IV.--The Passion of St. Symphorosa and Her Seven Sons. 1
The text is given from the edition of Ruinart. His preface, which Migne also cites, is as follows: "The narrative of the martyrdom of St. Symphorosa and her seven sons, which we here publish, is ascribed in the mss. to Julius Africanus, a writer of the highest repute. And it may perhaps have been inserted in his books on Chronography,--a work which Eusebius (Hist. Eccles., vi. 31) testifies to have been written with the greatest care, since in these he detailed the chief events in history from the foundation of the world to the times of the Emperor Heliogabalus. As that work, however, is lost, that this narrative is really to be ascribed to Africanus, I would not venture positively to assert, although at the same time there seems no ground for doubting its genuineness. We print it, moreover, from the editions of Mombritius, Surius, and Cardulus, collated with two Colbert mss. and one in the library of the Sorbonne. The occasion for the death of these saints was found in the vicinity of that most famous palace which was built by Adrian at his country seat at Tiber, according to Spartianus. For when the emperor gave orders that this palace, which he had built for his pleasure, should be purified by some piacular ceremonies, the priests seized this opportunity for accusing Symphorosa, alleging that the gods would not be satisfied until Symphorosa should either sacrifice to them or be herself sacrificed; which last thing was done by Hadrian, whom, from many others of his deeds, we know to have been exceedingly superstitious, about the year of Christ 120, that is, about the beginning of his reign, at which period indeed, as Dio Cassius observes, that emperor put a great number to death. The memory of these martyrs, moreover, is celebrated in all the most ancient martyrologies, although they assign different days for it. The Roman, along with Notker, fixes their festival for the 18th July, Rabanus for the 21st of the same month, Usuardus and Ado for the 21st June. In the Tiburtine road there still exists the rubbish of an old church, as Aringhi states (Rom. Subter., iv. 17), which was consecrated to God under their name, and which still retains the title, To the Seven Brothers. I have no doubt that it was built in that place to which the pontiffs in the Acta, sec. iv., gave the name, To the Seven Biothanati, i.e., those cut off by a violent death, as Baronius remarks, at the year 138." So far Ruinart: see also Tillemont, MÃ©m. Eccles., ii. pp. 241 and 595; and the Bollandists, Act. S.S. Junii, vol. iv. p. 350.
Gallandi, Bibl. Patrum, vol. i. Proleg. p. lxxi. and p. 329. ↩