he was said to have lived during the Roman Emperor Valerian's persecution of Christians during the third century. He was a young acolyte who had volunteered for the dangerous task of delivering Communion to Christians secretly meeting in homes or in Rome's prisons.
Worried about the boy's age, the priest asked, "Tarcisius, remember that a heavenly treasure has been entrusted to your weak hands ... Will you guard the Sacred Mysteries faithfully and safely?" "I would died," the 12-year-old answered, "rather than let go of them."
Legends says that one day Tarcisius was carrying Communion to Christians in prison, when a group of boys stopped him. They asked him to play, but he declined. Knowing he was a Christian, they demanded to know what he was carrying. When he refused to tell them, they brutally beat him. Tarcisius was rescued by another Christian passing by, and taken to the catacombs where he died from his injuries. He was buried at the Catacombs of St. Calixtus.
His story was popularized in a poem by Pope St. Damasus (305-384), and later in a novel by Cardinal Nicholas Wiseman (1802-1865), the first archbishop of Westminster, England.
- Little White Book, Diocese of Saginaw