SS. MAXIMIAN, MALCHUS, MARTINIAN, DIONYSIUS,
JOHN, SERAPION, AND CONSTANTINE, MM. COMMONLY CALLED THE SEVEN
HAVING confessed the faith before the proconsul at
Ephesus under Decius in 250, they were walled up together in a cave
in which they had hid themselves, and there slept in the Lord. Some
moderns, mistaking this expression, have imagined that they only lay
asleep, till they were found in 479, under Theodosius the younger.
The truth seems to be, that their relics were then discovered. They
are much honored by the Greeks, Syrians, and all the Oriental
nations. Their relics were conveyed to Marseilles in a large stone
coffin, which is still shown there in St. Victor’s church. In
the Musæum Victorium at Rome is a factitious plaster or stone
(made of sulphur melted with fire and mortar), formed in imitation of
a large precious stone, in which is cut a group of figures
representing the Seven Sleepers with their names, and near
Constantine and John are exhibited two clubs; near Maximian a knotty
club; near Malchus and Martinian two axes; near Serapion a burning
torch, and near Danesius (whom others call Dionysius) a great nail.
That large nails (clavi trabales, or such as were used in
joining great rafters or beams in buildings) were made Use of as
instruments of torture is evident from St. Paulinus1 and Horace2.
From this ancient monument some infer that these martyrs were put to
death by various torments, and that their bodies were only buried in
the aforesaid cave. In this group of figures, these martyrs are
represented all as very young, and without beards. In ancient
Martyrologies and other writings, they are frequently called boys.*
The cave in which their bodies were found became a place famous for
devout pilgrimages, and is stil shown to travellers, as James Spon
testifies.3 See St. Gregory of Tours,1. 1, de Glor. Mart. c. 95, and
Cuper the Bollandist, Julij, t. 6, p. 375. Also, Dissertatio de
Sanctis Septem Dormientibus, Romæ, 1741 in 4to. in which the
above said group of figures is explained, c. 5, &c.