Madaura, Martyrs of

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Martyrs of Madaura is a title given to four African martyrs grouped together in the letter written c. 390 by Maximus of Madaura to St. augustine, in which Maximus complained that Miggin is preferred by Christians to Jupiter; Sanam, to the four goddesses; and the archi-martyr Namphano, to all the immortal gods. A fourth, Lucitas, is said to enjoy no less cult. In reply to this letter, Augustine stated that the names are Punic indeed, but that pagans also admit this type of name. He contents himself with dwelling on the name of Namphano, which he explains means a person whose coming brings good luck. Had these four persons been known as Donatist or Circumcellion martyrs, as some have claimed, Augustine certainly would have pointed this out to the pagan Maximus, who had criticized the Christians in his letter. That he did not do so indicates that the four martyrs were venerated by the Catholic Church in Africa, even though the Donatists may have accepted them, according to their custom of retaining what the Catholics had practiced before the outbreak of the Donatist schism.

The title archimartyr, given by Maximus to the slave Namphano, may mean that he was the protomartyr of Africa or Numidia. More probably it proves that he enjoyed a great veneration. The names of both Namphano and Miggin are frequent in African inscriptions; those of Sanam and Lucitas less so. The name Martyrs of Madaura comes from the Roman martyrology, where Baronius placed them for July 4. In the martyrology of st. jerome, on June 15 the name of Miggin is cited along with Saianus and Iovianus. By the error of a copyist, this entry is found, in garbled form, also on May 16 in the same work, which refers to Namphano on December 18. Their existence and early veneration seem assured, though the year of their martyrdom, usually placed in 180, cannot be substantiated.

Bibliography: a. goldbacher, ed., Epistulae S. Augustini 1617 [Corpus scriptorum ecclesiasticorum latinorum 34.1; Vienna 1895] 3744; Acta Sanctorum July 2:6. Martyrologium Hieronymianum, ed. h. delehaye (ibid. Nov.2:2; 1931) 257, 320,652. p. monceaux, Histoire littéraire de l'Afrique chrétienne, 7 v. (repr. Brussels 1963) 1:4243. w. h. c. frend, The Donatist Church (London 1952). j. zeiller, in a. fliche and v. martin, eds., Histoire de l'église depuis les origines jusqu'à nos jours (Paris 1935) 1:318. j. h. baxter, "The Martyrs of Madaura, A.D. 180" Journal of Theological Studies (192324) 2137. j. quasten, Patrology, 3 v. (Westminster, Md., 195053) 1:178179, confuses these martyrs with the martyrs Scillitani.

[j. j. gavigan]