St Tarcisius, Martyr Of The EucharistTarcisius was a 12 year old Christian during the persecution of Valerian. The Christians would have Mass in the catacombs, entered by secret entrances on the outskirts of Rome.
After Mass, Hosts would be wrapped up and carried to the Christians in prison in the Coliseum, who were awaiting certain death. After one of these Masses, there were no adults available. Tarcisius stepped forward.
He was a little boy, and small in stature. "Let me take the Hosts to our brothers and sisters! Because I am little, they will not suspect what I am doing!"
The priest hesitated. "It is dangerous, Tarcisius. If you are discovered, you will certainly die as well." But Tarcisius insisted, and the Sacred Hosts were carefully wrapped and concealed in his tunic, against his chest.
So Tarcisius left the catacombs and was walking along the Appian Way, when he was spotted by some pagan friends of his. "Tarcisius! Hey - Tarcisius! Come and play!"
"I'm sorry. I can't today. I have an errand to do."
"So what is it you are hiding in your tunic?"
"My Jesus, help me!"
"Jesus? We didn't know you are a Christian. You're an enemy of the emperor. Let's get him!" And they got stuck into him, kicking and beating him with clubs and stones, all the time trying to ****** from him the pouch containing the Sacred Hosts. But Tarcisius guarded the pouch with every ounce of strength he had, fearing the sacrilege that would result if the pagans were successful.
Finally, they rendered the poor boy unconscious. So they turned over his limp body to steal the pouch, only to find that there was nothing there. Suddenly they were spotted by a Roman soldier and fearing arrest, they fled. This soldier, Fortunatus, was also a Christian, and recognised Tarcisius from the catacombs.
"Such a little lad to give his life for Christ!" He ran to Tarcisius and helped him to sit up. But the boy was too close to death. There was nothing the soldier could do, except pick him up and carry him to the catacombs. And there, he was venerated as a martyr and his remains were treated with the greatest respect.
St Tarcisius's remains are now kept in the church of San Silvestro in Capite.
St Tarcisius is honoured by the Catholic Church as a martyr of the Eucharist and the Patron Saint of Altar Servers.