Add comment March 12th, 2017 Headsman
March 12 is the martyrdom date (in 295) and annual feast date of Saint Maximilian of Tebessa, Christianity’s protomartyr of conscientious objectors.
A Christian from Numidia (the Mediterranean coast of present-day Algeria), Maximilian presented himself to the African proconsul for mandatory conscription and refused in the name of Christ to bear arms.
The proconsul remonstrated with him, and in their interaction Maximilian espoused a vindication of pacifism so clear and timeless that a Vietnam War-era Catholic antiwar organization would take the name Order of Maximilian. “I will not be a soldier of this world, for I am a soldier of Christ.”
The translation below is via Peace Be With You: Justified Warfare or the Way of Nonviolence.
Cassius Dion You must serve or die.
Maximilian I will never serve you. You can cut off my head, but I will not be a soldier of this world, for I am a soldier of Christ.
Cassius Dion What has put these ideas into your head?
Maximilian My conscience and He who has called me.
Cassius Dion (to Maximilian’s father) Put your son right.
Maximilian’s Father He knows what he believes, and he will not change.
Cassius Dion Be a soldier and accept the emperor’s badge.
Maximilian Not at all. I carry the mark of Christ my God already.
Cassius Dion I shall send you to your Christ at once.
Maximilian I ask nothing better. Do it quickly, for there is my glory.
Maximilian That is their business. I also am a Christian, and I cannot serve.
Cassius Dion But what harm do soldiers do?
Maximilian You know well enough.
Cassius Dion If you do not do your service I shall condemn you to death for contempt of the army.
Maximilian I shall not die. If I go from this earth my soul will live in Christ my Lord.
Cassius Dion Write his name down … Your impetiy makes you refuse military service and you shall be punished accordingly as a warning to others. (Reading the sentence) “Maximilian has refused the military oath through impiety. He is to be beheaded.”
Maximilian God lives.
* 295 was a few years before Diocletian launched his great persecution of Christians.
On this day..
- 1858: William Williams, guano-freighter cook - 2016
- 1943: David Cobb, the first U.S. serviceman hanged in World War II Britain - 2015
- 1690: Jack Bird, pugilist - 2014
- 1421: The last Viennese Jews - 2013
- 1975: Olga Hepnarova, tram spotter - 2012
- 2006: The family of Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi - 2011
- 1939: Mikayil Mushfig, Azerbaijani poet - 2010
- 1960: Hoang Le Kha, NVA cadre - 2009
- 1289: Demetre II the Self-Sacrificer - 2008