SS. PLUTARCH, ETC., MM.
THE school of Origen at Alexandria was a school of
virtue and martyrdom; for the master, notwithstanding his
extraordinary reputation in the sciences, made it the first part of
his care to train up all his scholars in the most heroic maxims of
Christian perfection. Hence it is not to be wondered that out of it
came many illustrious martyrs in the persecution of Severus, which
raged with great fury from 202, the year before Origen was made
catechist, to the death of that emperor in 211.
The first of these heroes of virtue was St.
Plutarch, brother of St. Heraclas, afterwards bishop of Alexandria.
These two eminent brothers were converted to the faith at the same
time by hearing certain lectures read by Origen. Plutarch prepared
himself for martyrdom by a holy life, and being a person of
distinction was soon apprehended. Origen visited and encouraged him
in prison, and accompanied him to the place of execution where he
narrowly escaped death himself, from the resentment of Plutarch’s
pagan friends, who looked upon him as the cause of their losing him.
Serenus, another scholar of Origen, was burnt alive for the faith:
Heraclides, a third, yet a catechumen, and Hero, who had been lately
baptized, were beheaded: another Serenus, after undergoing many
torments, had his head also cut off. Herais, a damsel, being but a
catechumen, was burnt, and according to the expression of Origen,
baptized by fire; for Origen had among his disciples several
illustrious ladies. See Eusebius,1. 6 3, 4.