Missionary brothers to Roman Gaul: Crispin and Crispinian 3rd century
“Thy threats do not terrify us, for Christ is our life, and death is our gain. Thy rank and possessions are nought to us, for we have long before this sacrificed the like for the sake of Christ and rejoice in what we have done. If thou shouldst acknowledge and love Christ thou wouldst give not only all the treasures of this life, but even the glory of thy crown itself in order through the exercise of compassion to win eternal life.”
These words are believed to have been spoken by brothers Crispin and Crispinian when they were brought before Maximianus, Roman co-emperor with Diocletian, who used a mixture of promises and threats in an attempt to turn them from their Christian faith.
The two were brothers of noble birth who had gone to Gaul as missionaries. The brothers spent their days preaching the Gospel and making converts, and their nights – in imitation of the apostle Paul – working with their hands, making shoes to support themselves. Their successful ministry was brought to the attention of Maximianus, who, after realising he could not persuade them to renounce their faith, handed them over to the governor Rictiovarus, a cruel persecutor of Christians.
Crispin and Crispinian were subjected to various tortures including being stretched on a rack and thrown into a river, each with a millstone round his neck, but miraculously survived them all. Despairing, Rictiovarus killed himself after which Maximianus ordered that the brothers be beheaded, which was duly done. They are believed to have died towards the end of the third century. They are remembered on this day, which was immortalised in Shakespeare’s Henry V’s famous speech on the morning of Agincourt.
I will place no value on anything I have or possess unless it is in relationship to the kingdom of God.
David Livingstone (1813-73)
Originally published in Heroes of the Faith, by Patrick Sookhdeo (Isaac Publishing)