In the year 298, the birthday of the Emperor Maximian was celebrated with extraordinary solemnity. St. Marcellus, a Christian centurion in one of the legions then stationed in Spain, refused to take part in the sacrifices offered to the gods, and declared himself a Christian. He threw down his arms and the vine-branch, which was the mark of his dignity.
Anastasius Fortunatus, the prefect of the legion, having learned the fact, commanded St. Marcellus to be cast into prison. After the feast, the prisoner was brought before the Prefect, who asked the reason for this conduct. St. Marcellus replied that it was his religion. Hereupon the Prefect declared that he would have to lay his case before Maximian and Caesar Constantius.
The latter ruled over Gaul and Spain, and he was most favorable to the Christian. However, St. Marcellus was sent under a strong guard to Aurelian Agricolus, vicar to the Prefect of the praetorium, who was then at Tangier in Africa. When St. Marcellus admitted the truth of the accusation, he was condemned to death for the desertion and impiety. Cassian, the notary of the court, refused to write the sentence, which he declared to be unjust. In consequence of this, he, too, was condemned to death. St. Marcellus was beheaded on October 30, and St. Cassian suffered death on the 3rd of the following December.
PRAYER: Almighty, ever-living God, You enabled St. Marcellus to fight to the death for justice. Through his intercession enable us to bear all adversity and with all our strength hasten to You Who alone are life. Amen.