Caesarius was born in Carthage, Northern Africa, in around 85 A.D. He was the son of a mercenary and a noblewoman who descended from the Gens Julia, the illustrious Roman family. His parents named him Caesarius to show devotion and relation to the Emperor, also known by the title Caesar.
His ancestors had settled in the Roman colony founded in Carthage by Julius Caesar at the time of his reorganization of the African territories. Caesarius's family converted to Christianity thanks to the Apostles' predication, which was particularly fervent in those areas.
As a young man, Caesarius learned the precepts of the Christian doctrine and was fascinated by Jesus and his message of salvation. After his adolescence, he fulfilled his wish to be at one with Christ and was ordained deacon. Shortly after, Caesarius and his companions decided to travel to Rome, where Christianity was still illegal and dangerous, but they were shipwrecked near the coast of Terracina because of a terrible storm. Struck by the enormous chasm between the town's rich and poor, Caesarius decided to settle there.
It is believed that every 1st of January a celebration in honor of Apollo took place in Terracina: the town's noblest and most handsome young man had to sacrifice himself to Apollo for the prosperity of the States and the Emperors. The ancient custom established that after being nurtured and taken care of for six to eight months, the chosen one would be adorned with magnificent arms, mounted on a richly harnessed horse and sent to climb up the top of the hill that overlooks the town; here he would jump off the hill and into the sea, thus ensuring his name everlasting fame and glory.
That year the chosen young man's name was Luciano. When Caesarius saw Luciano for the first time, he wondered what all that wealth and splendor were about. On learning about the human sacrifice, Caesarius was horrified. When the 1st of January came, priests, authorities and
worshippers gathered in Apollo's temple for the rituals while a procession led by Luciano winded towards the hill. Despite Caesarius's several attempts at halting the barbarous rite, the sacrifice was completed: Luciano rode his horse up the hill-top and then threw himself and his recalcitrant horse off the hill. The young man hit onto the rocks and died at sea together with his mount. On witnessing such a disturbing scene, Caesarius shouted: “Woe unto those States and Princes who rejoice suffering and feed on blood! Why do you lose your souls for your imposture, why are you seduced by the demon's artifice?” Firmino, the pagan priest, had him silenced and locked up in the Forum Aemilianum public prison. His trial began eight days after his arrest; Caesarius was tied to Leonzio's chariot and, as soon as they approached the temple and were surrounded by soldiers, the deacon a prayer: a few moments later, the temple suddenly collapsed killing Firmino.
Following a number of episodes that had led to the death of Leonzio, a year later Lussurio arrested Julian, a local presbyter close to Caesarius, and both he and the deacon were sentenced to capital punishment. The execution took place on the 1st of November 107 A.D.:the convicts were tied in a sack and flung into the sea from the top of Pisco Montano.
where history overlooks the sea
Progetto Rete d'Imprese "Terracina Alta"
Centro Storico Terracina
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