Yesterday, August 30, was the feast of SS Felix and Adauctus, who were believed to have suffered during Diocletian's persecution of Christians, one of the most wide-reaching of such persecutions to have taken place, and the persecution that occupied the most important place in the cultural memory of medieval Christendom. Diocletian, and his co-augustus Maximian were the main antagonists in many of the stories of early and often apocryphal saints, and this includes the story of Felix and Adauctus, a story which Jacobus de Voragine dates to c.287, i.e. before the persecutions were begun.
The story of these two saints is not a long one, and it mostly revolves around Felix. He was a priest, together with his brother whose name was also Felix but who disappears from the story and does not take part in his brother's passion story. The older Felix was brought before the two emperors and commanded to sacrifice in the temple of Serapis. Felix blew in the face of a statue of Serapis and the statue crumbled, a common topos in martyr stories. He was then taken to statues of Mercury and Diana, but with the same result, and the Romans seized him, tortured him and brought him to a sacred tree. Felix blew on the tree as well, and it fell over, crushing an altar as it did.
As Felix was about to be exectued, another man of unknown name and background stepped up and said he was a Christian as well, and the two martyrs-to-be embraced each other and were then killed. According to Jacobus de Voragine in Legenda Aurea, the two saints were buried in the hole of the sacred tree by Christians who managed to retrieve their dead bodies. Since the man who had joined Felix in martyrdom was unknown, he was given the name Adauctus, meaning "added" or "increase", to signify that he was an addition to the martyrdom of Felix.
Collect for the feast of Felix and Adauctus
Syddansk Bibliotek, RARA Musik M 4