Comments to: David Woods
Last Updated: May 2001

St. Typasius

The Passion of St. Typasius (BHL 8354)

1. In the time of the emperors Diocletian and Maximian Christianity had been a small religion still, and wars had sprung up throughout almost the entire world. In eastern regions a certain Narses by name had assumed despotic rule, Carausius had rebelled in Britain, Achilleus was laying waste Egypt and Libya, and in the Gallic regions also the Bacaudae were cruelly raging. Moreover in the province of Mauretania Sitifensis the natives, who are called the Quinquegentiani and had always been peaceful, were performing acts of brigandage. The resources of the provincials were plundered, and all the land-owners and inhabitants were ruined. Many governors had set out against these brigands, but all had been conquered and perished with their great armies, to such an extent that because of their great fear no comes would dare to visit the region, and those duces who were sent to the province of Sitifensis either feigned illness or pretended that they were afraid of shipwreck and resided on the islands neighbouring Italy. So desperate was the situation that Africa seemed to the Romans to have been lost to their empire. Therefore Diocletian, who was hard pressed by the havoc of so many wars, promoted Maximian from the rank of Caesar to Augustus, and sent him to Sitifensis against the Quinquegentiani, to call all the soldiers to help by his edict.

2. At that time the most blessed Typasius, who used to serve among his fellow-soldiers for a well-deserved pay, had scorned the worldly way of life, and had surrendered himself totally to Christian devotion, so that for the rest of his life there would never be any gossip at all about him among his neighbours or fellow-soldiers as a result of some trivial matter or dispute. He was forced into active service again by his praepositus, and along with other vexillarii went to battle. But the day before the battle the emperor Maximianus had wished to make a donative to the soldiers. That night the angel Gabriel visited most blessed Typasius and advised him one after the other of all the things that were going to happen. Morning came, and when Maximianus Augustus was making the role-call on the parade-ground and the name of the most blessed Typasius was read out loud, he declined to accept the gold from the hand of Maximianus and declared that he was a soldier of Christ, When Maximianus became annnoyed at him, holy Typasius responded, "Do not be agitated, honoured emperor. If you release me to serve Christ, you will both overcome those barbarians without a struggle, and within forty days victory will be reported not only from the East and Gaul, but also from Britain and Egypt. Maximian Augustus said, "You can have what you want, if you fulfil your promise." Immediately he ordered him to be placed under guard, so that he might pay the penalty if what he had predicted should not prove true. The praepositus of the cuneus grabbed him straight-away and cast him in irons.

3. On the next day when Maximian was out hunting with seven riders, a wild ass rose up in front of him from the wood. When he was stubbornly giving chase, he fell upon the barbarians' front-line. But, in order to fill the words of the most blessed Typasius, by his own hand with a few others he killed a multitude of the enemy and put all the rest to flight. The Quinquegentiani immediately sent ambassadors to him in order to seek peace. They accepted harsh terms and surrendered hostages. Then, when the rebels had been crushed and peace had been made, Maximian ordered Typasius to be kept under keen military guard without harm until the 40th day. Thus within those 40 days the victories of the emperor Diocletian were reported from all those provinces where wars had raged. And immediately Maximian Augustus ordered most blessed Typasius to be brought to him and he gave to him an honourable discharge with the whole army as witness.

4. When he had left the army in this manner holy Typasius returned home. He put aside his weapons and military belt and built a monastery for himself on his land where he remained for a long time. So Diocletian and Maximian rejoiced in their rule when the native tribes had been defeated. But after some years Maximian forgot what great divine favour had been granted to him through most blessed Typasius and sent an edict to Africa that the churches should be demolished, the texts of divine law burned, that the priests and people should offer sacrifices of incense, and that all veterans should be recalled to military service. At that time holy Typasius was living alone in the monastery which he had built for himself. Then the praepositus saltus and the decurio dragged him out, along with the military belt which he had put aside, and his shield and spears from the same store-room, and handed him over to Claudius who was then dux of the province of Mauretania Caesariensis.

5. When the comes Claudius had seen him, he said to the praepositus and the decurio, "Why have you brought before my eyes this man with his mournful attire ?" The decurion replied, "Typasius used to serve in our vexillatio, but he won an honourable discharge from Maximian Augustus in the province of Sitidensis. He laid up his weapons in his house and built for himself a house in the desert which he inhabited alone. Recently there came a command from our emperor Diocletian and Maximian that all veterans were to be recalled to their former standards; and we summoned Typasius to return to military service, but he refused. Moreober, he describes himself as a Christian, and scornfully refused to offer sacrifice to the Gods as had been commanded. So we have brought him to your authority in order that he might serve in the army and offer sacrifice to the gods." The comes Claudius asked, "Why have you donned that black garb ?" The comes Claudius replied, "This clothing is not black but white, Christians wear sackcloth in order to win remission for sinners. For it is written, "Blessed are they that mourn, for they will be consoled."" The comes Claudius said, "Put aside that nonsense, and return to your victorious standards in obedience to the commands of the emperors." Saint Typasius rsponded, "No-one returns to battle after victory, I have conquered this material world, and have enrolled my name among the servants of Christ. I fight for Christ, I serve Christ, and, if you want to vent your fury upon me, I suffer for Christ. The comes Claudius said, "You know that deserters who abandon the standards get thrown to the beasts." Saint Typasius replied, "I am not a deserter; for as all my fellow citizens know, I have served blamelessly. I received an honourable discharge with the promise of the emperor Maximian." The comes Claudius said, "But you were released by the laws of the emperor. He can change what he wanted then. He himself, as you say, gave you an honourable discharge; he has now ordered on pain of punishment that you return with all veterans to active military service." Holy Typasius responded, "I am a soldier of Christ; I cannot serve in your army." The comes Claudius said, "Sacrifice to the gods." Saint Typasius responded, "I offer the sacrifice of praise to Christ.His praise is always on my lips. For I do not worship statues of wood and stone." Claudius said, "I do not know what despair has led you to scorn the commands of our emperors. Do what our emperors the Augusti have commanded and return to military duty, lest other deserters be given something to fear by the example of your death." Saint Typasius replied, "I have already told you, I am a soldier of Christ, and I will not return to that worldly way of life." The comes Claudius said, "What need is there for talk ? Let him put on his belt and take up his weapons." When his belt was put on him by soldiers, and spears were placed in his hands, his belt was immediately torn into pieces, and his spears were shattered.

6. When this happened, the comes became very much afraid, and ordered him to be taken into custody. Some time afterwards, while the comes Claudius was travelling around the towns for the assizes, he accompanied saint Typasius on the journey, and was amazed that although he had been kept in custody for so long he was unmarked by the starvation or squalor. Suddenly the strator, seized by the devil, fell from his horse, and began violently shaking and foaming at the mouth. When all fled him, holy Typasius ran up to him and made the sign of the cross with his saving finger upon his forehead; and the strator was immediately freed from the devil, got up, and began to kiss the knees of holy Typasius. And from that day onward the comes Claudius always sent to him from his table the choicest food. When saint Typasius received this, he did not gorge himself, but he gave it all to the poor.

7. Finally Claudius arrived at his destination, and when he was on his way to the public assemblya disturbance arose among the soldiers because when all the rest were making a sacrifice of incense saint Typasius alone scorned the imperial command. The praepositus Doncius and the decurion Lucius were the instigators of this disturbance because they were very insistent to the dux Claudius that he should force saint Typasius to offer sacrifice. When the comes Claudius had delayed for a long time and could no longer contain the disturbance among the soldiers, he ordered saint Typasius to be brought out of jail to him. When this had been done, Claudius said, "Typasius, take thought for your life. Sacrifice to the gods and obey the imperial laws." Saint Typasius replied, "I will not." The comes Claudius replied, "Unless you do, you will die." Saint Typasius said, "I will gladly die in the name of the father and the Son and the Holy Spirit because ny life belongs to Christ and to die for Him is my gain." So with sorrowing heart the comes Claudius read hi s sentence out loud, "I have supported the veteran Typasius for a long time in order that he might return to military service and offer victims to the Roman gods. And when he stubbornly refused, I put to one side my judicial authority and encouraged him lest he should perish. But because he has continued in that perverse superstition, and has refused to obey the commands of our Augusti, I have resolved to punish him with the sword, that by his death all may learn to obey the laws of the emperors." Saint Typasius lifted his eyes to heaven and spoke thus, "I thank you, Lord Jesus Christ, because you have judged me your servant worthy to be freed from this world." Thus he was led forth outside the city by soldiers and beheaded and buried in the same place. And above his burial mound they placed his shield. According to their religiosity, all the Christians used to break off and take small fragments from this shield, and when these were applied to the weak, the paralytic, the possessed, and all who were suffering, they were cured.

8. Then the praepositus Doncius and the decurio Lucius, who had been the causes of the disturbance which had resulted in the death of the martyr Typasius, while they were standing before the dux Claudius, suddenly burned with fever and pain. They lost control of their limbs, their bowels burst, their eyes fell out, and they died. This happened so that all peoples might curse their death, and cry out that the holy martyr Typasius had been defended by divine retribution. Moreover, a short time afterwards Our Saviour Jesus Christ brought an end to the reign of Diocletian and Maximian in order to avenge the churches and his struggling martyrs. For as often as they put on their crowns and purple robes, they were immediately greatly distressed, so that they were not able to eat, sleep. breathe, get off their kneees or live life to its fullest. But as often as they had been robbed of their health, the invalides gained it back again. Moreover, when they realised that they had been wasting away for a long time as a result of this sickness, of their own accord they put aside their imperial regalia - a thing which has never been done before or since - and surrendered these to their successors. While others ruled, they lived as private citizens on their estates. But Maximian, who had been the principal architect of this persecution, was found out by his daughter Fausta while he was preparing a trap for his son-in-law the emperor Constantine and pretending to be at odds with his son Maxentius. She reported his trap to her husband, and Maximian fled to Marseilles where he was caught. He was executed at the command of Constantine for this reason, that all might learn from this punishment of the vindication of the holy martyr Typasius. Typasius died on 11 January. At his defence were present God, Jesus Christ the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Theirs is honour and glory, power and strength for ever and ever. Amen.

Back to Top of Page

Select Bibliography

Primary Source

Secondary Literature

Back to Top of Page

Since 15 September 1999

Click here to review the statistics
Back to Top of Page
Back to Main Page
Copyright © 1999, David Woods. This file may be copied for the purpose of private research only.