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Gervais:  the Saints


According to writings ascribed to St. Ambrose, Gervasius and Protasius were twins, children of martyrs. Their father Vitalis, a man of consular dignity, suffered martyrdom at Ravenna under Nero (?). The mother Valeria died for her faith at Milan. The sons are said to have been scourged and then beheaded, during the reign of Nero, under the presidency of Anubinus or Astasius, and while Cajus was Bishop of Milan. Some authors place the martyrdom under Diocletian, while others object to this time, because they fail to understand how, in that case, the place of burial, and even the names, could be forgotten by the time of St. Ambrose, as is stated. De Rossi places their death before Diocletian. It probably occurred during the reign of Antoninus (161-168).

St. Ambrose, in 386, had built a magnificent basilica at Milan. Asked by the people to consecrate it in the same solemn manner as was done in Rome, he promised to do so if he could obtain the necessary relics. In a dream he was shown the place in which such could be found. He ordered excavations to be made in the cemetery church of Sts. Nabor and Felix, outside the city, and there found the relics of Sts. Gervasius and Protasius. He had them removed to the church of St. Fausta, and on the next day into the basilica, which later received the name San Ambrogio Maggiore. Many miracles are related to have occurred.
With Thanks to the  CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPAEDIA   for this report

Gervasius (1), June 19 (Us.); Oct. 14 (Bas. Menol.). Martyr with Protasius at Milan, under Nero. These two brothers were sons of Vitalis, whose martyrdom at Ravenna and mythical acts are recorded in Mart. Adon. Apr. 28. After 300 years, and when their memory had entirely faded, God is said to have revealed their place of burial to St. Ambrose in a dream. [ AMBROSIUS .] The empress Justina was striving to obtain one of the churches of Milan for Arian worship, and help was needed to sustain the orthodox in their opposition to the imperial authority, Just at this time a new and splendid basilica was awaiting consecration. The people, as a kind of orthodox demonstration, wished it consecrated with the same pomp and ceremonial as had been used for another new church near the Roman Gate. Ambrose consented, if he should have some new relics to place therein. He therefore ordered excavations to be made in the church of St. Nabor and St. Felix, near the rails which enclosed their tomb. The search was rewarded by the discovery of the bodies of "two men of wondrous size, such as ancient times produced" (Amb. Ep. xxii. 2), with all their bones entire and very much blood. They were removed to the church of St. Fausta, and the next day to the new Ambrosian church, where they were duly enshrined. At each different stage St. Ambrose delivered impassioned and fanciful harangues. In that on their enshrinement he claims that they had already expelled demons, and restored to sight a blind butcher, one Severus, who was cured by touching the pall that covered the relics. The Arians ridiculed the matter, asserting that Ambrose had hired persons to feign themselves demoniacs. The whole story has afforded copious matter for criticism. 

With thanks to Christian Classics Ethereal Library   for this account.


Gervase and Protase MM (RM) 

2nd century. Untrustworthy tradition relates that Gervase and his twin brother Protase, the sons of Saints Vitalis and Valeria, suffered beheading for the faith. Gervase was said to have been beaten to death with a lead-tipped whip, and Protase was beheaded. They are considered the first martyrs of Milan ever since Saint Ambrose, guided by a vision, unearthed their remains in 386 (see Saint Augustine's City of God, 22). Saint Paulinus of Nola in his Life of Saint Ambrose says that the martyrs themselves appeared to Saint Ambrose in an apparition. 

Ambrose was about to dedicate a new church, which was later called Saint Ambrose the Great, and the people wanted him to do it with the same solemnity as he had at the church dedicated to the holy Apostles. He, however, had no relics for the basilican church. After the vision Ambrose cause the area inside the rails enclosing the tomb of SS. Nabor and Felix to be dug up. There he found the bodies of two very big men, with their bones entire, and in their natural position, but the heads separated from their bodies, with a large quantity of blood, and all the marks which could be desired to ascertain the relics.

Even at the time the relics were discovered by Ambrose nothing was remembered about them except their names and that they were martyrs in an early persecution, perhaps under Nero. 

With Thanks to the  CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPAEDIA   for this report

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key text:  This is the page for the name of GERVAIS from the website  RedSimon which is a series of photo albums of Simon GP Geoghegan.
The names of Gervais, Gervasius and Gervase are also considered
There are also notes on saint Gervais
as well as places called Gervais