Nazarius was a citizen of Rome whose father was Jewish or pagan. His mother was Saint Perpetua. Nazarius was a student of Saint Peter and was baptized by Saint Linus. During the persecutions of Nero, Nazarius fled Rome and preached in Lombardy, visiting Piacenza and Milan, where he met the brothers Gervase and Protase, who had been imprisoned and who inspired Nazarius by their example. Nazarius was whipped and condemned to exile by the authorities. He traveled to Gaul, where a young boy of nine, Celsus, was entrusted to his care after the boy’s mother asked Nazarius to teach and baptize her son. Nazarius raised him as a Christian. The two were arrested, tortured, and imprisoned for their faith. They were released on condition they would not preach at this place any longer.
They preached in the Alps and built a chapel at Embrun, and then continued on to Geneva, and then Trier. They preached in Trier, and converted many to Christianity, and they were imprisoned once again there. Celsus was entrusted to the care of a pagan lady, who attempted to make him abjure his faith. Celsus refused, and was eventually returned to Nazarius. An additional legend that describes their time at Trier states that they were tried by Nero there, who ordered the two saints to be drowned. Nazarius and Celsus were taken in a ship and thrown overboard, but a storm suddenly arose, frightening the sailors. The sailors pulled the two saints back on board. The two saints left Trier and reached Genoa, and then returned to Milan, and were arrested again. They refused to sacrifice to the Roman gods, and were beheaded.
Nazario , also called Nazaro or Nazzaro, and Celso were two Christian martyrs, venerated by both the Catholic and Orthodox Churches. One of the few certain information we have about the two comes from the biography of Saint Ambrose : in 395 the patron saint of Milan found the bodies of two martyrs buried in a field just outside the Lombard capital.
The story of their life is handed down entirely by the hagiographic tradition, which traces their existence back to the first century and describes them as evangelizers of numerous places in Northern Italy. According to these sources, Nazario was a Roman citizen of a Jewish family, a legionary by profession. He was a disciple of Peter and received baptism from the future Pope Linus. To escape persecution against Christians and perhaps sent by Lino, he left Rome and went to some areas of Lombardy. He also passed in particular to Piacenza and Milan, where he met his fellow believers Gervasio and Protasio in prison.
Later he began the evangelization of Gaul, where Celsus, who was just nine years old, was entrusted to him by a matron of Gaul. Celsus received education in the Christian faith and baptism from the master. Together they continued in the work of spreading the new faith, traveling through southern France and arriving in Trier, where they would suffer numerous persecutions and were arrested. Nazario, as a Roman citizen, did not suffer torture, but was sent to Rome to undergo a regular trial and, faced with the refusal to renounce his faith and sacrifice to the Roman gods, he was sentenced to death. According to other sources, the death sentence was decided by the governor of Ventimiglia. However, together with Celsus, he was embarked on a ship that was to take them out to sea, where they would be thrown into the sea. The two, however, escaped death due to a storm. Legend has it that, thrown into the sea, they started walking on the water. Then a storm broke out that terrified the sailors, who asked Nazario for help. The waters calmed down immediately. The ship would eventually land in Genoa, and here Nazario and Celso continued their evangelizing work throughout Liguria in the years 66 and 67.
They then went as far as Milan, where they were finally arrested and sentenced to death again by the prefect Antolino. The sentence was carried out by beheading in the year 76. The memory of Nazario and Celso was lost until the discovery of the bodies by Saint Ambrose: in 395 the great bishop had an inspiration, which led him to the exhumation of two bodies buried in the gardens outside the city. One of the bodies, beheaded but uncorrupted, was believed to be that of Nazario and was transported in front of Porta Romana, where a basilica was erected in his honor. In the place of the discovery of the bones of the second, believed to be that of Celsus, another basilica was built. In Trivento in Molise there is the ancient Cathedral of Saints Nazario, Celso and Vittore, of ancient origins, built over a Roman temple, today the crypt of San Casto. The Catholic Church celebrates the two martyrs on July 28, the Orthodox Church on October 14.