Butler’s Lives of the Saints – Saints Crispin and Crispinian, Martyrs

[Pictorial Lives of the Saints: Saint Crispin and Saint Crispinian, Martyrs]Article

A.D. 287

The names of these two glorious martyrs are not less famous in France than those of the two former at Rome. They came from Rome to preach the faith in Gaul towards the middle of the third century, together with Saint Quintin and others. Fixing their residence at Soissons, in imitation of Saint Paul they instructed many in the faith of Christ, which they preached publicly in the day, at seasonable times; and, in imitation of Saint Paul, worked with their hands in the night, making shoes, though they are said to have been nobly born, and brothers. The infidels listened to their instructions, and were astonished at the example of their lives, especially of their charity, disinterestedness, heavenly piety, and contempt of glory and all earthly things: and the effect was the conversion of many to the Christian faith. The brothers had continued this employment several years, when the Emperor Maximian Herculeus coming into the Belgic Gaul, a complaint was lodged against them. The emperor, perhaps as much to gratify their accusers as to indulge his own superstition and give way to his savage cruelty, gave order that they should be convened before Rictius Varus, the most implacable enemy of the Christian name, whom he had first made governor of that part of Gaul, and had then advanced to the dignity of prefect of the prætorium. The martyrs were victorious over this most inhuman judge, by the patience and constancy with which they bore the most cruel torments, and finished their course by the sword about the year 287. They are mentioned in the Martyrologies of Saint Jerom, Bede, Florus, Ado, Usuard, etc. A great church was built at Soissons in their honour in the sixth century, and Saint Eligius richly ornamented their sacred shrine.

From the example of the saints it appears how foolish the pretences of many Christians are, who imagine the care of a family, the business of a farm or a shop, the attention which they are obliged to give to their worldly profession are impediments which excuse them from aiming at perfection. Such, indeed, they make them; but this is altogether owing to their own sloth and malice. How many saints have made these very employments the means of their perfection! Saint Paul made tents; Saints Crispin and Crispinian were shoemakers; the Blessed Virgin was taken up in the care of her poor cottage; Christ himself worked with his reputed father; and those saints who renounced all commerce with the world to devote themselves totally to the contemplation of heavenly things, made mats, tilled the earth, or copied and bound good books. The secret of the art of their sanctification was, that fulfilling the maxims of Christ, they studied to subdue their passions and die to themselves; they, with much earnestness and application, obtained of God, and improved daily in their souls, a spirit of devotion and prayer; their temporal business they regarded as a duty which they owed to God, and sanctified it by a pure and perfect intention, as Christ on earth directed everything he did to the glory of his Father. In these very employments, they were careful to improve themselves in humility, meekness, resignation, divine charity, and all other virtues, by the occasions which call them forth at every moment, and in every action. Opportunities of every virtue, and every kind of good work never fail in all circumstances; and the chief means of our sanctification may be practised in every state of life, which are self-denial and assiduous prayer, frequent aspirations, and pious meditation or reflections on spiritual truths, which disengage the affections from earthly things, and deeply imprint in the heart those of piety and religion.

MLA Citation

  • Father Alban Butler. “Saints Crispin and Crispinian, Martyrs”. Lives of the Fathers, Martyrs, and Principal Saints, 1866. Saints.SQPN.com. 26 October 2013. Web. 23 July 2014. <>