SAINTS CANTIUS AND CANTIANUS, BROTHERS, AND
CANTIANILLA THEIR SISTER, MM.
IF riches are loaded with the curses of the
gospel, because to many they prove dangerous, and afford the
strongest incentives to the passions, the greater is their crown who
make them the means of their sanctification. This circumstance
enhances the glory of these holy martyrs. They were of the most
illustrious family of the Anicii in Rome, and near relations to the
emperor Carinus, who was himself a favorer of the Christians in Gaul
They were brought up together in their own palace in Rome, under the
care of a pious Christian preceptor named Protus, who instructed them
in the faith, and in the most perfect maxims of our divine religion.
When the persecution of Dioclesian began to fill Rome with terror,
they sold their possessions in that city, and retired to Aquileia,
where they had a good estate. The bloody edicts had also reached that
country, and Sisinnius, general of the forces, and Dulcidius, the
governor of the province, were busied night and day in making the
strictest search after Christians, and in filling the prisons with
crowds of confessors. No sooner were they informed of the arrival of
our saints, but they summoned them to appear and offer sacrifice, and
at the same time by a messenger acquainted the emperor with what they
had done, begging his instructions how they ought to proceed with
regard to persons of their rank. Dioclesian sent an order that they
should be beheaded in case they refused to worship the gods. The
martyrs had left Aquileia in a chariot drawn by mules, but were
stopped by an accident four miles out of the town, at Aquæ-Gradatæ.
Hither Sisinnius pursued them, carrying with him the order of the
emperor. He entreated and conjured them to comply; but they answered,
that nothing should make them unfaithful to God, declaring that all
who should worship idols would be punished with everlasting fire.
Wherefore they were all beheaded, together with Protus their
preceptor, in the year 304. Zœlus, a priest, honorably embalmed
and buried their bodies in the same monument. The place hath since
changed its name of Aquæ-Gradatæ for that of
San-Cantiano. See their acts published genuine by Mabillon, in an
appendix to his Gallican Liturgy, p. 467, and a panegyric, probably
of St. Maximus of Turin, extant among the sermons of St. Ambrose, t.
2, Append, col. 458.