Saint of the Day for 11 September: Saints Proto and Hyacinth
Saints Proto and Hyacinthus: Roman martyrs who sacrificed themselves for their faith
Saints Proto and Hyacinth
Martyrs of Rome
In Rome, in the cemetery of Basilla on the ancient Via Salaria, the burial of the martyred saints Proto and Hyacinthus, whom Pope St. Damasus celebrated in his verses by recovering their burial mounds hidden underground. In this place, some fifteen centuries later, the intact tomb of Saint Hyacinth and his body consumed by fire were found again.
The Saint and Mission
Saints Proto and Hyacinth, often venerated together and considered martyrs of the Christian faith, invite us to reflect on the profound meaning of ‘mission’ in the context of faith and witness. Their story, anchored in the tradition of the early Church, offers us a glimpse into the fervour and dedication that characterised the early Christians.
Both servants in the household of Saint Eugenia, a woman of rank who converted to Christianity, Proto and Hyacinth became Christians themselves. Their mission, therefore, began with a profound personal experience of conversion and encounter with the Gospel, from which sprang the desire to live according to the teachings of Christ, even at the cost of their lives.
The mission of Proto and Jacinto was characterised by a courageous and uncompromising witness to their faith. They did not flinch in the face of persecution, showing unconditional dedication to the Gospel message. Their mission, therefore, takes on the connotations of martyrdom, a radical witness to the Gospel that challenges the injustices and oppressions of their time.
In this sense, their mission cannot be understood merely as a set of activities or initiatives aimed at spreading the faith, but as a fundamental attitude of life, a choice of consistency and fidelity to the Gospel that permeates every aspect of their existence. Their courage in bearing witness to the faith, even at the cost of their lives, is an extreme manifestation of a mission lived to the full, without compromise or half-measures.
The testimony of Saints Proto and Hyacinthus, as well as of many other martyrs of the early Church, invites us to reflect on the challenges and difficulties we encounter today in our missionary commitment. It confronts us with the urgent need to be credible and authentic witnesses of the Gospel, capable of facing resistance and opposition with a spirit of self-denial and sacrifice.
At a time when faith is often marginalised and reduced to a private matter, the mission of Proto and Hyacinthus reminds us that the Gospel is a life proposal that radically challenges us, calling us to profound conversion and courageous witness. It invites us not to be ‘half’ Christians, but to live our commitment as disciples of Christ with integrity and passion.
Proto and Hyacinthus, through their lives and their martyrdom, teach us that the mission is not an easy or obvious task, but a demanding path that asks us to put our whole life on the line. They encourage us to be men and women of faith, capable of giving a decisive and consistent response to God’s call, bearing witness to the Gospel of Christ with our lives.
In conclusion, the figure of Saints Proto and Hyacinthus offers us a valuable lesson on mission, showing us that true Christian witness stems from a profound relationship with Christ and a radical choice of life, capable of challenging the conventions and patterns of the world in order to proclaim the Gospel message with courage and authenticity.
The Saint and Mercy
The narrative of the life and martyrdom of Saints Proto and Hyacinth carries a powerful message of mercy and a profound understanding of the human condition. Both were servants in the house of Saint Eugenia and, through their daily service and devotion to the faith, represent emblematic figures of mercy.
Their story tells not only of a supreme sacrifice, but also of a life dedicated to the service of others, lived with a deep commitment to Christian values, including that of mercy.
Their daily acts of service can be seen as concrete manifestations of mercy: a caring for others that goes beyond the mere fulfilment of duties, to touch the heart of true Christian charity. Through their service, Proto and Hyacinthus show an industrious mercy, which translates into concrete acts of love and dedication to their neighbour.
Their death, which occurred as a result of the courageous witness of their faith, represents the culmination of a life of mercy, in which the gift of self becomes the supreme expression of charity. One could say that their willingness to sacrifice their lives for the truth of the Gospel is the greatest act of mercy, as it shows total openness to their neighbour, to the point of giving their lives for the good of others.
Their martyrdom also invites us to reflect on the deeper meaning of mercy, which is not just an act of pity or compassion, but an attitude of radical openness to others, going beyond all barriers of indifference and selfishness.
In a world that often promotes a logic of competition and individualism, the testimony of Proto and Giacinto invites us to rediscover the value of mercy as a fundamental attitude of openness to the other, of understanding and acceptance, which goes beyond all forms of selfishness and closure.
Their lives and their sacrifice invite us to make mercy the guiding criterion for our actions, reminding us that every act of love, the smallest portion of good, is capable of transforming the world and building a civilisation of love, where mercy becomes the common language that unites all people in an embrace of fraternity and solidarity.
In conclusion, Saints Proto and Hyacinth, through their life of service and their martyrdom, become teachers of mercy, showing us how true mercy translates into a love that knows how to give itself without reserve, that knows how to see in the face of the other the face of Christ, inviting us to be instruments of mercy in today’s world, through concrete gestures of love, understanding and solidarity.
Martyrs, saints (period uncertain). The existence of these two Roman martyrs is historically proven by the fact that already in the 4th century Pope Damasus composed an inscription for their tomb.
Legendary, however, is the story of their lives: they are said to have been two eunuch brothers, slaves of the noble Eugenia, daughter of Philip the noble prefect of Alexandria in Egypt, whom they converted to Christianity.
Eugenia would give the two young men to the noble Bassilla, who in turn converted thanks to their teachings. They carried out further conversions, until they were arrested and…