Saint Venatius (Venantius) Martyr

18 May 250.

Saint Venatius, was born at Camerino in Italy. During the persecution of Emperor Decius (249-251) was taken into custody at the age of fifteen years for being a Christian who was preaching Christ to others. His history is one of the most miraculous in the annals of the early martyrs.

Having learned that he was about to be arrested, Venatius presented himself to the governor of Camerino, Antiochus, at the city gates, and said to him that the lives of the gods were filled with every kind of crime, that there was only one God, whose unique Son had become a man to deliver his fellow humans from the tyranny of sin. When it was found impossible to shake his constancy either by threats or promises, he was condemned to be scourged, but was miraculously saved by an Angel. He was then burnt with torches and suspended over a low fire that he might be suffocated by the smoke. The judge’s assistant, while admiring the steadfastness of the Saint, saw an Angel robed in white, who stamped out the fire and again set free the youthful martyr. This man proclaimed his faith in Christ and was baptized with his whole family. Shortly afterwards he won the martyr’s crown.

Venatius was summoned to appear before Antiochus. Unable to make him renounce his faith, the governor cast him into prison with an apostate soldier, who strove in vain to tempt him. Antiochus, furious, then ordered his teeth and jaws to be broken and had him thrown into a furnace, from which the Angel once more delivered him. The Saint was sent to a city magistrate to be condemned, but this judge after hearing his defense of Christianity, fell headlong from his seat and expired, saying, "The God of Venatius is the true God; let us destroy our idols."

When this circumstance was told to Antiochus, he ordered Venatius to be thrown to the lions, but the lions crouched at the feet of the Saint. Then, by order of the tyrant, Venatius was dragged through a heap of brambles and thorns and retired half-dead, but the next day he was cured; God had manifested the glory of His servant once more. On behalf of soldiers who had dragged him outside the city over stones and rocks, and were suffering from thirst, the Saint knelt on a rock and signed it with a cross; immediately a jet of clear, cool water welled up from the spot. This miracle converted many of those who beheld it. The rock remained imprinted by his knees and was placed in a church in Camerino, where it still remains.

The governor finally had Venatius and his converts beheaded on the same day, in the year 250. The bodies of these martyrs are kept in the same church at Camerino, which bears his name. The Acts of Saint Venatius’ martyrdom have been carefully studied and declared authentic by the Church.

He is the patron saint of Camerino, Italy; symbols: young man crucified upside-down with smoke coming from his head; young man holding the citadel of Camerino; young man holding the city of Camerino, a palm, and a book; young man with a banner holding a city wall.

+