Sts. Protus and Hyacinth
Martyrs during the persecution of Valerian (257-9). The day of their annual
commemoration is mentioned in the
Depositio Martyrum in the chronographia for
Acta martyrum, ed. Tatisbon, 632) under 11 September. The
chronographia also mentions their graves, in the Coemeterium of Basilla on the
Via Salaria, later the Catacomb of St. Hermes. The Itineraries and other early
authorities likewise give this place of burial (De Rossi,
Roma sotterranea, I,
176-7). In 1845 Father Marchi discovered the still undisturbed grave of St.
Hyacinth in a crypt of the above- mentioned catacomb. It was a small square
niche in which lay the ashes and pieces of burned bone wrapped in the remains of
costly stuffs (Marchi,
Monumenti primitivi: I, Architettura della Roma
sotterranea cristina, Rome, 1844, 238 sqq., 264 sqq.). Evidently the saint had
been burnt; most probably both martyrs had suffered death by fire. The niche was
closed by a marble slab similar to that used to close a loculus, and bearing the
original inscription that confirmed the date in the old Martyrology:
D P III IDUS SEPTEBR
(Buried on 11 September Hyacinthus Martyr).
In the same chamber were found fragments of an architrave belonging to some later decoration, with the words:
… S E P U L C R U M P R O T I M(artyris) …
(Grave of the Martyr Protus)
Thus both martyrs were buried in the same crypt. Pope Damasus wrote an
epitaph in honour of the two martyrs, part of which still exists (Ihm,
epigrammata, 52, 49). In the epitaph Damasus calls Protus and Hyacinth brothers.
When Leo IV (847-55) translated the bones of a large number of Roman martyrs to
the churches of Rome, the relics of these two saints were to be translated also;
but, probably on account of the devastation of the burial chamber, only the
grave of St. Protus was found. His bones were transferred to San Salvatore on
the Palatine. The remains of St. Hyacinth were placed (1849) in the chapel of
the Propaganda. Later the tombs of the two saints and a stairway built at the
end of the fourth century were discovered and restored.
ALLARD, Rome souterraine (2nd ed., Paris, 1877), 529 sqq.; MARUCCHI, Les catacombes romaines (2nd ed., Rome, 1903), 480 sqq.; Nuovo Bull. di arch. crist. (1895), 11 sqq.; (1898), 77 sqq.; Bibliotheca hagiographica latina, II, 1015; DUFOURCQ, Les Gesta martyrum romains, I, 222sq.
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