Augustinian Martyrs of Gafsa (Africa)
Saints Liberatus, Boniface, Servus, Rusticus, Rogatus, Septimus, Maximus
Augustine had founded several monasteries in Northern Africa, where numerous followers of the Augustinian ideals of monastic community life lived.
Only 34 years after the death of Augustine, in 484, King Hunmeric issued a decree that all monasteries were to be abolished, and the monks and nuns were to be handed over to the Moors.
Seven brothers from the monastery of Gafsa, Tunisia, were arrested. They were the Deacon Boniface, the Subdeacons Servus and Rusticus, their Abbot Liberatus and the monks Rogatus, Septimus and Maximus.
They were forcefully taken to Carthage. There they were at first offered worldly rewards if only they would renounce Christ and their Augustinian way of life.
When they steadfastly remained faithful to Jesus, they were thrown into prison. At first, Christians from Carthage bribed the jailers, who permitted them to offer material and spiritual support to the prisoners.
When the King learned of this, he ordered that the seven captives be burned to death. Before imposing this cruel execution, the King's soldiers made particular efforts to persuade the youngest monk, Maximus, to escape death by denying Christ. Maximus refused to do this, proclaiming his allegiance to God and to his brothers in Augustine.
The soldiers tied bundles of dry wood to the seven monks and placed them on an old boat or raft. However, when they tried to set the wood on fire, they were not able to make the wood burn. At this the King became very angry. He then commanded that the monks be beaten to death.
The seven died for the sake of Christ, united in their faith and Augustinian fraternity.