About the year 180 there was a great procession of the heathen goddess Ceres, at Autun, in France. Amongst the crowd was one who refused to pay the ordinary marks of worship. He was therefore dragged before the magistrate and accused of sacrilege and sedition. When asked his name and condition, he replied, “My name is Symphorian; I am a Christian!’ He came of a noble and Christian family.
He was still young, and so innocent that he was said to converse with the holy angels. The Christians of Autun were few and little known, and the judge could not believe that the youth was serious in his purpose. He caused the laws enforcing heathen worship to be read, and looked for a speedy compliance. Symphorian replied that he must obey the laws of the King of kings. “Give me a hammer,” he said, “and I will break your idol in pieces.”
He was scourged and thrown into a dungeon. Some days later this son of light came forth from the darkness of his prison, haggard and worn, but full of joy. He despised the riches and honors offered to him as he had despised torments. He died by the sword, and went to the court of the heavenly King.
The mother of St. Symphorian stood on the city walls and saw her son led out to die. She knew the honors he had refused and the dishonor of his death, but she esteemed the reproach of Christ better than all the riches of Egypt, and she cried out to him, “My son, my son, keep the living God in your heart; look up to Him Who reigns in heaven.” Thus she shared in the glory of his passion, and her name lives with his in the records of the Church.
Little more than a century later the Roman Empire bowed before the faith of Christ. Many miracles spread the glory of St. Symphorian, and of Christ the King.