Rev. Alban Butler (171173). Volume X: October. The Lives of the Saints. 1866.
St. Artemius, Martyr
From Theodoret, Hist. Eccles. l. 3, c. 18, Chron. Pasch. p. 297, ed Du Cange. Julian the Ap. ep. 10, Ammian. Marcell. l. 15, c. 23. Fleury, l. 15, c. 23.
AUGUSTUS, not being willing to intrust the government of Egypt, which was a rich and powerful country, from which the city of Rome was in part supplied with corn, to a senator, like other great provinces of the empire, passed an order that, instead of a proconsul, it should be governed only by a Roman knight, with the title of Augustal prefect.1 The government of the troops was committed to a general officer with the title of duke, or general of Egypt. Artemius was honoured with this command under Constantius, after Lucius and Sebastian. If, in executing some commissions under Constantius, he appeared against St. Athanasius, by various contrivances he afforded him means and opportunities to make his escape. If he betrayed too great weakness in obeying his prince at that time, he never approved his heresy. At least that he was orthodox in his faith in the reign of Julian, is evident from Theodoret, the Paschal Chronicle, and the ancient Greek Calendars. The idolaters in Egypt accused him before that emperor of having demolished their temples, and broken down their idols. Julian summoned him to appear before him at Antioch in 362, and upon this indictment condemned him to be beheaded in that city, about the month of June in 362.
Artemius engaged in the service of impious Arians, who embrued their hands in the blood of the saints, and placed on the pinnacle of worldly honours, stands upon the brink of the precipice, in imminent danger of being tumbled down headlong into everlasting flames; yet the omnipotent hand of God rescues him from these dangers, and leads him to bliss by a glorious martyrdom. The view of the many imminent dangers of perishing eternally, to which our souls have been often exposed, must fill us with the deepest sentiments of gratitude, love, and praise, for the infinite and most undeserved mercy by which we have been preserved. Should not we burst forth into incessant hymns of praise and thanksgiving? singing with the royal prophet: Unless the Lord had helped me, my soul had long ago dwelt in hell.2 Should not we, in a transport of gratitude, implore, without interruption, the divine grace, and resolve to serve God with all our strength, that the fruit of so great mercies may not perish through our malice?
Note 1. See Dio, l. 51, Tacitus, Annal. l. 2, Baron. Not. in Martyr. 20 Oct. and Notitia Dignitatum Imp. Occid. c. 128, ap. Grævium Ant. Rom. t. 7, Col. 1638, where it is said, that Egypt fed the citizens of Rome four months in the year; and sent to Rome, in the reign of Augustus, twenty millions of Roman bushels of corn. [back]