St. Marcellus was a soldier in the Roman army who died for the belief that sovereignty belongs only to Christ. His relics are embedded in the main altar of the Basilica of the Sacred Heart on campus.
In the late 200s, before wide-spread persecution of Christians began, Marcellus was a centurion in the Roman army and was posted in Spain. As the empire celebrated a feast in honor of the emperor with pompous sacrifices to the gods, Marcellus, wanting to remain pure of heart, stood in front of his legion and condemned the celebration. Though he was a centurion, he cast aside his belt (a distinguishing mark of his rank) and declared himself a soldier of Christ, the eternal king.
His fellow soldiers were dumbfounded—they did not know what to do with him. They reported him to their superiors, and he was thrown into prison.
We still have transcripts from his trial, which record Marcellus declaring, “I am a Christian, and can serve no other than Jesus Christ, Son of God.” He was sentenced to death for desertion and impiety and was beheaded on this date in 298.
The Catholic Peace Fellowship, which is animated by a group of Notre Dame students, alumni, and faculty, and headquartered in South Bend, celebrates the feast of St. Marcellus because he is patron saint of conscientious objectors to military service.
St. Marcellus, who set aside his rank and gave his life to serve only Christ the King, pray for us!