Saint Maxima and her priest-husband, Saint Montanus, lived in Singidunum (present-day Belgrade) in the fourth century during the time of Emperor Diocletian’s persecution of Christians. The Emperor’s deputy, Galerius, issued an edict requiring Christians to offer sacrifices to the idols. The pious couple refused, and continued to conduct their lives according to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. They traveled to the west, to Sirmium, in order to distance themselves from the seat of power. However, in the year 304, they were seized by Roman soldiers and brought to stand trial before Governor Probus.
As they stood before the governor on a bridge overlooking the Sava River, the captives were given the choice of sacrifice to the idols or death. Saint Montanus showed great heroism and explained that if he were to sacrifice to the idols, it would be tantamount to rejecting Jesus Christ as God and Lord of heaven and earth, and he refused to comply.
Frustrated, Probus tried to persuade Saint Maxima to deny Christ. Much to the surprise of the crowd, her fidelity and apostolic courage proved to be as great, if not greater, than her husband’s. Saint Maxima defended her faith so convincingly and with such eloquent zeal that Probus cut the trial short, fearing mass conversions to Christianity.
Saints Maxima and Montanus were beheaded by the sword, and their remains were thrown into the Sava River. The faithful, and those converted by the zeal of the holy couple, willingly endangered their lives in order to rescue the bodies and heads of the martyrs from the river. The relics were transported to Rome and interred in the Catacombs of Saint Priscilla on the Salarian Way where they remained for 1,500 years.