There are several saints and popes with the name Marcellinus or similar-sounding names, which sometimes leads to confusion over them. Each deserves honor and veneration; however, today is the feast day of Saint Flavius Marcellinus who was born sometime in the fourth century. He was the tribunal secretary in the court of Emperor Honorius and had a reputation as a highly intelligent, honorable man.
In the year 411, the emperor sent Marcellinus to Africa to chair a meeting between Catholic and Donatist bishops. Donatists took their name from the schismatic Bishop of Carthage named Donatus who lived a hundred years earlier. The Donatists were part of a rigorist movement who insisted that when an unworthy minister administered any sacrament, the sacrament was invalid. This contradicted the Catholic doctrine that the efficacy of the sacraments depends not on the worthiness of the ministers, but on the power of Christ, Who is the true and ultimate minister of every sacrament.
Marcellinus conducted the negotiations with impartiality and finally made a decision in favor of the Catholic position. He and his brother, Apringius, ordered the Donatists to return to the Catholic faith and published new imperial decrees against the Donatists. This so infuriated the schismatic group that they falsely accused Marcellinus and his brother of being supporters and partisans of Heraclianus. This group had rebelled against Marinus, who was in charge of putting down the insurrection.
Believing the charges against the brothers, General Marinus had them arrested and imprisoned. Many African bishops came forward in their defense, including Saint Augustine; however, on September 12, 413, Marcellinus was beheaded by order of Marinus.
We can see how rumors and lies can lead to such evil. The hatred the Donatists had for Marcellinus and Apringius caused them to bear false testimony against them, resulting in their death. God can bring good out of all situations. Marcellinus lost his life but gained the crown of martyrdom.
Dear Father in heaven, the worst event in the world was the crucifixion of Jesus yet You brought redemption to mankind through this horrible deed. Saint Marcellinus also suffered a similar fate at the hands of his enemies, but through Your promise of eternal life, we know that he now lives in glory with You forever. Thank you, Father, for your love and mercy. Amen.