Dictionary of Christian Biography and Literature to the End of the Sixth Century/Symphorianus, martyr
Symphorianus (1), martyr, according to the MSS. of his Acts, under Aurelian, for which name Ruinart would substitute Aurelius, dating his passion c. 180. He was born in Autun, of noble parentage, and trained in Christianity from his childhood. Autun was devoted to the worship of Berecynthia; and the consular Heraclius, who governed there, anxious to convert the Christians by argument, entered into discussion with Symphorianus, who reviled his false deities. The judge used threats and tortures, and finally beheaded him outside the walls in the place of common execution. The Acts of this martyr have been evidently compiled out of very ancient documents. The judicial investigation is reported in the most exact and technical forms of Roman law. The questions proposed and the answers given are such as we find in the most genuine remains of antiquity. Yet there are also indications that they have been worked up into their present shape. The details of the worship of Cybele may be very usefully compared with those given in the passion of St. Theodotus and the Seven Virgins of Ancyra. Celtic idolatry in Asia and in Gaul followed precisely the same ritual. Ruinart, Acta Sincera, pp. 67–73; Ceillier, i. 472; AA. SS. Boll. Aug. iv. 496–498.