Our Patron Saint
Marcellinus, or St. Marcelline as we know him, was a Roman priest martyred in the early fourth century. Peter, an exorcist also of the clergy of Rome, assisted Marcellinus in his ministry.
During the persecution of Diocletian around the year 304, Marcellinus and Peter were among many Christians condemned to die for their faith. According to a legendary account of their martyrdom, the two Romans saw their imprisonment as one more opportunity to evangelize and managed to convert their jailer and his family.
By a secret order of the judge, an executioner led them into a forest known as the Black Forest (Silva Nigra), so that other Christians would be unaware of their deaths or burial site. It was not until they reached a thicket overgrown with thorns and briers, three miles from Rome, that he told them the sentence of the judge. The prisoners themselves had to clear an opening in the thickets and dig their own graves before they were beheaded.
Some time later, the place blessed by their martyrdom was discovered and was called the White Forest (Silva Candida). Two devout women – Lucilla and Firmina – found the bodies and had them properly buried in the catacomb of St. Tiburtius. Pope Damascus composed an epitaph for their tomb, and the Emperor Constantine built a church over the tomb and had his mother, St. Helena, buried there.
Both St. Marcelline and St. Peter’s names were among the early saints listed in the first Eucharistic prayer (the old Roman canon) – evidence of the respect the martyrs held in the early church. June 2, the feast of St. Marcelline and St. Peter, was included in the Roman calendar of saints by Pope Vigilius in 555.