One of the 18 Martyrs of Zargoza
Saint Optatus of Zaragoza, Spain and his 17 companions were martyred together in that city, during the bloody persecution of Christians under the cruel reign of Emperor Diocletian.
Despite a systematic effort to destroy all traces of Christianity during the Diocletian Persecution (303–312 A.D.), Rome’s largest, bloodiest and final persecution of Christ’s Church failed miserably. Providentially, with the ascension of Constantine the Great and his historic Edict of Milan in 313 A.D., Christianity became the empire’s preferred imperial religion.
Although all written accounts concerning the martyrdom of Optatus and his 17 fellow Martyrs of Zaragoza have been lost, the Roman poet Prudentius (+ circa 410 A.D.) chose to honor the memory all Saint Optatus and his companions with a hymn.
The feast day of Saint Optatus & Companions, Martyrs as Patron Saints of Zaragoza, and their cultus, long associated with another martyr, Saint Encratius, continues to this very day.
We’re very pleased to announce that All Saints Shrine has acquired a bone fragment relic (ex ossibus) from the earthly remains of Saint Opatus (pictured just above, center). Optatus is among the “18 Martyrs of Zaragoza,” Spain, who shed their blood in response a series of edicts rescinding Christians’ legal rights and demanding that they renounce their Christian Faith in favor of worshipping Rome’s pagan gods.