In the year 363, Julian the Apostate made Apronianus Governor of Rome. Saint Bibiana suffered in the persecution started by him. She was the daughter of Christians, Flavian, a Roman knight, and Dafrosa, his wife. Flavian was tortured and sent into exile, where he died of his wounds. Dafrosa was beheaded, and their two daughters, Bibiana and Demetria, were stripped of their possessions and left to suffer poverty. However, they remained in their house, spending their time in fasting and prayer.
Apronianus, seeing that hunger and want had no effect upon them, summoned them. Demetria, after confessing her Faith, fell dead at the feet of the tyrant. St. Bibiana was reserved for greater sufferings. She was placed in the hands of a wicked woman called Rufina, who in vain endeavored to seduce her. She used blows as well as persuasion, but the Christian virgin remained faithful.
Enraged at the constancy of this saintly virgin, Apronianus ordered her to be tied to a pillar and beaten with scourges, laden with lead plummets, until she expired. The saint endured the torments with joy, and died under the blows inflicted by the hands of the executioner.
Afterwards, Bibiana’s body was left out in the open for wild beasts to devour, however, after two days, a holy priest named John came at night and buried her body near the palace of Licinius. Later a chapel was erected over her tomb. In 465, Pope Simplicius built a church there called Olympina, named after a pious lady who helped pay for the building of the church. In 1628, Pope Urban VIII had the church rebuilt since it was in very poor condition. He then had the relics of Bibiana, her sister and her parents brought and placed in the church. These relics had been discovered in the place that was sometimes called St. Bibiana’s cemetery.