The year 258/9, the town: Cirtha Iulia, later known as Constantina, the chief city of Numidia.
The Legatus of Numidia was read: James the deacon and Marian, a reader were sentenced to death.
They are guilty.
After the reading, James and Marian were led away by the guards to the area above the dungeons. There they were subjected to tortures of the rack, and multiple lacerations with a whip, then thrown into the dungeon. Marian’s mother, Mary was there with them, crying and weeping, trying to comfort him, yet proud.
By special permission Philip, who was the friend of James and Marian, was allowed to speak to them, thus went down into the dungeon with them. Philip was recording the martyrdom events of James and Marian, in Latin, the language of most scribes, deacons, bishops and priests.
Shortly after the tortures, as Philip sat with them, James and Marian started speaking, perhaps randomly, about the visions they had experienced.
“Thank you for the water, the water. Pure water, so soothing.” Marian said.
Philip, knowing the rules of the dungeon, curiously asked him,
“Who gave you the water, Marian?”
“The old Cyprian, he invited us to sit with him.”
“Where?” Marian did not answer, neither did James. Philip later realised that it was a vision and could only have been St Cyprian who died long before, perhaps under the same circumstances.
After a while, James started speaking again of a vision he saw, which Marian confirmed as having received the same vision though they had very little physical strength left.
Philip’s writing of his friends further reads: Both James and Marian were born in North Africa. They were educated men. Their friends were Christians. They lived among Christians in Muguas, known as a Christian retreat. They sat at the feet of Bishops Agapius and Secundinus before the two bishops continued on their journey. Later they heard that the bishops were apprehended, tortured to confess there is no God and to renounce their faith. After two quick trials they were put to death. Both James and Marian felt encouraged by this. Shortly thereafter, James and Marian were apprehended and brought before the Magistrate of Muguas where, after a hearing the Legatus was read.
Through closely listening to James and Marian, both the bishops had appeared to them in a vision, forewarning them about the martyrdom they will further suffer.
In prison was a confessor; called Emilian, his main occupation was prayer to the prisoners. There were many Christians in the dungeons. Emilian would pray the following prayer for them.
“Lift up your eyes to heaven: have all the stars you see there the same lustre? Don’t they differ in brightness, though they have all the same light? Those in like manner who shall have suffered most, and have had the greatest difficulties to struggle with, shall receive the most glorious crown.” It kept up the spirits of the Christians. James and Marian were not alone in the dungeons.
They were guilty of practising their Christian faith.
Further writing of Philip includes the following: In their deaths they were joined by other Christians, also being put to death for not renouncing their faith. They had to walk from Cirtha to Lambesa, a twenty four mile walk on rough roads. They were blindfolded before being beheaded. Marian’s mother, Mary, embraced his lacerated body, before being thrown into the river and thanked God that she was mother to him; from martyr to saint. Date died: April/May the year 260.
Facing the hardships of life during their persecution in the third century, they were not ashamed to publicly proclaim their faith in God.
In Philip’s writing as an ‘inscription to the dead’ the following inscription was found:
‘Something in you left behind, something long familiar.’
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