St. Victor of Marseille: The Iconography

At Marseille, in Gaul, the natal day not his birthday but the day of his death, when he was "born again" into Heaven of St. Victor. As he was a soldier but would not to sacrifice to idols, he was clapped into prison, where an angel visited him. Then he was punished with various torments and at last crushed beneath a millstone. Three other soldiers suffered with him, namely Alexander, Felicianus, and Longinus. – Roman Martyrology for July 21

Victor of Marseille was a soldier during the persecutions of Diocletian (303-313). As a Christian, he refused to worship idols, so he was imprisoned. He then aggravated his crime by preaching to the guards and finally bringing them into the faith, thus the image in the second picture at right. Thereupon he was tortured and killed by being crushed under a large millstone.

The millstone became his attribute, as in the first picture at right, along with a martyr's palm branch and his military garb. In the third picture he also holds a sword. For most martyrs, a sword refers to the instrument of their death, but in this case it would be just an emblem of his profession.

Prepared in 2020 by Richard Stracke, Emeritus Professor of English, Augusta University.


Stained glass in the Church of Saints Peter and Paul, Baguer-Morvan, France. (Source: Wikimedia Commons.)

Victor Teaching His Three Guards, Artenay, France. (Source: Wikimedia Commons.)

A plaque on the Nooit Gedagt Windmill in Woudrichem, Netherlands. (Source: Wikimedia Commons,)