Rev. Alban Butler (171173). Volume XI: November. The Lives of the Saints. 1866.
SS. Alphæus and Zachæus; Also Romanus and Barulas, Martyrs
IN the first year of Dioclesians general persecution, and the nineteenth of his reign, upon the approach of the vicennial games for the twentieth year of his reign, the governor of Palestine, who resided at Cæsarea, obtained the emperors pardon for all criminals, (as it was the custom at the quinquennial, decennial, and vicennial games of the emperors,) only the Christians excepted, as worse than murderers. At that very time, Zachæus, deacon at Gadara, beyond the Jordan, was apprehended, and presented to the prefect, loaded with chains. By the judges order, he was inhumanly scourged, then torn with iron combs, and afterwards thrown into prison, where his feet were stretched to the fourth hole; by which his body was almost rent asunder: yet he lay in this condition very cheerful, praising God night and day. Here he was soon joined by Alphæus, his cousin, a man of desires, that is, endowed with an eminent spirit of prayer. He was a native of Eleutheropolis, of a good family, lector and exorcist in the church of Cæsarea. In the persecution, he boldly encouraged the faithful to constancy, and, being seized, baffled the prefect in his first examination, and was committed to prison. At a second appearance in court, his flesh was torn, first with whips, then with iron hooks; after which, he was cast into the same dungeon with Zachæus, and put in like manner in the stocks. In the third examination, they were both condemned to die, and were beheaded together, on the 17th of November. Eusebius gives, in his history of the martyrs of Palestine, an abstract of their Acts which we have entire by the same hand among the Acts of the western martyrs, published in the original Chaldaic by Steph. Evod. Assemani, t. 2, p. 177.
The name of St. Romanus is the most illustrious among these martyrs. Eusebius has joined his history to the former, because, though he suffered at Antioch, he was a native of Palestine. We have also a panegyric of St. Chrysostom on this saint, which he delivered at Antioch, on his festival,1 and another among his works, which seems to be the performance of some other priest at Antioch, who was his contemporary under Flavian. There is also one on this martyr amongst the homilies, which go under the name of Eusebius Emisenus.2 Romanus was exorcist in a village which was under the jurisdiction of Cæsarea, in Palestine. When the persecution broke out with great fury, he went about exhorting the faithful to stand firm in the day of battle, and made a journey to Antioch on purpose to encourage those who were called to the trial. In the very court of the judge, whom Prudentius calls Asclepiades, Romanus, observing certain Christian prisoners betray symptoms of fear, cried out aloud, bidding them call to mind the joys of heaven, and the eternal torments of hell. That instant violent hands were laid on him, and after he had been scourged, and his body torn with hooks, the judge condemned him to be burned alive. The emperor Dioclesian, (not Galerius, as Ruinart and Tillemont imagined,) coming to Antioch, whilst the fire was making ready, he thought the punishment too light for such an offender, put a stop to the execution, and ordered the martyrs tongue to be plucked out by the root. This was punctually executed; yet the martyr spoke as distinctly as ever, exhorting all persons to love and worship the true and only God: nor did he cease to render thanks to the author of miracles. The emperor, to remove him out of the sight of the people, caused him to be sent back to prison, his legs to be stretched in the stocks to the fifth hole, and his body raised up. He had suffered this torture a considerable time, when he finished his martyrdom, being secretly strangled in prison, on the 17th of November, the same day on which the former martyrs received their crowns in Palestine; yet the Greeks commemorate them all, and the Latins St. Romanus on the 18th. Prudentius3 begs, that as he stood ranked amongst the goats, he might, by the prayers of Romanus, pass to the right hand, and be placed amongst the sheep. Prudentius mentions St. Barulas, a child, who, at the instigation of St. Romanus, confessed one God, and condemned a multitude of gods; was scourged and beheaded, his mother all the time looking on with joy, and encouraging him to constancy.4 Barulas, or Barallaha, by contraction Barlaha, in Chaldaic signifies child, or servant of God; whence, in the old Breviary of Toledo, this martyr is called Theodolus, which is a Greek word of the same import, as Joseph Assemani observes.5