrs, and Principal Saints, 1866. Saints.SQPN.com. 13 January 2013. Web. 20 April 2014. <>