St Fructuosis of Tarragona, Spain

Saint Fructuosis lived during the persecution of Valerian and Gallienus in the third century, during the consulship of Amelianus and Bassus.

On Sunday, January 21, 259 Bishop Fructuosis of Tarragona, Spain was arrested with his deacons Augurius and Eulogius. He had already retired to his chamber when soldiers of the VII Gemina Legion came for him. Hearing them approach, he went to meet them.

“Come with us,” they told him, “the proconsul summons you and your deacons.”

When they arrived, they were thrown into a prison where other Christians were also being held. They comforted the bishop and asked him to remember them. The next day, Bishop Fructuosis baptized Rogatianus in the prison.

On Friday, January 21, Bishop Fructuosis and his deacons were brought out for their hearing. When the proconsul Aemelianus asked to have the bishop and his deacons brought before him, he was told that they were present. The proconsul asked St Fructuosis whether he was aware of the emperors’ orders.

“I do not know their orders,” he replied, “I am a Christian.”

Aemelianus said, “They have ordered that you worship the gods.”

Bishop Fructuosis answered, “I worship the one God Who made heaven and earth, and all that is in them” (Acts 4:24).

Then the proconsul asked, “Do you know that the gods exist?”

“No,” said the bishop, “I do not.”

“You will know later.”

Bishop Fructuosis raised his eyes to heaven and began to pray. The proconsul said, “The gods are to be obeyed, feared, and adored. If the gods are not worshiped, then the images of the emperors are not adored.”

Aemilianus the proconsul said to Augurius, “Do not listen to the words of Fructuosis.”

Deacon Augurius replied, “I worship almighty God.”

Turning to Deacon Eulogius, the proconsul Aemilianus asked, “Don’t you also worship Fructuosis?

“No,” said the deacon, “I do not worship Fructuosis, but I do worship Him Whom he worships.”

Aemilianus inquired of St Fructuosis, “Are you a bishop?”

The holy bishop replied, “Yes, I am.”

“You were,” said Aemilianus, then he ordered them to be burned alive.

As St Fructuosis and his deacons were being taken to the amphitheatre, many people felt sympathy for them, for the bishop was loved by both Christians and pagans. The Christians were not sad, but happy, because they knew that through martyrdom the saints would inherit everlasting life.

When offered a cup of drugged wine, St Fructuosis refused saying, “It is not yet time to break the fast.” In those days, Christians did not eat or drink anything on Wednesdays and Fridays until after sundown (Didache 8:1).

As they entered the amphitheatre, the Reader Augustalis asked the bishop to permit him to remove his sandals. St Fructuosis replied, “No, my son. I shall remove my own sandals.”

A Christian by the name of Felix took the bishop’s hand and asked him to remember him. The martyr said that he would remember the entire catholic Church throughout the world from East to West.

Now the time was at hand for the martyrs to receive their crowns of unfading glory. The officers who arrested them were standing nearby as Bishop Fructuosis addressed the crowd in a loud voice. He told them that they would not remain long without a shepherd, and that the Lord’s promises would not fail them in this life or in the next. He added that what they were about to witness represented the weakness of a single hour.

The three martyrs were tied to posts and a fire was lit. When the flames burned through their bonds, they knelt down and extended their arms in the form of a cross. They continued to pray in the midst of the fire until their souls were separated from their bodies.

Several people saw the heavens opened and beheld the three martyrs wearing crowns and ascending to heaven. They told Aemilianus to see how the martyrs had been glorified, but he was not worthy to behold them.

That night Christians went to the amphitheatre to put out the fire and gather the relics of the martyrs. Each one took a portion for himself. St Fructuosis later appeared to these Christians and admonished them for dividing their relics, saying that they had not done well. He ordered them to bring all of the relics together without delay. The holy relics were brought to the church with reverence, and were buried beneath the altar.