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S I 





Manual of Christian Doctrine. Crown 8vo, 
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TION TO BAPTISM. As taught in Holy 
Scripture and the Fathers. Crown 8vo, 7s. 6d. 

SAINTS. Crown 8vo. 3s. 6d. net. 

LIFE UPON EARTH. Beine Lectures 
delivered on the Bishop Paddock Foundation 
in the General Seminary at New York, 1896. 
To which is prefixed part of a First Professorial 
Lecture at Cambridge. Crown 8vo, 5s. 

Crown 8to, 2s. 6d. net (Handbooks for the 
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^ o <--» vi 


This book is not written for the learned world, but to 
introduce to the ordinary reader some of the most 
trustworthy of the records of the primitive martyrs and 
confessors. In accordance with this object, I have not 
judged it necessary or expedient to discuss questions 
which are of much interest to the historian, but which 
might be repellent to others, concerning the age and 
authenticity of some of the documents used, or with 
regard to the trustworthiness of the several narratives. 
It will, I hope, be enough to say, that no narrative has 
been inserted in this book which may not be considered 
historically true, though in some cases the portions here 
given have been disentangled from a good deal which is 
fictitious. This is particularly the case with the Roman 
martyrdoms, such as those of Caecilia and Sebastian ; 
but it holds good also with regard to some of the 
Eastern martyrdoms, like that of Theodore the Tiro. 
It would probably be possible, by a similar process of 
sorting and sifting, to extract something like history out 
of a good many other Acts and Passions. Le Blant, 
amongst others, has shown how often material of real 
value is embedded in the midst of worthless and tire- 
some legend. But I do not think that the book as a 
whole would gain by the insertion of a large number 
of doubtful reconstructions. Such narratives as those 
of Polycarp and the martyrs of Lyons, of Perpetua, 
Cyprian, Montanus, and Marian, of the martyrs of 



Palestine under Diocletian, and of the forty-nine 
martyrs of Abitina, would be less effective for the 
purpose which this book has in view, if they were lost 
in a mass of others standing in constant need of 
apology. If I have omitted some narratives which have 
met with acceptance from many critics — for instance, 
the Acts of Afra — it has been because I could not bring 
myself to consider them historical. 

The footnotes are only intended, as a rule, to tell 
the reader where he may find the original documents 
from which the narratives have been taken. The great 
storehouse is, of course, the Ada Sanctorum, supple* 
mented here and there by the Anakcta BoUandtana; 
and, for the last part of the year, which the BoUan- 
dists have not yet reached, by Surius' VUae Sanctorum. 
The most useful collection of Acts of Martyrs is Ruinart's 
Acta primorum Marfyrum, It has passed through several 
editions ; the one which I use is the Verona edition of 
1 73 1. The chief fault of Ruinart is that, as a rule, he 
only gives his documents in Latin, even where the 
original was certainly Greek, and when it was easily 
accessible. Modern collections in a convenient form, 
and to be had cheaply, are those of H. Hurter (vol. xiii. 
of his Patrum Opuscula Sekda — all in Latin, Innsbruck, 
1870), of R. Knopf {AusgewOhlte Mdrfyreracten, in Kruger's 
Sammlung ausgew. Quellenschriften, Tubingen and Leipzig, 
1 901), and of O. von Gebhardt {AusgewdhUe Mdrfyrer- 
acten, Berlin, 1902). Hurter's is the least valuable of 
the three ; it makes no attempt to represent the ad- 
vance of criticism with regard to the documents which 
it includes. Among collections of documents translated 
into modern languages may be named H. Leclercq's 
Les Martyrs (2 vols., Paris, 1903), F. C. Conybeare's 
Monuments of Early ChristianUy (translated from the 


Armeniaiii London, i894)> ^^^ H. Hyvernat's Actes des 
Martyrs de T^gypU (in Coptic, with French translation, 
Paris and Rome, 1886-7). ^^ Englishman can forget 
the Ads and Manumenis of Foxe, the first volume of which 
contains translations of such of the best documents as 
Foxe had access to : it is a pity that he did not know 
some of the finest, like the Passion of Perpetua. 

Works which deal critically with the Acts of the 
Martyrs are many in number. I will here name a 
few only. Tillemont's great Mimoires pour servir still 
remains the indispensable guide of all who work in this 
field of history. B. Aub^, in his Hisloire des Persecutions 
(3 vols., 1875-85), comes down to the end of the third 
century ; P. Allard's Histoire des Persecutions (5 vols., 
1 885-1 900) comes down to the peace of the Church 
under Constantine. The student will find help in 
E. Preuschen's contribution on the Acts of the Mar- 
tyrs to Harnack's Geschichte der altchristlicken Litteratur 
(Leipzig, 1893-97), and in O. Bardenhewer's Geschichte 
der Altkirchlichen Litteratur, vol. ii. pp. 61 1 foil. (Freiburg 
im Breisgau, 1903), and for the period before Decius 
in K. J. Neumann's Rdmische Stoat und die allgemeine 
Kirche (Leipzig, 1890). 

There is one dear and honoured friend, whose 
name I must take leave to mention here with deep 
gratitude for help received in connexion with these 
pages. Monsieur Alexis Larpent, who will ever be 
associated in my mind with the revered memory of 
Archbishop Benson and with his Cyprian, has been 
kind enough, amidst many physical infirmities and the 
duties of a busy life, to place his great erudition and 
his vigilant accuracy at my service, and has given me 
invaluable criticisms and suggestions extending through 
the first fifteen chapters of the book. 



In sending this book to the press, it is my hope and 
prayer that it may not only instruct and interest, but 
that it may serve to stimulate its readers to a more 
ardent devotion to the great cause for which the 
martyrs suffered. They suffered for liberty of con- 
science, and the service which they thus did for man- 
kind can never be exaggerated. But it was not for 
liberty of conscience as an abstract principle. They 
died for their loyalty to One Holy God amidst the im- 
moralities of a corrupt polytheism. They died because 
they would not even pretend to put anything else on 
the same level with the Son of God who was crucified 
for them. They died because they would not abandon 
the Gospels which tell of His incarnate life, nor absent 
themselves from the Eucharist which He instituted to 
be the bond between Himself and us, and between 
us amongst ourselves. This faith requires to be held 
to-day with a force of conviction like theirs ; and 
perhaps there is no better way to brace and strengthen 
our Christian principles than by dwelling often upon 
the triumphs which the same .faith has won in the 

Cambridge, Si. Mai/kuu' Day^ 1905. 


1. The Martvus of the Apostolic Ace 
11. igmatius and polycarp . 


IV. Carpus, Caeolia, and Apoixonius 

V. Perpetua 

VI. Martyrs of Alexandria ; Polyeuctus 


VIII. Cyprian 

IX. Montanus and Flavian ; Marian and James 
X. Lawrence and Fructuosus . 
XL The Beginnings of Diocletian . 
XIL Hadrian and Natalia; Lucian; Theodotus 
XllL The Forty of Sebastia . . • • 
XIV. Tarachus, Probus, and Andronicus . 
XV. The Martyrs of Palestine . 
XVl. Phileas; Timothy and Maura; Didymus 
XVIL Philip and Hermes; Irene and her Sisters 


XIX. Sebastian; Alban; Vincent; Eulalia 
XX. The African Martyrs . 

Index of Names 

Index of Subjects . • • • 















Quorum intuentes exitum conversationis 

imitamini fidem. 

Hbb. xiii. 7. 





Our Lord warned His disciples that they would be 
made to suffer for His sake, as He Himself suffered. 
He told them that they would be delivered into prisons 
and brought before kings and rulers, that some of them 
would be scourged in the synagogues and persecuted 
from city to city, some of them killed and crucified. 
He said that they would be hated of all men ; that they 
would be betrayed by parents, and brethren, and kins- 
folk, and friends ; that people would think to serve God 
by putting them to death. He exhorted them not to 
fear those who killed the body, and, after that, had no 
more that they could do. He promised that, when 
they were brought to trial, He would give them a 
mouth and wisdom which all their adversaries would be 
unable to gainsay or resist. He promised that the Holy 
Ghost Himself should speak by their lips. He said 
that whosoever confessed Him before men, He in turn 
would confess them before God and before the angels. 

The New Testament tells us something of the 
sufferings by which these predictions of our Saviour 



began to be fulfilled in the lives of His earliest fol- 
lowers. It tells us of the dauntless courage of the 
first martyr, St. Stephen — 

'' As through the rushing shower of stones 
He saw the opened heaven." 

It contains St. Paul's terrible list of the sufferings which 
he had gone through for the sake of the Gospel — 
sufferings which were far from ended when he wrote : 
*'Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save 
one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, 
thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day have 
I been in the deep ; in journeyings often, in perils 
of rivers, in perils of robbers, in perils from my 
countrymen, in perils from the Gentiles, in perils in 
the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the 
sea, in perils among false brethren ; in labour and 
travail, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in 
fastings often, in cold and nakedness." The New 
Testament tells us of the beating of the apostles by 
authority of the Jewish rulers, and of the imprisonment 
of St. Peter, and of the death of St. James the brother 
of St. John by the sword of Herod. 

It may be one of the joys of the world to come 
to be allowed to learn more in detail about the history 
of those great saints than we at present know, and 
especially about the sufferings by which their devotion 
to Christ was tested. Fictitious stories about them 
were made up at a later date, to supply the lack of 
better information. But a few precious anecdotes have 
been preserved by good authorities, which deserve to 
be known by all Christian people. We must here 
gather up some of those fragments with the same 
reverence with which the early Christians gathered up 


.. • •• • • • 

• • • ,• .•• .•• • 

••• • ••' • ••••. ; *• • • ••• . .' 


the relics of their brethren who were torn for Christ's 
sake by wild beasts or burned in the fire. 

A very ancient writer records^ on the authority of 
still earlier tradition, a touching incident in the martyr- 
dom of St. James the son of Zebedee : how the man 
who had given information against him, and so had 
brought him to his death, as soon as he heard the 
apostle's brave confession of Christ, was deeply moved, 
and acknowledged himself also to be a Christian. The 
two men were led away together to execution ; and, as 
they went, the accuser turned to St. James and asked 
his forgiveness. The apostle did not immediately 
answer. It seems as if the Son of Thunder had 
schooled himself no longer to speak on the impulse 
of the moment, either in rebuke or in the ardour of 
love. He " considered for a little while," we are told, 
*' and then said, ' Peace be to thee/ and kissed him." 
And so the two were beheaded together.^ 

The Jewish Christians of Jerusalem preserved among 
them an account of the martyrdom of St. James's 
namesake — "the Lord's brother," as he is called by 
St. Paul. It is as follows : — 

St. James was a very strict observer of the Jewish 
law. He had been a Nazarite from childhood, drinking 
no wine or strong drink, and eating no animal food. 
No razor ever touched his head; he did not anoint 
himself with oil, nor use the luxury of the bath. He 
was always clothed in linen, and never wore wool. So 
frequent was he in prayer and intercession for his 
people, that by constant kneeling his knees had become 
dried up like the knees of a camel. He was known 
among the Jews as " James the Just " ; and they called 
him by a title, '' Oblias," which seems to have meant 

^ Clement of Alexandria in Eusebius, Hist, EccU ii. 9. 


"the bulwark of the people." It is even said, though 
it is difficult to believe, tliat because of his sanctity he 
was permitted to share the privilege of the priests and 
to go into the Holy Place in the temple. 

After the death of Festus, the governor of Judaea, 
who is mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles, and be- 
fore the arrival of his successor, James and some other 
Christians were arraigned before the Jewish Sanhedrin, 
and condemned to be stoned. The crime was, it seems, 
averted for a while by the action of some of the most 
respected of the Jews, who secretly appealed to Herod 
Agrippa and to the incoming Roman governor to stop 
the action of the high priest. But at a later time an 
opportunity was found. At the season of the Pass- 
over, the scribes and Pharisees carried James up to the 
''pinnacle of the temple," and begged him to use his 
influence with the assembled people not to believe in 
our Lord. The saying of Jesus about the '* door " was 
in their minds, and they asked James to explain to the 
multitude " what the door of Jesus is." " Why do you 
ask me about the Son of Man ? " was the saint's reply 
— using in his last moments, like Stephen, that title 
which elsewhere is only used by our Lord Himself in 
speaking of Himself — " He is sitting in heaven at the 
right hand of mighty power, and will come on the 
clouds of heaven." At this testimony, the believers 
among the crowd raised the shout of '.' Hosanna to the 
Son of David " ; but the Pharisees and scribes seized 
James, and flung him down from the '' pinnacle," and 
stoned him where he lay. James had still sufficient 
strength to kneel for the last time, and prayed, like 
his divine ''Brother" before him, "I beseech Thee, 
O Lord God our Father, forgive them, for they 
know not what they do." While they were stoning 


him, one of the descendants of Jonadab the son 
of Rechab, mentioned by the prophet Jeremiah, who, 
according to this account, were now reckoned as 
priests, cried aloud to them, " Stay ; what do ye ? 
the Just one is praying for you." Then a fuller 
who was present seized the bat or club which he 
used in the work of his trade, and brought it down 
upon the head of the Just one. So he died. It was 
believed by many that the siege of Jerusalem by 
Vespasian, which began soon after, was a judgment 
upon the Jews for this murder.^ 

There are one or two other notices of members of 
the family of our Lord. 

In the time of Domitian, the son of Vespasian, 
the descendants of Judas the brother of St. James 
were brought into danger. Domitian was extremely 
suspicious and jealous of any possible rivals to his 
sovereignty ; and as the ancient story goes, some 
members of a heretical sect denounced the grandsons 
of Judas to him, as being of the royal house of David, 
and kinsmen of Christ. They were brought before the 
emperor. He asked them if they were descended from 
David, and they said they were. He asked them what 
property they had. They told him that they had 
between them nine thousand denarii^ which means about 
^^320. They said that it was not in money, but that it 
represented the value of thirty-nine acres of land, which 
they cultivated themselves and lived upon the proceeds. 
Domitian looked at their hands, and saw that they were 
horny with the labour of the field. He then went on to 
ask them about Christ and His kingdom, its nature, its 
situation, and the time of its appearance. They replied 
that it was no earthly kingdom, but a heavenly and 

^ The story is found in Eusebius, Hist EccL ii. 23. 


angelic one, which was to take form at the end of the 
world, when Christ would come in glory to judge the 
quick and the dead, and to give to every man according 
to his deserts. Even the jealousy of Domitian could 
find no cause of alarm in these obscure and lowly men. 
Although as a rule he was very severe with Christians, 
he dismissed the two men to their homes, where 
the churches received them with great honour, and 
they lived until the times of Trajan.^ 

In those same times of Trajan died, by a martyr's 
death, an aged relative of theirs, named Symeon. He 
was the son of Clopas, who is generally supposed to be 
the same as Alphseus ; and the ancient author who 
relates the story describes Clopas as being the uncle of 
our Lord, Symeon therefore would be His first cousin. 
On the death of St. James, Symeon was appointed 
bishop of the church of Jerusalem in his stead. Against 
him, as against his kinsmen, certain heretics laid in- 
formation before the Roman authorities that he was a 
Christian and a member of a family which claimed to 
be royal. It so happened that the informers themselves 
were afterwards apprehended for the same reason, be- 
cause of their supposed connexion with the house of 
David. Symeon had by that time attained the patri- 
archal age of a hundred and twenty years ; but for 
many days he was subjected to indignities and rough 
usage. He showed a power of endurance under it 
which astonished the Roman magistrate and all be- 
holders, and was finally condemned to the death by 
which his blessed Kinsman had died, by crucifixion.^ 

These martyrdoms took place at Jerusalem. At 
Rome, meanwhile, many had been called to suffer for 
their faith. The first persecution of any large and 

^ Eusebius, Hist, Eccl. iii. 2a ' Ibid. iii. 32. 


public proportions broke out under Nero. Up to that 
time the Roman government had supposed that the 
Christians were only a sect of the Jews; and as the 
Jewish religion was allowed by the State, the Christians 
had profited by its protection. It was in the time of 
Nero that this condition of things came to an end, and 
the Christians stood out in the eyes of the Roman 
authorities as a separate and dangerous body of men. 
The heathen historian, Tacitus, relates that when the 
city of Rome was destroyed by fire (in the year 64), 
the report was everywhere circulated and believed that 
the emperor himself had caused the conflagration, or 
had at least hindered it from being extinguished. ^' To 
stifle the report," he says, "Nero provided others to 
bear the accusation, in the shape of people who were 
vulgarly called 'Christians,' in detestation of their 
abominable character. These he visited with every 
refinement of punishment. First some were arrested 
who confessed " that they were Christians ; '' then, on 
information given by them, an immense number were 
convicted, not so much on the charge of incendiarism 
as on that of ill-will towards mankind at large. Their 
deaths were turned into a form of amusement. They 
were wrapped in the skins of wild beasts to be torn 
in pieces by dogs, or were fastened to crosses to be set 
on fire, and, when the daylight came to an end, were 
burned for an illumination at night. Nero threw open 
his own gardens for the spectacle, and made it the 
occasion of a circus exhibition, mingling with the 
populace in the costume of a driver, or standing in his 
chariot. Sympathy was at length felt for the sufferers, 
although the objects of it were guilty persons who 
deserved the extremest punishment: people felt that 
they were being destroyed not for the benefit of 


the public but to serve the cruel purpose of one 
man." ^ 

Such is the account given by a heathen writer. A 
Christian who had lived through those terrible days 
wrote some years later to the Corinthian church, and 
spoke of the sufferings through which the Christians 
at Rome had passed. This was the great St. Clement, 
the third Bishop of Rome. Warning the Corinthian 
church against the factious spirit which still prevailed 
in it, he gave instances of the mischief which it had 
caused in the ancient world. He traced the persecu- 
tion of the Christians to the same cause. ''Let us come/' 
he says, ''to the champions nearest to our own time, 
and take the noble example set in our own generation. 
Through jealousy and envy the greatest and most 
righteous pillars were persecuted, and were called upon 
to contend even unto death. Let us set before our 
eyes the good apostles — Peter, who through un- 
righteous jealousy endured, not one or two, but many 
troubles, and so went by a martyr's death to the place 
of glory which was his due. Through jealousy and 
strife Paul showed us what is the reward of patient 
endurance. Seven times he was imprisoned; he was 
driven into exile ; he was stoned ; he preached both in 
the east and in the west, and gained a noble renown 
for his faith, having taught the whole world righteous- 
ness and having come to the very bounds of the west ; 
and when he had borne his witness before the rulers, 
he was set free from the world and passed into the holy 
place, the greatest pattern of endurance. To these men 
of holy life was gathered a great multitude of elect 
souls, who were made the victims of jealousy, and under 
many indignities and torments showed the noblest 

^ Tadtus, Annalst xv. 44. 



example among ourselves." Like Tacitus, St. Clement 
bears witness to the way in which the martyrdoms of 
Christians, even of Christian women, were turned into 
an amusement. They were dressed up to represent 
various characters in heathen mythology who had died 
horrible deaths or were condemned to dreadful su£Fer- 
ings in the world below. Some, like Dirce in the Greek 
mythology, were tied between wild bulls and torn in 
pieces ; others, like the daughters of Danaus, were worn 
out with the fatigue of being made to fetch and carry 
water, without a moment's rest, night or day, to fill great 
vessels of which the bottom had been pierced. ^' And 
so," says St. Clement, "weak as they were in body, 
they succeeded in running the sure race of faith and 
received a noble reward." * 

All ancient tradition is agreed that the two great 
apostles whom St. Clement mentions perished at Rome 
during the reign of Nero. St. Peter, before his own 
death, had the pain of witnessing what must have been 
worse than death to him. We know, from what St. 
Paul tells us, that St. Peter's wife accompanied him on 
his missionary travels ; and it is probable that she was 
still with him when he went to Rome, and there pre- 
ceded him to martyrdom. She may even have been 
one of those women of whom St. Clement speaks as 
undergoing so fantastic a death for the amusement of 
the Roman populace. A very ancient story relates 
that St. Peter saw her led away to death, and that as 
he watched her going he was glad at heart '' because 
she had been called and was going home." "He 
lifted up his voice," so the story runs, " and addressed 
her in a very encoiu-aging and comforting manner, 
speaking to her by name" — the name had been for- 

^ Clement of Rome, 5, 6. 


gotten ; some late legends give it as Concordia — " and 
saying, ' Remember the Lord, Concordia/ " or what- 
ever her name was. ''Such/' says the old narrator, 
'' was the marriage of the saints, and their disposition 
at the last to those whom they loved so dearly." ^ 

Outside the gate of Rome, upon the Appian Way, 
stands a little chapel known by the name of Domine, quo 
vacUs — :" Lord, whither goest Thou ? " It is said — and 
though the story is told only by a late writer, the great 
Bishop Lightfoot was inclined to believe that it was 
true — that the Christians at Rome came to St. Peter at 
the outbreak of the persecution and besought him to 
fly from the city. St. Peter yielded to their importunity. 
When he reached the spot where the chapel stands, 
Jesus Christ met him in the darkness of the night. The 
apostle once more asked Him, as he had done before, 
" Lord, whither goest Thou ? " The Lord answered 
him, " I go to Rome, to be crucified again." St. Peter 
understood the meaning of the rebuke. He returned 
and told the brethren what he had seen, and soon after 
glorified God by his death, as the Lord had foretold 
that he should, when He said, '' Another shall gird thee 
and carry thee whither thou wouldest not." * 

The ancient tradition of the Church is that St. 
Peter was crucified, and, at his own desire, crucified 
head downwards. It was quite in keeping with Nero's 
conduct in the Roman persecution to crucify him in 
that grotesque position, and St. Peter, in his humility, 
might very likely welcome the indignity, so that the 
form of his death might not look too like that of his 
Master.* The place of his martyrdom was by the 

^ Clement of Alexandria in Eusebius, Hist, EccL iii. 30. 

' Ambrose, Epist. 21. 

' Origen in Eusebius, HisU EccL iii. i. 


Vatican road, on the other side of the Tiber from the 
city of Rome, where the great church of St. Peter 
now stands. St. Paul, who was a Roman citizen, 
received the more honourable death of beheading, near 
the Ostian Way. 

The policy which was begun by Nero was continued 
under later emperors. It was taken for granted that all 
Christians were enemies to society. The First Epistle 
of St. Peter, which in all probability was written at 
Rome itself, shows what was the popular opinion about 
Christians. Again and again the apostle mentions the 
way in which they were '* spoken against as evildoers," 
and in which ''their good conversation in Christ was 
falsely accused." *' Let none of you," he says, *' su£Fer 
as a murderer, or a thief, or an evildoer " — which were 
the kind of things which the heathen expected of them — 
*' or," he adds, " as a busybody in other men's matters ; 
but if any suffer as a Christian, let him not l>e ashamed, 
but let him glorify God in this name." If at first the 
emperor and his magistrates persuaded themselves that 
crimes were proved against the Christians, and put them 
to death for these crimes, they soon came to put them 
to death just because they were Christians, without ask- 
ing any further questions. If a man acknowledged that 
he was a Christian, and refused to give it up, they no 
longer endeavoured to find out what particular evil 
deeds he was guilty of ; that he was a Christian was 
enough. No positive law was passed making Chris- 
tianity illegal — ^that was not necessary ; but they were 
suppressed as a danger to mankind at large. 

It was only to be expected that the Church should 
su£Fer more than usual under so cruel and suspicious 
an emperor as Domitian. He even put to death as a 
Christian his cousin Flavins Clemens, who was consul 


at the time ; while Flavius' wife, Domitilla, was banished 
for life to a little island in the Mediterranean. A yet 
loftier personage than the Roman consul felt the hand 
of Domitian. The aged St. John had for many years 
been living at Ephesus, keeping watch over the churches 
of Asia, and teaching his " little children " to love one 
another. Many beautiful anecdotes are told of his life 
and labours there — at one time going into the dangerous 
mountains to reconvert a young brigand who had fallen 
away from the faith ; at another fleeing out of the public 
baths because a heretical teacher happened to come in ; 
sometimes solacing himself in hours of recreation by 
playing with a tame partridge, because, as he said, the 
bow could not always be kept strung. Men who had 
been his disciples there spoke afterwards of their recol- 
lection of him as of some great high priest, who wore 
upon his head the sacred mitre, with its inscription 
of "holiness to the Lord." From these peaceful and 
fruitful ministrations he was carried away to Rome 
under Domitian, according to an ancient account, to 
answer for his faith. There he was cast into a vat of 
boiling oil, near the Latin Gate of the city. It was 
a kind of punishment which the philosopher Seneca 
speaks of as suitable for a slave convicted of heinous 
crime. Though St. John was wonderfully preserved 
from death, he, like Domitilla, was banished to an 
island, which was probably the island of Patmos, where 
the great Revelation was vouchsafed to him.^ 

* Tertullian, De Praescr. Haer. 36. 



Persecution, as has been already mentioned, broke 
upon the Church in the time of a very different 
emperor from Nero or Domitian — the upright and 
generous Trajan. A letter of extraordinary interest is 
still preserved in which the younger Pliny, who was 
at the time governor of Bithynia, asks Trajan for 
instructions how to deal with cases of Christianity that 
are brought before him. 

" I have never taken part," he says, " in the trial of 
a Christian, and therefore I do not know what it is 
that they are commonly punished for, and with what 
degree of allowance, nor what direction the investiga- 
tion should take. I have been much perplexed to 
know whether any distinction should be made between 
one age and another, or whether the weak and tender 
should be treated in exactly the same way as the 
strong ; whether those who repent should be pardoned, 
or whether if a person has once been a Christian he 
should gain nothing by ceasing to be so ; whether the 
very name of Christianity is liable to punishment, apart 
from disgraceful conduct, or the disgraceful conduct 
which is attached to the name." This is evidently 
Pliny's way of suggesting that perhaps, after all, there 
might be nothing to punish in Christianity itself, and that 
no harm would be done by allowing it to be practised. 

" Meanwhile," he continues, " this is the method 



which I have followed with those who were brought 
before me as Christians. I have asked them directly 
whether they were Christians. If they confessed, I 
have asked them a second and a third time, with 
threats of punishment ; if they persisted I have ordered 
them to be taken to execution. I had no doubt that 
whatever the thing which they confessed amounted to, 
their obstinacy at any rate, and their inflexible stub- 
bornness, deserved to be punished." Whether Chris- 
tianity were or were not in itself a pernicious thing, to 
refuse to do as the governor bade them was an act of 
insubordination which could not be tolerated for an 

" Others there were," Pliny says, " as mad as these, 
who possessed the right of Roman citizenship, and 
for that reason I have marked them to be sent for 
trial to the capital. By-and-by, as often happens, the 
charge of Christianity grew more frequent as a direct 
consequence of these proceedings, and several different 
kinds of cases came up. An anonymous paper was laid 
before me containing many names. In the case of 
those who said that they were not Christians and never 
had been, when they had repeated after me a form of 
address to the gods, and had offered incense and wine 
to your image, which I had ordered to be brought into 
court for the purpose, along with the statues of the 
deities, and when, in addition to this, they had cursed 
Christ — none of which things it is said that real Chris- 
tians can be induced to do — I thought that I might let 
them go. Others who were named by the informer 
said first that they were Christians and then that they 
were not. They said that they had been so, but had 
left it off — ^some three years ago, some a good many 
years, one or two as many as twenty. All these, like- 


wise, both worshipped your efBgy and the statues of 
the gods, and cursed Christ/' 

Now follows a passage of the deepest interest. 
Every word of it deserves to be carefully studied. It 
is the earliest description of Christian ways given by 
one who was not himself a Christian, but earnestly 
and sincerely desirous of doing what was right in the 
discharge of his duties. ''Yet they affirmed/' says 
Pliny, " that their fault or their error came to no more 
than this — ^that it was their custom to assemble on a 
fixed day before daylight, and to repeat alternately 
amongst themselves a song to Christ as to a god, and 
to bind themselves by an oath — not to any crime,*' as 
conspirators against social order would have done, 
"but that they would not commit theft or robbery 
or adultery, that they would not break their word, and 
that when called upon to produce a thing entrusted 
to them they would not repudiate the trust. When 
this was done, they said that it had been their habit 
to depart and then come together again later to take 
a meal, but an ordinary harmless meal, and this they 
had ceased to do after the issue of my edict forbidding 
the existence of organised associations, as you com- 

The first of these two gatherings, which took place 
before daylight, was, without doubt, the gathering for 
the weekly Eucharist. Even the apostate Christians of 
whom Pliny is speaking did not tell him of the central 
action of those early assemblies. It was too sacred to 
be mentioned to a heathen. They only told him of 
the worship which accompanied their Communion, and 
of the moral discipline which preserved it from profa- 
nation. Christ was their God, and no one was allowed 
to receive Him without pledging himself to a holy life. 


The later gathering in the day was the " love-feast," or 
Agapi. No commandment of the Lord had instituted 
the love-feasts, and the Christians felt no difficulty about 
giving them up; but it was otherwise with the Holy 
Communion. To give that up would have been to 
abandon Christianity itself. 

When Pliny first heard of the meal which the Chris- 
tians shared in common, he doubtless thought that it 
was possible that he might find that it was a meal of 
some horrible character, such as popular calumny attri- 
buted to the Christians. They were supposed to be 
cannibals, and to drink the blood of children. This 
was what heathen ill-wishers made out, from such 
reports as came through to them about the sacred 
food of the Lord's Table. Pliny was much struck when 
he learned how harmless was the social meal of which 
he was informed, and how readily it had been dropped. 
" This," he says, '< made me think it the more necessary 
to find out from two female slaves, who were called 
ministrae (or deaconesses), how far the account was 
true. I did so by torture," without which the evidence 
of slaves was not accepted in Roman law. '' I discovered 
nothing," he concludes, "beyond a degraded and ex- 
travagant superstition. So I adjourned the hearing and 
had recourse to you. The matter seemed to me worth 
troubling you about, particularly because of the number 
of those imperilled. Many of every age and every 
rank, and of both sexes too, are and will be in danger. 
It is not only the cities, but even the villages and the 
country, that are penetrated by this catching supersti- 
tion. Yet it looks as if it might be stopped and cor- 
rected. At any rate, it is quite proved that the temples, 
which were almost deserted, have begun to be filled, 
and that sacred rites long disused are again resorted to. 



and that on every side there is a sale for animals for 
sacrifice/' — or, perhaps, ^'a sale for fodder for sacri- 
ficial animals/' — ''whereas up to the present it has 
been a rare thing to find a purchaser. From this it 
is easy to imagine what a multitude of people may be 
put in the right way, if only a place of repentance is 

Trajan had no wish to push matters to an extreme. 
It probably never entered his head to permit the exercise 
of Christianity — at any rate he took no steps to permit 
it ; — ^but he did not wish to go out of his way to repress 
our religion. He wrote back to Pliny, approving of his 
course of action. He said that it was impossible to lay 
down any hard and fast rule for dealing with such 
cases. He said that Christians were not to be sought 
out as ordinary criminals were sought out, though, if 
accused and convicted, they were to be punished. If 
any gave such satisfactory proofs of renouncing 
Christianity as Pliny had mentioned in his letter, he 
was to receive a free pardon, however strong a sus- 
picion might lie against him because of the past. 
Trajan strongly condemned the receiving of anonymous 
informations, which he said offered '' a pernicious pre- 
cedent, and was unworthy of the age." ^ 

The most illustrious victim of the persecution under 
Trajan was the great Ignatius, Bishop of Antioch in 
Syria. Of his earlier life little is known to us; but 
seven Epistles of Ignatius remain, which show us 
abundantly the character of the man. Ignatius was 
no reserved Roman or philosophical Greek. He had 
all the passionate fervour of an Oriental, and he was 
endowed besides with the Christian spirit of prophecy. 
These Epistles were all written while Ignatius was on 

* Pliny, EpisL x. 96, 97. 



his way from Antioch to be put to death at Rome. He 

passed from city to city, as he himself says, '' tied and 

bound, by land and sea, by night and by day, in the 

midst of ten leopards/' This is his description of the 

soldiers who guarded him, and of whom he says that 

they only grew worse for being kindly treated. He had 

been condemned to fight with the wild beasts at Rome, 

and he says that his fight with the wild beasts was 

already begun. Yet, wherever he passed. Christians of 

the various churches appear to have been allowed free 

access to him, and he preached and prophesied among 

them, exhorting them above all things to have peace 

amongst themselves and to obey their bishops as they , 

would obey Christ Himself. Nothing was to be done 

without the bishop. No Eucharist was valid, no baptism 

or love-feast lawful, unless the bishop was present or 

had authorised another to take his place. He who did , 

anything without the bishop's knowledge, Ignatius told 

them, did service to the devil. The churches of Asia 

were infested at this time with a heretical belief known 

to us as Docetism, which made the human nature of 

our Lord to be only a phantom and a semblance. 

This belief was especially hateful to Ignatius. He 

insisted that " our Lord was truly of the seed of David 

according to the flesh, the Son of God according to 

the will and power of God, truly born of a Virgin, 

baptized by John that all righteousness might be 

fulfilled by Him, and truly nailed for our sake in flesh 

under Pontius Pilate and Herod the tetrarch." He 

said that those who held the " semblance " views were ' 

themselves a mere semblance ; they were wild beasts 

in human form. He felt, and they themselves felt 

also, that if the flesh of Christ was an unreal t^ing, 

the Eucharist had no meaning. "They keep away," i 


he cried, " from the Eucharist and prayer, because they 
allow not that the Eucharist is the flesh of our Saviour 
Jesus Christ, which suffered for our sins, and which 
the Father of His goodness raised up." Nothing filled 
Ignatius with greater horror than such a thought. 
For himself, he was — ^to use his own expression — en- 
amoured of Jesus Christ. ''My love," he wrote, "is 
crucified. ... I have no delight in the food of cor- 
ruption, nor in the pleasures of this life. I desire the 
bread of God, which is the flesh of Christ, . . . and 
for drink I desire His blood, which is incorruptible 

The passage of Ignatius was everywhere received 
with wondering awe, like the passage of a being from 
another world. He himself was in a state of unearthly 
exaltation. The thought of what he was about to 
endure filled him with a half frenzied joy ; the one fear 
which he had was lest some powerful Christians at 
Rome should procure his pardon from the government 
and so cheat him of the coveted end. " I dread your 
very love," he writes to them, '' lest it should do me a 
wrong. I bid all men know that of my own free will I 
die for God, unless ye should hinder me. Let me be 
given to the wild beasts, for through them I can attain to 
God. I am God's wheat, and I am ground by the teeth 
of wild beasts that I may be found pure bread. Rather 
entice the wild beasts, that they may be my sepulchre and 
may leave no part of my body to be burdensome to any 
one when I am fallen asleep." " Oh that I may enjoy 
the wild beasts that are prepared for me. I pray that 
they may make short work of me. I will entice them to 
make short work of devouring me, and not to do as they 
have done with some, whom they were afraid to touch. 
If they will not do it of their own accord, I will make 


them do it. Come fire and cross and grapplings with 
wild beasts, wrenchings of bones, hackings of limbs, 
crushings of my whole body, cruel tortures of the devil, 
only let me attain to Jesus Christ." '^ Him I seek who 
died for us. Him I desire who rose again on our 
behalf. The pangs of travail are upon me. iForgive 
me, brethren. Do not hinder me from living, do not 
desire to slay me. Su£Fer me to receive the pure light ; 
when I get there I shall be a man." ^ 

The stories which are current with regard to the 
trial and death of Ignatius are late fictions, and have 
no historical value ; but there is no doubt that he 
attained his desire, and was torn in pieces in the 
Colosseum on some ^' Roman holiday." Nothing that 
had yet happened in the Church did so much to en- 
hance the glory of martyrdom as the intoxication of 
spirit with which this fiery Syrian prophet shot like a 
meteor from the East to the West to die. 

Among the seven letters of Ignatius is one written 
to the bishop of the church of Smyrna, through which 
city Ignatius had passed. The bishop was then a man 
of about forty years of age, and Ignatius speaks with 
rapture of the joy which it had given him '' to see his 
blameless face" and to commune with one who was 
'' grounded as upon an immovable rock." The bishop's 
name was Polycarp. Polycarp in his youth had been 
a hearer of the apostle John, and it is probable that St. 
John himself had appointed him to the bishopric of 
Smyrna. He may even have been the *' angel " of that 
church at the time when the Apocalypse of St. John was 
addressed to it. To him Ignatius wrote : " The times 
require thee, as pilots require winds, and as one tossed 
at sea requires a haven. Be vigilant as an athlete of 

^ Ignatius, I^am. 6. 


God. Stand firm like an anvil under the blows of the 
hammer. It is the part of a great athlete to receive 
blows and to conquer. Be yet more diligent than thou 
art ; learn to know the times." 

As Bishop Lightfoot says, ''the words were in 
some sense prophetic." For forty or fifty years more 
Polycarp remained at his post, firm and immovable, 
teaching to a later generation what he had received 
from the apostles, and resisting every incursion of 
strange doctrine. One who had known him in youth, 
reproaching a fellow-student of his for having deserted 
the faith of Polycarp, says to him: 'Mf that blessed 
and apostolic elder had heard anything of this kind, he 
would have cried out and stopped his ears, and would 
have said, as his manner was, * Oh, good God, for what 
times hast Thou kept me that I should endure these 
things ? ' and would have fled from the place." A few 
years before his death he visited Rome, to confer with 
the bishop, Anicetus, about the time for observing 
Easter, upon which the Eastern and Western churches 
disagreed ; and so great was the reverence felt for him 
that, although the Roman church would not accept 
Polycarp's views, Anicetus asked him to take his own 
place in conducting the service of the holy Eucharist, 
as though Polycarp and not he were the bishop of 
the church of Rome. While there, a heretic named 
Marcion, whom Polycarp had known in Asia, met him, 
and sought his recognition. '' Recognise thee 1 " cried 
Polycarp ; " I recognise the first-born of Satan." 

The time came when Polycarp was to imitate the 
endurance of Ignatius, and to suffer martyrdom like 
him. In the year 155, while Antoninus Pius was 
emperor, the ever-smouldering fire of persecution broke 
out at Smyrna. A number of Christians were tortured 


or thrown to the wild beasts* " They were so rent with 
scourges/' say some who witnessed the scene, ''that 
their veins and arteries and muscular structure were 
laid bare to sight, so that the bystanders were sorry for 
them and lamented them. But they, like valiant men, 
neither moaned nor groaned, showing us all that in 
that hour of torture Christ's martyrs were absent from 
the flesh, or rather that the Lord was standing by 
them and communing with them." Not all indeed 
exhibited such firmness. One, a Phrygian named 
Quintus, who had thrust himself forward, unsought, 
as a candidate for martyrdom, was seized with panic 
when he saw the wild beasts. The proconsul, whose 
name was L. Statins Quadratus, by use of much en- 
treaty persuaded him to swear the oath of recantation, 
and to offer incense. His wise fellow Christians dis- 
approved of such volunteering for martyrdom. In 
contrast with the cowardice of Quintus, one Christian, 
named Germanicus, particularly distinguished himself 
in the combat with the wild beasts. The proconsul 
was anxious to save him. He urged him to '* have pity 
on his youth," and to abandon his profession, but Ger- 
manicus refused. He dragged the wild beast to himself 
by main force, and compelled it to kill him. The sight 
of such constancy, while it encouraged the Christians, 
provoked the anger of the heathen, and they cried out, 
" Away with the atheists 1 search for Polycarp." 

When the tidings were brought to Polycarp, it was 
his desire at first to remain in Smyrna, but the brethren 
persuaded him to withdraw. He retired to a country 
house not far from the city, and spent his time with a 
few companions, "praying night and day for all, and 
for the churches throughout the world, which was his 
constant habit." Three days before his apprehension. 


while he was praying, he fell into a vision. He saw his 
pillow on fire. He turned and said to those who were 
with him, " I must be burned alive." 

The search for Polycarp continued, and he took his 
departure to another country place. The search-party 
came into the neighbourhood, but not being able to 
find him they laid hold on two young slaves belonging 
to Polycarp's household and put them to the torture. 
One of them gave way, and undertook to guide them to 
his master. Taking the boy with them, the police and 
horsemen, armed with their usual weapons, ** as against 
a robber," started about supper-time, on ''the day of 
the Preparation." The captain of the band bore the 
name of Herod. The writers of the account eagerly 
note every detail which recalled to them the circum- 
stances of the capture of our Lord. Late in the evening 
the men arrived at the spot, and found Polycarp at rest 
in the upper room of a small building. There would 
have been time for Polycarp to make his escape, but he 
refused, saying, " The will of God be done." Hearing 
that they were come, he went downstairs and entered 
into conversation with them. Those who were present 
could not help wondering at his great age and his firm- 
ness of mind. It seemed to them strange to take so 
much trouble for the apprehension of an old man like 
that. Late as the hour was, Polycarp gave orders that 
a table should be laid for his captors to eat and drink 
as much as they pleased, and asked them in return to 
allow him a space of time that he might pray undis- 
turbed. Upon their granting his request he stood up 
and prayed aloud, and '' so full was he of the grace of 
God that for two hours he could not hold his peace, and 
those who heard him were astonished, and many re- 
pented of having come against such a reverend old man. 


*' When at length his prayer came to an end, after 
remembering all whom he had at any time met, whether 
small or great, distinguished or otherwise, and all the 
Catholic Church throughout the world, the hour for 
departure having now come, they set him on an ass 
and brought him into the city. It was a great sabbath 
day. Polycarp was met by Herod, the head of the 
police, with his father, Nicetes, who took him into their 
carriage and seated themselves beside him, and plied 
him with persuasions. 'What harm is it,' they said, 
* to save yourself by saying, Caesar is Lord, and oflFering 
some incense ? ' At first he did not answer them ; but 
when they continued he said, * I shall not do what you 
advise me.' So when they failed to persuade him, they 
used harsh language to him, and pulled him down from 
the carriage with such haste that in dismounting he tore 
the skin o£F his shin. Polycarp, without turning round, 
as if he felt it not, hastened with alacrity upon his way. 
They took him to the stadium," or race-course, " where 
there was so great a hubbub that no man's voice could 
be heard. As Polycarp entered into the stadium, a voice 
came from heaven, * Be strong, Polycarp, and of a good 
courage.' " It was as if the exhortations which Ignatius 
had made on his way to martyrdom were renewed by 
one greater than Ignatius. The speaker was unseen, but 
the voice was heard by Christians who were present. 

'' It got about that Polycarp had been brought as 
a prisoner, and the noise in the stadium increased. 
He was set before the proconsul. The proconsul 
asked whether his name was Polycarp, and when he 
acknowledged that it was, he endeavoured to persuade 
him to deny his faith. He said, * Pay respect to your 
old age,' and everything of that kind that they are wont 
to say ; ' Swear by the fortune of Csesar,' ' Change your 


mind, and say, Away with the atheists.' But Polycarp, 
looking with a countenance full of meaning upon all 
that multitude of ungodly heathen with which the 
stadium was filled, waved his hand over them, and 
looked up to heaven with a sigh and said, ' Away with 
the atheists.' The proconsul pressed him hard and 
said, ' Take the oath and I release you ; revile Christ.' 
But Polycarp answered, ' I have now been His servant 
fourscore and six years, and He never did me wrong ; 
how can I blaspheme my King who saved me 7 ' The 
magistrate pressed him again and said, ' Swear by the 
fortune of Caesar.' He answered, * If you think vainly 
that I shall swear by the fortune of Caesar as you 
say, and if you pretend not to know what I am, I 
tell you plainly, I am a Christian. If you desire to 
learn what Christianity is, name a day and hear me.' 
The proconsul said, ' Prevail upon the people ; ' but 
Polycarp answered, ^ As for you, I should have deemed 
you worthy of speech, for we have been taught to 
render to the powers and authorities which are appointed 
by God such due honour as does no harm ; but these 
I do not consider worthy that I should make my 
defence to them.' The proconsul said, ' I have wild 
beasts here ; I shall throw you to them unless you 
change your mind.' He answered, * Call for them ; for 
the change of mind from better to worse is a change 
we may not make ; but it is a good thing to change from 
perverse ways to righteousness.' The proconsul said 
again to him, ' If you despise the wild beasts, I will 
make you to be consumed by fire, unless you change 
your mind.' But Polycarp answered, 'You threaten 
me with fire that burns for a season and after a little 
while is put out, for you know not the fire of judg- 
ment to come, and of eternal punishment, which is kept 


for the ungodly. But why do you delay? use what 
you will.' " 

All threats and persuasions having failed, the pro- 
consul sent his own crier to proclaim thrice in the 
middle of the stadium, ''Polycarp has confessed him- 
self to be a Christian." Upon this the whole multitude, 
Gentiles and Jews alike, were filled with fury and 
shouted, "This is the teacher of all Asia, the father 
of the Christians. It is he who casts down our gods. 
He teaches many not to sacrifice nor worship." The 
public games in Asiatic cities were presided over by 
ofiicers who bore the name of Asiarchs. They are re- 
ferred to in the Acts of the Apostles, where we are told 
that "certain of the chief of Asia" were St. Paul's 
friends, and persuaded him not to appear in the theatre. 
This office at Smyrna was held at the time of Polycarp's 
death by a man named Philip. The multitude called 
upon Philip to let loose a lion upon Polycarp. Philip 
refused. He said that the appointed time of the games 
was over, and that what was demanded of him was 
beyond his power. Then a shout was raised which 
soon became universal, that Polycarp should be burnt 
alive. It was a recognised punishment in Roman law 
for men disloyal to the emperors. Thus Polycarp's 
own prophecy came to be fulfilled. Immediately the 
crowd set to work to gather together logs and faggots 
from the workshops and the public baths. The Jews 
took a foremost part in these proceedings. " It was 
their wont to do so," say the writers of the narrative. 

" As soon as the bonfire was prepared, Polycarp laid 
aside all his upper garments for himself, and undid his 
girdle, and essayed also to take off his shoes. Before 
this time he was never allowed to do it, because the 
faithful vied with one another to be allowed to touch his 


feet. For even before his hair turned white he had 
been deeply reverenced because of his good conversa- 
tion." The instruments for his martyrdom were placed 
around him, but when they were about to nail him to 
the stake, he said, ** Let me be as I am. He who has 
granted me to endure the fire will grant me also to 
remain at the pile without flinching ; the security of 
your nails will not be wanted." Accordingly they re- 
frained from nailing him, and only fastened him with 
a rope. '' Poly carp placed his hands behind him, and 
was bound for sacrifice like a notable ram out of a 
mighty flock, prepared as a whole burnt-o£Fering accept- 
able to God. He looked up to heaven and said, ' Lord 
God Almighty, Father of Thy beloved and blessed 
Son Jesus Christ, through whom we have received the 
knowledge of Thee, O God of angels and powers and 
of all creation, and of all the kindred of the righteous 
who live before Thee, I bless Thee that Thou hast 
counted me worthy of this day and hour, to receive 
a portion among the number of the martyrs in the cup 
of Christ for the resurrection of soul and body to 
eternal life in the incorruptibility of the Holy Ghost. 
O that I may be received among them to-day before 
Thee in full and acceptable sacrifice, according as Thou 
didst prepare beforehand, and didst reveal it unto me, 
and hast now fulfilled it, O true God who canst not lie. 
For this cause and for all things I praise Thee, I bless 
Thee, I glorify Thee, through the eternal and heavenly 
High Priest, Jesus Christ, Thy beloved Son, through 
whom unto Thee, with Him and with the Holy Ghost, 
be glory now and ever and unto all ages.' " 

It was especially noticed how he finished his 
prayer with the solemn "Amen" which was used at 
the Christian Eucharist. No sooner had he reached 


that word than the firemen kindled the fire. <* Then," 
say the writers, " a mighty flame blazed forth, and we, 
to whom it was given to see, saw a wondrous sight. 
Yea, we were preserved to tell to others what happened. 
The fire took the form of an arch, like the sail of a ship 
filled with the wind, and encompassed the body of the 
martjrr with a wall, and there it stood in the midst, not 
like flesh burning, but like bread baking in the oven, or 
like gold and silver refined in a furnace. We smelt so 
sweet a savour as though frankincense or some other 
precious spices were breathed upon the air." The fire was 
so long in doing its work upon Polycarp's body that those 
in charge grew impatient and ordered an executioner to 
go up to him and plunge a dagger into him. He did 
so, and the Christian spectators affirm that such a gush 
of blood followed upon the stroke that it checked the 
flames of the fire, and all the multitude marvelled, and 
saw that this man was not like one of themselves. 

A deep disappointment awaited those loving dis- 
ciples who had reckoned so highly the honour of taking 
off the shoes of the saint. The envious adversary of 
the righteous, they say, grudged them the satisfaction of 
doing honour to his corpse. The father of Herod, the 
head of the police, who had a Christian sister, entreated 
the magistrate not to give the body to the Christians, 
"lest," he said, "they should leave the Crucified and 
begin to worship Polycarp." The Jews joined in the 
entreaty, mounting guard over the burning pile, lest the 
Christians should take the body away. " They do not 
know," say the narrators, "that we can never leave 
Christ who suffered for the salvation of the saved of 
all the world, the spotless One for sinners, nor worship 
any other. Him we adore as being the Son of God ; 
but the martyrs, as disciples and imitators of the 


Lord, we love, as they deserve, for their unsurpassed 
devotion to their own King and Teacher, and we pray 
that we may be fellow-partakers and fellow-disciples 
with them." 

The centurion, seeing the opposition of the Jews, 
set the body of Polycarp in the midst of the pile, and 
burnt it according to the usual fashion of the heathen. 
*' Thus afterwards," say the Christians of Smyrna, " we 
were able to gather up his bones, which are more 
precious than costly stones and finer than gold, and we 
laid them where it was meet. There, when time permits, 
the Lord will su£Fer us to assemble with gladness and 
joy to celebrate the martyr's birthday, for the re- 
membrance of those who have already passed through 
the conlBict, and for the training and preparation of 
those who shall do so hereafter." 

The account was written by the Christians of 
Smyrna soon after the events which it relates, and 
sent to their brethren at a place called Philomelion. 
The Christians of Philomelion had heard of the death 
of Polycarp, and asked for a circumstantial account 
of it. The writers beg the brethren at Philomelion 
to circulate the letter amongst the churches beyond 
them, that they also may join in glorifying the Lord.^ 

St. Irenseus of Lyons, who had been a disciple of 
Polycarp, was at Rome at the time of his master's 
martyrdom. At the precise hour when Polycarp was 
put to death at Smyrna, Irenaeus heard a voice as of 
a trumpet saying, ** Polycarp has died a martyr's 
death." He is said to have made the statement 
himself in one of his written works. 

About the same date a group of martyrdoms took 

1 Lightfoot's Apostolic Fatlurs (ed. 2), Part II., vol. iii. p. 353 foil. ; or 
Funk's Pottos Apostolui, toI. i. p. 315 folL 


place at Rome, which show how completely the very 
name and profession of being a Christian was enough 
to cause death, without any attempt being made to 
prove that the accused was guilty of further crimes. 
A woman was converted to Christianity, and thereupon 
refused to join her heathen husband in practices which 
were against her conscience. At last, after patient 
trial, it became necessary for her to use that liberty 
which St. Paul allows to a Christian married to a 
heathen partner, and to obtain a legal release from 
him. The profligate husband denounced her as a 
Christian. She applied to the emperor to put off 
the hearing of her case until she had settled her 
private affairs, and the request was granted. Baffled 
for the present in his desire for vengeance against the 
woman, the divorced husband turned upon the man 
who had been her instructor in the faith, whose 
name was Ptolemy. He had a friend who was a 
centurion. He persuaded the centurion to arrest 
Ptolemy, and cast him into irons, and " to interrogate 
him on this one point, whether he were a Christian." 
Ptolemy, who was a guileless and truthful man, con- 
fessed that he was, and was kept in a miserable con- 
finement. After a long delay he was brought before 
the prefect of the city of Rome, called Urbicus. 
Like the centurion, Urbicus asked him no other ques- 
tion but whether he were a Christian. Ptolemy, who 
knew that he owed to Christianity everything that was 
best in life, made the same simple avowal as before, and 
was condemned to death. As he was led from the 
tribunal, a Christian named Lucius who was present 
cried aloud and asked Urbicus what was the ground of 
his sentence. "This man," he said, "has not been 
convicted of adultery, or murder, or robbery, or any 


other crime ; you punish him simply because he 
acknowledged the name of a Christian. Urbicus, that 
is not a judgment that suits an emperor bearing the 
name of Pius, nor Caesar's son, the philosopher, nor the 
Senate — ^the sacred Senate." The reply of Urbicus 
was, " I suppose that you are the same as Ptolemy." 
<* Certainly," said Lucius. The prefect ordered him to 
share the fate of Ptolemy. Lucius thanked him ; and 
a third Christian who acted in the same manner was 
added to the former two.^ 

A beautiful account of the Christian life of those 
times is contained in a little anonymous writing known 
to us as the Epistle to Diognetus. Diognetus appears 
to have been a high official, and perhaps, like Pliny, 
was at a loss to know why he was compelled to take 
action against the Christians. His informant describes 
him as <' seeking earnestly to know what God they 
believe in, and what that worship of Him is which 
enables them to despise the world, and to brave death." 
** Christians," he tells him, '' are not marked off from 
other men by country, by language, or by manner of 
life. They live in Greek or barbarian cities, according 
to the appointed lot of each, and follow the local 
customs in dress and diet and so forth, although the 
nature of their own social ideal is acknowledged to be 
wonderful and surprising. They live in their own 
country, but as sojourners in it ; they have their part 
in everything as citizens, and bear everything like 
strangers ; every foreign country is a home to them, 
and every home a foreign country. They obey the 
established laws, and surpass the laws by their own 
lives. They love all men, and are persecuted by all. 
Men do not understand them, and condemn them ; 

^ Jostin, ApoL ii. 2. 


they are put to death, and find life thereby. They are 
poor, and make many rich ; they lack all things, and 
abound in alL They are dishonoured, and glory in the 
dishonour ; they are slandered, and are found righteous ; 
they are reviled, and they bless ; they are shamefully 
treated, and they pay respect. They do good, and are 
punished as evil ; when they are punished, they rejoice 
as if life were given them. The Jews make war against 
them as aliens, and the Greeks persecute them ; and 
those who hate them cannot give a reason for their 
enmity." ^ 

^ Printed in Otto's Justin, or in Funk's Patrts Apostolicu 



The Christian Church fared worse under the emperor 
Marcus Aurelius than it had done under any emperor 
since the times of Nero and Domitian. Marcus Aure- 
lius was himself a noble man ; but he was a philosopher, 
and his philosophy was not that of the Church. Lenient 
and merciful towards other classes of ofiFenders against 
the law, he had a peculiar dislike to the Christians. 
He hated them with the hatred of a professional for a 
set of ignorant and self-taught amateurs. His own 
philosophy was that of the Stoics, which taught men to 
bear pain and death without fear. It might have been 
thought that he would have sympathised with the 
heroism of the Christian martyrs, but it was not so. In 
one passage of his writings he refers to the calmness 
with which Christians met death, in order to contrast it 
with the true courage of a Stoic. The true courage, 
he thought, was displayed when men sought death by 
their own act of choice ; the Christians died out of 
" sheer obstinacy." A Stoic's courage was reasonable 
and dignified, and therefore impressive, whereas a 
Christian's was affected and theatrical. Marcus had 
no admiration for such courage, and when he had to 
deal with Christians he strained the law to make their 
sufferings more bitter. 

The most famous suiSerer in the reign of Marcus 
Aurelius was the philosopher Justin. A native of 

33 c 


Samaria, but of purely Gentile origin, Justin sought 
instruction in his youth from one form of heathen 
philosophy after another. The Stoics, the Peripatetics, 
the Pythagoreans, the Platonists alike disappointed him. 
One day while he was pacing in meditation near the 
seashore — probably at Ephesus — he met an old man 
whose dignity and gentleness attracted him. He gazed 
so intently at him that the old man asked if he knew 
him. They fell into conversation together, and the old 
man told him that there was a higher and more satis- 
fying philosophy than any which he had yet studied, 
taught by inspired prophets whose words had been 
fulfilled in Christ. The old man bade him to pray 
that the gates of light might be opened to him, 
that he might understand the things which could 
only be known by gift of God and of His Christ. 
Justin never saw the old man again, but his soul was 
left all on fire, he says, with desire to know those 
friends of Christ of whom the old man had spoken. 
Without ceasing to be a philosopher he became a 

The philosophical education of Justin fitted him to 
be the first of those who are called the Apologists, or 
writers in defence of Christianity. The Apologies are 
among the most valuable documents for the study of 
the early Church, its practices and its beliefs. Thus 
the Apology of Athenagoras is of great importance for 
the doctrine of the Holy Trinity, and the newly re- 
covered Apology of Aristides for the history of the 
Creed. In two works of this kind Justin addressed 
himself to the Roman emperor and to the senate. 
The sight of Christian fortitude awoke in him a 
different feeling from that which it aroused in the 
mind of Marcus Aurelius. "While I was myself 


contented with the doctrines of Plato," he writes, 
''when I heard Christians accused, and saw them 
advance fearlessly to meet death and everything that 
is thought terrible, I felt that it was impossible that 
these men should be living a life of vicious pleasure, as 
was supposed." He felt that it was the duty of any 
Christian who was qualified for the task, to tell the 
public what Christianity really was : otherwise the 
responsibility for their persecution rested upon the 
Christians themselves. With this view he not only set 
forth with remarkable freedom the beliefs of Christians, 
and the reasons upon which they were grounded, but 
even gave a full account of those secret meetings of the 
Christians which were suspected by the heathen to 
have an immoral purpose. He told his readers how 
the converts to Christianity were regenerated by the 
use of water in the name of the Holy Trinity ; and 
how, on the day which is called Sunday, all those who 
lived in town or country gathered together to hear 
the writings of the apostles and of the prophets read 
and expounded ; and how the president of the brethren 
took bread and a mixture of wine and water, and 
prayed and gave thanks over it ; and how the food thus 
consecrated was called the Eucharist or Thanksgiving ; 
and how the Christians were taught to consider it to 
be the flesh and blood of Jesus, the Son of God 

By this bold and outspoken championship of his 
belief Justin brought upon himself the enmity of a 
philosopher of the Cynic school, named Crescens, whose 
ignorance Justin had exposed. Justin had himself 
foreseen that Crescens would do him a mischief if he 
could, and said that the man could be no true philo- 
sopher who abused the Christians for the sake of 


popularity, without ever having read what they taught. 
It seems probable that Crescens had some share in 
bringing his opponent to his end. 

The title of Martyr, which has become like a second 
name to Justin, was earned at Rome about the year 163. 
In company with six other Christians he was brought 
to the tribunal of Rusticus, the prefect of the city, an in- 
timate friend and formerly an instructor of the emperor. 
The prefect bade him obey the gods and submit to the 
emperors, Justin answered, "There is nothing that 
deserves blame or condemnation in our obeying the 
commandments of our Saviour Jesus Christ." Rusticus 
asked what system of doctrine Justin professed. He 
answered, "After endeavouring to understand all the 
various systems, I gave my adhesion to the true doc- 
trines of the Christians, although they do not please 
those who are in error." " Unhappy man," said the 
prefect, " do those doctrines please you ? " " Yes, 
said Justin, " their tenets are right, and I follow them. 
" What are their tenets ? " said Rusticus. Justin 
answered, "We worship the God of the Christians, 
whom we believe to be but One, the Maker and the 
Fashioner of all creation, visible and invisible ; and the 
Lord Jesus Christ His Son, of whom it was foretold by 
the prophets that He should come to mankind as the 
Preacher of salvation and the Teacher of good learn- 
ing. A man like me is unable to speak worthily of 
His infinite Godhead. I acknowledge that it needs 
a prophet's power. I know that the prophets of old 
time foretold His coming to men." Rusticus ques- 
tioned him no more about his doctrine. "Where do 
you assemble?" he asked. Justin replied, "Wherever 
we will and can. You cannot imagine that we all 
assemble at the same place. Far from it ; the God of 


the Christians is not confined to a locality. He is 
invisible, and fills the heaven and the earth, and is 
worshipped and glorified in every place by the faithful." 
"Come, tell me," said the prefect, ''where do you 
assemble ? What is the place where you gather your 
disciples?" Justin answered, "I am lodging with a 
man called Martin, above the Timothine Baths. This 
is my second visit to Rome, and during all this time I 
know of no other place of assembly except his. If 
any one liked to visit me I imparted to him the words 
of truth." " To come to the point, then," said Rusticus, 
''you are a Christian ?" "Yes," said Justin, "I am a 

Rusticus then applied himself to the companions 
of Justin. " Tell me now, Chariton, are you a Christian 
too ? " "I am a Christian by the commandment of 
God." "Charito, what do you say?" " I am a 
Christian by the free gift of God." " And you, Evel- 
pistus, what are you ? " Evelpistus was a slave of the 
emperor, and he answered, " I too am a Christian, 
set free by Christ, and I share the same hope by the 
grace of Christ." Rusticus asked the same question of 
Hierax. " Yes," he replied, " I am a Christian ; I 
worship and adore the same God." " Did Justin make 
Christians of you ? " said the prefect. Hierax answered, 
" I was a Christian before, and shall continue to be so." 
A man called Paeon then stood up and said, " I also 
am a Christian," " Who taught you ? " asked Rusticus. 
Paeon said, "We have received this good confession 
from our parents." The slave Evelpistus spoke again : 
" I was glad to hear the teaching of Justin," he said, 
" but I also received my Christianity from my parents." 
" Where are your parents ? " Rusticus asked. He said, 
" In Cappadocia." " Where are your parents ? " , asked 


Rusticus of Hierax. He answered, '' Our true Father 
is Christ, and faith in Him is our mother, but my 
earthly parents are dead, and I was carried off from 
Iconium in Phrygia, and brought to this place." 
Rusticus turned to the last of the group, whose name 
was Liberian : " And what do you say ? Are you a 
Christian ? Will not you worship ? " Liberian answered, 
" I also am a Christian ; I worship and adore the only 
true God." 

The prefect then spoke again to Justin. '< Listen 
to me," he said ; " you are said to be a clever man, 
and I think that you know what is true. If you are 
scourged and your head cut off, do you believe that 
you will go up to heaven?" Justin replied that he 
hoped for blessings from God, and that he knew that 
at the end of the world men who had lived Christian 
lives would be rewarded. '* Do you then suppose," 
said the prefect, " that you will go up into heaven 
and receive a recompense ? " *' I do not suppose it," 
said Justin ; " I know it, and am persuaded of it." 
" Enough," said Rusticus. " Let us come to the matter 
of practical importance. Agree together and join in 
sacrificing to the gods." Justin answered, "No one 
in his senses turns from godliness to ungodliness." 
" If you do not obey," said Rusticus, " you shall all 
be punished without mercy." Justin replied, " It is 
our prayer that we may be punished for the sake 
of our Lord Jesus Christ, and so saved. This will 
be our salvation and our confidence at a more dread- 
ful tribunal than yours — the universal tribunal of our 
Master and Saviour." The other martyrs joined in 
and cried, '* Do what you will. We are Christians, and 
we do not sacrifice to idols." Rusticus gave sentence. 
" Let those who will not sacrifice to the gods and obey 


the commandment of the emperor, be scourged and 
taken away to execution, suffering capital punishment, 
according to the course of the law." The martyrs 
gave glory to God, and were led to the accustomed 
place of execution, where their heads were severed 
from their bodies. Some of the faithful came by 
stealth and carried off the remains, and buried them 
in a suitable place, "being aided," says the primitive 
account, "by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, to 
whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen." ^ 

Several of the companions of St. Justin were natives 
of what we now call Asia Minor. That country was, 
indeed, during the second century, the great seed-bed 
of Christianity. The Christian churches of Gaul, in 
particular, were very closely bound to those of Asia 
Minor. The city of Marseilles was founded, 600 years 
before Christ, by a colony of Asiatic Greeks, and the 
connexion had ever since been maintained. Greek 
commerce had spread up the valley of the Rhone, and 
the towns of Vienne and of Lyons, on the banks of 
that noble river, were largely Greek-speaking towns. 
Flourishing churches existed in these two cities by the 
middle of the second century. That of Lyons was 
presided over by a bishop named Pothinus, who had 
in all probability, like Polycarp, been a disciple of St. 
John in the Asiatic home of his youth. 

These churches experienced a terrible persecution 
in the reign of Marcus Aurelius. When the worst of it 
was over, they wrote an account of their troubles to 
the brethren in the east, which forms one of the most 
precious of all the records of primitive Christianity: 
"The servants of Christ who dwell at Vienne and 
Lyons to the brethren throughout Asia and Phrygia 

1 Olio's Justin (ed. 3), vol. iii. p. 266. 


who have the same faith and hope of redemption with 
US; peace and grace and giory from God the Father 
and Christ Jesus our Lord." Such is their opening 
address ; and they proceed, " It is beyond our power 
to tell you in detail, and indeed it is impossible for any 
writing to describe the greatness of the persecution 
here, and of the fury of the heathen against the saints, 
and of all that the blessed martyrs endured. The 
adversary fell upon us with all his force, giving us a 
prelude of that unrestrained 'coming' of his which 
will be hereafter." 

The anti-christian movement began, as it frequently 
does, with a social form of persecution. Christians 
were "excluded from houses, and from the public 
baths, and from the market." By-and-by they could 
not show themselves anywhere in public. " But the 
grace of God," they say, "took the field against the 
foe, and delivered the weak, and set up firm pillars 
against the evil one, who by their endurance suc- 
ceeded in drawing all his onslaught upon themselves. 
They met him hand to hand, enduring every form of 
reproach and of punishment ; and, reckoning their 
many afflictions but few, they hastened unto Christ, 
showing verily that the sufferings of this present time 
are not worthy to be reckoned in comparison with 
the glory that shall be revealed to us ward." 

The social exclusion with which the persecution 
began soon gave place to more active hostility. The 
conspicuous members of the community became the 
objects of popular violence. They were hooted and 
hustled in the streets. Blows fell upon them. Their 
clothes were torn from their backs. Stones were 
thrown at them. If they entered into a building, 
a mob besieged the door. "Everything that an 


infuriated crowd loves to do to those whom it hates 
and treats as enemies " was done to them. 

Then matters came to the judicial stage. In spite 
of a rescript of Hadrian, which, about the year 126, 
had forbidden magistrates to take action against Chris- 
tians under the pressure of popular clamour, "they 
were led into the market-place by the tribune," or 
military commander, ''and by the authorities of the 
city, and were examined in the presence of the whole 
populace, and, on confessing, they were shut up in 
the gaol until the arrival of the governor. 

"Then they were brought before the governor, 
who used all the ferocity to which we are accustomed. 
While this was going on, one of the brethren, Vettius 
Epagathus, who had in his heart all the fulness of love 
towards God and his neighbour, whose life had been 
brought to such perfection that, though he was young, 
he deserved the same testimony which is borne to the 
aged Zacharias, for he 'walked in all the command- 
ments and ordinances of the Lord blameless/ and was 
untiring in the service of his neighbour, having- a great 
zeal for God, and fervent in the spirit — this Vettius 
Epagathus could not bear the judgment so un- 
reasonably given against us, but was exceeding wroth, 
and begged that he might himself be heard in defence 
of the brethren to show that there is nothing ungodly or 
impious amongst us." These two words are evidently 
used in their strict sense, and they imply that the charges 
brought against the Christians were those of sacrilege 
and of treason. The first was based upon the 
Christian refusal to worship the heathen gods, the 
second upon the refusal to worship the emperor. 
This was what Vettius Epagathus wished to explain. 
'* But those who were about the judgment-seat shouted 


him down, for he was a well-known person ; and the 
governor would not listen to the just request which 
he preferred, but asked him this one question, whether 
he were himself a Christian. Epagathus confessed it 
with a loud voice, and was immediately promoted into 
the sacred order of the martyrs, being styled the 
advocate of the Christians, and having in himself the 
Advocate, even the Spirit, in greater abundance than 
Zacharias. This he showed by the fulness of love, 
being pleased for the defence of his brethren even to 
lay down his own life. For he was," and the writers 
add with a sublime simplicity of faith, "and he is, a 
genuine disciple of Christ, following the Lamb whither- 
soever He goeth." 

Now ensued a moment of hesitation and fear, 
which the writers record as faithfully as the moments 
of triumph and glory. "A division made itself felt 
between the rest. Some showed themselves ready to 
take the lead and be first martyrs of the persecution ; 
and these fulfilled the confession of their martyrdom 
with all alacrity. But at the same time there was a 
disclosure of those who were unready, and unpractised, 
and still weak and unable to bear the strain of so great 
a contest. Of these about ten in number miscarried, 
who caused us great grief and sorrow beyond measure, 
and hindered the alacrity of the rest who had not been 
apprehended ; who, although subjected to all incon- 
veniences, still were in company with the martyrs and 
did not forsake them. Then, indeed, we all were 
greatly afraid, because no man could make sure who 
would and who would not confess — not that we 
feared the punishments which were used, but because 
we looked on to the end and dreaded lest one or 
another of us might fall away. However, day after 


day those who were worthy were taken into custody, 
supplying the place of those who had miscarried, so 
that all the most earnest, who had been our mainstay 
here, were gathered together out; of the two churches." 

The cause of justice had already been violated when 
the Christians were apprehended to satisfy a tumultuous 
demand. It was now to be further violated. Trajan 
had expressly ordered that Christians were not to be 
sought out. It was also a rule of Roman law that the 
evidence of a slave could not be accepted against his 
master. Both these provisions were set aside by the 
magistrates at Lyons. 

'^ Certain heathen servants of ours," say the writers 
of the letter, "were also apprehended, because the 
governor published orders that we should all be sought 
out. These slaves, through the lying in wait of Satan, 
being terrified at the tortures which they saw the saints 
suffer, and being instigated to do so by the soldiers, bore 
false witness of us, and said that we held banquets like 
those of Thyestes," who fed his guests with the flesh 
of children, " and were guilty of incest like that of 
Oedipus," who was married to his mother, "and did 
things which not only is it unlawful for us to speak or 
think of, but which it is impossible to believe were ever 
done amongst men. When these things were noised 
abroad, all men were wild with fury against us, so that 
even those who before were kept within bounds by 
private friendship now became exceedingly bitter, and 
were cut to the heart in their anger against us ; and 
that was fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord, ' The 
time will come wherein whosoever killeth you will 
think that he offereth a service to God.' 

" Upon this the holy martyrs were subjected to 
torments tliat pass all description. It was Satan's 


ambition to make them also utter some of these 
calumnies against the Christians. In an especial 
manner, all the wrath, both of the populace, and of 
the governor, and of the soldiers, lighted upon 
Sanctus, a deacon from Vienne, and upon Maturus, 
who was only newly enlightened, but a noble 
champion nevertheless, and upon Attains, a native of 
Pergamos, who had always been a pillar and ground 
of the church here, and upon one Blandina, through 
whom Christ showed that the things which amongst 
men are held cheap and insignificant and contemptible, 
are esteemed worthy of great glory with God, because 
of her love towards Him — a love which was shown in 
power, and did not glory in appearance. For while 
we were all alarmed, and her mistress according to the 
flesh" — for Blandina was a slave — *'who was herself 
one of the martyr champions, was in anguish lest the 
weakness of Blandina's body should prevent her from 
making her confession boldly, Blandina was filled 
with such power that she outwearied and exhausted 
those who tortured her in every form and shape in 
relays from dawn till nightfall, so that they ac- 
knowledged that they were beaten, having nothing 
more that they could do to her, and were astonished 
that she yet remained alive, when her whole body was 
lacerated all over and laid open; and they confessed 
that one kind of racking was enough to have fetched 
her soul out, not to speak of so many and so tre- 
mendous. But the blessed woman, like a noble 
athlete, grew young again by her confession, and 
she found recovery and refreshment and insensibility 
to all that was done to her in repeating, ' I am a 
Christian,' and 'There is nothing vile done amongst 



** Sanctus nobly endured all the outrages of men in 
a way that surpassed human power. While the un- 
godly hoped, through the long continuance and the 
greatness of his tortures, to hear from his lips of some- 
thing wrong, he set himself against them with such 
constancy, that he would not even tell them his own 
name, nor of what nation or city he was, nor whether 
he were bond or free, but to every question that was 
put to him he answered in Latin, < I am a Christian/ 
Instead of name, and city, and race, and everything, 
this was what he confessed again and again, and other 
word from him the heathen heard none. So there 
arose a great contention between the governor and the 
tormentors and him ; and when they no longer had 
anything else that they could do to him, at last they 
applied red hot plates of brass to the most sensitive 
portions of his body. So those parts were burned ; 
but he remained inflexible and unyielding, firm in his 
confession, bedewed and strengthened by the heavenly 
fountain of the water of life which proceedeth out 
of the side of Christ. His poor body was a witness 
of what had been done to him, being all one wound 
and weal, and all contracted, having lost the outward 
form of a human being. Christ, suffering in him, 
achieved great glories, bringing to nought the adversary, 
and showing, by an example for the rest to copy, that 
there is nothing to be feared where the love of the 
Father is, and nothing painful where is the glory of 
Christ. For the ungodly, after some days, again put 
the martyr on the rack, and thought that in the swollen 
and inflamed condition of his body, if they applied the 
same instruments of torture they would get the better 
of him, seeing that he could not even bear the touch of 
a hand ; or else they hoped that his dying under the 


torments would strike fear into the rest. But so far was 
this from being the case, that contrary to all expectation 
of men, he lifted up his head again, and his poor body 
became straight once more in the later inflictions, and 
he recovered his former appearance and the use of his 
limbs, so that through the grace of Christ his second 
racking was made to him no punishment but a healing. 

"There was one Biblias amongst those who had 
denied, and the devil, thinking that he had devoured 
her already, but wishing to ensure her condemnation 
by making her add blasphemy to her denial, brought 
her to torture, to compel her to utter the impieties with 
which we were charged, as one who had already proved 
easy to crush and a poor coward. But she recovered 
herself under the torments, and woke up as it were 
out of a deep sleep. The temporal penalty reminded 
her of the eternal punishment in hell, and she 
answered contrariwise to the blasphemous charges, 
and said, ' How can they eat little children, when it 
is not lawful for them even to eat the blood of brute 
beasts ? ' and from that moment she confessed herself 
a Christian, and was added to the sacred order of the 

"When, through the endurance of these blessed 
ones, the tortures of the tyrants were brought to nought 
by Christ, the devil bethought of him of other con- 
trivances, such as confinement in the dark in the worst 
part of the prison, stretching of the feet in the stocks 
to the fifth hole, and other outrages which enraged 
underlings, full of the devil, are fond of inflicting upon 
those in prison. The consequence was that most of 
theni were stifled in the gaol ; that is to say, those 
whom the Lord willed so to depart. In this way He 
displayed His own glory. For some who had been 


severely tormented, so that they seemed unlikely to 
live, even with the best of care, continued in the gaol, 
destitute of succour from men, but strengthened and 
invigorated by the Lord both in body and soul, and 
cheering and encouraging the rest. But those who 
were young, and had only lately been apprehended, 
whose bodies had as yet suffered no outrage, could 
not bear the burden of confinement, and died within 
the gaol. 

" The blessed Pothinus, to whom was entrusted the 
bishopric of Lyons, was himself dragged to the judg- 
ment seat. Pothinus was more than ninety years of 
age and in very bad health. In fact he was already 
barely alive through sickness ; but he was reinforced 
by readiness of the spirit. The desire for martyrdom 
sustained him ; and though his body was broken both 
by old age and by sickness, his soul was kept within 
him, in order that Christ might triumph through it. 
He was brought by the soldiers to the judgment seat, 
to which the authorities of the city sent him on, while 
the multitude raised all manner of outcries against him, 
as if he were Christ Himself. There he witnessed his 
good confession. Being asked by the governor who 
was the God of the Christians, he said, 'Thou shalt 
know if thou art worthy.' No sooner had he said this, 
than he was mercilessly set upon, and all manner of 
blows were laid upon him. Those who were near, not 
even respecting his old age, contemptuously struck him 
with hands and feet, while those at a distance flung 
at him whatever came to hand, and all thought that 
they would be guilty of crime and treason if any one 
failed to take part in abusing him. In this way they 
thought to avenge their own gods. Barely alive, he was 
flung into the gaol, and after two days breathed his last." 


The holy writers go on to record what they call a 
" dispensation (or providence) of God," *' such as/' they 
say, *' has rarely been seen in the brotherhood, but 
which gives an indication of the art of Christ." The 
rule, since the time of Trajan, had always been, as that 
emperor laid down, that those who denied that they 
were Christians should be set free. This rule, like 
others which favoured the Christians, was not observed 
at Lyons. Those who had denied their faith at the 
time when the first arrests were made, were nevertheless 
shut up in prison, and shared the experiences of their 
more courageous brethren. '' But while those who 
confessed what they were," says the letter, " were shut 
up as Christians, and no other charge was made against 
them, these others were confined as murderers and 
felons, and were punished twice as much as the rest. 
While the one were relieved by the joy of martyrdom, 
and the hope of the promises, and their love towards 
Christ, and the Spirit of the Father, the others were 
grievously punished by their conscience, so that their 
countenances were readily distinguished by casual 
observers as they passed to and fro. The one advanced 
blithely with an expression of glory and great joy, so 
that they wore their bonds like a goodly ornament, as 
a bride adorned with cunningly wrought fringes of 
gold ; and at the same time they gave forth the sweet 
savour of Christ in such a way that some deemed that 
they were anointed with earthly perfumes. But the 
others walked with downcast, dejected, miserable looks, 
covered with all confusion, and besides 'all else, the 
heathen themselves taunted them as base and cowardly, 
' while they bore the accusation of murderers, but had 
lost the honourable and glorious and life-giving appella- 
tion of Christians. The rest saw these things and were 


strengthened, and such as were arrested confessed with- 
out hesitation, paying no heed to the arguments of 
the devil." 

At this point Eusebius, to whom we owe the pre- 
servation of the narrative, omits some sentences of the 
letter, and passes on to the final scenes. 

''The forms of death by which their martyrdom 
was completed," say the survivors, '' di£Fered widely. 
They presented to the Father a single wreath, but it 
was woven of divers colours and blossoms of every 
kind. It was meet that the noble athletes should receive 
the great crown of immortality after enduring a varied 
contest and gaining a mighty victory. 

'' Maturus, Sanctus, Blandina, and Attalus were led 
out to the wild beasts in public, to provide the heathen 
community with a barbarous spectacle. An exhibition 
was given on purpose for our brethren. Maturus and 
Sanctus again went through every form of infliction in 
the amphitheatre, as if they had suffered nothing at all 
before, or rather as if they had already worsted the 
opponent in many contests, and now were striving for 
the crown itself. Once more they were made to go in 
and out between the whips, according to the custom 
there, and were dragged this way and that way by the 
beasts, and bore everything which voices here and there 
in the infuriated crowd suggested and demanded. At 
last they were placed in the iron chair, in which their 
bodies were broiled so that the stench of them filled 
their nostrils. Even this did not satisfy the tormentors. 
On the contrary, they grew even more furious in their 
desire to break down the endurance of the martyrs. 
Yet no other word fell from Sanctus except the con- 
fession which he had constantly uttered from the begin- 
ning. So at last they were sacrificed, after living 



through a great and protracted conflict, in which 
throughout that day, instead of all the variety of the 
usual exhibitions, they and they only were made a 
spectacle unto the world. 

^' Blandina was hung upon a stake and exposed to 
be devoured by the wild beasts which were turned 
loose upon her. The sight of her hanging crosswise, 
joined with her fervent prayer, put great heart into the 
combatants ; for amidst the combat their sister enabled 
them to behold, even with their bodily eyes. Him who 
was crucified for them, to assure believers that every 
one who suffers for the glory of Christ has fellowship 
for ever with the living God. None of the wild beasts 
would then touch her ; so she was taken down from 
the tree, and placed again in the gaol, and reserved for 
another combat, in order that her victory in repeated 
wrestlings might put the condemnation of the crooked 
serpent beyond question, and that the brethren might 
be encouraged by seeing how one so small and weak, 
and an object of contempt, could, when clothed with 
the great and unconquerable athlete Christ, overpower 
the adversary in many successive trials, and be crowned 
in fair combat with the crown of immortality. 

" Attalus was loudly called for by the populace, for 
he was a well-known man. A good conscience enabled 
him to enter the lists readily ; for he was thoroughly 
practised in Christian discipline, and had always been a 
witness for the truth among us. He was led round the 
amphitheatre, with a board carried before him upon 
which was written in Latin, ' This is Attalus the Chris- 
tian.' The people were greatly inflamed against him, 
but the governor on learning that he was a Roman 
citizen ordered him to be taken back to the gaol, and 
placed with the rest who were there, and wrote to 

the emperor concerning them, and waited for his 


The mean season was not idly or unfruitfully spent. 
The letter says that " through the living the dead were 
brought to life, and those who were martyrs reconciled 
those who had failed to be martyrs ; and great joy was 
given to the Virgin Mother" — such is the beautiful 
title by which the Church is described — " at receiving 
back alive those miscarried ones whom she had 
brought forth dead. The greater number of those 
who had denied were conceived anew, and filled with 
a new principle of life, and kindled into new flame ; 
and they learned to confess, and now came to the 
judgment seat alive and vigorous ; — ^for God who 
wills not the death of a sinner, and who shows His 
goodness in bringing men to repentance, mercifully 
granted to them that they should be examined again 
by the governor. The emperor's rescript ordered that 
the convicted Christians should be beaten to death, 
but that any who denied should be released. So at 
the beginning of the festival here, — a festival which 
attracts vast crowds from all the nations, — ^he brought 
the blessed brethren to the judgment seat, making a 
spectacle and an exhibition of them to the crowds. 
Once more he examined them, and those who were 
found to be possessed of the Roman citizenship were 
beheaded, and the rest were sent to the wild beasts. 

''And Christ was greatly glorified in those who 
had formerly denied, who now, to the surprise of the 
heathen, confessed. These were examined by them- 
selves, as a mere formality before setting them free. 
Upon their confessing, they were added to the sacred 
order of the martyrs. Only those remained outside 
who had never had a trace of faith, nor any knowledge 


of the wedding garment, nor any notion of the fear of 
God, but who by their conversation brought the Chris- 
tian way into ill repute, even the sons of perdition. 

'' The rest were all added to the Church. While 
they were being examined, one Alexander, a Phrygian 
by birth, and a physician by profession, who had spent 
many years in Gaul, and was known to almost every 
one by his love of God and his great freedom of speech 
— he was indeed endowed with something of the 
apostolic gift — took his stand near the judgment seat, 
and by his gestures encouraged them to confess, so 
that those who stood round the judgment seat noticed 
that he seemed like one travailing with child. The 
multitudes, incensed at the confession of those who 
had formerly denied, raised an outcry against Alex- 
ander, that it was his doing. So the governor called 
him to the bar, and asked him who and what he was ; 
and when he said, 'A Christian,' the governor angrily 
condemned him to the wild beasts. The next day he 
entered the arena with Attalus ; for to please the 
crowd" — it was a deliberate breach of the imperial 
orders — " the governor exposed Attalus again to the 
beasts. They underwent all the instruments of tor- 
ture which are used in the amphitheatre, and, after 
enduring a very great conflict, were at last sacrificed. 
Alexander never uttered a groar^ or a sound, but com- 
muned in his heart with God ;» but Attalus, when he 
was placed in the iron chair, and the smell of his 
burning body rose up, said to the multitude in Latin, 
' Look I this is eating men ; it is you who do it. We 
neither eat men, nor do anything else that is wrong.' 
When he was asked what name God has, he answered, 
'God has not a name like a man.' 

" After all these, on the last day of the fight with 


the wild beasts, Blandina was again introduced, in 
company with a boy of about fifteen years of age, 
called Ponticus. Every day these two had been 
brought in to look on while the others were tortured, 
and attempts were made to induce them to swear by 
the heathen idols. Because they remained steadfast 
and set them at naught, the populace grew too savage 
with them to pity the tender age of the boy or to 
respect the sex of the woman. They submitted them to 
all the horrors, and took them through the whole 
round of torture, again and again endeavouring to 
make them swear, but without success. Encouraged 
by his sister, so that the heathen saw her urging and 
strengthening him, Ponticus nobly endured all the 
tortures and gave up the ghost. The blessed Blandina 
last of all, like a mother of high degree " — it must be 
remembered that she was a slave — ** after encouraging 
her children and sending them before her as conquerors 
to the King, and making all their conflicts her own, 
hastened to join her sons and daughters, rejoicing and 
making merry over her departure, as though she were 
invited to a marriage supper, not cast to wild beasts. 
After the scourges, after the wild beasts, after the 
frying-pan, at last she was cast into a net and exposed 
to a bull, and when she had been well tossed by the 
animal, unconscious of what was done to her, because 
the things which she believed were to her a hope and 
stay, and because of her communing with Christ, she 
too was sacrificed, the heathen themselves confessing 
that never among them had any woman suffered so 
many and such terrible tortures." 

The letter goes on to say that the rage of the 
heathen was not even yet satisfied. Their hostility 
found another and a peculiar occasion in the dead 


bodies of the martyrs. They seemed to have lost the 
power of acting by reason like human beings ; and 
their defeat only inflamed their fury, like that of a 
wild beast. The governor and the populace joined 
together in their determination to outrage Christian 
feeling. The survivors saw in it a fulfilment of the 
Scripture, *^ He that is wicked, let him be wicked still ; 
and he that is righteous, let him be justified still." 
"Those who had died of suffocation in the prison," 
wc read, "they cast to dogs, carefully watching over 
them night and day lest we should attend to any of 
them. The mangled and charred relics of the others 
which were left by the wild beasts and by the fire, 
were in a similar manner exposed unburied, together 
with the severed heads and other portions of their 
bodies, and a military guard was mounted over them 
for several days. Some raged and gnashed their teeth 
over them, seeking to inflict some further vengeance 
upon them ; others laughed and mocked, magnifying 
their idols and ascribing to them the punishment of the 
martyrs. Those who were more reasonable, and who 
seemed to a certain extent to sympathise, upbraided them 
greatly, saying ' Where is their God ? and what good 
have they gained by the service which they preferred 
even to life.' Thus they differed in their attitude to- 
wards us. We meanwhile were in great sorrow because 
we were unable to bury the bodies. Night gave us 
no help towards that end ; money was of no avail ; 
prayers produced no relenting. The watch was main- 
tained in every direction, as if some great advantage 
would be gained by preventing them from being 

" The bodies of the martyrs, after being treated with 
every indignity, and exposed to the weather for six 


days, were then burned by the ungodly and reduced 
to ashes, and strewed upon the river Rhone, which 
flows hard by, so that no relic of them might remain 
upon the earth. This was done under the idea of 
prevailing against God and depriving the martyrs of 
the regeneration, in order that, as was actually said, 
they might have no chance of rising again. 'It is 
this expectation,' they affirmed, 'which makes them 
introduce among us a new 2md foreign religion, 
teaching them to despise all terrors, and to go to 
death readily and with joy. Now let us see whether 
they will rise again, and whether their God is able 
to succour them and to deliver them out of our 
hands.' " 

The modesty of these devoted Christians, and their 
consideration for their weaker brethren, are well shown 
in one or two more sentences which Eusebius has 
preserved out of this wonderful epistle. 

"They were indeed followers and imitators of 
Christ, who, being in the form of God, counted it not 
a prize to be grasped to be on an equality with 
God. In the height of their glory, when they had 
endured not only one or two martyrdoms but many, 
after being brought back the second time from the 
wild beasts, with their bodies all covered with burns 
and stripes and wounds, they neither proclaimed them- 
selves martyrs, nor allowed us to address them by that 
title ; and if ever one of us chanced to call them so 
in a letter or in speaking, they reproved him severely. 
They rejoiced to leave the title of martyr to Christ, 
the faithful and true Martyr, and the first-begotten 
of the dead, and the Captain of the life of God ; and 
they remembered the martyrs who had already de- 
parted this life, and said, 'Those were martyrs who, 


by Christ's permission, were taken away in their con- 
fession, whose martyrdom He sealed by their de- 
parture ; we are poor, lowly confessors.' And with 
tears they besought the brethren, and begged the 
o£Fering of earnest prayers that they might be per- 
fected " — ^that is, by martyrdom. 

After a few more sentences the letter continues : — 

" They humbled themselves under the mighty hand, 
by which they are now greatly exalted. During those 
days they made their defence unto all, but denounced 
none ; they set all at liberty, and put none in chains ; 
they prayed for their ill-wishers like the perfect martyr 
Stephen, ' Lord, lay not this sin to their charge.' And 
if he made request for those who stoned him, how 
much more for the brethren ? 

*' This was the greatest warfare that they had with 
the Evil Beast, because of their genuine love, tliat he 
might be forced to bring up again alive those whom 
he thought that he had devoured. They did not vaunt 
themselves against the fallen ; where they themselves 
abounded they imparted to those who lacked, for they 
had the hearts of mothers, and shed many tears for 
them to the Father. They asked life of Him, and He 
gave it them, and they shared it with their neighbours. 
Conquerors at every point, they departed to God ; and 
having always loved peace, and having commended 
peace to us, they went in peace to God, not bequeathing 
affliction to their Mother, nor dissension and war to 
their brethren, but joy, and peace, and concord, and 
love." Eusebius sadly contrasts this record with the 
legacies bequeathed by some of the martyrs of a time 
nearer his own. 

One anecdote is recorded by Eusebius, which shows 
even more touchingly the humility of these holy men. 


There was one among them named Alcibiades, who 
had lived a very ascetic life before he was. thrown into 
prison, never touching any food but bread and water. 
When first he was imprisoned he adhered rigidly to 
the same rule ; but after the first fight of Attalus in 
the amphitheatre ''a revelation was made to that 
saint that Alcibiades was not doing well to refuse 
the creatures of God^ and to leave an example which 
would prove a stumbling-block to others." Alcibiades 
thereupon gave up his lifelong practice, *' and partook 
fredy of all, and gave thanks to God." ^ 

The persecution at Lyons continued for some time 
longer. The names of two martyrs are preserved who 
perished in the following year. They were Bpipodius 
and Alexander — the former a native of the city, the 
latter a Greek by birth. They had been school-fellows 
in boyhood, and were united by a close friendship in 
the early manhood which was all that they were per- 
mitted to see. Being unable to escape to any distant 
place of safety, the two young men took up a lodging 
with a poor Christian widow who lived at the place 
now called Pierre Encise, on the high ground above 
the city. Diligent search was being made for the 
remaining Christians of the place, and the searchers 
came suddenly upon the friends in their lowly abode 
— so suddenly that Epipodius was carried off with only 
one shoe on, leaving the other to be treasured by the 
widow as a precious relic. After three days in prison 
they were examined, and confessed that they were 
Christians. To deprive them of mutual support they 
were tried separately. Epipodius bore his tortures 
bravely ; and when the multitude cried out for worse 
inflictions, the magistrate, who had seen or heard too 

I Ensebius, His/, £ceL v. i, 2, 3. 


much of these tumultuary proceedings, thought good 
to maintain the dignity of his ofEce by ordering him 
to be taken out of court and slain at once with the 
sword. Two days later Alexander was brought to the 
bar. On refusing to offer incense, he was beaten by 
relays of three executioners at a time ; but when at 
the end he was asked whether he persisted in his 
confession, he replied, "The gods of the heathen are 
devils. I commit my will to God Almighty." The 
magistrate said that, as the Christians made the length 
of their torments a matter of boasting, he would give 
him no more of them ; and he ordered him to be 
crucified. He was not long in dying. His body was 
exhausted with the scourging which it had endured, and 
with his last weary breath he called upon Christ.^ 

There seems to be some reason for placing in 
connexion with these martyrdoms that of a young 
man named Symphorian, who belonged to a good 
Christian family in the town of Autun. There, accord- 
ing to one account, which is in itself not incredible, 
he was baptized by a priest named Benignus, now the 
tutelary saint of Dijon, who is said to have been sent 
into Gaul with certain companions by St. Polycarp, 
and who himself suffered martyrdom about this time. 
The town of Autun was a centre of orgies which were 
identified with the Phrygian worship of Cybele, or 
Berecynthia. At a great celebration of the festival of 
this goddess, Symphorian was observed to withhold the 
customary marks of reverence ; and as Christians were 
at the time being sought out, he was brought before 
Heraclius, the governor. Heraclius asked the usual 
questions about his name and estate, to which he duly 
answered, "I am a Christian ; my name is Symphorian." 

^ Ruinart's Acta Primorum Martyrum Sincera^ p. 63. 


" Are you a Christian ? " answered the governor in 
surprise ; " you must have escaped our attention. 
There is not much profession of that name in these 
parts. Why do you despise the figure of the mother 
of the godS; and refuse to worship it?" ''I have 
already told you," said Symphorian, "that I am a 
Christian. I worship the true God, who reigns in 
heaven. I do not worship the image of a devil ; if 
you will give me leave, I should be glad to break it 
up with a mallet." The magistrate said that he was 
guilty not only of sacrilege, but of treason. He turned 
to his officiuntf or group of secretaries and agents, to 
ask whether Symphorian belonged to the place. He 
was informed that it was so, and that he was well 
connected. " You are jesting," he said to Symphorian ; 
'*you have heard of Christianity, but you know nothing 
about it, and are telling me lies. Perhaps you do not 
know the imperial orders. The offidum shall read 
them to you." They did so ; but Symphorian would 
not obey them. Heraclius ordered the lictors to beat 
him and put him in prison. After some days he was 
again brought into court and asked if he would worship 
the gods, but he refused. " I fear the Almighty God 
who made me," he replied, "and I serve Him only. 
You have my body in your power for a while, but not 
my soul." The judge condemned him to be beheaded. 
As he was led out of the gate of the city, his mother 
called aloud to him from the wall, " My son I Sym- 
phorian, my son I Think of the living God. Be stead- 
fast. It is no loss of your life to-day, but a change 
for the better." ^ 

^ Ruinart, p. 68. 



After so sublime a narrative as that of the churches 
of Lyons and Vienne, other records may well appear 
tame and dull. But there is a noble simplicity about 
the acts of some martyrs who were put to death 
about the same date at Pergamos, the native town of 
Attains — the place where, in St. John's days, the seat 
of Satan was, and where Antipas had suffered. Their 
names were Carpus and Papylus. The proconsul of 
the province was on a visit to Pergamos, and the two 
were brought before him. "What are you called?" 
he said to Carpus. "My first and choicest name/' 
he answered, " is a Christian ; but if you ask me my 
secular name, it is Carpus." The proconsul said, 
" Of course you know the commands of the emperors 
to the effect that you must worship the gods who 
govern all things ; so I recommend you to draw near 
and sacrifice." " I am a Christian," said Carpus : 
" I worship Christ, the Son of God, who came in the 
latter times for our salvation, and delivered us from 
the deceit of the devil ; but to such idols as these I 
do not sacrifice. Do what you please ; it is impossible 
for me to sacrifice to false and unreal devils, for 
those who sacrifice to them are like them. For as the 
true worshippers according to the divine instruction 
of the Lord, those who worship God in spirit and in 

truth, become like to the glory of God and are with 



Him immortal, sharing eternal life through the Word, 
so those who serve these become like the devils in 
their unreality, and are with them destroyed in hell. 
For just vengeance is taken of him who deceived 
man, the noblest creature of God, — I mean the devil, 
who by his own wickedness stirs men up to this. So 
know, proconsul, that I do not sacrifice to these/' 
The proconsul in anger answered and said to the 
two men, " Sacrifice to the gods, and be fools no 
longer." Carpus smiled and said, in the words of 
Jeremiah, "The gods that have not made the heavens 
and the earth, even they shall perish." "You must 
sacrifice," said the proconsul ; " the emperor has 
commanded it." Carpus replied, "The living do not 
sacrifice to the dead." "Do you think that the gods 
are dead ? " said the magistrate. Carpus answered, 
"Do you wish to be told? These gods were never 
even live men that they should die. Do you wish to 
learn that this is true ? Deprive them of the honour 
which you think to offer to them, and you will know 
that they are nothing. They are but earthly material, 
and in time they perish. Our God is above time. 
He made the ages. He Himself abides immortal and 
eternal, the same for ever, without increase or decrease ; 
but these gods are made by men, and, as I said, are 
destroyed by time. Do not wonder that they utter 
oracles and deceive, for the devil, who fell of old from 
his glorious estate, in his own wickedness seeks to 
frustrate the fatherly love of God to man, and being 
hard pressed by the saints, he fights against them, and 
prepares war against them, and foretells the same to 
his own, and in like manner arguing from the things 
which happen to us day by day, being more ancient 
than we in length of existence, his experience teaches 


him to predict the future mischief which he means to 
do. For by his denial of God he has gained a know- 
ledge of unrighteousness; and God allows him to 
tempt man, and to seek to draw him away from 
godliness. Believe me therefore, sir, that your position 
is a very false one." The proconsul answered, "By 
letting you go on talking nonsense I have led you to 
speak blasphemy against the gods and the emperors ; 
so to put a stop to it I ask whether you will sacrifice 
or not." '' It is impossible that I should sacrifice," 
replied Carpus. " I have never yet sacrificed to idols." 
So the proconsul ordered him to be hung up and 
scraped, to which he replied by crying aloud repeatedly, 
" I am a Christian." After enduring this torture for some 
time, he became exhausted and could speak no more. 

The proconsul turned his attention to Papylus 
and asked him if he was a senator. He answered, 
" I am a citizen." " Of what city ? " asked the magis- 
trate. " Of Thyatira," he replied. " Have you any 
children ? " said the magistrate. " Yes, many, by 
God's mercy," answered Papylus. Hereupon one of 
the multitude who stood by cried out, "That is the 
Christian way of speaking. He means that he has 
children according to the faith." The proconsul said, 
"Why did you tell me a lie and say that you had 
children?" Papylus answered, "Do you wish to be 
shown that I speak the truth and not a lie ? I have 
children according to God in every province and city." 
The proconsul grew impatient and said, "Will you 
sacrifice, or will you not ? " Papylus answered, "From 
my youth up I have served God, and have never sacri- 
ficed to idols. I am a Christian, and you will get no 
other answer from me, for there is nothing greater or 
nobler that I could say/' .jjk 



So Papylus also was hung up and scraped. 
Three separate pairs of executioners were employed 
upon him, but he uttered not a sound, receiving their 
cruel handling in silence. When the proconsul saw 
the great fortitude of these men, he ordered them to be 
burnt alive. They came down from the position in 
which they had been tortured, and " went with alacrity 
to the amphitheatre that they might be quickly delivered 
from the world." Papylus was first nailed to the stake 
and set upright. The fire was lighted, and after praying 
quietly he expired. 

When Carpus was nailed up, he smiled. The by- 
standers in astonishment said to him, '' What made you 
laugh ? " He answered, " I saw the glory of the Lord 
and was glad ; and besides I am delivered from you and 
have no part in your wrongdoings." When the soldiers 
heaped the wood about him and began to light it, 
Carpus spoke from his cross and said, "We, too, are 
the children of the same mother. Eve, and have the 
same flesh as you, but when we look to the true 
judgment seat we can endure everything." The fire 
began to burn up, and Carpus prayed, "Blessed art 
Thou, Lord Jesiis Christ, the Son of God, because Thou 
hast vouchsafed to give even to me, the sinner, this part 
with Thee," and when he had said this he breathed his 

Standing near him at the moment was a Christian 
woman named Agathonice, who felt the infection of the 
martyr's enthusiasm. She saw, it is said, the glory of 
the Lord which Carpus said that he had seen, and felt 
that she was bidden to the joys of heaven. She raised 
her voice and cried, "That dinner is prepared for me ; 
I must eat and partake of the glorious dinner." There 
are evident omissions in this part of the story, and we 


must suppose that Agathonice was then arrested and 
sentenced by the magistrate. She had a young son 
with her, and the crowd endeavoured to work upon her 
maternal feelings. " Have pity upon your child," they 
cried ; but she answered, " He has God who can have 
pity on him, for His providence takes care for all. I 
must do what I am here for." She took off her upper 
garments, and joyfully laid herself out upon the cross 
or stake to which she was to be fastened, while the 
spectators lamented for her and condemned the regula- 
tions under which such sentences were possible. When 
the stake was lifted into its place, and Agathonice felt 
the first touch of the flame, her spiritual exaltation gave 
place to a more natural human weakness. Once, twice, 
and thrice, it was counted that she exclaimed, '' Lord ! 
Lord ! Lord ! help me, for I have fled to Thee for 
refuge." Thus she gave up the ghost, and was perfected 
with the saints.^ 

It was towards the close of the reign of Marcus 
Aurelius that a famous saint was put to death at Rome, 
whose history has become so overgrown with legend 
that it is not easy to make sure what is fact and what is 
fiction. But there is nothing improbable in the follow- 
ing account of St. Caecilia. She was a daughter of the 
illustrious Roman family of the Caecilii, and had been 
brought up a Christian from her infancy. Her young 
husband Valerian, and his brother Tiburtius, were both 
induced by Caecilia to receive instruction from an 
"elder" named Urban, who lived on the family pro- 
perty along the Appian Way, and were baptized by 
him. At a time when some Christians were put to 
death by the prefect of the city, and, according to the 
usage of the time, were not allowed to be buried, the 

^ Hamack's TexU und Untersuchungeny Bd. III., Hft. 4. 


two brothers made themselves conspicuous by their 
e£Forts to secure reverent burial for the martyrs. It 
led to their arrest Tiburtius was brought before the 
prefect, who expostulated with him for attaching him- 
self to a superstitious sect, unworthy of a man of his 
birth and standing. The answers which he gave led 
the prefect to say that he spoke like one who had no 
possession of his faculties. '' No/' answered Tiburtius, 
'* the Lord Jesus Christ, whom I have received into my 
inmost parts, has possession of them, and speaks by 
me." When Valerian was placed at the bar, the 
prefect told him that his brother was mad, but that 
he expected good sense from Valerian. Valerian 
replied that he knew of only one physician for the 
mind, who was Christ, the Son of God. He said that 
eternal sorrow awaited those who lived the life of the 
world. "What?" cried the prefect; ''shall we and 
the invincible emperors have eternal sorrow, while you 
have perpetual joy ? " Valerian answered, " What are 
you and what are your emperors but frail men, who 
are born and must die when your time comes, and are 
responsible to God for the measure of power which you 
have received from Him?" The prefect said, "We 
are wasting time in irrelevant conversation. Offer to 
the gods, and you may go without further trouble." 
The brothers answered, " We do not sacrifice to the 
gods; we sacrifice every day to God." He inquired 
the name of their God. Valerian replied, "You will 
not find the name of God ; not if you were to soar 
with wings." " Is not Jupiter the name of a god ? " 
said the prefect. " No," said Valerian, in the language 
used by most of the Christian Apologists of his time, 
" it is the name of a corrupt and wicked man. Your 
own writers show him to be a murderer and a criminal." 



The prefect ordered them to be beaten with sticks, 
— ^the punishment prescribed by Marcus Aurelius for 
the Roman citizens at Lyons. When Valerian was 
stripped he cried out that he had long wished for 
that hour. While the beating proceeded, a crier 
proclaimed aloud, '^Do not blaspheme the gods and 
goddesses." But Valerian shouted to the Christian 
bystanders, possessed, like him, of the coveted franchise, 
''Citizens of Rome, do not let my sufferings frighten 
you away from the truth, but stand firm in the faith of 
our holy Lord, knowing that those who worship the 
gods of wood and stone will suffer everlasting tribula- 
tion." As the prefect showed some signs of unwilling- 
ness to proceed at once to extremities, wishing probably 
to give the prisoners an opportunity for reconsidering 
their position, his assessor urged him to allow no delay. 
The only use that they would make of the time, he said, 
would be to give away all their property (which legally 
was confiscated), and so there would be nothing left 
when they came to be executed. Upon this, the 
prefect ordered them to be led out to a spot called 
Pagus Triopius, four miles from the city, and there, 
after a last option of offering incense at the temple of 
Jupiter, to be beheaded. They refused to oflFer the 
incense, and knelt down and received the sword. It is 
said that the head official of the court, a man named 
Maximus, was so moved by the behaviour of the 
brothers as to attach himself to their religion, and to 
suffer death for it. The three bodies were buried by 
Caecilia in the neighbouring cemetery of Praetextatus, 
with which her family was connected. 

Perhaps for her share in the burial, Caecilia was 
herself arrested and brought before the prefect. To 
the usual question about her position in life, she 


answered with truth that she was freeborn and of 
noble family. The prefect taxed her with presuming 
upon her position, and being proud. " Pride/' she 
answered, ''is one thing, and firmness is another. I 
spoke firmly, but not proudly." " You know," he said, 
"that the emperors have commanded that those who 
will not deny that they are Christians shall be punished, 
and those who deny are to be set at liberty." Then, 
referring to an ordinance of Hadrian, he added, "Those 
who have accused you of being a Christian are present 
in court; if you say that you are not, their punish- 
ment will be speedy." But the noble lady scorned 
to deny her faith. Like her husband she expressed 
herself freely on the vanity of idols. The prefect 
interrupted her. " I have borne like a philosopher 
the insults which you have poured upon me ; but 
I cannot allow you to pour them upon the gods." He 
ordered her to be taken back to her own house, and 
suffocated in the hot bath. The attempt was un- 
successful, and an executioner was sent to behead her 
there. He did his work so badly that Caecilia still 
lived for some time longer, making use of the time 
to arrange for the conveyance of her mansion to a 
friend, who dedicated it to the use of the church, and 
the basilica of St. Caecilia in the Trastevere stands on 
the site of it.* 

The church of North Africa began to contribute its 
contingent to the noble army immediately after the 
death of Marcus Aurelius, when his unworthy son, Com- 
modus, had succeeded him. "The first to draw the 
sword" against the Christians in Africa, according to 
Tertullian, was a proconsul named Vigellius Saturninus, 
appointed, doubtless, by Marcus himself; Vigellius, 

^ Acta Sanctorum^ May 14 ; Surius, November 22. 


according to the same writer, paid for it by the judg- 
ment of God which deprived him of his eyesight. The 
premier martyr of the province bore the Punic name 
of Namphamo; his companions were called Miggin 
and Lucitas, and a woman, Samae. St. Augustine is 
indignant with a heathen correspondent who mocked 
at the uncouth names. Among the Christians, those 
names were held in high honour; but the story of 
their lives and deaths has long been lost. 

Within a month or two, however, a fresh batch 
of martyrs was called to appear before Saturninus at 
Carthage. It was composed of seven men and five 
women. They are known as the Scillitan martyrs, from 
the town at which they lived, the name of which is 
variously given as Scillis, or Soil Hum, or Scillita. We 
still have the brief but interesting notes of their 

"You can obtain the pardon of our lord the 
emperor," said Saturninus, "if you return to a right 
mind." Speratus, the leader of the band, answered, 
" We have never done any crime, nor abetted wrong- 
doing ; we have never cursed any one, but when 
abused we have given thanks. This comes of obeying 
our own Emperor." He meant Christ. The pro- 
consul felt that the Christian was implicitly claiming 
a religious superiority over him. " We too are re- 
ligious," he answered, "and our religion is a simple 
one, and we swear by the genius of our lord the 
emperor and pray for his safety. You ought to do 
the same." " If you will listen quietly to me," said 
Speratus, " I will tell you the very secret of simplicity." 
" I shall not listen," replied Saturninus, who perhaps 
knew by experience what to expect, 'Mf you begin 
to speak evil of our rites. Swear by the genius of the 


emperor." Speratus answered — and it can hardly be 
wondered at if such utterances sounded disloyal to 
those who did not know their meaning — " I know 
nothing of any empire of this world. I serve that 
God whom no man hath seen nor can see with these 
eyes. I have committed no theft. I pay the duty 
on all that I buy. That is because I acknowledge my 
Lord, the King of kings and Emperor of all nations." 
The proconsul, addressing all the party, said, "For- 
sake this persuasion." Speratus, referring to the 
popular calumnies against the Christians, retorted, 
" It is a bad persuasion which bears false witness." 

Saturninus took no notice of the retort, but con- 
tinued to urge the prisoners to adopt what he considered 
the wise line. One of them, named Cittinus, answered, 
" We have no one else to fear but our Lord God in 
heaven." " Honour to Caesar, as Caesar," added one 
of the women, named Donata; "but fear to God 
alone." " I am a Christian," said another woman. 
" What I am," said a third, " I mean to be." Satur- 
ninus turned again to Speratus. "Do you persist in 
being a Christian ? " He answered, " I am a Christian ; " 
and the rest joined in his confession. "Would you 
like time to think ? " asked the governor. " In such 
a straightforward matter," answered Speratus, "there 
is no need to think." "What stuff have you got on 
your book-shelves," was the sudden question which 
followed. "The books and epistles of the righteous 
Paul," Speratus answered. "You shall be remanded 
for thirty days," said Saturninus, " and recollect your- 
selves." Speratus answered once more, " I am a 
Christian." So said they all. Then, reading from the 
judicial tablet, the proconsul uttered his sentence, 
" Speratus, Nartzalus, Cittinus, Donata, Vestia, Secunda, 


and the rest, having confessed that they live in the 
Christian manner, and having had the offer of return- 
ing to the Roman way, and having obstinately refused, 
I pronounce that they be punished with the sword," 
"We thank God," said Speratus. "To-day we are 
martyrs in heaven," cried Nartzalus ; " thanks be to 
God/' ^ 

Christianity had made much progress among the 
upper classes at Rome by the end of Marcus' reign, 
in spite of that emperor's opposition. Amongst its 
most notable professors of that date was one named 
Apollonius, who appears to have held the high position 
of a member of the Roman senate. He was renowned 
amongst the Christians for his philosophical culture. 
This man was denounced to the authorities, near the 
beginning of the reign of Commodus, and brought 
to trial. The narrative of Apollonius' defence and 
martyrdom has lately been found, both in Greek and 
in Armenian, and is as follows. 

By order of the Prefect of the Praetorium, whose 
name was Perennis — ^though the Armenian version of 
the Acts calls him Terentius, which may be intended 
for Tarruntenus, the predecessor of Perennis — Apollo- 
nius was brought before the high tribunal of his peers 
in senate. He was asked why he refused to sacrifice 
to the gods, and boldly replied, " Because I am a 
Christian." Perennis bade him repent, and swear by 
the fortune of the emperor. Apollonius replied, as 
Polycarp had done before him, that it was an ungodly 
thing to repent of what was good, and that he was 
firmly resolved to keep the commandments of Christ. 
He added that he disapproved of oaths as being an 
outcome of falsehood. *' Yet," he said, " I am willing 

^ Robinson's Texts and Studies, toI. i. no. 2. 


to swear by the true and eternal God, whom the hands 
of men did not make, but who makes man to rule over 
men, that we too honour the emperor, and pray for 
him." The session was probably held in the temple of 
Apollo on the Palatine. The prefect invited his prisoner 
to sacrifice to Apollo and the other gods, and to the 
image of the emperor. '' No," said Apollonius ; *' I and 
all Christians o£Fer a pure and unbloody sacrifice of 
prayers to God, on behalf of those living images whom 
His providence has appointed to rule over the earth. 
The emperor Commodus holds his sovereignty by 
the will of God, the only Sovereign, who holds all 
things in His hand." Perennis said, '* I give you 
a day's respite to consider your interests and to take 
counsel for your life." So Apollonius was taken to 

On his second appearance he was asked what 
resolution he had come to. He answered, ^' To remain 
firm in my religion, as I said before." Perennis re- 
minded him of a decree of the senate, by which, for 
some reason, the imperial law had been reinforced, 
under which his life was forfeited unless he sacrificed. 
But Apollonius remained firm. He knew his duty to 
God, he said, and could offer no worship to the idols 
made with hands, fashioned of gold and silver and 
wood, which neither see nor hear. His worship was 
reserved for God, who breathed the breath of life into 
men, and who continually sustains it. To worship idols 
would be to debase himself — to put himself in subjec- 
tion to things less than human. Like the other learned 
Apologists of the time, he showed the follies of idolatry 
— how the Egyptians worshipped an onion, a basin, 
a fish, a dove, a crocodile ; and the Athenians a copper 
ox-head, which they identified with the fortune of 


Athens, and set it up in a conspicuous place beside 
the effigies of Zeus and Heracles. Even Socrates, he 
said, had poured contempt upon the religion of Athens, 
when, instead of swearing by their gods, he swore by 
the plane-tree, or by the dog. 

Such reasoning appeared to the practical mind of 
the prefect of the Praetorium to be beside the point. 
"You have given us enough philosophy," he said — 
'^ admirable philosophy; but the senate has forbidden 
Christianity." '' Yes," said ApoUonius, " but a decree 
of the senate cannot prevail over the decree of God." 
Death, he said, was appointed for all ; and Christians 
practised themselves for it in dying daily. So far were 
the heathen calumnies against Christianity from being 
true, that Christians would not allow themselves a single 
impure glance, nor listen to a bad word. He said that 
it was no worse to die for the true God than to die of 
fever, or dysentery, or any other disease. "Are you 
then bent upon death ? " asked Perennis. " No," said 
ApoUonius, " I enjoy life ; but love of life does not 
make me afraid to die. There is nothing better than 
life — the life eternal, which gives immortality to the 
soul which has lived well here." The prefect confessed 
that he did not understand. " I am heartily sorry for 
you," said the prisoner ; " so insensible as you are to 
the beauties of grace. Only the seeing heart can 
appreciate the word of God, as the seeing eye the 

Here a brother philosopher, of the Cynic school, 
interrupted ApoUonius, and said that such language 
was an insult to the understanding, though ApoUonius 
himself thought that he was uttering profound truths. 
" I have learned to pray, and not to insult," ApoUonius 
answered ; " only to the senseless does the truth appear 


to be an insult." The judge besought him to explain 
himself clearly. Then Apollonius answered with what 
Eusebius justly calls a most eloquent defence of his 
faith. '' The Word of God," he said, " who brought 
into existence men's souls and bodies, became man in 
Judaea — our Saviour Jesus Christ. Perfectly righteous, 
and filled with Divine wisdom, He lovingly taught us 
what the God of all is like, and what is the end of 
virtue, befitting the souls of men, with a view to social 
order and dignity. By His own suffering He put a 
stop to sins in their very beginning. He taught us to 
stop anger, to moderate desire, to chastise the love of 
pleasure. He taught us to relieve sorrow, to be 
generous, to promote charity, to put away vainglory, 
to abstain from taking revenge, to despise death — not 
when inflicted for wrongdoing, but in patient endur- 
ance of the wrongdoing of others. He taught us to 
obey the law laid down by Himself, to honour the 
king, to worship the immortal God, and Him only, to 
believe our souls to be immortal, to look forward to 
judgment after death, to expect the reward of the toils 
of virtue to be given by God after the resurrection to 
those who have lived good lives. All this He taught us 
plainly, and gave us convincing reasons for it ; and 
won great glory for His excellence. But He incurred 
the envy of the unnurtured, like the righteous men 
and philosophers before Him. For the righteous are 
unserviceable to the unrighteous ; as the fools unjustly 
say in a certain proverb " — here Apollonius refers to 
a passage in the Book of Wisdom — *' * Let us lie in 
wait for the righteous, because he is not for our turn.' 
And not only so, but it was said by one of the Greeks " 
— a speaker in the Republic of Plato — " * The righteous 
man shall be scourged, tortured, bound, have his eyes 


put out, and at last be crucified/ As the Athenian 
sycophants persuaded the multitude, and unjustly sen- 
tenced Socrates, so our Master and Saviour was sentenced 
to death by some of the wicked, who reproached Him 
as they had reproached the prophets before Him — 
those prophets who foretold many glorious things of 
the Man, that such an one would come, perfectly just 
and virtuous, and should do good to all men, and 
should persuade them by His goodness to worship 
the God of all. We," he concluded, " have hastened to 
honour Him, because we have learned from Him lofty 
commandments, of which we were ignorant before, and 
are under no delusion. Yet if it were a delusion, as 
you say, which tells us that the soul is immortal, and 
that there is a judgment after death, and a reward of 
virtue at the resurrection, and that God is the Judge, 
we would gladly be carried away by such a lie as that, 
which has taught us to live good lives, awaiting the 
hope of the futiu^e, even while suffering adversities." 

The magistrate listened respectfully to the address 
which he had invited, but it woke in him no doubt with 
regard to the course which he was to pursue. '' I 
thought," he said, " that you would have changed your 
mind, and would have worshipped the gods with us." 
'' And I, sir," ApoUonius replied, " hoped that good 
thoughts would have come to you, and that the eyes of 
your soul would have been opened by my defence, so 
that your heart might bear fruit in worshipping God 
the Creator, and daily offering to Him alone, with 
almsgiving and kindliness towards men, the prayers 
which are an unbloody sacrifice, pure ' before God." 
Perennis was touched but not moved. *^ I wish that I 
could let you go," he said ; '^ but I am forbidden by 
the decree of the emperor Commodus. Nevertheless 


I will use you kindly in death." The kindness took 
the heathenish form of ordering the informer, who was 
probably a slave of ApoUonius, to have his legs broken, 
ApoUonius was led away to be beheaded, glorifying 
God as he went.^ 

There are evident signs in the story of ApoUonius 
that the officials who had to deal with him would have 
been glad to be rid of the business. The emperor 
seems to have thrown the responsibility upon his pre- 
fect, the prefect upon the senate. It was the policy of 
the moment to discourage prosecutions for Christianity. 
That was doubtless the reason why the informer against 
ApoUonius was punished, although his information was 
true. Probably there were, indeed, proconsuls and 
magistrates who threw themselves into the work of 
persecution with ardour, both to gain favour with a 
master like Marcus Aurelius, and also because it suited 
their own disposition. Such an one seems to have 
been the governor at Lyons during the great persecu- 
tion. But there were others who detested the work, 
and avoided it to the utmost of their power. Tertul- 
lian tells of one, Cincius Severus, who suggested to the 
Christians at Thysdrus, in Africa, safe answers that they 
might make, so that he might let them go. Another, 
Vespronius Candidus, when a Christian was brought 
before him who had friends in the town, treated the 
case as one of turbulent behaviour, and gave the man 
his liberty. Another, called Asper, gave the Christian 
a little pain, and at once turned him down without 
compelling him to sacrifice, frankly avowing amongst 
the advocates and counsellors of the court that he was 
sorry to have meddled with the case at all. One Pudens, 

^ Eosebius, Htst. EccL v. 21 ; Von Gebhardt's Ausgewdhlte Afartyreracten, 
p. 44 ; and Conybeare's Monuments of Early Christianity^ p. 35. 


when he learned from the indictment handed in to him 
that the Christian at the bar had been the victim of a 
kind of blackmail, tore up the indictment and let the 
man go, affirming that he would not break the law by 
hearing the case without a proper accuser. 



The number of the Christians to be dealt with, 
which had proved a difficulty in Bithynia as early as 
the time of Pliny and Trajan, proved a greater and yet 
greater difficulty towards the end of the second century. 
Only a resolute government was capable of coping with 
it, and the government of Commodus was not of that 
character. Besides, Commodus, early in his reign, fell 
into the hands of a favourite, who, although probably 
no Christian herself, had yet been brought up by a 
Christian priest, and was well disposed towards the 
Christians. Her name was Marcia. No laws or regu- 
lations under which Christians suffered were repealed ; 
but there was a growing tendency on the part of magis- 
trates under Commodus to be lenient, and to use the 
mildest forms of penalty which were available. Among 
other substitutes for capital punishment recognised by 
the Roman law was that of condemnation to work in 
the mines, in a kind of state slavery. This came to be 
a favourite penalty for the Christians. An illustration 
is offered in the history of one who became Bishop 
of Rome, as related by a bitter opponent. Callistus, 
who gives his name to the famous catacomb of St. 
Callistus, was the slave of a wealthy Christian, and 
brought himself into grave trouble by questionable 
conduct. Some Jews, whom he had irritated, accused 
him before Fuscianus, the prefect of the city ; but, 



perhaps deterred by the fate of the accuser of Apol- 
lonius, they did not venture to accuse him directly of 
being a Christian, but of having disturbed their syna- 
gogue, which was under the protection of the law. 
Fuscianus sent him to the living death of penal servi- 
tude in the mines of the unhealthy island of Sardinia, 
where he found himself in company with many other 
Christian sufferers. Fortunately for him, Marcia soon 
after felt herself impelled to do some good deed. She 
sent for Victor, the Bishop of Rome, and asked him 
for the list of the *' martyrs" in Sardinia. He gave 
her one, which happened not to include the name of 
Callistus, and she obtained from Commodus a free 
pardon for them all. Marcia committed the pardon 
into the hands of the priest who had brought her up, 
who on arriving in Sardinia, and finding that the name 
of Callistus had been omitted, took upon him to add 
that name, and brought all the prisoners away.^ 

But the clemency of the careless Commodus made 
no change in the legal situation of Christians, and 
under Septimius Severus, who succeeded to the empire 
in the year 193, the Church found again what it was to 
have a strong ruler's hand turned against her. Not 
that Severus was from the outset harsh towards the 
Christians ; on the contrary, he treated them with a 
certain degree of favour. He had Christians about his 
person and family, of whose religion he cannot have 
been in doubt. He is even said to have ascribed his 
recovery from a severe illness to the prayers and 
unction of a Christian. When he conquered the town 
of Byzantium, which was held against him in the in- 
terests of his rival Niger, the officer in command of the 
city was heard to exclaim, " This is good news for the 

^ Hippolyttts, Adv, Haer. iz. 12. 


Christians." On his entry into Rome after his victory 
over Albinus, when great numbers of distinguished 
persons were put to death, Severus is said to have 
protected certain eminent men and women, whom he 
knew to be Christians, and, in spite of the anger of the 
populace, paid them a high public tribute. 

But even at the outset of his reign, trouble with 
the Christians was unavoidable. In Africa especially, 
where zeal ran naturally into fanaticism, Christians 
themselves grew impatient of *' the good, long peace." ^ 
A Christian soldier refused, on grounds which his fellow 
Christians thought extravagant, to wear a simple wreath 
of laurel when receiving a largess from the emperor. 
TertuUian applauded the refusal. He affirmed that it 
was impossible for a soldier to be a Christian ; that it 
was serving two masters. The bishops who took an 
opposite line were, he said, lions in time of peace, but 
deer in time of battle. The prisons began to fill 
once more with '* martyrs designate," as TertuUian 
called them. He addressed to them his ringing ex- 

Nor was it only upon the su£Ferers themselves that 
the eloquence of TertuUian was expended. Two works 
in defence of their religion came from his pen in quick 
succession, — one addressed to ''the Nations," that is, 
the heathen, in general ; the other, addressed more par- 
ticularly to the magistrates whose business it was to 
administer the law. The one thing of which Tertul- 
lian complained was, that Christianity was condemned 
without being heard. In the trial of all other criminals, 
the case was gone into, the accusation proved or dis- 
proved, witnesses heard, the character of the crime 
exposed, defence admitted : Christians alone were con- 

^ Tertullian, De Corona Miiiiis, i. 


demned on the mere avowal of Christianity. It was 
all ''the battle of a name." Whereas in all other 
cases the magistrates in the law courts endeavoured 
to persuade criminals to confess their crime, with the 
Christians, on the contrary, they used every torture 
that they could devise to induce them to deny. '' I 
am a Christian," the man would say ; and they re- 
doubled their efforts to make him say that he was not. 
*' They believe about us," he cried, " what is never 
proved ; and they will not have the question tried out, 
for fear Christians should be proved not to be what 
they like better to believe that they are." It was all 
prejudice. '' A good man, Gaius Seius, but that he 
is a Christian." " Extraordinary that a respectable 
person like Lucius Titius should suddenly turn Chris- 
tian." That was the way men spoke. The only argu- 
ment was, " Christianity is not allowed." " If the Tiber 
rises to the walls, if the Nile refuses to rise into the 
fields, if the heaven is stayed, if the earth is moved, if 
there comes a famine or a plague, the cry is imme- 
diately, ' The Christians to the lion.' " 

The current calumnies against Christianity were 
brilliantly exposed, and the war was carried into the 
enemy's country ; but Tertullian, like Justin before 
him, was not content with a merely negative defence. 
He dared to set before the magistrates the inmost 
secrets of the Christian religion, the history and the 
nature of Christ, the mystery of the Blessed Trinity. 
He drew his picture of the Christian Church at prayer, 
— and praying for the emperor, to whom they were 
considered disloyal : 

'' For all emperors we Christians continually pray, 
looking up to God above with hands outspread, because 
they are innocent, with head uncovered, because we 


have nothing to be ashamed of, without a prompter, 
because our prayers are from the heart. Long life, 
security for their empire, safety for their homes, brave 
armies, a loyal senate, a moral people, a peaceful world, 
all that a man and a Cassar can desire, all these I pray 
for on their behalf, and to none other but Him, from 
whom I am sure of gaining them, because it is He 
alone who gives them, and it is I who have a right to 
be heard by Him — His servant, who alone worship 
Him, who am killed for my duty to Him, who offer to 
Him the rich and more excellent sacrifice which He 
has Himself commanded, prayer out of a pure heart 
and an innocent soul, and proceeding from a Holy 
Spirit. When we are thus spreading forth our hands 
to God, let us be torn open with hooks, hung upon 
crosses, licked by the flames, have our throats cut with 
swords, be assailed by wild beasts ; the very posture 
of the Christian at prayer makes him ready for any 
punishment. See to it, worthy magistrates ; draw 
forth with tortures the soul that is thus pleading for 
the emperor with God." ^ 

The Roman state was jealous of the growth of what 
were cMed/acttones, or associations. Tertullian explains 
the reason why that jealousy was wise. Its object was 
to secure public morality and the unity of the com- 

" We," he cries, " constitute a body, based upon a 
common religion, an agreement in practice, a bond of 
hope. We meet and form an assembly, in order that 
our prayers may come up to God like an armed band 
and give Him no peace. This is a violence which 
God loves. . . . We meet for the rehearsal of the Divine 
writings, according as the circumstances of the moment 

^ Tertullian, Apo/, 30. 


require warning for the future or recollection of the 
past. With these holy words we feed faith, encourage 
hope, confirm confidence, and at the same time 
strengthen discipline by the enforcement of what is 
commanded. There also are delivered exhortations, 
reproofs, and religious censures. . . . The presidents are 
tried elders. . . . Every one makes a small contribution to 
a kind of fund, once a month, or when he pleases, and 
if he pleases, and if he can ; for no one is compelled 
to give ; it is purely voluntary. It makes a sort of 
bank of piety. No banquetings, or drinking bouts, or 
gorgings, whether men will or no, are paid for out 
of it, but the feeding and burying of the poor, the 
support of children who have neither parents nor 
means of subsistence, of old people who cannot go 
out to work, of shipwrecked sailors, and of those who 
for the sake of God and of their religion have been 
thrown into mines or prisons, and so are cast upon 
their religion for support. Yet even a work of charity 
like this is turned by some into an accusation against 
us. * See,' they say, ' how fond they are of one 
another ! . . . how ready they are to die instead of 
each other ! ' " ^ 

The expostulations of TertuUian fell upon deaf ears, 
if his attacks upon the Pagan religion did not provoke 
displeasure. After nine years of empire, Severus took 
his first active measures against Christianity. In the 
year 202 he ordered that no one should be allowed to 
become a proselyte to Judaism, and applied the same 
provision to the Christians. It was, perhaps, an illogical 
edict, so far as regards the Christians, when it was a 
defiance of the law for anybody to be a Christian at 
all ; but it shows how firm a position the Christians 

^ Tertttllian, ApoL 39. 


had gained under the laxity of Commodus, and how 
Severus himself shrank from returning at once to the 
strictness of Marcus. It was not long before he passed 
— or governors under him who felt sure of not incur- 
ring rebuke — to the severest measures of repression. 

The two spheres in which the persecution was most 
acutely felt were Egypt and proconsular Africa. An 
Egyptian writer of that date, commenting upon the 
"seventy weeks" of Daniel, made them end with the 
tenth year of Severus, which seemed to him to be the 
beginning of the coming of Antichrist. Clement of 
Alexandria, who was then in full activity as a teacher 
in that city, speaks of "inexhaustible well-springs of 
martyrs," who every day before his eyes were roasted 
alive, and impaled, and beheaded. The persecution 
drove him into Cappadocia ; but although he was 
personally unmolested there, he did not wholly escape 
from the horror of its eflFects upon others. His friend 
Alexander, afterwards Bishop of Jerusalem, with whom 
he had taken refuge, was thrown into prison. The 
governor of Cappadocia, Herminianus, was exasperated 
by the conversion of his own wife to Christianity, and 
took his revenge by treating her fellow Christians 
harshly. A horrible illness befell him, and he is re- 
ported to have said, " Let no one know of it, or the 
Christians will be glad." He succeeded in persuading 
several Christians, under torture, to abjure their faith ; 
but afterwards, so it is said, was sorry for what he had 
done, and died under serious conviction. 

The governor of Egypt, whose headquarters were 
at Alexandria, was a man of the name of Laetus. He 
did not shrink from shedding blood. Among the 
most noteworthy victims at the outset of the perse- 
cution was a man named Leonides, who was beheaded. 


leaving a widow and seven children. The eldest of 
the children, who was then sixteen years of age, was 
destined to be one of the most illustrious Christian 
teachers of all time. His name was Origen. Long 
before his father's death the young Origen had been 
consumed with Christian devotion and eagerness for 
scriptural studies. Sometimes when the boy was 
asleep his father would uncover his breast and rever- 
ently kiss the shrine in which the Holy Ghost was 
lodged. When Leonides was cast into prison, Origen, 
in his burning desire for martyrdom, would certainly 
have shared his fate if it had not been for his mother's 
devices. At first she prevailed upon him to refrain 
from throwing himself upon death because she needed 
his support. His excitement, however, grew so great 
that at length she was compelled to lock up his 
clothes. When there was nothing more that he could 
do, Origen, unable to be idle, sent a letter to his father 
in prison earnestly exhorting him to remain firm. '' Be 
sure," he wrote, "that no thought for us makes you 
change your mind." The thought of his family might 
well weigh with the father, for all his property was 
confiscated to the state, as was the case with all who 
su£Fered capital punishment, so that the wife and 
children were left in great necessity.* 

Young as he was, Origen began to support himself 
by teaching, and before he had completed his eighteenth 
year he was placed at the head of the Catechetical 
School of Alexandria in succession to the famous 
Clement, who had been driven elsewhere by the 
persecution. His disciples in that school were largely 
heathens, but by the teaching of their young master 
many of them became Christians and ended their 

^ Ensebius, Hist Eccl, vi. 2. 


lives nobly as martyrs. The first of these was a man 
named Plutarch, whose younger brother Heraclas, 
a convert of Origen's like himself, became afterwards 
Bishop of Alexandria. Origen accompanied him to 
the place of execution and barely escaped death at 
the hands of Plutarch's fellow-dtizens, with whom 
Plutarch was very popular and who held Origen 
responsible for his death. Another named Serenus 
proved his faith in the fire. A third martyr disciple 
of Origen's was Heraclides, who was beheaded while 
still in preparation for baptism. A fourth was one 
newly baptized of the name of Heron. A fifth also 
bore the name of Serenus, who was beheaded after 
enduring a succession of dreadful tortures. Women 
as well as men were learners in the Catechetical 
School, and one of these, named Herais, while still 
under preparation for baptism, received, as Origen 
expressed it, "the baptism of fire."^ 

One of the most celebrated Egyptian martyrs of 
the time was a lady of the name of Potamiaena. 
Potamiaena was a maiden of great personal beauty 
who had devoted herself to a life of virginity. On 
being brought to trial for her faith she was subjected 
to the usual tortures, and at last burnt to death along 
with her mother, Marcella. The story went in Euse- 
bius' time — though he does not vouch t6rNits truth — / 
that the magistrate, whose name was Aquil^, finding 
her inflexible under torture, at last threatefie'd to give 
her over to the gladiators to do what they liked with 
her. The maiden considered for a while, and then 
being asked what her decision was she made a reply 
which was held to constitute sacrilege. She was 
immediately sentenced to death and committed to a 

1 fiasebins, Hist, EccL vi. 3, 4. ^ 


soldier named Basilides to be led to execution. The 
multitude closed round her and assailed her with 
coarse language^ but Basilides drove them away and 
kept them at a distance, treating his prisoner with the 
greatest consideration and humanity. She on her 
part gratefully bade the sympathetic warder be of 
good courage, for she told him that when she was gone 
she would pray for him to her own Lord, and that 
He would speedily reward him for what he had done 
for her. The mode of her execution was to have 
boiling pitch poured over her limbs, beginning at the 
feet, and so by degrees up to the head. According 
to another version of the story, she was condemned 
to be dropped into the pitch, and cried aloud to the 
judge, "I adjure you, by the head of the emperor 
whom you fear, if you have determined to punish me 
that way, do not make them strip me, but let me 
be gradually let down into the pitch, that you may 
see what power of endurance is given me by that 
Christ whom you know not." Not long after her 
death, Basilides on some occasion was required by 
his fellow-soldfers to take an oath. He replied that 
he was not allowed to swear, for he was a Christian. 
At first they thought that he was jesting, but as he 
adhered to his statement he was brought before the 
judge, made the same confession, and was imprisoned. 
His brethren in Christ visited him, and asked him 
the reason of this sudden, strange determination. He 
told them that three days after the death of Potamiaena 
that martyr had visited him at night and set a garland 
on his head, saying that she had pleaded for him with 
the Lord, who had granted her request, and that before 
long he would be taken where she was. The brethren 
thereupon gave him ** the seal " of baptism, and the 


next day, after making a remarkable confession, he 
was beheaded.^ 

It may seem hard to u& now to believe that such 
apparitions as that of P^^tamiaena to Basilides^should 
be vouchsafed ; but Origen^i^et^-xonigmporaryi speaks 
of them in a way which cannot be hastily set aside. 
After mentioning that visible traces of the presence of 
the Holy Ghost in the Church were still in his day to 
be found; in the expulsion of devils, in the effecting of 
miraculous cures, and in the foretelling of things to 
come, he adds, " And even if Celsus, or the Jew whom 
he introduces, should scoff at what I say, I will say it 
nevertheless, that many have come over to Christianity 
in spite of themselves, as it were, because some spirit 
has suddenly turned their minds from hating the word 
to dying for the sake of it, by appearing to them in 
sleep or dream. I have investigated many such cases ; 
but if I were to write what I have learned by direct 
personal intercourse with those to whom these things 
have happened, it would bring upon me the broad 
ridicule of the unbelievers, who would think that I was 
composing fictions. . . • But God is witness of our con- 
science, who wills ... to commend the divine teaching 
of Jesus by a variety of unmistakable facts/' ' 

No record of Christian suffering, whether in that 
age or in any other, surpasses, if it can equal, the 
record of the martyrdoms at Carthage under Septimius 
Severus. It has come down to us edited, in all pro- 
bability, by the hand of TertuUian, who has had the 
good taste to leave the words of the martyrs in their 
native simplicity and unadorned. TertuUian by that 
time had joined the sect of the Montanists, one of 
whose main tenets was that the religion of the Holy 

^ Eusebius, Hist, EccL W. 5. ' Origen, c, C^/sum, I 46. 



Ghost was a progressive religion, and that the revela- 
tions of God were intended to become clearer and 
larger as time went on. He thought, and in 
this he thought rightly, that if ancient examples of 
Divine power were embodied in literature for the 
instruction of after times, the examples given in his 
own days were not less worthy of a similar embodi- 
ment. *' Therefore," he says, " * What we have heard 
and seen ... we declare unto you,' brethren and sons, 
that ye also who were present may remember the glory 
of God, and that ye who now learn the facts by our 
report ' may have fellowship ' with the holy martyrs, and 
through them with our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom 
is glory and honour for ever and ever. Amen." 

•* Certain young persons who were catechumens," 
that is, under preparation for baptism, *' were taken into 
custody. These were Revocatus and his fellow-slave 
Felicity, Saturninus and Secundulus. Among them was 
also a married lady, of good birth and liberal education, 
called Vibia Perpetua. She had a father and mother, 
and two brethren — one of them a catechumen like her- 
self — and an infant son at her breast. She herself was 
of about two and twenty years of age." From this 
point on, the tale of her martyrdom is as Perpetua 
herself related it, leaving it in her own handwriting to 
express her own thoughts. 

" While we were still," she writes, " at large, though 
closely guarded, and my father, in his deep affection for 
me, was anxious to upset me and endeavoured persistently 
to cast me down : ' Father/ said I, ' you see this vessel 
lying here?' — a pitcher it may have been, or some other 
kind of vessel. And he said, * I do.' And I said to him, 
' Can it be called by any pther name than what it is ? ' 
And he said, ^ No.' Then said I, ' In like manner neither 


can I call myself anything else than what I am — that 
is, a Christian.' Then my father, being stirred at that 
saying, flung himself upon me to pluck out my eyes ; 
but he only hurt me, and went away conquered with 
his hell-born arguments. Then for a few days I thanked 
God for being left without my father, and I was re- 
freshed by his absence. Within the space of those few 
days we were baptized ; and the Spirit bade me ask 
for nothing else when I came from the water but for 
endurance in the flesh. 

** After a few days we were taken into the gaol, and 
I was terrified, because I had never felt such darkness. 
Oh, that horrible day ! the heat overpowering because 
of the crowding 1 the rough handling of the soldiers to get 
money ! Besides all this, I was worn out with anxiety 
for my babe there. Then Tertius and Pomponius, the 
blessed deacons who ministered to us, arranged for a 
price that we should be let out for a few hours' space 
into a better part of the gaol, to refresh ourselves. 
Then all came out of the gaol and attended to their 
own wants. I gave suck to my babe, which was faint 
for want of food. In my anxiety for him I spoke to 
my mother, and I encouraged my brother, and com- 
mended my son to them. I began to be quite ill, 
because I saw that they were getting ill on my account. 
For many days I suffered such anxieties ; and then I 
took to having my babe to stay with me in the gaol, 
and at once I grew better, and was relieved from my 
trouble and anxiety for the child ; and the gaol became 
to me suddenly a palace, so that I liked better to be 
there than anywhere else. 

'^ Then said my brother to me, ' Dontina soror, you 
are now in great favour — so high that you may ask 
for a vision, and it will be shown you, whether it is a 


case of suflFering or of release/ And I, knowing that I 
had communings with the Lord, for whose sake I had 
gone through so much, confidently promised him, 
saying, 'To-morrow I will tell you.' And I asked, 
and this vision was shown to me : 

*' 1 saw a brazen ladder of marvellous height, reach- 
ing right up to heaven, and so narrow that only one 
could climb it at a time ; and on the sides of the ladder 
were all manner of steel instruments fastened in. There 
were swords and spikes, and hooks and knives, so that 
if any one went up carelessly or without fixing his eyes 
above, he was cut and his flesh stuck upon the instru- 
ments. And there was under the ladder a dragon lying 
of marvellous size, which lay in wait for those that 
climbed, and frightened them that they might not climb. 
Now Saturus climbed first, he who afterwards gave 
himself up for us of his own accord, because it was he 
who had built us up, and at the moment when we were 
taken up he had not b^en present ; and he came to the 
top of the ladder, and turned and said to me, * Perpetua, 
I am waiting for you, but take heed that the dragon 
do not bite you.' And I said, * He will not hurt me 
in the name of Jesus Christ.' And from under the 
ladder he slowly threw up his head, as if he were 
afraid of me, and as if I were treading the first 
rung of the ladder, I trod upon his head. And I 
went up, and I saw an immense large garden, and in 
the midst a white-haired man sitting, in a shepherd's 
garb, tall, milking his ewes ; and standing around him 
were many thousands in white raiment. And he lifted 
up his head and beheld me, and said to me, 'Thou 
art well come, my child.' And he called me, and from 
the cheese made of the milk that he was milking he 
gave me as it were a morsel, and I received it with my 


hands joined, and did eat ; and all that stood around 
said, Amen, And at the sound of their voice I awoke, 
still chewing in my mouth somewhat sweet. And 
immediately I told my brother, and we understood that 
we were to suffer ; and we began to have no more 
hope in this world. 

'* After a few days a rumour spread that our case 
was to be heard. Thereupon also came my father 
from the city, worn out with sorrow. And he came 
up to me to shake my purpose, saying, * O daughter, 
pity my grey hairs : pity your father, if I am worthy to 
be called your father. If by these hands I have reared 
you to this flower of your age ; if I have preferred you 
to all your brothers ; give me not over to the scorn of 
men. Look at your brethren, look at your mother and 
your aunt, look at your son, who cannot live when you 
are gone. Lay aside your proud resolve, and do not 
ruin us all ; for not one of us will be able to speak 
like a free man, if anything should happen to you.' 
These things he said like a father, in his affection kissing 
my hands and casting himself at my feet, and with tears 
he began to call me no longer /tlta (daughter), but domina 
(lady). And I was grieved for my father's calamity, 
because he was the only one of all my family that was 
not ready to rejoice in my passion ; and I comforted him, 
saying, ' Upon that platform will be done what pleases 
God, for be sure we are not in our own power but in 
God's.' And he went back from me sadly disappointed. 

" The next day, while we were at our morning meal, 
we were suddenly carried off to be tried, and came 
to the forum. Immediately the report ran through 
the quarters near the forum, and an immense crowd 
gathered. We went up upon the platform. The rest 
were examined and confessed." 


Perpetua does not give a detailed account of the 
examination ; but another account of it remains, which 
bears marks of being genuine. Saturus was the first to 
be invited to sacrifice. He replied that it was right to 
sacrifice to God, and not to idols. '* Do you speak for 
yourself," asked the governor, " or for all ? " " For all," 
he replied ; '* we all have one mind." To this the 
rest assented. The women were then removed, and 
Hilarian the magistrate endeavoured in succession to in- 
duce Saturus, Saturninus, and Revocatus to sacrifice, but 
without success. '* Do not set yourself up to be better 
than our sovereigns," he said to the first. *' I do think," 
said Saturus, " that I shall stand better with the true 
Sovereign of this world and the next, if only I am en- 
abled to strive and to suffer." The threat of death only 
made Revocatus exclaim, <' We pray God that we may be 
permitted to be slain." Hilarian then called in the two 
women. He asked Felicity whether she was married. 
She replied that she was, but that she could pay no 
regard to her husband now. " Where is he ? " said 
Hilarian. *' He is not here," she answered. *' What 
is his position in life ? " *' A working man." " Have 
you father and mother ? " " No ; but Revocatus is my 
brother. I could have no better parents than these 
Christian friends." " Have pity on yourself, young 
woman, and live. I see that you are expecting the birth 
of a child." ** I am a Christian, and I am bidden to 
disregard all other tilings for God's sake." " Think for 
yourself : I am sorry for you." " Do what you will ; 
you will never persuade me." 

Hilarian turned to Perpetua. ^' What do you say, 
Perpetua ? will you sacrifice ? " ^' I am a Christian," she 
answered, ''and I mean to be true to my name of 
Perpetua." " Have you a father and mother ? " '' Yes," 


she replied. Her parents were present in court. '' At 
last they came to me/' so runs her own account, 
''and there on the spot appeared father, with my son, 
and dragged me down from the step, and said entreat- 
ingly, ' Pity your babe.' And Hilarian the procurator, 
who at that time had received the power of the sword 
in the stead of the proconsul Minucius Timinianus, 
who was dead, said likewise, ' Spare your father's hoary 
head ; spare your boy's tender age : do sacrifice for 
the health of the emperors/ And I answered, ^ I will 
not do it/ Hilarian said, * Are you a Christian ? ' And 
I answered, ' I am a Christian/ And when my father 
persisted in trying to shake my purpose, Hilarian 
ordered him to be turned down, and some one hit him 
with a rod. And I was grieved at the calamity of my 
father, as though I had been hit myself ; so grieved was I 
for his unhappy old age. Then the procurator sentenced 
us one and all, and condemned us to the beasts ; and 
we came down to the gaol with mirth. Then because 
the babe had been wont to take the breast from me, 
and to stay with me in the gaol, I sent forthwith the 
deacon Pomponius to father, asking for the child ; but 
father would not give him ; and, as it has pleased God, 
neither does the child any longer desire the breasts, 
nor have they any more burned me ; so that I have 
not been tormented with anxiety for the child nor with 
pain in my breasts. 

'' A few days after, as we were all praying, suddenly 
in the midst of the prayer a voice burst from me, and 
I named Dinocrates: and I marvelled that he had 
never come into my mind till then, and I grieved when 
I remembered what had befallen him : and I felt at 
once that I was in a position to pray for him, and 
ought to do so. And I began to pray much for him. 


and to make moaning to the Lord. Straightway that 
same night it was shown me on this wise : I saw Dino- 
crates coming out of a gloomy place, where there were 
many others besides, exceedingly hot and thirsty, with 
his countenance dirty and wan in colour, and the 
wound in his face which he had when he died. This 
Dinocrates had been my brother in the flesh, of seven 
years old, who had been ill and died a bad death with 
cancer in the face, so that his death was a horror to 
everybody." The reason why Perpetua had not prayed 
for her brother before was, no doubt, because he had 
died unbaptized, and the prayers of the Church for the 
departed were only offered on behalf of those who had 
died in the faith. '* For him then I had prayed : and 
between him and me there was a great gulf fixed, so 
that neither of us could go to the other. Next, in the 
place where Dinocrates was, there was a tank full of 
water, with the brink too high for the boy's stature, 
and Dinocrates was stretching himself as if to drink. 
I was sad that the tank should hold water, and yet he 
should be unable to drink, because of the height of the 
brink of it. And I awoke, and understood that my 
brother was in trouble. But I was confident that I 
should be able to help his trouble, and I prayed for 
him every day until we went across to the prison at the 
barracks. For we were to fight at the sports belonging 
to the barracks. It was then the birthday of the Caesar 
Geta : and I prayed for my brother day and night, 
groaning and weeping that he might be given to me. 

*' On the day when we remained in the stocks, it was 
shown me on this wise. I saw the place which I had 
seen before, and Dinocrates with his body cleansed, 
and well clad, taking his refreshment. And where the 
wound was, I saw the flesh closed up : and the tank 


which I had seen before, I now saw with the brink 
lowered to the boy's waist ; and water ran over from it 
without ceasing ; and on the brink was a golden stoup 
full of water ; and DinQ^sates went up and began to 
drink from it, and that Aqi^pJIfailed not to be full. And 
when he had had enougti, he went away to play 
after the manner of children, rejoicing. And I awoke. 
Then I understood that he was removed from his 

Perhaps it may be necessary to say that the place 
where Dinocrates was in punishment was not what is 
commonly known as purgatory. According to the 
belief of the time the unbaptized child had gone to hell 
itself, and the wonder was that Perpetua's prayer had 
power even to release from hell. 

"Then, after a few days, the soldier Pudens, the 
centurion's adjutant, and superintendent of the gaol, 
who began to think much of us, understanding that 
there was a mighty power in us, allowed many to come 
in to us, that we and they might refresh ourselves 
together. Now as the day of the sports drew near, my 
father entered in to me, worn out with sorrow, and 
began to pluck out his beard, and to throw it on the 
ground, and to dash himself on his face, and to cry 
shame upon his years, and to say such words as might 
move all creation. I was very sorry for his unhappy 
old age. 

" The day before we were to fight, I saw in a vision 
that Pomponius the deacon came hither to the door of 
the prison, and knocked violently, and I went out to 
him and opened to him : he was clothed in a white 
flowing garment, and had embroidered shoes on. And 
he said to me : * Perpetua, we are waiting for you ; 
come along.' And he held me by the hand, and we 


began to go through rough and crooked places. At 
last with difficulty we reached the amphitheatre, panting, 
and he led me into the middle of the arena, and said to 
me, ' Fear not, here am I with you and share your 
labour ; ' and he disappeared. And I saw a vast crowd 
of people all in rapt attention. And because I knew 
that I was given to the beasts, I wondered that no 
beasts were sent in to me. And there came forth against 
me a certain Egyptian " — ^that is a negro — " hideous to 
see, with his helpers, to fight with me. There came to 
me also comely young men, to be my helpers and my 
backers. And I was stripped, and I was turned into a 
man ; and my backers began to rub me with oil as they 
do for an athletic contest: and I saw the Egyptian 
opposite me wallow himself in dust. And there came 
forth a man wonderfully tall, so tall that he was higher 
than the top of the amphitheatre, wearing a flowing 
tunic with purple across the midst of the bosom between 
the two stripes, having richly embroidered shoes made 
of gold and silver, and carrying a rod like a master of 
gladiators, and a green branch on which were golden 
apples. And he called for silence, and he said : * If 
this Egyptian conquers this woman, he shall kill her 
with the sword : and if she conquers him, she shall 
have this branch.' And he departed. And we drew 
near to each other, and began to box. He wished to 
seize me by the feet, but I with my heels stamped upon 
his face ; and I was lifted up in the air, and began to 
stamp upon him as if I had not to tread upon the earth. 
But when I saw that it was taking a long time, I joined 
my hands together, putting finger to finger ; and I took 
him by the head, and he fell upon his face, and I trode 
upon his head. And the people fell to shouting, and 
my backers to singing. And I went up to the master 


of the gladiators and took the branch. And he kissed 
mei and said to me, * Daughter, peace be with thee/ 
And I began to go with glory through the door called 
Sanavivaria " — ^that is, the door through which the live 
combatants passed out. "And I awoke, and under- 
stood that I was to fight not with the wild beasts but 
with the devil ; but I knew that the victory was mine. 
This is what I have done up to the day before the 
sports: how the sports themselves will go, let some 
one else write, if he pleases." 

To this diary of Perpetua's is appended a vision of 
Saturus, written likewise by himself. 

" We had suflFered," he says, " and we left the flesh, 
and began to be carried by four angels into the east ; 
and their hands touched us not. But we went, not 
laid flat with upturned faces, but as if mounting an 
easy sloping hill. Now when we had cleared the world, 
we saw an infinite light, and I said to Perpetua (for she 
was at my side), ' This is that which the Lord promised 
us : we have received the promise.' And while we 
were carried by those four angels, there appeared before 
us a wide space, which was like a pleasure garden, full 
of rose trees and of every kind of flowers. The height 
of the rose trees was like that of cj^resses, and the 
leaves of them fell ** (or according to another reading, 
" sang ") " without ceasing. And there in that pleasure 
garden were other four angels brighter than the rest, 
who, when they saw us, did us obeisance, and said to 
the other angels, ' There they are, there they are,' with 
admiration. And those four angels who carried us, 
in great fear set us down ; and we walked on our own 
feet a furlong upon a broad way" (or according to 
another reading, <'a furlong of nothing but violets"). 
"There we found Jucundus, and Saturninus, and 



Artaxius, who were burnt alive in the same persecu- 
tion ; and Quintus, a martyr likewise, who had passed 
away in the prison: and we inquired of them where 
were the rest. The angels said to us, 'Come first, 
enter in, and salute the Lord.' 

'' And we drew nigh to the place : and the walls of 
the place were as if built of light : and before the door 
of that place four angels stood, who clothed those that 
entered with white robes. And we entered, and we 
heard an united voice saying " — in Greek, which was still 
the sacred language, in Africa as at Rome — '*'Holy, 
Holy, Holy,' continually. And we saw in that place, 
sitting, as it were a man with snow-white hair, and 
with a young man's countenance, and His feet we saw 
not ; and on His right hand and on His left four elders, 
and behind them many other elders stood. And 
entering with great wonder, we stood before the throne. 
And four angels lifted us up ; and we kissed Him, and 
with His hand He stroked us on the face. And the 
other elders said to us, * Let us stand.' And we 
stood, and gave one another the kiss of peace. And 
the elders said to us, * Go and play.' And I said to 
Perpetua, ' You have got what you wished for.' And 
she said to me, ' Thanks be to God, that however merry 
I was in the flesh, I am merrier now here.' " 

Then followed a darker incident in the vision, 
reflecting the troubles of the militant Church which 
they had left. 

'*And we went forth, and we saw before the 
doors Optatus the bishop and Aspasius the pres- 
byter, who gave the instructions, on the left, all by 
themselves and sad ; and they threw themselves at our 
feet and said, ' Make peace between us, because you 
have departed and left us thus.' And we said to them. 


' Are not you our Papa ' " — '' our Pope," a name of filial 
aflfection then given to any respected bishop — '' ' and are 
not you a priest, that you should fall at our feet ? ' 
And we were moved, and embraced them. And 
Perpetua began to talk with them in Greek, and we 
took them apart into the pleasure garden under a rose 
tree. And while we talked with them, the angels said 
to them, ^ Let them alone, to refresh themselves ; and 
if ye have any disputes among you, forgive one another.' 
And they put them to confusion. And they said to 
Optatus, 'Correct thy people: for they come to thy 
assembly like men returning from the races, and 
wrangling over their favourites.' And it appeared to 
us as though they wished to close the gates. And 
there we began to recognise many brethren, but 
martyrs only. One and all we were fed with a sweet 
odour that cannot be described, which satisfied us. 
Then I awoke rejoicing." 

" These," says Tertullian, if it is he, " are the more 
notable visions of those same blessed martyrs, Saturus 
and Perpetua, as written by themselves. Secundulus 
was called by God out of the world by a speedier 
departure, while yet in the prison. It was a favour to 
be spared the beasts." The narrative then continues : — 

"With regard to Felicity, to her likewise a favour 
of the Lord was vouchsafed. Being now in her 
eighth month, for she was with child when taken into 
custody, she was in great tribulation when the day of 
the show was now nigh at hand, lest because of her 
unborn child she should be put off, because it is not 
lawful for women with child to be put to death, and lest 
she should afterwards shed her holy and innocent 
blood in company with criminals. Her fellow-martyrs 
also were sadly grieved lest they should leave behind 


them all alone so good a companion and fellow- 
traveller on the road of the same hope. Joining, 
therefore, in an united groaning, they poured out 
their prayer to the Lord on the third day before the 
exhibition. Immediately after the prayer her pains 
came upon her. And when, because of the natural 
difficulty of the eighth month, she was sorely distressed 
in bringing to the birth, one of the servants of the 
turnkeys said to her, ' If you are in such distress now, 
what will you do when you are thrown to the wild 
beasts ? You despised them when you refused to 
sacrifice.' And she answered : ' Now it is I that su£Fer 
what I suffer; but there, another will be in me who 
will suffer for me, because I am to suffer for Him.' So 
she brought forth a maid child, which a certain sister 
brought up as her own daughter. 

" Now, forasmuch as the Holy Ghost has permitted, 
and by permitting has willed, that the tale of the sports 
themselves should be written, although unworthy to com- 
plete the description of such glory, yet we will fulfil the 
duty bequeathed, and indeed imposed upon our honour, 
by Perpetua, adding a single instance of her constancy 
and loftiness of mind. When they were treated by the 
tribune with greater strictness, because some foolish 
people had alarmed him by suggesting that they might 
be secretly got out of prison by magical charms, 
Perpetua answered him to his face and said : ' Why, 
pray, do you not allow such distinguished criminals to 
refresh themselves, — the Caesar's own criminals, who 
are to fight upon his birthday ? Is it not to your credit 
that we should be brought out yonder in good condi- 
tion ? ' The tribune shuddered and blushed, and so 
ordered them to be more humanely treated, that her 
brethren and others might have leave to go in, and join 


in their time of refreshment. The adjutant of the gaol 
was now himself a believer. 

''On the day before their death, when they were 
partaking of that last meal which they call the free 
supper, and were making it, so far as they might, not a 
free supper, but a Christian Agapiov love-feast, they flung 
their words with undiminished constancy among the 
people, threatening them with the judgment of God, and 
testifying to the happiness of their passion, laughing at 
the curiosity of the crowds that came to look on ; and 
Saturus said, 'To-morrow is not sufficient for you, 
then ; you so love to gaze upon what you hate. To- 
day friends, to-morrow enemies. Yet mark our faces 
well, that you may know us again in that Day.' So they 
all departed awe-struck, and many of them believed. 

" The day of their victory dawned, and they marched 
forth from the gaol to the amphitheatre, as if to 
heaven, with mirth in their countenances and with 
dignity. If they trembled, it was for joy and not for 
fear. Perpetua followed with a shining mien, like a 
true spouse of Christ, like the darling of God, by the 
keen glance of her eyes casting down the looks of all 
who gazed at her. Felicity also, rejoicing that she had 
had a safe delivery, so that she might do combat with the 
beasts, going from one shedding of blood to another, 
from the midwife to the gladiator, to wash herself after 
childbirth in a second baptism. And when they had 
brought them in at the gate, and wished to make them 
dress, the men as priests of Saturn, the women as 
devotees of Ceres, that noble constancy held out against 
it even to the end. For she pleaded, 'It was 
to save our liberty from being interfered with, that 
we deliberately came to this. We devoted our lives 
for the very purpose that we should do nothing of 

- rf ^ 


this kind. This was our bargain with you.' Injustice 
itself," says TertuUian, " recognised the justice of their 
plea ; the tribune gave leave that they should be 
brought in exactly as they were, Perpetua fell to 
singing, already trampling on the head of her Egyptian. 
Revocatus and Saturninus and Saturus threatened the 
people who looked on for this. As soon as they came 
in sight of Hilarian, they began, by their gestures and 
beckonings, to say to him : ' You condemn us, but God 
will condemn you ! ' At this the people were so 
infuriated that they asked to have them beaten with 
scourges along a line of huntsmen. And they — what 
should they do but congratulate each other that they 
had even obtained one of those things which were 
inflicted on the Lord ? 

" Now He who said, * Ask, and ye shall receive,' gave 
them, when they asked, that manner of departure which 
each had desired. For whenever they were talking 
together of their wishes for their martyrdom, Saturninus 
would profess that he wished to be exposed to all the 
beasts, that he might carry off, no doubt, a more 
glorious crown. And so, when the show was actually 
begun, he and Revocatus, after first having trial of a 
leopard, were then torn on the stage by the bear also. 
But there was nothing that Saturus more detested than 
a bear, while he was confident that one bite of the 
leopard would finish him. So when he was served 
to a wild boar, that beast ripped up the huntsman who 
had fastened him to it, and he died after the days of 
the exhibition. Saturus was only dragged about. And 
when he was tied up on the bridge for the bear 
to maul, the bear refused to come forth out of 
his den. And so the second time Saturus was called 
back again unhurt. 

• • • . ^' 

. • • • 

V w ^ w «. I* ^ 


''For the young women the devil had made the 
unusual provision of an exceedingly savage cow, got for 
the purpose, matching their sex with that of the animal. 
So they were stripped, and wrapped up in nets, and 
brought in. The people were filled with horror to see the 
one a delicate girl, the other fresh from childbirth with 
breasts overflowing. So they were called back and 
clothed in flowing garments. Perpetua was tossed first, 
and fell upon her hip ; and as soon as she sat up she 
drew over her the tunic, which was rent at the side, 
thinking more of her modesty than of her pain. Then, 
calling for a pin, she fixed also her dishevelled 
hair with it, for it was not seemly for a martyr to 
suffer with dishevelled hair, lest in the midst of her 
triumph she should look as though she mourned. So 
she rose, and when she saw Felicity tossed, she ap- 
proached and gave Felicity her hand and lifted her up ; 
and the pair stood side by side, and the hard-hearted- 
ness of the people was overcome, and they were called 
back to the Sanavivaria door. There Perpetua was taken 
in hand by a certain man, who was then a catechumen, 
Rusticus by name, who clave to her ; and as if she 
were awaked from sleep (so deep had she been in 
the spirit and in trance), she began to look round her, 
and to the astonishment of all she said, * I cannot tell 
when we are to be taken out to that cow.' And when 
she heard what had already happened, she did not at 
first believe it, until she observed certain marks of the 
tossing upon her body and her dress. Then sending 
for her own brother, she addressed him and that 
catechumen, saying, ' Stand fast in the faith, and 
all love one another ; and be not offended by our 

"In another gate Saturus likewise was exhorting the 


soldier Pudens, saying, ' Sure enough, as I foresaw 
and foretold, I have not yet felt any beast at all. And 
now, believe with all your heart. See, I go out yonder, 
and with one bite of the leopard I am perfected.' And 
straightway, at the end of the show, the leopard was 
turned loose, and with a single bite Saturus was so 
covered with blood that, as he turned round, the people 
shouted their testimony to his second baptism, saying, 
' Good bath, good bath ! ' " Tertuliian here makes a 
play upon the words, of which no rendering can be 
given in English. " Then he said to the soldier Pudens, 
' Farewell, and remember the faith and me ; and let these 
things not shake but confirm you.' And at the same 
time he asked for a ring from the man's finger, and 
dipped it in his own wound, and gave it back to him 
as a legacy, leaving it to him as a pledge and as a 
memorial of his blood. Then fainting, he was dragged 
away with the rest, to have his throat cut at the usual 
place. And when the crowd demanded that they 
should be brought into the middle, so that when the 
sword went into their bodies their eyes might follow 
and join in the murder, they rose up of their own 
accord and crossed over where the people wished, 
after having first kissed each other, that they might 
perfect their martyrdom with the solemn rites of peace. 
The rest received the sword without moving, and in 
silence; Saturus, in particular, who had gone up the ladder 
first, was the first to give up the ghost, for he was 
waiting for Perpetua. But Perpetua, that she might 
have some taste of pain, was stabbed between the bones, 
and shrieked ; and taking the faltering hand of the 
young novice of a gladiator, she moved it to her own 
throat. Perhaps," so ends the story, " such a woman 
could not otherwise have been killed, because the un- 


clean spirit was afraid of her, if she had not wished it 
herself." ^ 

Although the greatest, Perpetua and Felicity were 
not the last of their sex to su£Fer at Carthage for the 
name of Christ during that outbreak. In the year after 
their mart3rrdom, on the i8th of July, a Christian 
woman bearing the Punic name of Guddene, showed 
a fortitude not inferior to theirs. Four several times 
she was extended upon the rack known as the '* hobby- 
horse," and her body was horribly mangled with the 
executioner's hook. Then for a very long time she 
was permitted to drag on her existence in a filthy 
prison, and was finally slain with the sword.^ 

It was impossible for the storm to rage long with 
such violence. There was some abatement for a time, 
and until the year 211 the Christians in Africa enjoyed 
a measure of repose. Then, under the government 
of Scapula, disturbances broke out again. In the fer- 
vent pamphlet which Tertullian addressed to Scapula, 
complaint is made of the vexations to which Christians 
were again subjected. Some of them were burned 
alive. Mavilus of Hadrumetum was given to the wild 
beasts. Tertullian compared unfavourably the position 
of Christians in proconsular Africa with that of the 
neighbouring provinces, where Christians were indeed 
put to death, but only with the sword. 

Not that his fellow Christians were afraid, he said : 
the more trial, the greater the reward. But in language 
such as the old world seldom had heard, he dwelt upon 
the futility of these efforts to force men into religious 
acts which they inwardly abhorred. *'It is part of 
the natural rights of man," he cried, "to worship 

1 Ruinart, p. So ; Franchi de' Cavalieri, Za Passio SS, Pirpeiuae et FeU* 
cUatis ; Robinson, Texts and Studies^ vol. i. no. 2 ; Von Gebhardt, p. 6l. 
^ Martyrologium AdoniSy July i8. 


according to individual conviction. No man is either 
the better or the worse for another man's religion* 
There is no religion in enforcing religion, for religion 
must be embraced freely and not under compulsion. 
Even in the case of your own sacrifices, a willing mind 
is required. Supposing you succeed in forcing us to 
sacrifice, it will do your gods no good. They will not 
want sacrifices from the unwilling." 

Tertullian would not allow it to be said that he 
was using threats ; but he not only significantly pointed 
out the judgments which had fallen upon persecuting 
emperors and judges, he went on to show what trouble 
the Christians might give if they pleased. ''Your 
cruelty is our glory. Look to it, or what we are 
made to suffer may drive us to break out, for the 
purpose of showing that we are not afraid of these 
things, but rather desire them. During the zealous 
persecution of Arrius Antoninus in Asia" — ^this was 
probably in the time of Marcus Aurelius — "all the 
Christians of a city assembled and presented them- 
selves in a body at his tribunal. He ordered a few 
of them to execution, and remarked to the rest, ' Un- 
happy creatures 1 If you want to die, you can find 
precipices and halters for yourselves ! ' If we too 
should choose to do the same, what will you do with 
so many thousands of people ? What number of fires 
and swords will you need? What will Carthage do 
when decimated by you — when every one will recognise 
relations and bosom friends of his own amongst the 
number ; when he will very probably see among them 
men and matrons of your own rank, and leading per- 
sonages, and relatives and friends of your own ? " * So 
difficult was the task of extirpating Christianity in Africa. 

^ Tertullian, Ad Scapulam^ 5. 



For some years after the death of the emperor 
Severus, the Church was allowed to enjoy rest and 
tranquillity. One of his successors, Alexander Severus, 
went so far as not only to tolerate the existence of 
Christianity, but erected a statue of our Lord in his 
private oratory, in company with those of Abraham 
and Orpheus, and other heroes of religion. This 
emperor was succeeded by Maximin, who encouraged 
a fitful attempt to repress the leaders of the Church. 
The Bishop of Rome, named Pontian, together with 
the most celebrated teacher of the time at Rome, 
Hippolytus, was banished to Sardinia. There, in all 
probability in penal servitude in the mines, he expired, 
after enduring many beatings and other forms of ill- 
treatment. His successor, Anteros, got into trouble 
with the authorities by his zeal in collecting historical 
information about earlier martyrs, and was himself 
added to the number. In Cappadocia and Pontus, in 
consequence of earthquakes and other misfortunes, a 
movement against the Christians was set on foot, but it 
was of no great severity. The famous Origen was 
forced by his friends to leave Caesarea in Palestine, 
which was then his home, and take refuge, like his 
master Clement before him, in Cappadocia, where he 
was not known. Some of his friends at Caesarea were 

arrested and thrown into prison ; and Origen, from the 



widow's house which gave him an obscure retreat, 
wrote to them his encouragements to martyrdom, in a 
style which, with all its piety, seems tame and quiet in 
comparison not only with the address of Tertullian 
in similar circumstances, but also with Origen's own 
language in his youth. 

The accession of Decius in the year 249 was the 
signal for the greatest attack upon Christianity that 
had yet been made. Although Christianity had never 
been legally permitted, and was in constant danger of 
being molested, no general attempt had ever been 
made to stamp it out. Persecution had been local 
and spasmodic. Emperors had sometimes encouraged, 
and sometimes discouraged, the efforts of their officials 
to keep Christianity down. Decijjsjjtas- tb«. first, tp, 
issue edicts for its total suppression. He recognised 
the power of the great society, which had spread 
through all the provinces of the empire, which refused 
to join in the religion of the state, and owned allegiance 
to an authority which was not his. He determined 
to put forth the whole power of the state to crush the 
Church in every region of the empire at once. 

Although the edict is lost in which the resolution of 
Decius was expressed, its tenor may be gathered from 
various sources. A day was fixed on which all the 
inhabitants of the empire were to sacrifice to the gods 
and to the genius of the emperor. Men and women 
were summoned individually and by name. Those 
who refused were to be compelled by heavy but 
unspecified penalties.^ 

At Alexandria — so the great bishop of that city, 
Denys, relates — troubles had begun a year before they 
began elsewhere. A ''prophet and poet of evil," 

^ Gregg, Decian PersecuHon, P* 7i foU* 


whom he does not name, had worked upon the super- 
stition of the people to incite them against the 

'' Inflamed by him, and laying hold of the powers of 
government for mischief, they thought that to massacre 
us was the way to serve their demons, and the only 
form of religion. First to be seized was an old man 
named Metras, whom they ordered to utter ungodly 
words ; and when he refused, they beat him with 
sticks, and stabbed him in the face and eyes with sharp 
reed pens, and brought him into the suburb of the city 
and stoned him. A faithful woman named Quinta was 
the next. They took her to the idol temple, and 
endeavoured to compel her to worship ; and when she 
turned her back upon the altar and expressed her 
abhorrence of it, they lashed her feet together and 
dragged her all through the city along the rough 
pavement, her body knocking against the big stones 
while they flogged her with a whip, until at last they 
brought her to the same spot and stoned her. 

** Then with one accord they all attacked the houses 
of the worshippers of God ; their neighbours, to whom 
they were known, began in hot haste to drag out and 
rifle and make havoc of the contents, carrying off any 
possessions of value, and breaking up the inferior 
articles and everything made of wood, and making 
bonfires of them in the streets, so that it looked like the 
capture of a city by a hostile army. The brethren 
bowed to the storm, and got quietly out of the way, 
taking joyfully, like those of whom St. Paul speaks, the 
spoiling of their goods. And I do not know of any 
one — though there may perhaps have been one — who 
up to this time had denied the Lord. 

''The aged and excellent virgin, ApoUonia, was 


seized, and struck on the cheeks until all her teeth 
were dashed out. They then built a bonfire in front 
of the city, and threatened to burn her alive in it, unless 
she would pronounce with them the formulas of un- 
godliness. She begged them to release her for a 
moment ; and when they did so, she gathered up her 
strength and sprang into the fire and was consumed. 
Sarapion was found at home. They treated him with 
dreadful tortures ; and after breaking all his joints, 
they threw him headlong from the upper storey. The 
streets, the squares, the lanes, were impassable for us, 
by night as well as by day. In every place, and with- 
out a pause, they all cried out that any one who would 
not utter aloud their blasphemous language should at 
once be dragged oflF to be burned." 

This state of things continued at Alexandria for 
some while. Then there arose a dissension in the 
city, and the inhabitants came to blows with each 
other, and the Christians profited by the distraction. 
It was, however, only for a little while. When the 
news reached Egypt that Decius had succeeded to the 
throne, and had determined to reverse the lenient 
policy of his predecessors towards the Christians, a 
kind of panic arose among them. 

''The edict arrived," says Denys. "It proved to 
be like that last terror which our Lord foretold, that 
should cause, if possible, even the elect to stumble. 
All quailed before it. Among those of high rank some 
in alarm fell in at once ; those who held public offices 
followed their official instincts, while others were 
dragged along by those about them. When their 
names were called over, they advanced to the impure 
and unholy sacrifices, some with pale faces and 
trembling all over, as if they were going, not to sacri- 


fice, but themselves to be o£Fered as victims and slain 
in honour of the idols, so that the great crowd which 
surrounded them jeered at them, and everybody saw 
what cowards they were — afraid to die, and afraid to 
sacrifice alike. Others moved to the altars more briskly, 
endeavouring to convey by their bold demeanour the 
impression that they had never been Christians at all. 
The saying of our Lord about rich men came very true 
of these — they will indeed hardly be saved. In the 
lower ranks of life, both these classes found imitators ; 
but some took to flight, others were captured. Of these 
last, some went as far as to bonds and imprisonment, and 
then, after a longer or shorter confinement, renounced 
their faith before they were brought to trial ; others 
even endured torture for a time, and at last gave way." 

Such is the bishop's candid account of the behaviour 
of many of his flock. But they were not all like these. 

" But the firm and blessed pillars of the Lord," he 
continues, " made strong by Him, and receiving power 
and might in proportion to the force of the faith which 
was in them, showed themselves admirable martyrs of 
His kingdom. The first was a man named Julian, so 
crippled with gout that he could neither stand nor go. 
He was brought up, with two others who carried him. 
One of the two denied at once ; the other, called 
Cronion, who bore the surname of Eunous, or ' Bene- 
volent,' along with the aged Julian, confessed our Lord; 
they were carried right through the city — you know how 
vast it is — aloft on the backs of camels, and scourged 
as they went ; and finally, amidst the assembled multi- 
tude, were burned in an unquenchable fire. A soldier 
who was stationed near them as they were conveyed 
along, opposed those who ill-treated them ; whereupon 
they turned their outcries against him, and the gallant 


warrior — God's warrior — Besas, was arraigned, and 
after distinguishing himself in the great war, the war 
for religion, had his head cut off. 

'' Another, of Libyan nationality, who bore the 
appropriate name of Macar " — ^which means '' blessed," 
or "happy" — "was the object of the judge's earnest 
solicitation to deny his faith ; but he would not yield, 
and was burned alive. After these, Epimachus and 
Alexander, after enduring a long imprisonment, and 
after the infliction of many sufferings from the claw 
and from the scourge, were consigned, like the others, 
to unquenchable fire. With them were four women. 
One of these, Ammonarium, a holy virgin, had 
declared beforehand to the judge that she would 
not utter a single thing which he commanded her 
to utter. Accordingly he tortured her at great 
length and with the utmost determination; but she 
fulfilled her promise, and was led to execution. Of 
the others, Mercuria was an aged and reverend woman ; 
Dionysia had a large family, but did not love her 
children more than she loved the Lord. The governor 
was ashamed to go on torturing women without avail 
and to be beaten by them at last, and so ordered them 
to be executed with the sword, without submitting them 
to tortures, which their leader, Ammonarium, bore on 
behalf of all the four. 

"Hero, Ater, and Isidore, three Egyptians, were 
delivered up, and with them Dioscorus, a boy of about 
fifteen. Thinking that the boy would not be hard to 
persuade, the magistrate first attempted to cajole him 
with fair words, and then to force him by tortures 
which he supposed that the lad could never resist ; but 
Dioscorus yielded neither to argument nor to pain. 
After fiercely thrashing the elders of the party, who 


bore it firmly, he sent them to the fire ; but he could 
not help admiring Dioscorus, who had made so noble 
a figure in public, and who had given such wise 
answers to the questions put to him in private, and 
he let him off, saying that he would grant him a 
respite for repentance, because of his tender age. And 
Dioscorus is with us to-day," writes his bishop proudly; 
** Dioscorus, worthy of his God, awaiting a longer fight 
and a more ample reward. 

*^ Another Egyptian, Nemesion, was falsely accused 
of being a companion of robbers ; and when he had 
disproved this utterly unfounded charge before the 
centurion, he was denounced as a Christian, and so 
came as a prisoner before the governor. In flagrant 
defiance of justice the governor inflicted upon him 
twice as many tortures and lashes as upon the robbers 
themselves, and then burned him between the robbers, 
bestowing upon the saint the honour of being treated 
like Christ. 

" A whole band of soldiers, Ammon, Zeno, Ptolemy, 
and Ingenes, and with them an old man called Theo- 
philus, were present in court when a Christian was 
being tried and was showing signs of wavering. Full of 
indignation, they made faces to him, and lifted up their 
hands, and threw their bodies into sympathetic atti- 
tudes. This drew upon them the attention of all ; but 
before others could arrest them, they ran to the magis- 
trate's platform, avowing themselves Christians, so that 
both the governor and his council were intimidated ; 
and while the prisoners at the bar took heart to meet 
their sufferings, those who judged them shrank in 
alarm. They passed from the court ' in procession, 
rejoicing in their martyrdom, God leading them in 
triumph gloriously." 



The eye of Denys travelled beyond his episcopal 
city to those who suffered for their faith in the country. 
*' In the towns and villages/' he says, " great numbers 
were torn in pieces by the heathen. I will mention a 
single case as an example. Ischyrion was the salaried 
steward of a magistrate. The man in whose pay he 
was ordered him to sacrifice. He refused, and the 
man insulted him ; he stuck to his refusal, and he 
loaded him with abuse ; at last, when he persisted, the 
man took a big stick and drove it through his body to 
the vital organs, and he died. 

'* I need not tell in detail of those who wandered 
in deserts and mountains, and perished of hunger and 
thirst and cold and disease, by robbers and by wild 
beasts. Those of them who survived are witnesses of 
the election and victory of the others. I will give an 
instance. There was a man of extreme old age, the 
Bishop of Nilopolis, whose name was Chaeremon. 
This man fled to the hills in the direction of Arabia, 
accompanied by his wife, and never came back. They 
were never seen again, and although the brethren made 
anxious search for them, they were never discovered, 
alive or dead. Many a one in those same mountains 
was carried into slavery by the barbarous Saracens ; 
some of whom were only released on payment of a 
heavy ransom, and others are still not released." ^ 

The great Bishop of Alexandria himself was the 
subject of a curious adventure. '' I speak in the pre- 
sence of God," he writes to one who had found fault 
with him for not remaining at his post ; " He knows 
whether I lie. It was not my own doing that I fled, 
nor was it without the guidance of God. Before, when 
the persecution of Decius broke out, Sabinus" — the 

^ The letter is found in Eusebius, ffist, EccL vi. 41, 42. 


governor — " sent an agent forthwith to look for me, 
and I waited four days at home, expecting the agent 
to come. But that officer scoured the country in search 
of me, examining the rivers, the roads, the fields, and 
every place where he thought it likely that I should 
hide or travel. Nowhere did he catch sight of me. 
He could not find the right house, for he never believed 
that the object of his pursuit would keep at home. 
After four days, God bade me go elsewhere, and pre- 
pared the way for me in a remarkable manner, and 
reluctantly I and my sons and a good number of the 
brethren started together. That this was providential 
was shown by the sequel, in which I may perhaps 
have been of use to some." 

The bishop's flight was soon arrested. "About 
sunset, together with my attendants, I was taken under 
guard of the soldiers to Taposiris. But Timothy, as the 
providence of God would have it, happened to be away 
at the moment and so escaped being caught. Coming 
to the house a little later, Timothy found the house 
deserted, with officers guarding it, and that we had been 
carried away captive. A peasant met him as he fled in 
consternation, and asked him why he was in such haste. 
Timothy told him the truth ; and when the man heard 
it (he was on his way to a wedding festivity ; — ^it is 
their custom to spend all the night together when they 
meet on such occasions), he went in and told the 
guests. With one accord, as if it had all been pre- 
arranged, they sprang to their feet, and ran full speed, 
and threw themselves upon us with shouts ; the soldiers 
who guarded us took at once to flight, and they burst 
in upon us, as we lay upon our bare bedsteads. I 
(God knows), supposing them at first to be robbers, 
come to despoil and plunder, lay still on the bed which 


I occupied, with only my linen garment on ; the rest 
of my clothes lay beside me, and I oflFered them to 
them, but they told me to get up and be oflF as quickly 
as I could. Then, seeing what their business was, I 
cried out, and besought and entreated them to go 
away and let us alone ; or if they wished to do a kind 
deed, I begged them to cut off my head themselves 
before my captors came back to do it. While I was 
calling out in this manner, as my companions could 
tell you, they forced me to get up ; I threw myself 
face downwards on the floor, and they laid hold of me 
by the hands and feet, and dragged me out of the 
house. I was followed by Gaius, Faustus, Peter, and 
Paul, who were witnesses of all this. These four 
picked me up and carried me hurriedly out of the 
little town, and set me on the bare back of an ass 
and led me away."^ They conveyed him to an 
uninhabited spot in Libya, three days' journey from 
the town of Paraetonium, where they kept him till 
the persecution of Decius was over. 

The leading presbyters of the church of Alexandria, 
Faustinus and Aquila, by their character as public 
men, were forced to imitate their bishop and escape 
from the city, and spent their time wandering up and 
down Egypt wherever they could find safety. Four 
other presbyters, whom Denys names, remained to 
superintend the brethren. One of them was afterwards 
the successor of Denys in the bishopric. A terrible 
plague had lately raged in the town and thinned the 
ranks of the clergy ; but three faithful deacons aided 
the priests in their holy work. One of them, named 
Faustus, survived this persecution by more than half 
a century, and in extreme old age attained to martyrdom 

1 In Eusebius, Hist* EccL vi, 40. 


in the last of the persecutions, when his head was cut 
off. Another, named Eusebius, who rose to eminence 
at a later time, was particularly energetic in visiting 
the Christians in prison, and in burying the bodies 
of the martyrs. " For even to this day," writes Denys, 
" the governor continues relentlessly to slay, to torture, 
to wear out with bonds and imprisonment, those who 
are brought before him, and forbids any to have access' 
to them, and searches for any Christians who show 
themselves ; and yet by the zeal and persistency of 
the brethren God still gives comfort to the victims of 
oppression." ^ 

Persons who desired to prove that they had duly 
taken part in the sacrifices required by Decius were 
able to procure certificates, or l^elli^ in testimony that 
they had done so. Until recent years, the form and 
contents of these certificates were a matter for con- 
jecture ; but in the year 1893, scholars who were 
digging in the district of Egypt called Fayum, came 
upon two of these very certificates, written on papyrus. 
Ten years later, a third was discovered in another part 
of Egypt. They are all in the same form, showing 
how systematic and uniform the procedure was. One 
of the Fayiim Ubelli^ which is now at Berlin, runs thus : 

''To the sacrifice-commissioners of the village of 
Alexander's Island, from Aurelius Diogenes, the son of 
Satabus, of the village of Alexander's Island, aged 72 ; 
scar on his right eyebrow. 

'M have always sacrificed regularly to the gods, 
and now, in your presence, in accordance with the 
edict, I have done sacrifice, and poured the drink- 
offering, and tasted of the sacrifices, and I request 
you to certify the same. Farewell. 

^ In EuMbitts, Bist. EccL vii. 11. 


*' Handed in by me, Aurelius Diogenes." 

Then follows the signature of the magistrate, partly 
obliterated, to say, '* I certify that I saw him sacrificing." 
Then comes the date : 

" In the first year of the Emperor Cassar Gaius 
Messius Quintus Trajanus Decius, Pius, Felix, Augustus ; 
the second of the month Epiph,"^ 

It must not be too hastily assumed that Diogenes, 
the son of Satabus, and the holders of the other two 
iibellif were Christians who fell away. Very probably 
every one who performed the test sacrifice provided 
himself with such a certificate ; at any rate, many who 
had never been Christians might be glad to be pro- 
tected by the possession of them. But in many places, 
and especially in Africa, there were Christians who did 
not hesitate to purchase certificates of the kind from 
unscrupulous magistrates, without performing the sacri- 
fice, or who accepted them when procured for them 
by anxious friends. 

In Palestine, the troubled career of Denys' master, 
Origen, was once more visited by the hand of perse- 
cution. Eusebius says that of all who were called 
upon to endure the fight of afflictions, none were more 
tried than he. *^ Bonds and bodily torments, the penalties 
of the iron collar and of the innermost dungeon, were 
inflicted upon him. For many days together his feet 
were stretched to the fourth hole on the penal wood. 
He bore steadfastly the threats of fire, and all else 
that the enemy usually employed. The judge exerted 
himself to the utmost to keep him from dying under 
the infliction." His utterances during these trials were 
full of edification, but unfortunately Eusebius did not 
think it necessary to quote at length from his epistles, 

^ To be found in Von Gebhardt's Ausgewdhlte MartyreracUn^ p. 182. 


as he did from those of Denys, and they are now lost 
to us,^ For some reason or another the life of Origen 
was again spared, and he died a natural death some 
three years later* His friend and associate from youth, 
Alexander, Bishop of Jerusalem, who had already 
suffered many years of imprisonment at the beginning 
of the century, was once more thrown into prison, 
where he died. In like circumstances, about the same 
time, died the famous Babylas, Bishop of Antioch, and, 
according to St. Chrysostom, begged that his irons 
might be buried with him in his grave. 

In Cappadocia, if we may believe the highly 
coloured account of one who wrote more than a 
hundred years after, the persecution was unusually 
violent. The number of those who abjured their 
faith was large. One of the most illustrious of 
Origen's disciples, Gregory, known as the Wonder- 
worker, was bishop of the chief city of the province, 
and, seeing the frailty of his flock, exhorted them to 
seek safety in flight. He himself set them the example. 
Accompanied by a convert of his, who had formerly 
been the keeper of a heathen temple, he took refuge in 
an uninhabited mountain range. His hiding-place was 
treacherously disclosed to the enemy, but they failed to 
find him. The story went that Gregory and his deacon, 
seeing the search-party approaching, stood on the hill- 
top and prayed with hands spread out to heaven ; and 
that when the seekers returned to the bottom of the hill, 
and were questioned about it, they said that they had 
seen nothing but two trees standing a little apart from 
each other. Meanwhile, men, women, and children 
were seized and tortured and slain. They were sus- 
tained in their combat, like the Israelites at Rephidim, 

^ Eusebius, HisU EccU vi. 39. 


by the prayers of their bishop on the hill. The name 
of one martyr out of the many has been preserved. 
He was a youth of noble family called Troadius ; and 
it is said that Gregory in his wilderness described to 
his companion the trial, the torture, the victory of 
Troadius, step by step, as it proceeded.^ 

In the district of Melitene, near the border of 
Armenia, a famous martyr named Polyeuctus entered 
into glory. Corneille has made his story the subject 
of a pathetic play. It is not easy to say how much 
of the existing narrative is historical, but there is 
no reason to reject the whole as false. 

Polyeuctus and Nearchus were soldiers in the 
same legion, and inseparable friends. Nearchus was 
a Christian, but Polyeuctus was not. When the 
edict of Decius was published, Nearchus was deeply 
distressed, and shrank from intercourse with his 
friend. The other questioned him about his change 
of behaviour, and at length discovered the danger in 
which Nearchus stood. His grief was increased when 
Nearchus told him that their friendship must cease 
with death, for in the general belief of Christians of 
the time there was no hope after death for those who 
had not received the Gospel in this life. Polyeuctus 
made up his mind to throw in his lot with his Christian 
friend. A dream which came to him tended to confirm 
his purpose. He saw a figure, which he understood 
to be that of Christ, approach and strip him of the 
soiled military cloak which he wore, and clothe him 
with a more glorious one, as bright as light ; at the 
same time the visitor mounted him upon a winged 
horse. Polyeuctus reminded Nearchus that he had 
always listened with respect and admiration when his 

^ Gregory of Nyssa, De Vita Greg. Tkaum, p. 571. 


friend told him of Christ and read the Scriptures 
to him; and he professed that it was his desire to 
expose the folly of idolatry, and all the craft and deceit 
that accompanied it. 

Nearchus was overjoyed at this announcement, 
but he could not help fearing that when the test was 
applied, as it soon would be, Polyeuctus would be 
unable to resist the inducement to sacrifice. But 
Polyeuctus was confident of himself. His only mis- 
giving was lest he should be put to death before 
receiving baptism, and so should fail to be accepted 
by Christ. Nearchus reassured him on that point, 
telling him how the Penitent Robber who confessed 
Christ upon the cross was accepted, though unbaptized. 
The soul of Polyeuctus was all on fire. He drew 
Nearchus to the place where the edict of Decius was 
posted up, read it through with scorn and indignation, 
and then plucked it from the wall or pillar and tore it 
in pieces. A few moments after, they met a procession 
carrying back to the temple the idols which had been 
borne through the streets, all decked with leaves and 
branches. The zeal of the newly converted overcame 
all thoughts of prudence, and Polyeuctus stepped up to 
the idols and dashed them on the ground and trampled 
on them. 

The local magistrate, Felix, upon whom fell the 
duty of enforcing the edict, was father to Polyeuctus' 
wife. He was profoundly grieved at what had occurred. 
He entreated Polyeuctus not to commit himself further 
until he had seen his wife. Polyeuctus replied that wife 
or child were nothing to him, unless they would take 
the same road upon which he had entered. Upon this 
the attendants struck him in the face with rods, but 
Polyeuctus was unmoved. The outrage only provoked 


him to rebuke his father-in-law for lending himself to 
the ungodly will of perishing men, and for using the 
love of wife and children to tear a man from his 
Saviour. His wife, covered with tears, came to the 
spot and upbraided him for destroying "the twelve 
gods." He told her that there were plenty more of 
that kind, and besought her to follow his religious 
change and lay hold upon eternal life. 

Felix, after conferring with his advisers, sentenced 
him to be beheaded. The martyr awaited the execu- 
tion of the sentence with great calmness, conversing 
with his fellow Christians all the time. He saw, he 
said, a young man leading him on — doubtless he 
meant Christ — and felt sure that, unbaptized as he 
was, the seal of Christ was upon him. His last 
words — words of encouragement and affection — were 
addressed to his friend Nearchus. ^ 

^ Auh6, Polye%ute dam Vhistoire; Conybeare, Monuments of Early 
Christianity ^ p. 123. 



At Smyrna, the city of Polycarp, there were still, in 
the time of Decius, Christians worthy of the commen- 
dation addressed to their church in the Apocalypse 
of St. John ; and the story of Pionius and his two 
associates may almost be read side by side with the 
story of Polycarp as a record of loyal devotion to 
Christ. Eusebius, who makes a curious mistake with 
regard to the date of their martyrdom and supposes 
them to have been contemporary with Polycarp, speaks 
of Pionius as "one of the most celebrated martyrs 
of the period." He found the story of Pionius, just as 
it now stands before us in its original language, in the 
same volume with the Martyrdoms of Polycarp and of 
Carpus and Papylus, and embodied it in a collection 
of his own which is now unhappily lost. He calls 
attention to the repeated " confessions " of Pionius, to 
his '' freedom of speech," to his '' defences of the faith 
before the people and the rulers," to his "instructive 
public addresses " and his " considerate reception of 
those who had succumbed to the temptations of the 
persecution," to the " encouragements which he offered 
in the prison to the brethren who visited him," to " the 
tortures which he subsequently endured and the pains 
which followed them," to his "nailings and his endurance 
at the stake," and to " the end which crowned all his 
wonderful deeds." ^ 

^ Eusebius, Hist, EccL iv. 15. 


Pionius himself was a presbyter. One of those 
who were with him, a woman named Sabina, had 
been a slave. Her mistress, in the reign of Gordian, 
had endeavoured to detach her from her faith, and, 
failing in the attempt, had sent her in chains to a 
place in the hills, where the brethren had supplied 
her wants. Making her escape, she took refuge with 
Pionius, and lived in his house under the name of 
Theodota. Asclepiades, the third, appears to have 
been a man of diminutive stature. 

It was the festival of St. Polycarp, and "a great 
sabbath," when they were arrested. A monition had 
come to Pionius on the vigil of the festival, as he 
fasted in company with Sabina and Asclepiades, that 
they would be seized the next day ; and, like the 
prophets of earlier times, he put ropes round his own 
neck and theirs as a sign that they were ready to be 
taken to prison and to death. They had scarcely 
finished their prayers on St. Polycarp's day, ''and 
taken holy bread and water," when Polemo, the chief 
officer of public worship, appeared with his attendants 
and carried them away. No work was going on in 
Smyrna that day. The people in the streets saw them 
going along with the ropes round their hecks, and 
crowded into the market-place. Greeks and Jews, men 
and women, they clambered upon benches and boxes, 
and into the upper storey of the porches which ran 
round the market-place, in order to get a better view. 

When they had reached the porch on the eastern 
side of the square, which was provided with two gates, 
Polemo addressed his prisoners and advised them to 
sacrifice, like everybody else, lest they should be 
punished. Pionius, who was probably well known in 
Smyrna for a learned and eloquent man, with a joyful 


countenance stretched out his hand and made a speech 
to the people. "I hear," he said, "that you are 
amused at those who desert the Christian faith, and 
make sport of their fall. You Greeks ought to re- 
member the advice of your Homer, who says that it 
is wicked to boast over dying men. You Jews know 
how Moses commanded that if a man saw even his 
enemy's ass fallen to the ground, he ought to help 
him." He warned them of a judgment to come, in 
view of which it was impossible for him to join in 
the heathen sacrifices. He was a travelled man, and 
he said that he had seen at the Dead Sea and else- 
where the results of a judgment which in a partial 
manner foreshowed the universal judgment to come. 

The silence was intense, and not a whisper inter- 
rupted the speaker. The officials listened as quietly 
as the rest, until Pionius ended by saying twice over, 
in the words of the Book of Daniel, ''We will not 
serve your gods, nor worship the golden image." Then 
they led them out into the open square. Idle people 
flocked round them. " We are fond of you, Pionius," 
they said ; '' you have good manners, and are a reason- 
able man. You ought not to die. Do what we say. 
It is good to live and see this light." " Yes, life is good," 
he answered, '' but there is a better life. Light is good, 
if it be the true light. All around us is good and fair ; 
we do not wish for death or hate the works of God ; 
but there is a better world, in comparison of which we 
despise this. You are laying a trap for us." 

A well-known bad character of the town, called 
Alexander, interrupted, '' Listen to me, Pionius." 
" No," said Pionius ; " do you try to listen to me. 
What you know, I know; but I understand some 
things of which you know nothing." Alexander en- 


deavoured to turn the laughter upon Pionius by 
pointing to his ropes, and saying ironically, "And 
what are those for ? " The prisoner told him : the 
ropes were a sign that their minds were made up ; 
that there was no need to take him and the others 
to the temple of the Nemeses, where the sacrifice 
was going on ; that they would go straight to prison. 
" Perhaps," he said, " even with ropes you could 
not have got us into your idol temples." The dis- 
comfited Alexander could only mutter something about 
not listening to people who were not allowed to live. 

A wish was expressed to adjourn to the theatre, 
where the words of Pionius could be better heard. 
Polemo was willing to consent, but some influential 
people dissuaded him, fearing that it might lead to 
a disturbance and an enquiry. '' Pionius," said the 
official, "although you will not sacrifice, go with us 
to the temple." This, he thought, might be a sufficient 
compliance on the part of the Christians. " It will do 
your idols no good for us to go there," answered 
Pionius. " Be persuaded," said Polemo. " I wish," 
replied Pionius, " that I could persuade you to become 
Christians." At this there was great laughter. " You 
will not get us to be burned alive," said some one. 
" It is much worse to be burned after you are dead," 
was the martyr's retort. The Christian Sabina could 
not help smiling at it " Do you laugh ? " they 
said. " Yes, please God," she answered ; " we are 
Christians : all who believe in Christ will laugh without 
misgiving in eternal joy." They threatened her with 
something worse than burning, but she calmly 
answered, "The holy God will look to that." 

Polemo again attempted to persuade Pionius, but 
he answered, "Your orders are either to persuade 


or to punish: you cannot persuade me, therefore 
punish." ^'Corne, Pionius, sacrifice," the dialogue 
went on. "No, I am a Christian." "What God do 
you worship ? " " The Almighty God who made heaven 
and earth, and all things that are in them, and us 
all ; who richly gives us all things ; whom we have 
known through Christ, who is His Word." "Then 
sacrifice to the emperor, if you will not sacrifice to 
the gods." " I cannot sacrifice to a human being ; 
I am a Christian." 

Then began the formal interrogations of a law 
court, the notary taking all down. "What is your 
name ? " " Pionius." " Are you a Christian ? " " Yes." 
The o£Eicial was aware that there were divisions among 
the Christians of his time ; even some shreds of 
their language were known to him. "Of what 
church?" he asked. "Of the Catholic Church: 
there is no other in the sight of Christ." Sabina's 
replies were a repetition of her protector's. Those 
of Asclepiades only varied in that when asked what 
being he worshipped, he answered, "Christ Jesus." 
"Is that a different one?" asked Polemo. "No," 
said the Christian, "He is the same of whom the 
others have spoken." 

They were taken to the prison. As they made 
their way through the crowd, some remarked how 
the well-known countenance of Pionius was changed ; 
he was usually pale, but to-day he looked fresh and 
ruddy. Sabina clung to his garment for fear of 
being parted from him by the crowd. " Look," cried 
some one, "the babe is afraid that she is going to 
be weaned." " If they will not sacrifice," shouted a 
fierce voice, " punish them." But that was beyond 
the powers of Polemo. " I have no lictors," he 


answered ; " I have no authority to punish." '' See," 
said some one, pointing to Asclepiades, ''there goes 
a little man to sacrifice." ''That is a lie," answered 
Pionius; "he will do nothing of the sort." The 
names of Christians who had sacrificed were men- 
tioned. Pionius answered, " Every man is free to 
act for himself ; my name is Pionius ; what others 
do is no concern of mine." "To think that a man 
of such education should come to this," said some one. 
" The education you know best," replied Pionius, 
" brought you famine and death and all kinds of 
troubles." He referred to sufferings which had lately 
visited the district. "You," was the retort, "felt 
the hunger like the rest of us." " I did," he replied, 
"but I had hope in God." 

At last with difficulty they reached the prison, 
and were delivered over to the warders. In the 
prison they found other sufferers for conscience await- 
ing them. One was "a presbyter of the Catholic 
Church," named Limnus ; another, a woman called 
Macedonia from a village in the neighbourhood ; a 
third, called Eutychian, was an adherent of the 
Montanist sect. The faithful at Smyrna, as elsewhere, 
came to bring offerings for the prisoners ; but 
Pionius refused to accept them. " When we needed 
them more than we do now," he said — no doubt 
referring to the time of famine — "we would not be 
burdensome to any one ; we cannot think of accept- 
ing presents now." This abstemiousness did not 
suit the gaolers, who were accustomed to make a 
good thing out of the indulgences which they 
granted to those who visited their prisoners. They 
punished Pionius and his friends by thrusting them 
into the inner ward, where they saw nobody, and 


had no chance of getting any attentions. The 
conduct of the prisoners was not affected by the 
change ; they glorified God and said nothing, and 
behaved to their gaolers just as before. Their meek- 
ness told upon their captors: the governor of the 
prison brought them back into the large front division 
of the building, where they could talk freely and 
pray day and night. 

There they were frequently visited by heathens, who 
came to argue and went away baffled and admiring, and 
conversed with fresh Christian prisoners, who brought 
reports of what was going on outside. Apostasies were 
still frequent, even among those who had lived pious 
and edifying lives. The bishop himself, who occupied 
the throne of St. Polycarp, fell to the lowest depth. 
One day, after Pionius had been teaching some of his 
visitors how to answer the Jews, who were actively at- 
tempting to proselytise among the persecuted Christians, 
the minister of public worship, Polemo, reappeared, in 
company with a military officer called Theophilus, and 
a troop of police. '* See," they said, " Euctemon, your 
superior, has sacrificed Do you the same. Lepidus 
and Euctemon are asking for you at the temple of the 
Nemeses." Pionius knew better than to submit to men 
who had no lawful authority over him. ''Persons 
committed to prison," he answered, ''ought to be re- 
served for the coming of the proconsul. Why do you 
usurp his office ? " They did not venture to deny the 
plea. They withdrew for a few minutes ; then they 
returned, and Theophilus said, "The proconsul has 
sent to have you conveyed to Ephesus." Pionius re- 
plied, " Let the proconsul's messenger come and take 
us." "He is a distinguished captain," answered Theo- 
philus ; " but if you refuse, I am a magistrate myself." 



So saying, he seized the kind of veil which the Christian 
had over his head and shoulders, gave it a twist round 
his throat which nearly strangled him, and put it into 
the hand of one of the policemen, to take him out of 
the prison. When they reached the market-place the 
Christians threw themselves down upon the ground, 
that they might not be taken to the temple. The 
struggles of Pionius were so violent that it took six of 
the constables to hold him. 

Still struggling, and shouting, ^ We are Christians," 
his bearers got him at last to the altar, where they laid 
him on the ground. The apostate bishop was still 
standing beside it, as when he had sacrificed. No 
word was exchanged between him and his presbyter. 
Lepidus, whose office and position is not mentioned, 
asked Pionius why he and the others would not sacri- 
fice, like Euctemon. ^'Because we are Christians," 
was the answer. *' What god do you worship ? " 
'' The Maker of heaven and earth and sea and all that 
is in them." 'Ms that the one who was crucified?" 
'* He was sent by God for the salvation of the world." 
This raised a loud laugh among the officials, and 
Lepidus cursed Christ. Pionius protested : '^ Reverence 
religion," he cried ; " respect justice ; recognise the 
claims of humanity ; be guided by your own laws. 
You punish us for disobeying them, and you do not 
obey them yourselves. Your orders are to punish, not 
to compeL" 

A rhetorician of the name of Rufinus bade him 
stop, and give up his vain notions. '< Is this your 
rhetoric ? " cried Pionius ; '* do you find that in your 
books ? Socrates did not suffer like this at the hands 
of the Athenians. Now everybody is an Anytus or a 
Meletus : " these were the accusers of Socrates. " Do 


you consider that Socrates, and Aristides, and Anax- 
archus, and the rest, were men of vain notions be- 
cause they practised philosophy, and righteousness, 
and endurance?" 

A man of rank and local distinction rudely told 
Pionius not to make such a noise. Lepidus said the 
same. "And do not you employ force," replied the 
martyr ; " light a fire, and we will step into it for our- 
selves." A voice in the crowd shouted, "This is the 
man who scares the others from sacrificing." Garlands 
were set upon the heads of the Christians, as was the 
way when men were going to sacrifice ; but they tore 
them off and flung them away. The public servant 
whose business it was, stood near with the sacrificial 
food in his hand ; but he was afraid to come near any 
of the Christians to offer it to them, and finally, amidst 
the amusement of the spectators, ate it himself. 

The Christians meanwhile kept crying, "We are 
Christians ; " and at last, seeing that all efforts to make 
them sacrifice were useless, they conducted them back 
to prison. Blows and mockery fell upon them as they 
went. " Could you not die in your own country ? " 
said some one to Sabina. " What is my own country ? " 
she replied : " I am Pionius' sister." The man who 
was providing for the public games at Smyrna remarked 
to Asclepiades, " When you are condemned, I shsdl ask 
to have you for my son's exhibition of gladiators." 
" That is not the way to frighten me," was the spirited 
answer. As they entered the gaol, one of the police 
officers gave Pionius such a knock on the head that the 
blood ran. Pionius said nothing ; but the Christians 
believed that his assailant's hands and side immediately 
began to swell up. The psalms and prayers of the 
Christians showed their thankfulness for having been 


helped to pass through the trial of their steadfastness 
without yielding. What they were told of the miser- 
able fall of Euctemon gave a terrible point to their 
thanksgivings. It was at the desire of the unhappy 
prelate, so they were informed, that pressure was 
put upon them to sacrifice. Euctemon had himself 
provided the victim, and after tasting of it at the spot, 
which was all that the law required, had expressed a 
wish to take the rest home with him, that he might 
make the most of the festive occasion. The thorough- 
ness with which he played his new part, wearing his 
garland, and swearing by the genius of the emperor 
and by the Nemeses that he was no Christian, amused 
the people of Smyrna. Most of those who abjured 
Christianity cut the ceremony as short as they could. 

After some time the proconsul came to Smyrna, and 
Pionius was brought before him. The usual interroga- 
tions were gone through again. " What is your name ? " 
'* Pionius." "Will you sacrifice?" "No." "What 
form of worship or persuasion do you belong to ? " 
"That of the Catholics." "What do you mean by 
the Catholics ? " , The term conveyed nothing to the 
proconsul. " I am a presbyter of the Catholic Church." 
" Are you their teacher ? " " Yes ; I taught." " Were 
you a teacher of folly ? " " Of religion, sir." " What 
religion ? " " The religion of God the Father, the 
Maker of all things." The proconsul had no wish to 
prolong a theological inquiry. "Sacrifice," he said 
bluntly. " No ; I can only pray to God." " Why, we 
all worship the gods, and heaven, and the gods in 
heaven. Why do you lift your eyes to the sky? 
Sacrifice to it." " I lift my eyes, not to the sky, but 
to Him who made it and all that is in it." "Tell me, 
who was it that made it ? " "I cannot tell you." 


''To be sure, it was God — that is, Zeus, who is in 
heaven : he is the king of all the gods." The proconsul 
hoped that Pionius would accept the identification, and 
so comply with the edict ; but the Christian gave no 
sign of acceptance. 

He was strung up. "Sacrifice," said the officers 
of the court. He refused again. They tore him with 
iron talons. " Change your mind," they said ; '* what 
desperation is this ? " " It is no desperation ; it is 
the fear of the living God." Quintilian, the proconsul, 
interposed again. ''Many others have sacrificed," he 
said, "and they are alive and in their right mind." 
" I cannot sacrifice." " I entreat you to consider a 
little with yourself and change your mind." "Not I, 
sir." One of those present said, " Why are you so bent 
upon death ? " " Not upon death," said the martyr, 
" but upon life." " You are so bent upon death that you 
make nothing of it/' said Quintilian, losing something 
of his patience. " Sometimes when men are prosecuted 
for quite a small sum of money, they will brave death 
with the wild beasts. You are one of those men. Since 
you are bent upon death, you shall be burned alive." 
He wrote the sentence upon the usual tablet, and the 
clerk read it aloud in Latin : " We have ordered 
Pionius, who has confessed himself to be a Christian, 
to be burned alive." 

The racecourse was the spot selected for the 
execution. Pionius made his way to it with alacrity, 
and stripped himself with his own hands, while the 
gaoler stood by. The exposure of his virginal flesh 
filled him with thankfulness to God, who had kept 
him in honourable purity of life. Lifting up his eyes 
to heaven, "he stretched himself with open arms on 
the stake, and made it easy for the soldier to drive 


the nails in. When he was thus fastened, the o£Eicer 
in charge said once morC; 'Change your mind, and 
the nails shall be drawn.' He answered, ' I felt that 
they were in.' Then after a moment's meditation he 
said, 'The reason why I hasten to die is that I may 
rise the sooner.' " The Christians of early days were 
accustomed to think much about the difference between 
the first and the second resurrection. When the stake 
was in position, another was reared beside it, to which 
was fastened a presbyter of the heretical sect of the 
Marcionites, whose name was Metrodore. Probably 
the writer of the narrative intended to imply that there 
was a likeness between the martyrdom of Pionius and 
the death of Him who was crucified between thieves. 
He notes that the place of honour, as on Calvary, was 
given to the sufferer with whom his sympathies lay. 
"They happened to set Pionius on the right and 
Metrodore on the left ; but," he adds, with perhaps 
a deeper pathos than he intended, '' both of them were 
looking towards the east." When the logs were piled 
round them, Pionius closed his eyes. The bystanders 
thought that he was dead ; but he was praying in 
silence, and when he had finished his prayer he opened 
his eyes again. The flames were now high, and, with 
a countenance full of joy, Pionius said his "Amen" 
aloud ; then, with the words, " Lord, receive my 
soul," he quietly breathed his last, "and gave his 
spirit into the charge of the Father, who has promised 
that He will preserve all blood that is unjustly shed, 
and every soul that is unjustly condemned." 

So " he passed," say those who saw him, " through 
the strait gate into the broad, great light." His very 
body, to their eyes, bore testimony to his triumph. It 
was like the well-nourished body of an athlete. His 


ears were unmutilated. The hair was not discomposed, 
and the ^^^^^jJff^ crisp and curly. The face seemed 
to shine^ soMffiat the Christians who looked upon it 
were filled with joy, while unbelievers went away 

A month or two after the martyrdom of Pionius 
a man named Maximus, without waiting to be seized, 
came forward and offered himself of his own accord 
to the proconsul, Optimus, probably at Epheaus, the 
usual residence of the proconsul of Asia. The following 
dialogue ensued : — 

" What is your name ? " "I am called Maximus/' 
" What is your position ? " " Born free, but a servant 
of Christ." " What is your profession ? " ^M am an 
ordinary tradesman." "Are you a Christian ? " "Yes ; 
sinner though I am, I am a Christian." "Are you not 
acquainted with the imperial decrees which have lately 
come?" "Which?" "That the Christians are to 
leave their unprofitable superstition and acknowledge 
the true sovereign, who is supreme over all, and to 
worship his gods." " I know the iniquitous ordinance 
of the king of this world, and that was why I came 
forward." "Then sacrifice to the gods." "I sacrifice 
to none but to the only God, to whom I am thankful 
to say that I have sacrificed from my infancy." "Sacri- 
fice, if you wish your life to be spared. If you will 
not, I shall bring you down with various tortures." 
" That is what I have always wanted. It was for that 
reason that I presented myself, in order to exchange 
this miserable temporal existence for eternal life." 

The proconsul ordered him to be beaten with rods. 
While the order was executed, Optimus said to him, 
"Sacrifice, Maximus, that you may be set free from 

^ Von Gebhaidt's Ausgew, Martyreracien^ p. 96. 


these sufferings." " Those are no suflferings/' answered 
Maximus, ** which are borne for the name of our Lord 
Jesus Christ ; they are a soothing ointment. There 
would be real sufferings for me, and everlasting suffer- 
ings, if I were to depart from the commands of my 
Lord, which I learned from His Gospel." 

Then the proconsul had him strung on the hobby- 
horse. As the torture went forward, Optimus addressed 
him again : '' Unhappy man, even now give up your 
folly, and sacrifice, that you may gain your life." " I 
shall gain my life," he replied, *' if I do not sacrifice. 
If I sacrifice, I lose it." The thought of the com- 
munion of the saints comforted the solitary sufferer 
in his pains. '' I do not feel the rods," he cried, " nor 
the hooks, nor the fire. The grace of Christ abides 
in me ; and by the prayers of all the saints it will save 
me for ever. The saints passed through this conflict, 
and overcame your rage, and left us the example of 
their virtues." 

The proconsul then gave his final sentence. For 
his refusal to obey the sacred laws and to sacrifice to 
the great goddess Diana, *' the divine clemency," which 
was wielded by the proconsul, ordered him to be stoned 
to death as a caution to other Christians.^ 

The proconsul went to Lampsacus, on the Helles- 
pont. There a young man named Peter was brought 
before him for trial, who confessed himself a Christian. 
When the magistrate bade him sacrifice to Venus, he 
replied that the character ascribed to Venus in the 
mythologies made her anything but a proper object 
of religious worship. " I," he cried, '' must offer to 
Christ, who is the living and true God and the King 
of Ages, the sacrifice of prayer and supplication, of 

^ Rttinart, p. 133. 


penitence and of praise." The severest tortures were 
used to break his spirit, but the more he was tortured 
the more resolute the lad became. ^' I thank Thee, 
O Lord Jesus Christ/' he cried amidst his pains, *' who 
hast vouchsafed to grant me this power of endurance, 
to the confounding of the wicked tyrant." The magis- 
trate whom he thus described, seeing that pain had 
no terrors for him, ordered him to be executed with 
the sword.^ 

At Troas, to which city the proconsul proceeded 
with a great retinue, three more Christians were 
presented to him. To his questions about their home 
and their religion, Nicomachus, who took the lead 
among them, answered impatiently in a loud voice, 
^' I am a Christian." The others said the same. 
'^ Sacrifice to the gods/' said the magistrate to Nico- 
machus, '* as you are bidden." Nicomachus answered, 
'' As you are aware, a Christian may not sacrifice to 
devils." He was hung up, and torture was applied. 
He bore it for a long time ; and then, when his 
strength was quite exhausted, and the breath of life 
had nearly failed, the unhappy man cried loudly, '^ It 
is a mistake. I never was a Christian ; I sacrifice to 
the gods." He was instantly taken down. The sacri- 
ficial flesh was put into his dying hands and lips, when 
a last spasm seized him ; he fell forwards, and, gnawing 
his tongue, died the death of an apostate. 

There was a young girl of sixteen among the 
spectators, whose name was Dionysia. She was a 
Christian. The sight so horrified her, that she could 
not help crying out, '* Poor, miserable wretch 1 for the 
sake of one short moment you have got pains that 
cannot be expressed for ever and ever 1 " Dionysia 

^ Rniiuurt, p. 134. 


was dragged forward. Optimus (if indeed it was the 
same proconsul who sentenced Maximus) asked her 
if she was a Christian. " Yes/' she answered, " I am 
a Christian. That is why I am sorry for that poor 
man, because he could not endure a little to find eternal 
rest." "He is at rest," the proconsul replied: *'the 
great Diana and Venus have taken him. Now follow 
his example and sacrifice, or you will be badly handled 
first, and then burned alive." "My God," the girl 
answered, "is greater than you, so I am not afraid 
of your threats. He will enable me to endure what- 
ever you inflict upon me." 

The next day, Andrew and Paul, the two com- 
panions of Nicomachus, were again brought before 
the judge. The priests of Diana had set up an agita- 
tion among the people to obtain their punishment. 
The two men refused to sacrifice to that goddess or to 
any other. They said that they could not recognise 
any of the devils whom the heathen worshipped, and 
that they had never worshipped any other than the 
only true God. The populace was so incensed against 
them, that the proconsul thought best to give the 
Christians over to them to be stoned to death, instead 
of a more regular form of execution. Their feet were 
lashed together, and they were dragged outside the 
town to die. 

Meanwhile, the young Dionysia had spent a night 
of agony in the hands of the ruffians to whose tender 
mercies she had been consigned. The legend tells of 
a miraculous interposition which protected her from 
injury; but it is not to be trusted in every detail. 
When the morning came, it seems that she was being 
led to receive her final sentence, when she ' met the 
crowd that was dragging Andrew and Paul to their 


death. By a sudden movement she freed herself from 
her guard, and flung herself upon her fellow Christians, 
crying, ''Let me die with you upon earth, that I may 
live with you in heaven." But the proconsul would 
not allow her to share their form of martyrdom. By 
his orders Dionysia was detached from them, and 

There were other martyrs who perished about the 
same time in the neighbouring province of Bithynia. 
The Acts of Trypho and Respicius, as they stand, 
have been much worked up by late hands ; neverthe- 
less they are based upon ancient materials, and there 
is nothing improbable in the story which follows. 

Trypho and Respicius were Christians of the town 
of Apamea, in Bithynia. The irenarch, or head of the 
police, in their town, who had been bidden to bring 
the Christians in to comply with the edict of Decius, 
conveyed them to Nicsea — where afterwards the famous 
Council under Constantine was held — ^to be tried by 
the supreme authority of the province. They were 
told that they must choose between sacrificing to the 
gods and being burned alive. They said that to be 
burned alive for Christ was a privilege of which they 
desired to be worthy, and urged the magistrate to do 
the duty imposed upon him by the edict. "Sacri- 
fice," said the magistrate : ** I see that you are of full 
age, and have a good understanding." ''Ah," cried 
Tryphon, " in our Lord Jesus Christ we have indeed 
a good understanding. Our desire is to apply it in 
such a way that we may go through with our conflict 
to the end." 

At the command to apply torture to them they 
threw off their clothes, and offered themselves freely 

^ Ruinart, p. 134. 


to their executioners. For three hours they main- 
tained their cause. The judge, who did not wish them 
to be killed if he could help it, sent them back to 
prison. It was a well-known practice of Roman 
governors, when they wished to compel prisoners to 
be compliant, to take them in their train from place 
to place, loaded with chains and fetters. The governor 
of Bithynia was going on a hunting expedition, and he 
forced these two Christians to accompany him. It 
was bitter winter weather, and the ground was frozen 
hard, and the feet of Respicius and Trypho were 
covered with open chilblains. When the expedition 
was over, they were again examined. "Will you be 
corrected for the future ? " asked the magistrate. '* We 
correct ourselves every day before the Lord," answered 
Trypho, — " the Lord, whom we serve without ceasing." 
" Let them be taken back to prison," said the magis- 
trate, '' and have time to give one another good advice, 
so that they may put away this nonsense and follow 
the emperor's commands." 

He went away again for some days, and on his 
return to Nicaea addressed them kindly and asked 
them what resolution they had come to. They an- 
swered that they adhered to their former decision, and 
would not give up their faith. '^Have compassion 
upon yourselves," he said, '' and sacrifice to the great 
gods. I think I see in you signs that you are learning 
wisdom." It was in vain. Kind language could not 
win them. ^' The best compassion that we can show 
to ourselves," Respicius answered, ^'is to confess un- 
waveringly our Lord Jesus Christ, the true Judge, who 
shall come to try the deeds of all men." The magis- 
trate ordered nails to be run through their feet, and 
in this condition they were made to walk through the 



wintry streets of the town ; but the men maintained 
that the nails had only pierced their shoes, and not 
their flesh. The magistrate, astonished at their per- 
severance, had their hands tied behind their backs and 
caused them to be thrashed till those who inflicted the 
thrashing were exhausted. The claw and the torches 
followed, but without effect. At last the judge said 
again, '^ Leave this folly ; think what is good for men 
of your time of life." Respicius answered that they 
would never bow down to stocks and stones, because 
they served the true God, and Him only, *'As we 
have such a Lord," he said, ^' no pains can ever separate 
us from His love." 

He gave them one more day, and when next 
morning they still refused to worship any but the 
living God who is in heaven, he ordered them to be 
beaten with loaded thongs. At length, after consulta- 
tion with his assessors, he read out his final judgment : 
"These Phrygian youths, who are Christians, and re- 
fuse to obey the imperial commands, are sentenced to 
be beheaded." The martyrs were led to the place of 
execution, and lifting up their hands they cried to 
the Lord Jesus Christ to receive their souls, and to 
set them in the bosom of the patriarchs, and so sub- 
mitted to the penalty which had been pronounced 
upon them.^ 

In the time of Decius, Nestor was Bishop of Perga, 
the chief city of Pamphylia, where St. Paul landed 
from Cyprus on his first missionary journey. Although 
the Acts of Nestor appear to have been cast into the 
form of an edifying romance in the fourth century, it 
is still possible to see in them historical materials of 
an interesting kind. 

^ Ruinart, p. 138. 


The governor of the province of Lycia and Pam- 
phylia, whose name is given as Epolius, was at the town 
of Sida, when he felt called upon to take action against 
Nestor. An irenarch was despatched with an escort to 
fetch him in chains from Perga. On his appearing, 
Epolius asked him if he was Nestor, the teacher of the 
Christian religion. The bishop replied, " If you have 
already learned about me, you need ask no questions, 
but do with me what you think right. If you ask for 
the sake of information, I will tell you that I am the 
teacher and guide of the Christians at Perga." Epolius 
urged him to leave that vain religion and turn to the 
immortal gods. Nestor answered, ''You may inflict 
every kind of torture upon my body, and throw me to 
the fire or for food to the wild beasts, but I will never 
deny the name of Christ, which is above every name. 
Who would be so senseless and so little master of his 
own mind as to turn from the God who created all 
things, and offer sacrifice to wicked devils and to un- 
conscious images?" "Do you teach then," the 
governor argued, ''that the world was made by the 
Crucified One ? " The argument seemed to the 
governor unanswerable ; but Nestor answered with 
the full confession of his faith. It has perhaps been 
amplified by the hands which have edited it, but no 
doubt it was substantially as follows : " The co-eternal 
Son and Word of God, who sits upon His Father's 
throne, beheld the infatuation of you Greeks for the 
creatures around you, and your misguided devotion to 
images which cannot help nor profit, and had divine 
compassion for the work of His own hands. He 
would have all men to be saved and come to the 
knowledge of the truth ; but since it was impossible 
for men to look upon His Godhead without a medium, 


it pleased Him to live among men under a veil, and 
to teach them a way of salvation through su£Fering. 
Therefore, by the will of God His Father, and with 
the co-operation of the Holy Spirit, He assumed our 
flesh from the holy Virgin Mary, and by means of it 
He lived among men." Nestor went on to speak of the 
miracles which testified to the divine nature of the 
Incarnate Son, and which proved that His crucifixion 
was the outcome of His own free will, and not the 
sentence of the law upon a malefactor. ** It," he 
concluded, ''it had not been His voluntary act to 
surrender His flesh to the infuriated Jews to be 
crucified, we Christians should not be enabled to 
despise the torments which you think fit to visit us 

When he ceased, the governor said, ''You have 
presumed upon my self-restraint and courtesy to 
prolong your unmeaning talk. Now leave this vain 
hope, and come and sacrifice, that your life may not 
end abruptly and in sorrow." "I have already told 
you," said Nestor, " that you have my free leave to do 
with me what you think proper. Bodily pains shall 
not move me away from the faith of the true God, my 

" Hang this piece of adamant upon the wood," was 
the governor's reply, " and let him be well scraped and 
currycombed." The order was executed, but Nestor 
did not utter a word. Epolius bade them leave him 
hanging, and said to him, " Tell me in one word, and 
without any false shame, what your mind is. Will 
you be with us, or with your Christ ? " The bishop 
answered, " With my Christ I am, and always was, and 
always will be." Epolius ordered him to be taken to 
the field outside the town, and there fastened by means 


of nails through all his joints, and left with a guard of 
soldiers to die a lingering death. For many hours, it 
is said, he hung there before death released him, 
exhorting the Christians who came near him to 
persevere in their confession of Him who su£Fered 
for them.^ 

The Acts of Conon belong to the same class as 
those of Nestor. Conon was an inhabitant of Magydus, 
another town of Pamphylia, where he worked as a 
gardener upon an imperial estate, called Carmena. He 
was advanced in years. The governor came to Magydus 
to enforce the edict, and summoned the population by 
voice of crier to sacrifice. Magydus had become so 
predominantly Christian that, if we may believe the 
account, the town was practically deserted ; the 
inhabitants, hearing what was to be demanded of 
them, left their homes and their chattels, and fled. 

Two zealous pagans of the place obtained per- 
mission to search for Christians in what they thought 
to be likely quarters, and came upon the unsuspecting 
Conon watering his plants. They hailed him in a 
friendly manner, and he returned the salutation. They 
told him that the governor wanted him. '< Why," said 
the old man, ^' what can he want with me, a stranger 
and, above all, a Christian 7 If he chooses to look for 
his own likes, let him look, and not send for a tiller of 
the ground, who goes to his work day by day." At 
this avowal of his faith, they lashed him to a horse, and 
conveyed him to the governor. Conon made no com- 
plaint or remonstrance. ''Our hunting was not in 
vain," said one of his captors to another ; '' this man 
will have to answer for all the other Christians." 

When the governor — presumably Epolius — asked 

^ Acta Sanctorum^ February, vol. iii. p. 629. 


him the usual questions about his name, origin, and 
position, Conon replied that he belonged to Nazareth 
in Galilee, that he was akin to Christ, whom he served 
from his forefathers, and whom he knew as God over 
all things. Probably his answer was intended to bear 
an allegorical, and not a literal sense. The governor 
answered, **li you know Christ, then know our gods 
also. Be guided by me, and, by all the gods, you shall 
gain high honours for it. I do not bid you sacrifice : 
it will be enough to take a pinch of incense, and a drop 
of wine, and an olive branch, and say, ' O most high 
Zeus, save this people.' Say that, and I lay nothing 
more upon you. Take my advice, and quit that in- 
famous religion. Why are you so misguided as to 
deify a man, and a man who died a criminal's death ? 
I have learned all about it from the Jews, — about His 
family, and what He did among His own nation, and 
how He died by crucifixion. They brought me the 
memoirs of Him and read them to me. Leave oS this 
folly, therefore, and enjoy life along with us." Conon 
expressed a Christian's horror at such language, and his 
determination to abide by his convictions. Threats of 
tortures and of dreadful forms of death followed ; but 
Conon was not to be shaken by threats. He said that 
none of those things could hurt him, because he had 
God on his side to strengthen him. 

The governor conferred with his council, and then 
ordered nails or spits to be run through the old man's 
feet, and obliged him to go in that condition in front of 
his carriage, while two men drove him along with whips. 
When they got near the forum, Conon could go no 
further. He fell on his knees, and o£Fered his prayer ; 
then made the sign of the cross, and expired. ^ 

^ Von Gebhaidt's Ausggw&hlte MUrtynractm^ p. 139. 



A less tragic end crowned the confession of a 
Christian named Achatius, who is thought to have 
belonged to an adjoining province. 

'* You ought to love our sovereigns," the governor 
said to him, '' seeing that you enjoy the advantages of 
the Roman laws." *'Who is there/' replied Achatius, 
^'that loves the emperor as much as the Christians 
do ? We pray for him constantly, from year's end to 
year's end, that he may live long, may govern his 
subject peoples with justice, and may have peace 
throughout his reign. We pray also for the preserva- 
tion of his armies, and for the good estate of the wide 
world.'' " I am glad that you do," said the governor, 
whose name is said to have been Marcian ; '* but in 
order that the emperor may the better recognise your 
loyalty, join us in offering a sacrifice to him." '* I pray 
to my Lord, who is great and true, for the health of the 
emperor ; but I may not sacrifice to the emperor, and 
he ought never to demand it. Who would think of 
sacrificing to a human being?" ''Answer me: to 
what god do you pray ? We too will sacrifice to him." 
*^ I wish indeed that you knew my God to your benefit, 
and that you would acknowledge the God who is the 
true God." '' Tell me his name," said Marcian. To a 
similar request other Christians refused outright ; they 
knew that the name of God could only be learned by 
Christian experience. Achatius took a different line. 
Perhaps to stimulate further inquiry, he caught up a 
title from the Old Testament. " The God of Abraham, 
the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob," he said. In 
Greek and Latin, where the '' of " is not expressed, it 
would sound to an uninstructed ear like ''The God 
Abraham, the God Isaac, the God Jacob." " Are those 
the names of gods?" asked the puzzled magistrate. 


*' Not they," Achatius replied, " but He who spake to 
them ; He is the true God. He it is that ought to be 
feared." ''Who is that?" asked Marcian. Achatius 
mystified him still further. "The Most High," he 
answered ; '' Adonai, who rideth upon the Cherubim 
and Seraphim." " What does Seraphim mean ? " "A 
servant of the Most High God, and a priest of the 
throne that is lifted up." 

Marcian had no desire to hear more of that kind of 
thing. '< What philosophy has imposed upon you with 
its vain dogmas?" he said. ''Pay no heed to what 
you cannot see. Acknowledge these real gods before 
your eyes." " What gods do you wish me to sacrifice 
to ? " asked the Christian. " To Apollo," was the reply, 
"Apollo our preserver, who drives away famine and 
pestilence, and keeps and guides the universe." The 
reply was an invective against the gods of the heathen 
mythology. "Sacrifice or die," said the governor. 
" That is what the Dalmatian highwaymen say," replied 
the bold prisoner ; " they give the traveller that choice, 
— 'Your money or your life.' No one that they catch 
asks what is fair and reasonable, but only what force 
his captor can command. It is the same with you. 
You tell us that we must either do what is wrong, or 
perish. Justice punishes crimes. If I have been guilty 
of any such, I condemn my own self without waiting 
for your sentence ; but if I am led to punishment for 
worshipping the true God, then it is not law that 
condemns me, but the arbitrary will of a judge." 
Marcian answered, " My commission is to enforce the 
edict. If, therefore, you show contempt, you must 
prepare for certain punishment." "And I am com- 
manded," the Christian answered, "never to deny my 
God. If you serve a frail man of flesh, who must soon 


depart from this world and be food for worms, how 
much more ought I to obey the most mighty God, 
whose power endureth for ever? He has Himself 
said, ' Whosoever shall deny Me before men, him will 
I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.' " 

" There," said Marcian, " I always wanted to know 
that. You have just confessed the mistake of your 
persuasion and of your law. God has a Son, then ? " 
" Yes." '^ What is God's Son ? " " The Word of truth 
and grace." " Is that His name ? " " You did not ask 
me His name, but about His powers." " Tell me His 
name." " He is called Jesus Christ." Marcian thought 
that the Christian, in spite of his mystical phrases, was 
entangled in as gross a mythology as his own. "Who 
was God's wife ? " he asked ; " who bore Him this 
Son ? " It was not difficult for Achatius to point out 
that the processes of earthly birth are far from the 
Christian ideas of the Godhead ; but referring to his 
version of the Psalm, " My heart is inditing of a good 
matter," which in the Septuagint and the Latin runs, 
" My heart hath brought forth a good word," he told 
the governor that the Son of God, the Word of truth, 
was produced "from the heart of God." The phrase 
was taken up at once. " God has a body, then ? " said 
the governor. Achatius answered, " He alone knows. 
We have no knowledge of invisible form ; we can only 
reverence His power and might." " If God has no 
body," said Marcian, " He cannot have a heart. There 
is no such thing as perception without organs." Acha- 
tius answered, "Wisdom is not a product of bodily 
organs ; it is the gift of God. A body is not neces- 
sary to thought." 

The magistrate returned to safer ground. "Look 
at the Cataphrygians now." This was a name for the 


Montanist sect of Christians, which took its rise in 
Phrygia, not very far from the scene of this discussion. 
" Their religion is an ancient one, but they have given 
it up and come over to my form of worship, and join 
us in paying vows to the gods. Do you the like, and 
obey without loss of time." Probably the governor's 
assertion with regard to the apostasy of the poor Cata- 
phrygians had very little foundation in fact ; Marcian's 
language showed that he had no real knowledge of 
their history. But he hoped that the argument from 
their pretended example might have some e£Fect. 
^'Gather together the Christians of the Catholic law," 
he went on, ** and make them observe the religion of 
our emperor. Let all your people come with you ; 
they will do what you tell them." Achatius answered : 
'' It is not my fancies that govern them all, but the 
commandments of God. If I persuade them to do 
what is right they will hear me, but if the opposite they 
will despise me." " Give me the names of them all," 
said the governor. Achatius answered : ^' Their names 
are written in the heavenly book and in the pages of 
God. It is not for mortal eyes to behold what has 
been inscribed by the immortal and invisible power of 
God." Marcian took another sudden turn. ''Where 
are those magicians, your fellow-craftsmen, or your 
teachers in this juggling imposture?" ''All that we 
know," answered the Christian, " we owe to God ; we 
have the utmost horror of magic and its professors." 
"To introduce a new-fangled kind of religion as you 
do," said Marcian, " is nothing else but magic." " Our 
aim," replied Achatius, "is to destroy what you first 
make, and then when you have made it, you are afraid 
of it. You would have no gods if the workmen were 
short of stone, or the stone could not find a workman. 


We, for our part, fear Him who fashioned us, not one 
who was fashioned by ourselves. He created us, as 
Lord ; He loved us, as our Father ; and, as a good 
patron, He delivered us from eternal death." 

" Give me the names," said Marcian, " or you will 
fall under the penalty yourself." " It is I who stand at 
your tribunal," Achatius answered. ^' Do you ask my 
name ? Or do you suppose that, if you had a number 
of prisoners before you, you could get the better of 
them, when one man is more than a match for you ? 
If you want names, I am called Achatius. My real 
name is Agathangelus. Piso is the Bishop of Troy, 
and Menander is a presbyter. Do what you like." 

The narrative as it has reached us relates that 
Marcian remanded Achatius back to prison, and sent 
the notes of the trial to the emperor Decius himself ; 
that Decius smiled when he read them, restored Achatius 
to liberty, and promoted Marcian to a more important 
province. This account is not very probable ; but it 
may well be that the governor delayed to condemn 
Achatius, and that the death of Decius, which occurred 
shortly after, made it safe to release him.^ 

^ Rttinart, p. 129; Von Gebhardt, Ausgtw, Mdriyreracien^ p. II5* 



The Latin-speaking world was not much behind the 
Greek in the number of its martyrs and confessors in 
the reign of Decius ; but less is known about them in 

The first in order of importance, and perhaps the 
first in time, was the Bishop of Rome himself. Fabian 
had governed the Roman church for the unusually 
long space of fourteen years, and within that time had 
seen emperor after emperor perish by violent deaths^ 
so that his own seat must have seemed to him safe in 
comparison with theirs. He had distinguished himself 
by the care with which he had organised the church 
committed to him, dividing the city into districts, which 
were severally assigned to the seven deacons of Rome, 
and making many constructions in the cemeteries 
which formed so important a part of Christian life at 
Rom^ in those days. The office of Bishop of Rome, 
which Fabian himself did much to raise, was already a 
great office in the time of Decius. The successor of 
Fabian tells a correspondent that he had under him 
six and forty presbyters, seven deacons and seven sub- 
deacons, forty-two acolytes, fifty-two readers and exor- 
cists, together with the doorkeepers, and a list of more 
than fifteen hundred widows and afiBicted persons de- 
pendent upon the church. Cyprian says that Decius 
would rather have seen a rival emperor start up than 


a bishop elected to take the place of the martyred 
Fabian. Unhappily the manner of his martyrdom is 
unknown, but a letter of Cyprian's remains, in which 
he thanks the presbyters of Rome for the missive in 
which they had informed him of the '^glorious 
departure " of *^ my excellent colleague." " I rejoiced 
greatly/' says the saint, ''that his blameless ministry 
attained so noble a consummation." ^ 

For more than a year the government of the church 
at Rome remained in the hands of the council of its 
presbyters. A letter which they wrote to the church 
of Carthage expresses their views of duty in the time 
of danger. ** You may learn from many who go from 
us to you that we have acted and are acting with all 
diligence, having the fear of God before our eyes more 
than worldly dangers, and the penalties of eternity 
rather than the fear of men and the fleeting injuries 
which they inflict. We do not desert the brotherhood, 
but exhort them to stand fast in the faith, and to be 
ready to go with the Lord. We called back those who 
went up to do what they were compelled to do. The 
church," they continue, '^ stands courageously in the 
faith, although some fell through fear, and through 
fear only — whether because they were distinguished 
personages or because they were seized by the fear of 
men. These have been removed from communion with 
us, but we have not left them to themselves, but have 
exhorted and still continue to exhort them to repent, if 
by any means they may find pardon from Him who 
alone can grant it, fearing that if abandoned by us, 
they should fall still lower." « 

Although at Rome, as at Alexandria, there were 
many who fell away, especially in the upper classes, 

^ Cyprian, i?/tj/. ix. ' Cyprian, £pis/, riii. 


there were many others who were made of better 
stuff. Two presbyters, Moses and Maximus, and two 
deacons, Nicostratus and Rufinus, with four laymen, 
were among the foremost. Though Decius was him- 
self at Rome, there was no haste in enforcing the edict 
against Christianity in its severest penalties. These 
four confessors, at least, lay in prison for many a 
long day, eagerly desiring martyrdom but not obtaining 
it. After a confinement of eleven months, Moses ex- 
pired in his prison. His constitution, always feeble, 
was exhausted by the rigours of his place of confine- 
ment and of the winter which he passed in it. The 
others, who kept up an animated correspondence 
with Cyprian in Africa, appear to have survived the 
persecution. "The very delay of your martyrdom," 
wrote the impassioned saint, " elevates you to yet greater 
heights, and the length of time, so far from detracting 
from your glory, does but enhance it. A first, a single 
confession is enough to make a saint ; but you repeat 
your confession every time that you are invited to quit 
your prison, and prefer your prison to the loss of faith 
and virtue. Each day adds to you a new distinction. 
Your deserts grow greater with each month as it rolls 
over you. The man who suffers outright gains but one 
victory, but he who remains under constant inflictions, 
and meets pain without being conquered, receives a 
daily crown." ^ 

Amongst the companions of Moses and Maximus 
was one whose history, as worked out by Archbishop 
Benson,' is full of interest. Celerinus was a native of 
Carthage, who lived in Rome. He came of a family 
of martyrs. His grandmother, Celerina, had died a 
martyr's death in some earlier persecution; so had 

^ Cypfian, EpisL zzzviL * Benson's Cyprian^ p. 69 folL 


two uncles, Laurentinus and Egnatius, both soldiers in 
the Roman army. At the time of Fabian's death, 
Celerinus had been tortured. The emperor Decius 
himself was present at the trial, and expressed his 
astonishment at the man's powers of endurance. A 
Carthaginian friend of Celerinus, ^' Lucian, a man of 
humble birth and small reading, congratulates him in 
a misspelt, ungrammatical letter " on having by God's 
will prevailed over " the arch-serpent himself, the fore- 
runner of Antichrist." He had, so Lucian says, not 
merely confessed Christ, but had intimidated the perse- 
cutor by his utterances and by his quotations from the 
Bible, of which he was a 'Uively student." Cyprian 
writes of him while Celerinus was still alive : 

" He was the first to enter the present battle. He 
was the standard-bearer of the soldiers of Christ. 
Amidst the excitement of the beginning of the perse- 
cution he was confronted with the very mover and 
source of the onslaught. Nothing could shake his 
determination ; and by conquering his adversary he 
made a way for others after him to conquer. His was 
no victory gained quickly by a wound or two, but the 
more wonderful triumph of a protracted conflict with 
incessant and persistent pains. For nineteen whole 
days in his prison he lay in the thongs and iron of the 
stocks. His flesh was emaciated by hunger and thirst. 
His illustrious body shines with the glorious seals of 
his wounds. The impress and token of what he went 
through stands out and compels attention in the 
muscles and limbs which wasted away in his long 

Not all the family of Celerinus, however, were as 
consistent as himself. One sister, called Candida, 
certainly sacrificed — ^so he told his friend Lucian — 


'^and provoked the Lord to anger." The guilt of 
another, who bore the name of Tecusa, was not so 
great, or not so clear. As far as Celerinus could make 
out, she went some distance up the Capitol to sacrifice, 
but on reaching the spot known as the Three Fates, 
she found some officer who consented to receive pre- 
sents from her to certify that she had sacrificed when 
she had not, and so came home. Both sisters were 
put out of communion, and then, full of remorse for 
what they had done, devoted themselves to relieving 
the wants of the Christian refugees at Rome, whom 
they met on their landing at Portus, and maintained 
them in their destitution. No fewer than sixty-five 
such refugees from Carthage alone were at one 
moment dependent upon their bounty. Celerinus 
appealed to Lucian to aid him in gaining their resto- 
ration to the communion of the Church. 

The names of many other confessors and martyrs 
both at Rome and throughout Italy are known, but 
their true history is lost. That the persecution was 
felt in Gaul is certain, but the history of only one 
martyr of that country is preserved, and that in no 
trustworthy form. It is the history of Saturninus, the 
Bishop of Toulouse, who fell a victim — as so many did 
at Alexandria — ^to the fury of a heathen populace, not 
to the legal cruelties of a magistrate. A bull had 
been brought to the altar for sacrifice, when the idea 
occurred to some one to lash the Christian to the 
animal and drive it down the steep and stony street. 
The thing was done, and the bishop's brains were 
dashed out upon the stones.^ 

No Spanish martyrdoms of this period arc re- 
corded ; but the correspondence of Cyprian contains 

1 Ruinart, p. 109. 


the names of two unhappy bishops — ^the. Bishops of 
Leon and Merida, who fell away from Christ. Both 
of them obtained certificates of having sacrificed. 
Basilides of Leon fell sick, and confessed afterwards 
that in his despair and misery he had blasphemed God. 
Martial of Merida had for a long time been on the 
borderland of heathenism. He was a member of a 
pagan burial guild, and was in the habit of attending 
the guild banquets, and, Christian bishop though he 
was, when some of his children died, he had them 
buried in the cemetery of his guild, with rites other than 
those of Christianity. It was only natural that such a 
man, when the edict of Decius was published, should 
have hastened to put himself under the shelter of the 
law. He publicly sought and obtained an official 
document stating that he had performed the idolatrous 
rite and had denied Christ. 

The subsequent history of the two men is not un- 
interesting. Basilides abdicated his see ; the apostasy 
of Martial was so evident that no further abdication 
was necessary. New bishops were duly appointed in 
their places. But when peace was restored, Basilides 
repaired to Rome, and persuaded Stephen, who was 
then the bishop there, to recognise him and Martial 
as the rightful Bishops of Leon and of Merida. From 
the decision of Rome the churches of Leon and 
Merida appealed to Carthage, and Cyprian, as was 
natural, with a council of thirty-seven bishops, assured 
the Spanish churches that the decision of Stephen, 
who lived a long way off and was ignorant of the facts, 
was of no value, and that the claim of Basilides and 
Martial was absurd.^ 

The church of Africa had its full share in the 

^ Cyprian, Epist, Ixvii. 


sufferings inflicted by Decius. The leading spirit of 
that church in the middle of the third century was 
Cyprian, Bishop of Carthage. 

He was a rich man, and well known in Cartha- 
ginian society, before his conversion to Christianity. 
Only two years elapsed between his conversion and his 
elevation to what was then, next after Rome, the chief 
bishopric of Western Christendom. He had not been 
bishop for two years, when the persecution of Decius 

At the first approach of the persecution, Cyprian, 
like other great and wise prelates of the time, retired 
from Carthage. Cyprian knew that his presence in the 
city was dangerous for his fellow Christians, as well as 
for himself, and he believed that it was of the highest 
importance at the moment that he should live to watch 
over the interests of his flock. The heathen populace 
demanded that he should be thrown to the lion. He 
made over his large property to trustees, for the purpose 
of helping the afflicted members of the Church. The 
proconsul, not being able to find him, issued a proscrip- 
tion of his trustees, in which his full title was given 
him — ^'Caecilius Cyprian us, the Bishop of the Chris- 
tians." Many Christians, both of his own province and 
at a distance, criticised his conduct in leaving Carthage 
at such a moment. The Roman presbyters, in par- 
ticular, who after the martyrdom of Fabian directed the 
church at Rome, wrote to their brethren at Carthage, 
to draw the contrast between their own brave bishop 
and the hireling shepherds who flee at the approach of 
danger. But they little knew the man of whom they 
were writing. From his hiding-place, where he lived 
a life of prayer and meditation and daily Communion, 
he kept up regular correspondence with the leaders of 


the flock at Carthage, and animated the confessors 
not only there, but in many parts of the world, by 
his vigorous exhortations and encouragements ; and 
humanly speaking it was only through the wisdom of 
Cyprian that, when the persecution of Decius came 
to an end, the Church was guided to a right decision 
on the grave questions which arose in consequence 
of it. 

When the edict of Decius arrived at Carthage, 
" some," says Archbishop Benson, " were dragged 
before the magistrates, and some maltreated by the 
populace. The numbers who suffered were possibly 
not great, but their sufferings were intense. The edict 
prescribed confiscation, banishment, mine-labour, im- 
prisonment with starvation as penalties, and torture as 
the means of inquisition. In each town five commis- 
sioners were associated with the magistrates. The 
tortures were not used until the arrival of the proconsul 
in April (A.D. 250). He found the severities so much 
abated that some of the exiles had returned, but after 
presiding over this tribunal in the capital, he made a 
tour of the province, with his twelve dreaded fasces, 
exercising such rigour that some conspicuous confessors 
yielded, while others died under his engines. . . • 

"There were many who instantly sacrificed pro- 
perty and citizenship by voluntary exile : many who 
sought hiding in the crowds of Rome. The first 
inmates of the prison at Carthage were a presbyter 
Rogatian, * a glorious old man,' who had been left by 
Cyprian, during his absence, trustee of his charities, 
and a ' quiet sober-minded man,' by name Felicissimus. 
These were dragged thither by the multitude. Regular 
committals soon swelled the number. Women and 
even lads were imprisoned, who had met with equal 


defiance the threats and the kindly persuasions of the 
magistrates. They declined to taste the sacrificial 
victim, or sprinkle the incense, or to put on the liturgic 
veil. Two terrible cells were assigned to them where 
hunger, thirst, and intense heat soon did their work. 
After a short time fifteen persons had perished there, of 
whom four were women, besides one in the quarry, and 
two under torture. Mappalicus" — a heroic name in 
the traditions of the African church — '' was one of the 
latter. His limbs and sides streaming from repeated 
blows of the torture-claw, he said to the proconsul as 
he was remanded to the cell, 'To-morrow you shall 
see a contest indeed.' Next day he was tortured 
again and died. 

'* Some scenes were yet more dreadful. Maidens " 
were made to suffer horrors worse than death. " Subor- 
dinates were allowed to invent new tortures, Numi- 
dicus, a presbyter of the neighbourhood, prepared many 
for death, and then with his wife was tortured by fire. 
The wife was actually burnt alive, and he was left for 
dead, a shower of stones having been hurled upon him 
at the stake. His daughter found him breathing still ; 
he was revived, and afterwards enrolled in the pres- 
byterate of the capital. 

'' Many were after double torture dismissed, some 
into banishment, some to bear the brand for life, as a 
second * seal in their foreheads,' some to resume former 
occupations, beggared of all they possessed. Somequailed 
and fell, who on second thoughts returned to avow 
their faith, forfeit their all, and undergo their torture. 
Bona was dragged by her husband to the altar, there to 
justify her reappearance from abroad ; but exclaiming, 
' The act is not mine but yours,' as the incense fell from 
her hand, she was exiled again. No martyrs were 


more honoured than Castus and Aemilius, who for 
such recantation were burnt to death." ^ 

Cyprian, from his place of refuge, urged upon his 
clergy the duty of ministering to the bodily wants of 
the confessors in prison. He was anxious that no less 
honour should be shown to the bodies of those 
who died in prison, even if they had undergone no 
tortures, than to those of the men who were actually 
put to death for their faith. There were no truer 
martyrs than they. In particular, he ordered careful 
note to be made of the days on which the prisoners 
passed away, that they might be commemorated like 
other martyrs when their days came round. It gave 
him great satisfaction to receive information on the 
point from time to time. *' We celebrate oblations and 
sacrifices here in remembrance of them," he says, " and 
hope soon to celebrate them with you, by the Lord's 
protection." * 

At Carthage, as elsewhere, the anti-Christian move- 
ment set on foot by Decius died down before a year 
had gone by. Decius fell in the war against the Goths 
in November 251, and for another year and a half the 
government passed into the weak hands of Callus. The 
appalling plague which swept over the empire in his 
reign gave the Christians an opportunity of doing good 
which they were not slow to use ; but it woke against 
them the old cries of angered heathenism. Cyprian 
himself had visions which warned him that troubles 
were at hand, which would surpass all that had yet 
been experienced. But these troubles were not to 
come so soon as he expected, eitlier in Africa or else- 
where. Two Bishops of Rome in succession — 
Cornelius and Lucius — ^were banished from the city, 

^ Benson's Cypriam, p. 75 folL ' Cyprian, Episi, xii. 


the former of whom died in exile, and was reckoned 
among the martyrs ; previous legislation against the 
Church remained unrepealed, and there is reason to 
think that fresh legislation in the same direction took 
place; but no executions for Christianity occurred 
under Callus. 

The stern and able Valerian, who had held the 
revived office of censor under Decius, became em- 
peror in the year 253. In the year 257 he took up 
again the war against the Christians, whom at the outset 
of his reign he had befriended. 

It seems to have been his intention at the first to 
shed no blood in putting Christianity down. The edict 
ordered that the bishops and leading ministers of the 
Church should be sent into perpetual banishment. 
Gatherings of Christians were prohibited, and they 
were forbidden access to their burial-grounds. 

It was the 30th of August 257 when Cyprian was 
brought before Paternus, the proconsul of Africa, in 
accordance with the edict. The examination took 
place in the secretarium^ or private office of the pro- 
consul. Paternus began, "The sacred emperors. 
Valerian and Gallienus, have been pleased to send 
me a letter, in which they direct that persons who 
do not follow the religion of Rome are to be made 
to conform to the Roman ceremonies. I have accord- 
ingly made inquiries concerning yourself. What answer 
have you to give me ? " Cyprian answered, " I am 
a Christian and a bishop. I know no other gods but 
the one true God, who made heaven and earth, the sea, 
and all things that are therein. This is the God whom 
we Christians serve. To Him we pray day and night, 
for ourselves and for all men, and for the safety of the 
emperors themselves." "Do you intend to continue 


in that mind ? " "A good mind, which knows God, 
cannot alter." The proconsul caught somewhat scorn- 
fully at Cyprian's ''cannot." "Can you, then," he 
asked, '' in accordance with the directions of Valerian 
and Gallienus, set out as an exile for the town of 
Curubis ? " Cyprian answered, *' I will set out." 

There was another question which the proconsul 
wished to ask. " They have been pleased to write to 
me about the presbyters, as well as the bishops. I 
should be glad, therefore, if you would tell me who 
are the presbyters residing in this city." Cyprian had 
been a lawyer before his conversion, and he replied, 
" It is an excellent and useful regulation of your own 
laws that informers should not be allowed. I cannot 
therefore detect and delate them ; but they will be 
found in their respective cities." The proconsul said, 
" I shall make inquiries here to-day." Perhaps he was 
not disinclined to give the presbyters warning to make 
their escape. Cyprian replied, " Our rules forbid any 
one to offer himself of his own accord, and your own 
opinion is against it ; so they cannot o£Fer themselves, 
but you will find them if you make inquiry for them." 
** I shall find them," said Paternus ; and he added, 
''They have also directed that no assemblies are to 
be held anywhere, and no cemeteries are to be entered. 
If any one disobeys this wholesome direction, he will 
suffer capital punishment." The reply of Cyprian was 
only, " Do as you have been directed." ^ 

Copies of this examination were circulated by 
Cyprian's own orders among the churches of Africa, 
and we still possess a letter in which some of his 
fellow-bishops, who were in penal servitude in the 
mines, return thanks for the copy sent to them. 

^ Hartel's Cyprian^ part iii., p. 90 foil. 

CYPRIAN , i6j 

*' Like a good and true teacher/' they say, " you have 
clearly signified, in the Proconsular Acts, what we, your 
disciples, should say after you when examined by the 
governor." ^ 

Paternus had no wish to deal harshly with the 
distinguished culprit. He gave him time to make his 
arrangements, and on the 14th of September Cyprian 
took up his abode at the not unpleasant spot, some 
fifty miles from Carthage, which had been assigned to 
him as his place of exile. The Christian inhabitants 
of Curubis received him with affection and supplied 
his wants. 

On the night of his arrival at Curubis, he had one of 
those visions which meant so much for the Christians 
of Africa. 

" There appeared to me," so he told his biographer, 
who was a voluntary companion of his exile, ^* before 
I fell asleep, a young man of superhuman stature, who 
led me to the Praetorium. I thought that I was brought 
to the tribunal, where the proconsul was sitting. As 
soon as he saw me, the proconsul began to write down 
my sentence upon his tablet, but I was ignorant of 
the nature of it, for he had not put the usual questions 
to me. The young man, however, who stood behind 
him, read with great attention whatever was written 
down ; and being unable, where he was, to tell me in 
so many words, he indicated what the writing on the 
tablet meant by expressive gestures. Spreading out 
his hand flat like the blade of a sword, he imitated 
the executioner's stroke, and conveyed his meaning 
as clearly as words could have done. I understood 
that I was to su£Fer. I began at once to beg and pray 
for a respite, if it were only for one day, till I could put 

^ Cyprian, E^i, Izzvii. 


my affairs in proper order. After I had repeated my 
petition many times, the proconsul again began to write 
something on the tablet. I did not know what it was, 
but I felt sure, from the calmness of the judge's face, 
that he thought my request reasonable, and was moved 
by it. The young man also, who had already dis- 
closed by his unspoken gesture that I was to suffer, 
now again hastened to make secret signs to me, and, 
twisting his fingers one behind another, conveyed to 
me that the reprieve till the morrow, for which I had 
asked, was granted. Although the sentence had not 
been read out, I came to myself with a very joyful 
heart at the pleasure of receiving the reprieve ; and yet 
the uncertainty of the interpretation made me tremble 
so with fear, that my bounding heart still throbbed 
with dread all over at the remains of the terror." ^ 

Exactly that day year the death sentence was 
pronounced upon Cyprian. 

It is not known whether Paternus carried out his 
threat of finding the priests of the diocese of Carthage ; 
but his neighbour the governor of Numidia took vigor- 
ous steps to carry out the requirements of the edict. 
Nine bishops of that province wrote to Cyprian from 
the mines where they were forced to labour in chains 
and fetters. With them were associated presbyters and 
lay folk, old men and virgins, and young boys. They 
had been beaten ignominiously with rods,-r-a punish- 
ment which was only applied to persons of low rank. 
They worked in the dark, half-starved, ill-clothed, half 
choked with the smell of the smelting furnaces, with 
their foreheads branded and the hair of one half of 
their heads shaven off. They missed their accustomed 
baths ; they missed immeasurably more their privilege 

1 Vita Cypriani, 12. 


of celebrating and receiving the Blessed Sacrament. 
The letters with which Cyprian cheered them were 
not the only comfort which they owed to him. His 
subdeacon Herennianus, with three acolytes, carried 
them the money which supplied their necessities.^ 

Suddenly in the July of the year 258, a change 
came over the situation. Galerius Maximus, who had 
succeeded Pater nus as proconsul of Africa, recalled 
Cyprian from his exile. There were reasons why the 
authorities wished to have him close at hand. He 
returned, and " by the sacred directions " of the pro- 
consul took up his abode in his own " Gardens." Soon 
after his conversion he had sold his beautiful country 
house and grounds near Carthage for the benefit of the 
poor, but his friends had bought the place back and 
presented it to him again. There Cyprian remained, 
expecting and hoping every day that he would be sent 

The cause of this summons was a new decree of 
Valerian. Its appalling contents are to be seen in the 
letter which Cyprian wrote to Successus, Bishop of Abbir 
Germaniciana, to be made known to the other bishops. 

*' The reason why I did not write to you at once, 
dear brother, is that none of the clergy could leave 
Carthage at the moment when the conflict began. 
All were prepared to win the glory of God and of 
heaven by the laying down of their lives. 

*' I must now tell you of the arrival of the messen- 
gers whom I despatched to Rome for the purpose of 
ascertaining and informing us what had really been 
contained in the rescript with regard to us ; because 
currency had been given to many conflicting opinions, 
destitute of any real foundation. 

* Cyprian, £pist, bcxvi, Ixxvii. 


" The facts are these. Valerian has sent a rescript 
to the senate, that bishops, priests, and deacons are to 
be executed at once ; senators, and men of distinction, 
and knights of Rome, to forfeit their dignity, and be 
stripped of their goods ; and if after the loss of their 
possessions they persist in being Christians, they are 
to lose their heads ; married women are to be deprived 
of their goods and banished ; Caesariani," or lower 
officials of the emperor's treasury, "who now or at 
some former time have confessed themselves to be 
Christians, are to become the property of the treasury, 
entered upon a list, and sent in chains to work upon 
the emperor's estates. 

''The emperor Valerian added to his address a 
copy of his circular to the provincial governors with 
regard to us. Every day we hope to see this circular 
arrive, standing in the strength of faith to endure the 
suffering, and looking to the help and the loving-kind- 
ness of God for the crown of eternal life. 

"You must know that Xystus," the Bishop of 
Rome, "was executed in his cemetery on the sixth of 
August, together with four deacons. The magistrates 
at Rome press forward with this persecution every day, 
executing those who are brought before them and 
taking possession of their goods for the treasury." ^ 

Such was the new legislation against Christianity. 
Cyprian had been summoned back to Carthage to be 
put to death. But for some reason the blow was 
delayed. Cyprian's friends — many of them heathens 
of high position — urged him to withdraw from danger, 
as he had done under Decius, and put safe hiding- 
places at his disposal. But Cyprian refused to go. 
The proconsul Galerius was at Utica ; and one day 

^ Cyprian, EpisU Ixx. 


Cyprian's agents informed him that officers had been 
sent to fetch him to that city. When the ofl&cers 
arrived at the " Gardens," they found the bishop gone. 
He no longer wished to avoid death; but he would 
not die at Utica. From his place of retreat he wrote 
to his flock at Carthage — it is the last of his epistles — ^to 
explain to them his intentions. He said that the proper 
place for a bishop to die in was his own city. As soon 
as the proconsul returned to Carthage, he too would 
return, but not before. It would, he said, be derogatory 
V to the dignity of the glorious church of Carthage if 

•^ its bishop were to sufiFer a martyr's death elsewhere. 

Those last utterances, in which, according to the 
promise of Christ, the Holy Ghost might be expected 
to reveal His inspiration, ought to be delivered amongst 
the people whom the bishop represented. Meanwhile 
they were to keep free from excitement and disorder, 
and no Christian was to come forward and ofiFer him- 
self to the magistrates unsought. 

Galerius came to Carthage, and Cyprian, true to his 
word, was there likewise. On the 13th of September 
Galerius, determined that Cyprian should not escape 
again, sent a surprise party to the house. It consisted 
of two high officers of the proconsul's stafiF, with a 
detachment of soldiers. They lifted Cyprian into a 
carriage, and set him in the midst between them, and 
drove him to the house of Sextus, where the proconsul 
was staying for the benefit of his health. The faithful 
deacon who had accompanied Cyprian into exile relates 
how alert and merry his master looked as he drove 
away to what he supposed would be instant martyrdom. 

The end, however, was not to be quite so soon. 
Galerius was too ill that morning to deal with the case, 
and, as if in fulfilment of Cyprian's vision at Curubis, he 


remanded the illustrious prisoner till the following day. 
The bishop was conducted to the house of the aide-de- 
camp (as he might be called) who had brought him 
to Galerius, and there he spent his last night, provided 
with every comfort, and conversing freely with his friends, 
among whom was his biographer, Pontius. Mean- 
while the report passed through the city that Thascius 
— the name by which Cyprian was best known to the 
heathen population — had been brought at last before 
the magistrate. A great crowd assembled near the 
house where he was quartered. Many heathens were 
there, and it seemed as if the whole of the Christian 
church of Carthage was gathered in the street. They 
were determined that nothing should be done with the 
bishop without their knowledge. All night long they 
kept watch at the doors of the house; it was the Vigil 
of the saint's Passion. Cyprian was told how the 
people were spending the hours, and sent them out a 
message to see that the maidens were kept from harm. 

At last " the morrow " dawned. It was a brilliant 
morning. Cyprian left the lodgings of the aide-de- 
camp. His way lay across the stadium^ or race-course. 
Those who went with him thought of the way in which 
the Apostle compared trials like those of their master 
to the feats of the training-ground. He was attended 
by a whole army of the faithful, who advanced, says 
Pontius, "as if they were going to take death by 

They reached the house of Sextus. The proconsul, 
in his desire to give publicity to the trial of Cyprian, 
had actually summoned the populace to the spot. The 
ailing man was not yet ready to leave his room when 
they arrived, and Cyprian was shown into a private 
apartment to sit down. It was observed that the seat 


happened to be spread with a linen cloth. It was the 
custom to deck the thrones of bishops in the church 
in that manner. Cyprian was heated with his long 
walk, so that his clothes were wet with perspiration. 
An official, who had once been a Christian but had 
fallen away, offered him a set of dry garments ; but 
Cyprian answered that perhaps the complaint would 
not last out the day, and remedies were therefore 

Suddenly the proconsul called for him. He was 
ushered in and placed in the dock. '' Are you Thascius 
Cyprianus 7 " asked Galerius. He said, '' I am." Galerius 
had heard a word or two of the language which 
Christians spoke among themselves. He had picked 
up the word papa^ or " pope " — ^the word of filial affec- 
tion applied to bishops. ^' You have allowed men of 
sacrilegious opinions," he said, ''to make you their 
pope." The proconsul used the word ''sacrilegious" 
in its legal and technical sense, which included all 
resistance to what were considered the ''divine" 
commandments of the emperor. Cyprian made no 
objection to the use of the word. He simply answered, 
"Yes." The implements for offering incense were 
in readiness in court. "The sacred emperors," said 
Galerius, "have commanded that you should perform 
the ceremony." " I shall not do it," was the answer — 
or perhaps the word means strictly, " I do not offer." 
The proconsul gave him one more chance. "For 
your own interests," he said, " consider." " Do as you 
are directed to do," was the bishop's answer ; " there 
is nothing to consider where the case is so plain." 

It took the proconsul but a moment to confer with 
his council of assessors, as he was bound to do. It 
was a mere matter of form. Then he addressed 


Cyprian as follows: "You have long lived a life of 
sacrilege, and have joined with a large number of 
persons in a criminal conspiracy, and have set your- 
self up as an enemy to the gods of Rome and the 
observances of religion. The pious and sacred princes, 
Valerian the Augustus, Gallienus the Augustus, and 
Valerian the noble Caesar, have not succeeded in 
bringing you back to the way of their rites. Therefore, 
being clearly found to be the ringleader and standard- 
bearer in crimes of a very bad character, you shall in 
your own person be made a lesson for those whom 
you have associated with yourself in your guilt. Your 
blood shall establish discipline." 

Every word seemed afterwards to the Christian by- 
standers to have had a prophetic import, a divinely 
inspired second sense, like the words of Caiaphas in 
the Gospel. The discipline which Cyprian's blood was 
to establish was the discipline of the church. After this 
speech the proconsul read his sentence from the 
tablet in these words : '' Our pleasure is that Thascius 
Cyprianus be executed with the sword." '^Thanks be 
to God," was the response of the bishop. 

No sootier was the sentence read than something 
like an uproar began among the Christians, who were 
present in immense numbers. Shouts were heard, 
''Let us also be beheaded with him." 

Cyprian came out of the house, guarded by a 
detachment of soldiers. Centurions and. tribunes 
marched on either side of him. The grounds of the 
house of Sextus formed a kind of natural amphitheatre, 
the sides of which were clothed with wood. The trees 
were filled with sympathising spectators. On reaching 
the chosen spot, the bishop took ofiF his hooded cloak, 
and knelt down and prayed. Then he stripped himself 


of his " dalmatic " — not at that time a specially ecclesi- 
astical garment — and gave it to the deacons near him, 
and stood in his linen under-garment, quietly waiting 
for the executioner, who was not yet come. On his 
arrival, Cyprian told his friends to give him the hand- 
some gift of five-and-twenty gold pieces. The brethren 
began to strew the ground in front of him with napkins 
and handkerchiefs to catch the martyr's blood. He 
began to fasten a handkerchief round his own eyes, 
but as he had some difficulty in tying the ends of it, 
a presbyter named Julian, and a subdeacon bearing the 
same name, tied it for him. The executioner was slow 
in his preparations, and Cyprian said something to him 
to hasten him. Whether it was Cyprian's words, or his 
munificent gift, or the high position and calm bearing 
of the martyr, or the circumstances of the execution, 
the man became nervous, and could scarcely bring his 
fingers to clasp the handle of his sword. The centurion 
on duty was compelled to do the work instead of 
him, and with strength given from on high, as the 
Christians thought, severed Cyprian's head from his 

So Cyprian died. He was the first bishop who had 
met a martyr's death at Carthage or in Africa ; and the 
death of St. Thomas of Canterbury scarcely had a greater 
effect upon the history of the Church of England than 
Cyprian's had upon that of his own country for ages. 
The heathen populace were eager to gaze upon the 
body of the great prelate who had done so much for 
Carthage in the time of the plague, without religious 
partiality. The Christians, pleased at this tribute of 
respect, allowed the body to lie all day in a kind of 
state, hard by the spot where Cyprian had died. At 
night they came with wax tapers and torches, and bore 


it to the burying-ground of Macrobtus Candidianus, 
'* with prayers and a mighty triumph." 

A few days later Galerius MaximuS; the proconsul 
who had sentenced him, died also.^ 

1 Vita Cypriani^ and Acta Proconsularia^ in Hartel*s Cytrian^ part iii., 
pp. xc and ex. 




It was in the interval between the death of Galerius 
and the arrival of the new proconsul that the procu- 
rator, who governed the province in the meanwhile, 
lent his countenance to a popular demonstration against 
the Christians. It was followed up the next day by 
severe measures on the part of the government. By 
what they considered to be a collusion of craft with 
violence, a batch of Christians were taken into 
custody together. They left to future generations a 
record of their sufferings, which would be even more 
affecting than it is, if it were not so evidently 
saturated with the recollection of the Passion of Per- 
petua. One of the group, named Donatian, was only a 
catechumen when he was seized, and he passed away 
in prison, after being baptized there. Primolus, in 
like manner, died in prison. A few months before, at 
a time when he had been called in question for his 
faith by the authorities^ he made his public confession 
before the judge, and was reckoned, according to 
the teaching of the African church, to have received 
the equivalent of baptism. 

Instead of being taken at once to prison, the 
martyrs were at first confined in the houses of some 
of the district officials. They overheard the soldiers 
who guarded them say that the governor intended to 


burn them alive ; but in answer to their prayers the 
design was abandoned, and the governor had them 
transferred to the gaol. They found the gaol no 
pleasanter than it had been in the time of Perpetua ; 
but for them, as for her, it was transfigured. ''We 
dreaded not the foul darkness of the place. The 
gloomy prison shone with spiritual brightness ; and 
faith and devotion, like the day, clothed us with white 
light to meet the horrors of the dark and the things 
which the impenetrable night concealed.'' Going up 
to the ''highest place of punishment" was like going 
up to heaven. " What days and what nights we spent 
there," they go on to say in a more natural tone, 
" cannot be expressed : the miseries of the prison are 
beyond putting into words." But for a few days the 
visits of their brethren brought them refreshment, and 
" all the discomfort of the night was removed by the 
consolation and gladness of the day." 

A series of visions came to them, as they came 
to the companions of Perpetua, and as they came to 
Cyprian. The first was given to a man named Renus. 
" He saw a number of persons brought into court one 
by one. As each one advanced, a lantern was borne 
in front of him : no one came forth who was not pre- 
(ieded by his lantern. And when we had come forth 
with our lanterns he awoke. And when he related his 
vision to us we were glad, trusting to walk with Christ, 
who is a lantern unto our feet, being the Word of 
God." * *^ 

After that night they say that they were spending 
" a merry day," when they were suddenly carried off 
to the procurator. " Our talk," they say, " was of the 
consolations of the future ; and that enjoyment of such 
happiness might not be too long delayed, the soldiers. 


who did not know where the governor wished to hear 
us, led us about hither and thither all over the forum." 
The clank of their chains was like music to the ears of 
men who were longing for martyrdom. Then they 
were called into the secretariutn, or private audience- 
chamber. The hour for their public trial, and for 
their martyrdom, was not yet come ; but they felt 
from what took place that day that they had already 
gained one victory over the devil, and were being 
reserved to gain another. 

They were soon put to another test. Hunger and 
thirst were tried upon them for many days in an 
aggravated form. Even the poor rations of coarse 
bread and cold water which the state provided were 
withheld, or partly withheld from them, and a large 
number of them naturally were taken ill. When they 
were in this miserable condition, they were cheered by 
another vision, vouchsafed to a priest named Victor, 
who died immediately after receiving it. He said that 
he saw a boy come into the prison with a countenance 
of inexpressible brightness, who led them in all direc- 
tions and tried every means of egress from the prison, 
but they could nowhere make their way out. " Then 
he said to me, 'You must still suffer a little, because 
for the present you are hindered ; but be of good 
cheer, for I am with you ; ' and he added, ' Tell them 
that you shall have a more glorious crown ; ' and again, 
'The spirit hastens to its God.'" This last saying 
meant, no doubt, that on leaving the body the spirits of 
the martyrs passed at once into the presence of God, 
without the delay which was believed to beset the 
spirits of ordinary Christians. The words aroused in 
the mind of the priest a desire for fuller information. 
" His soul, so close to its passion, asked after its 



appointed place, and questioned that lord, where 
Paradise was. He answered, ' It is beyond the world.' 
* Show it me/ he cried. And the other replied, ' And 
what room shall there be for faith 7 ' Then in his 
human weakness Victor said, ' I cannot keep what thou 
commandest ; give me a sign that I may give them/ 
The lord answered and said, 'Give them the sign of 
Jacob/ " The sign of Jacob was, perhaps, that ladder 
set up from earth to heaven, up which Perpetua had 
seen herself and Saturus climbing into the presence of 
her Saviour. The sufferers rejoiced that they were 
allowed to bear labours like those of the patriarchs, 
though they could not hope to attain an equal degree 
of righteousness. 

** But He who said, ' Call upon Me in the day of 
trouble, and I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify 
Me,' for His own glory turned and remembered us, 
after prayer had been made to Him, and foretold to us 
the gift which His mercy gave. 

** A vision was shown to our sister Quartillosia, who 
was here with us. This woman's husband and son 
had suffered three days before. She herself speedily 
followed her kindred, while still here in the prison. 
She thus related what she saw. ' I saw,' she said, ' my 
son who has suffered come hither to the prison ; and 
he sat on the brim of a fountain of water, and said : God 
hath seen your affliction and your distress. And behind 
him entered a young man wonderfully tall, carrying two 
bowls full of milk, one in each hand, and said : Be of 
good courage ; God hath remembered you. And from 
the bowls which he carried he gave us all to drink, and 
the bowls failed not. And suddenly the stone which 
divided the window in the middle was taken away ; 
and when the middle piece was taken away, the open 


windows let in the free face of the sky. And the young 
man put down the bowls which he carried^ one on the 
right side and the other on the left, and said : Behold, 
ye have been satisfied, and there is abundance, and 
a third bowl shall come to you besides ; and he 
departed.' " 

The next day a plentiful supply was brought to 
them by Herennianus, the subdeacon whom Cyprian 
had employed on a similar errand when he was in exile 
at Curubis, and by a catechumen of the name of January. 
They had been sent by one of the leading presbyters of 
Carthage, whose name was Lucian. The prisoners, 
who had then for two days been entirely without food, 
began to revive, and the sick to recover their health. 

The treatment of Christians who had more or less 
criminally fallen away under persecution caused much 
anxiety and dissension in the church ; and these brave 
confessors in the prison at Carthage were not left un- 
troubled by the questions raised. A woman who had 
been deprived of the privileges of a communicant had 
surreptitiously come back to communion. It appears 
that one of the confessors, named Julian, had abetted 
her in the breach of discipline, and another of them, 
named Montanus, had spoken severely to him on the 
subject. Some coolness had arisen in consequence 
between the two men, and did not immediately pass 
away. That night Montanus had a vision which caused 
him search ings of heart. 

'* I thought," he said, " that the centurions came for 
us. They led us a long journey, and in the course of 
it we came to an immense plain, where we were met by 
Cyprian and by Leucius." Leucius was probably a 
confessor to whom, among others, a letter of Cyprian's 
is addressed, and who must have met his martyrdom 



soon after. "We reached a place which shone white, 
and our garments became white, and our flesh was 
changed and became whiter than our white garments. 
So transparent was our flesh that the eye could penetrate 
into the depth of our hearts. I happened to glance at 
my own breast, and saw there something not clean ; 
and in my vision I woke up. Lucian met me " — ^the 
presbyter who had sent help to the prisoners who were 
still alive — '* and I told him my vision, and I said to 
him, 'That spot means that I did not make it up at 
once with Julian.' And at that I awoke." 

The vision gave the prisoners occasion to send to 
their brethren at liberty an urgent and touching entreaty 
to cultivate a spirit of concord and charity, and to 
" imitate here what we hope to be hereafter." 

At this point the writing left by the martyrs them- 
selves comes to an end, but the story is completed by 
contemporaries who survived. 

After they had borne the horrors of their confine- 
ment for many months, they were at length brought 
into court and examined by the new proconsul. All 
confessed that they were Christians, and Lucius, 
Montanus, Julian, and Victorious confessed that they 
were members of the clergy, and as such were ordered 
to instant execution. A young man named Flavian 
confessed likewise that he was a deacon ; but a body of 
his heathen friends and former schoolfellows, who were 
determined to save him, asserted that his confession 
was false, and he was remanded for further inquiry. 
Flavian, like Felicity, the comrade of Perpetua, was 
deeply disappointed at being parted from so goodly a 
company ; " yet his habitual faith and devotion assured 
him that it was the will of God, and the sorrow of his 
bereavement and solitude was assuaged by religious 



wisdom, 'The heart of the king,' he said, 'is in the 
hand of God ; why then should I be melancholy, or be 
angry with a man who only does as he is bidden ? ' " 

Meanwhile the others were led to the place of 
slaughter. A great crowd of heathens accompanied 
them, and of the brethren "who had learned from 
Cyprian to pay respect to all God's witnesses for faith 
and religion," but who came on that day in greater 
numbers than usual. The joyful countenances of the 
martyrs would have been enough to encourage others 
to follow their example, even if they had said nothing ; 
but there was no lack of profitable words. Lucius, 
who was always gentle and modest, had been sadly 
broken in health by his imprisonment, and was unable 
to bear the stifiing throng. He was allowed to walk in 
advance of the rest, with only a few companions. One 
saying of his was remembered for the lowliness which 
it revealed. The brethren intreated him to remember 
them when he was gone, but Lucius would not presume 
upon the privileges of a martyr even on the day of his 
martyrdom. " Do you remember me," was his reply. 
Julian and Victorious discoursed of brotherly concord, 
and commended all the clergy to the loyalty of the 
brethren, especially those who had provided supplies to 
the starving Christians in the prison. 

It was Montanus, however, who took the leading 
part on that day. Stalwart in body and vigorous in 
mind, and never disposed to conceal his belief for fear 
of any man, he seemed, as the hour of his martyrdom 
approached, to receive something of that dying inspira- 
tion which Cyprian had hoped to receive. "He that 
sacrificeth unto any god," he cried repeatedly, quoting 
from the Book of Exodus, "save unto the Lord only, 
he shall be utterly destroyed." He spoke against the 


pride and the factiousness of heretics, and bade them 
see a mark of the true Church in the number of her 
martyrs, and urged them to return to her bosom. 
Like a true disciple of Cyprian, he reproved the 
impatience of the Christians who had fallen, and who 
were eager to be restored before their penitence had 
been fully tested. He dwelt on the importance of 
unity among the bishops of the Church, and of 
obedience on the part of the laity towards their 
bishops. The executioner was preparing to deliver 
his stroke, when Montanus spread his hands towards 
heaven and prayed with a loud voice, which was heard 
not only by the Christians near him, but by the 
heathen bystanders as well, that Flavian, whose popu- 
larity had hindered him from being among them that 
day, might follow the third day after. Then, as a 
pledge that his prayer would be fulfilled, he took the 
handkerchief with which he was about to bind his eyes, 
and tearing it in half, he gave the other half to the 
Christians who stood by, for Flavian to bind his eyes 
with it two days later ; and he charged the brethren to 
keep a piece of ground for Flavian in the midst of the 
graves which he and those who were slain with him 
were to occupy, that Flavian might not be parted from 
them in death. 

Two days after, according to the prayer of 
Montanus, Flavian was once more called up. His 
spirits were not impaired by the unwelcome delay 
which had been imposed upon him. His heroic 
mother was inseparable from him. He was her only 
son. She had been more grieved than Flavian himself 
at his being sent back to prison and not to death. 
Flavian was obliged to console her disappointment, 
though he praised her courage. " Dearest mother," 


he said, ** I have always thought that I should like, if 
it were granted me to confess Christ, to enjoy my 
martyrdom, and to appear often in chains, and to be 
put off again and again. So if I have got what I 
wished for, we ought to be proud rather than sorry." 
It was observed that the prison doors, as he returned 
to them, were harder to open than usual, and that the 
servants of the turnkeys refused to do their work. It 
seemed to the Christians as if some evil spirit in the 
place were protesting against the introduction of '' the 
man of heaven and of God " into the filth within. 

The " third day " was like a day of resurrection to 
Flavian. He felt certain that he was leaving the prison 
to return to it no more. When the brethren met him 
with good wishes, he assured them that he would 
'' make the peace with them all " that day at the place 
of execution. Arriving at the governor's quarters, he 
was left a long time waiting for his summons, amidst a 
great gazing crowd. The Christians stood at his side, 
in a compact body, holding one another's hands in 
token of loving comradeship. But his heathen school- 
fellows were there also, and entreated him with tears 
to put away his obstinacy. They told him that if he 
would but sacrifice for the moment, he could do as he 
liked afterwards. They told him that it was absurd, 
with a real death staring him in the face, to think of 
the dim chances of what he called a second death. 
Flavian thanked them for their affection, and for giving 
him the best advice that they could give, but told them 
plainly that he thought it better to maintain the liberty 
of his conscience by submitting to the slaughter than 
to worship a stone. He told them that there was a 
supreme God, the Creator, who alone was to be 
worshipped ; that a martyr's death is not the defeat 


but the victory of life ; and that if they wished to know 
the truth, they ought to become Christians themselves. 

With cruel kindness his friends wished to resort to 
tortures in order to spare his life. His turn came to 
be called to the bar. The proconsul asked him why 
he had told a falsehood, and pretended to be a deacon, 
when he was not ? Flavian replied that it was no 
falsehood, but the truth. One of the centurions 
brought documentary evidence that Flavian was no 
such thing ; but the martyr answered, " Is it likely that 
I should tell such a falsehood, and the forger of this 
document tell the truth ? " " You lie, you lie," shouted 
the bystanders. The proconsul once more asked him if 
he spoke the truth. " What have I to gain by lying ? " 
Flavian replied. At this there were loud cries for the 
application of torture. " But the Lord, who had fully 
proved the faith of His servant in the horrors of the 
prison, would not suffer even a scratch to be inflicted 
on the body of the martyr." He '* turned the heart of 
the king" to pronounce sentence forthwith, and the 
faithful witness was delivered to the sword without delay. 

As soon as he knew that he was to die, he joined 
in happy conversation with the brethren, and charged 
them to write an account of these events. He begged 
them also to relate the visions which had been given 
to him, especially during his last two days in prison. 

" Before any one else had suffered except our 
bishop," he said — the bishop being Cyprian — " it was 
shown me on this wise. I thought that I asked Cyprian 
whether the death-stroke was painful. He answered 
me and said, * When your soul is in heaven, it is no 
longer your own flesh that suffers. The body does 
not feel when the mind is wholly devoted to God.' " 

Another vision came to him after several of his 


comrades had died. '' I was sad at night, because my 
companions were gone, and I was left behind ; and 
a man appeared to me, saying, ' Why are you sad ? ' 
I told him the reason of my sadness, and he answered, 
'Does that make you sad? You are already twice 
a confessor ; to-morrow you shall be a martyr to the 
sword.' " 

Another vision was this. "When Successus," the 
Bishop of Abbir, to whom Cyprian's letter about the 
edict of Valerian was addressed, " and Paul, with their 
companions, had been crowned, and I was recovering, 
after my sickness, I saw Bishop Successus come to 
my house, with his face and his raiment exceedingly 
bright, so that it was difficult to recognise him, because 
my fleshly eyes were dazzled by his angelic splendour* 
When at length I recognised him, he said to me, H 
am sent to tell you that you are to suffer.' And with that 
saying two soldiers came to conduct me. They con- 
ducted me to a spot where a multitude of the brother- 
hood was assembled. As soon as I was brought where 
the governor was, I was ordered into the dock. And 
suddenly my mother appeared in the midst of the 
people, crying, * Give praise, give praise ; for no one 
has ever delivered such a testimony.'" The friends 
relate that in one particular he had certainly dis- 
tinguished himself beyond others. When their miser- 
able rations had fallen short in the prison, Flavian had 
frequently refused to take his share, in order that there 
might be a little more for the rest to eat. 

As they drew near to the Fuscianum, where he was 
to be put to death, a gentle, steady rain began to fall, 
which had the effect of scattering idle sightseers, and 
leaving the Christians to converse freely together, and 
to exchange the tokens of the Church's peace without 


being disturbed by intruding eyes. To Flavian, full 
of the thought of his Saviour's Passion, the rain that 
descended upon his martyrdom recalled a momentous 
occurrence on Calvary, and he said that once more 
there would be water and blood together. 

Reaching a little eminence which was suitable for 
addressing the large company of Christians, Flavian 
asked for silence, and in a brief discourse gave them 
all the ''peace" of communion with the martyrs, on 
condition of their preserving the unity of the Church. 
His last words were to commend the presbyter Lucian 
for election to the still vacant throne of Cyprian. Then 
he moved down to the spot where he was to be killed, 
and binding his eyes with the other half of Montanus's 
handkerchief, he knelt down for prayer, and as his 
prayer ended he received the stroke of the sword.^ 

Great as were the suiferings of the Christians in 
proconsular Africa, the persecution in the neighbouring 
province of Numidia was yet worse. An unknown 
writer, who appears to have belonged to Carthage, 
gives an account of what befell himself and two of 
his Christian friends in the course of a journey which 
they took at this time in Numidia. 

The writer, with his friends Marian and James, 
reached Muguas, which was a suburb of Cirta, now 
Constantine, and made some stay there. While they 
were at Muguas they were honoured by a visit from 
two illustrious Numidian bishops, named Agapius and 
Secundinus, who had been banished under the first 
edict of Valerian, and now, like Cyprian, were recalled 
to be put to death under the second. Both were men 
of charitable, peace-loving disposition. Secundinus had 
from youth dedicated himself, like St. Paul, to a life 

^ Franchi de' Cavalieri, GU Atti dei SS, Montofw^ &c. 


of single chastity. They took up their lodging for 
a few days with the three travellers. *' Being full of 
the spirit of life and grace/' they lost no opportunity 
of inspiring otlier Christians with the martyr's faith. 
They preached the word of God, by which they them- 
selves lived, to the brethren at Muguas in a way that 
kindled every hearer with enthusiasm. 

Among those who were most profoundly moved by 
their example and their discourses were Marian and 
James. They had already been to some extent prepared 
by a vision which came to James in the course of their 
journey. While the three men were driving along the 
uneven road in their springless carriage, James fell into a 
deep sleep in the middle of the day, under the glaring 
sun. His friends called to him, and at last succeeded in 
waking him. James told them the dream which he 
had dreamed. '' I have had a fright," he said, *' though 
not unmixed with joy ; and you, brothers, must rejoice 
with me. I saw a young man of immense height 
clothed in a flowing tunic of such white light that 
it was impossible to look steadily at him. His feet 
did not touch the ground, and his face was above the 
clouds. As he ran past, he threw two purple girdles 
into our laps — one into yours, Marian, and one into 
mine — and said, ' Follow me quickly.' " 

Marian and James had not long to wait after the 
departure of the bishops before the palm was put into 
their hands. Two days after, a band of centurions 
came to apprehend them, accompanied by a number 
of heathen fanatics from Cirta. The legate of the 
province was so zealous in executing the edict of 
Valerian that the ordinary agencies of the police were 
not sufficient for his purposes, and the military were 
called into requisition. The villa where Agapius and 


Secundinus had lodged was proved in the eyes of the 
authorities to be a nest and rendezvous of Christians. 
To their great and unbounded delight, the three friends 
were carried off into the city, the unknown writer as 
a prisoner, the others drawn by their affectionate 
anxiety on his behalf. The enthusiasm with which 
Marian and James encouraged the other under his 
examination showed that they were Christians. They 
were arrested and examined, and confessing bravely, 
were cast into prison. 

Dreadful tortures were inflicted upon them by the 
officer on duty, with the approbation of his superior 
and of the magistrates of Cirta, ''those priests of the 
devil," as the writer calls them, " who thought that the 
faith of Christians, who care so little for the body, could 
be broken by the rending of their limbs." James, whose 
faith was of an austere type, and who had already been 
a confessor in the persecution of Decius, led or allowed 
his captors to believe that he was not only a Christian, 
but a deacon. Marian, on the other hand, who held 
the office of a " reader," was tortured because he would 
not acknowledge that he belonged to a higher order 
in the Church. The brutal tormentors hung him up 
by the thumbs, and tied weights to his feet to make 
him heavier — unequal weights, to increase the strain 
upon one side. While he was in that position his 
body was torn with the iron claw. But he could not 
be induced to say either more or less than the truth, 
and was taken back to prison, rejoicing. There James 
and he, with other brethren, " celebrated the glad 
victory of the Lord with many prayers." 

That night, after all that his poor body had gone 
through, Marian had a vision. ''There was shown to 
me an exceedingly lofty white tribunal, upon which sat, 


like the governor of a province, a judge with a very 
handsome countenance. Before it was a prisoner's 
dock, or scafiFold, which instead of the usual lowly 
platform, reached by a single step, was furnished with 
a whole flight of steps and was raised to a very great 
height. Confessors were being set before the judge, 
one class after another, and the judge kept ordering 
them oflF to the sword. My turn came. Then I heard 
a loud and powerful voice say, ' Fasten Marian up.' I 
began to mount the scafiFold, when behold, all of a 
sudden, Cyprian appeared to me, sitting on the right 
hand of the judge, and reached out his hand, and 
lifted me to a higher part of the scaffold, and smiled, 
and said, 'Come and sit beside me.' Then followed 
the hearing of fresh classes, while I sat by as an assessor. 
And the judge rose up, and we escorted him to his 
praetorium. Our way led through pleasant meadows, and 
scenery delightfully clothed with green and leafy woods, 
where towering cypresses and pines which knocked 
against the sky threw their thick shadows. It seemed 
as if the whole district round was crowned with these 
green woods. There was a dell in the middle, where 
a clear and copious spring of pure water rose and 
flowed without stint. And behold, the judge vanished 
from our sight. Then Cyprian caught up a bowl 
which lay beside the spring, and, like a thirsty man, 
filled it at the spring, and drained it, and filling it 
again reached it out to me, and I drank it, nothing 
loth. And as I was saying, 'Thanks be to God,' I 
woke at the sound of my own voice." 

Marian had a fellow-prisoner, whose name was 
iEmilian. He belonged by birth to the order of 
knights, of which special mention was made in the 
edict of Valerian. He was nearly fifty years of age. 


and had lived a life of virgin purity from the beginning. 
In prison he continued the discipline of fasting and 
prayer which he had practised before. One day when 
they were expecting to receive the Blessed Sacrament 
on the morrow, and i£milian had redoubled his fasting 
and his prayers in preparation for it, he lay down for 
a few minutes of sleep at noon and dreamed a vivid 

^'They were fetching me out of prison/' he said, 
" to trial, when my heathen brother met me. He was 
very curious about us, and asked in anything but 
complimentary tones how long we had been kept in 
tile penal darkness and starvation of the prison. I 
answered ttiat Christ's soldiers find in the word of 
God clear light in the darkness and satisfying food in 
hunger. When he heard that, he said, ' I assure you 
that all you who are in the prison, if you persist in 
your obstinacy, will be put to death.'" The edict of 
Valerian had left it a somewhat open question in each 
case whether a man of i£milian's rank should be put 
to death. "I was afraid," ^Cmilian continued, ''that 
he was mocking me with a falsehood of his own devis- 
ing ; and desiring to make sure of my heart's wish, I 
said, ' Is it really true that we shall ail suffer ? ' He 
repeated his assertion, and said, 'You will very soon 
come to the sword and to blood. But I should like 
to know,' he pursued, ' whether all of you who despise 
this life receive an equal recompense in heaven, without 
any distinction.' I replied, ' I am not able to offer an 
opinion on so great a subject ; but lift up your eyes 
for a moment to the sky, and you will see an innumer- 
able multitude of stars shining. Do all the stars shine 
with an equal glory of light ? Yet it is the same light 
that shines in them all.' His increasing curiosity 


found another question to ask. * If there is a distino 
tion among you/ he said, ' which of the number are 
the most deserving of the Lord's good will ? ' * There 
are two in particular/ I replied, 'whose names are 
known to God, but must not be told to you.' At the 
end, to his yet more determined and embarrassing 
questions, I answered, 'They are those whose crowns 
are the more glorious because the more hardly and 
tardily won ; and for this reason it is written, It is 
easier for a camel to go through a needle's eye, than 
for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of heaven/ " 

After these visions, the Christians still remained 
a few days in prison before they were brought to 
the magistrates of Cirta, in order that the preliminary 
examination might be made, and the articles of the bill 
against them might be made out, to be forwarded to the 
legate. While this was done, the eyes of all the 
heathen in court were drawn to one of the bystanders, 
who was so inflamed by the approach of martyrdom 
that " Christ shone in his face and bearing." In great 
indignation the magistrates asked him if he belonged 
to the same name and religion ; and the man '' in an 
instant clutched the sweet companionship and con- 

The legate was at the great military colony of 
Lambsesis, which was about eighty miles from Cirta. 
Thither the growing band of martyrs was despatched, 
together with the articles of their examination at 
Cirta. They were thrown into prison again at Lam- 
baesis, "the only form of hospitality," says the writer, 
''which the heathen bestow upon the righteous." 
Meanwhile for many days there had been a great deal 
of Christian bloodshed at Lambsesis. The " ingenious 
cruelty" of the legate had hit upon an expedient for 


bringing the Christians round. He separated the lay 
Christians from those who were in orders, and dealt 
with them first, in the hope that when deprived of 
the exhortations of their clergy they would abjure their 
faith. The number of lay believers to be tried was so 
large that James and Marian and the others who belonged 
to the clergy had to bear the weariness of a long delay, 
and were a little depressed in consequence. 

Among those who had been put to death before the 
arrival of James and Marian was the bishop Agapius. 
He had been accompanied by two girls, named Ter- 
tulla and Antonia, whom he loved as his own daughters. 
His earnest prayer for them had been that they might 
attain martyrdom along with himself. This prayer he 
had repeated many and many a time, until at last he 
was stopped by a voice which came to him, saying, 
" Why dost thou ask so often for that which was granted 
at thy first request ? " 

When James was suflFering from depression in the 
prison at Lambaesis, the martyred Agapius appeared to 
him in his sleep. It was on the last day of his life that 
James related the occurrence to his friend, while waiting 
for the executioner to perform his duty. " Yes, indeed," 
he said ; *^ I am going to sup with Agapius and the 
other blessed martyrs. Last night, my brethren, I saw 
our friend Agapius, surrounded by all the others who 
were imprisoned with us at Cirta, looking more glad 
than the rest, and holding a solemn and joyful banquet. 
Marian and I were carried away by the spirit of love to 
join it, as if to one of our love-feasts, when a boy ran 
to meet us, who proved to be one of a pair of twins 
who suflFered three days ago in company with their 
mother. He had a wreath of roses round his neck, 
and carried a beautiful green palm advanced in his 


right hand, and he said, ' Why are you so impatient ? 
Rejoice and be glad, for to-morrow you also shall sup 
with us.' " 

The next morning the governor, " obeying the pro- 
mise of God," although he knew it not, gave the sen- 
tence which set the clerical members of the party free 
from the tribulations of the world. They were brought 
out to a place where a stream ran through some flat 
ground between hilly banks, which formed a theatre 
for the spectators. The number of persons to be 
beheaded was large, and the executioner thought it 
advisable, in order to avoid the heaping up of corpses 
in one place, or the waste of time in removing one to 
make room for another, to arrange his prisoners in 
rows, and to take them one after another at a run. 
When their eyes were bound, as the custom was, a gift 
of spiritual sight came to some of them. They told 
the brethren near them that they spied a troop of 
young men in white raiment, riding on snow-white 
horses. Others confirmed their statement, saying that 
they could hear the neighing and the tramp of the 
horses. A prophetic inspiration fell upon Marian, and 
he cried that the avenging of the saints was at hand, 
and that plagues like those of the Apocalypse were 
proceeding out of the height of heaven to the earth, 
pestilence, captivity, and famine, earthquakes, and the 
bites of poisonous flies. The mother of Marian, a 
brave woman of the name of Mary, had reached the 
place of execution in time to see her son die. She 
covered the poor severed neck with kisses, congratula- 
ting herself that she had been permitted to be the 
mother of such a son.^ 

^ Franchi de' Cavalieri in Studi e TesH (1900) ; Von Gebhardt, p. 134. 



It is a misfortune that the Acts of the martyrs of 
Rome have not been preserved in the same purity as 
those of the African saints. Stephen, the headstrong 
Bishop of Rome who entered so fiercely into contro- 
versy with Cyprian, was succeeded in August 257 by 
*'a good peaceable priest" — so Cyprian's biographer, 
Pontius, describes him — whose name was Xystus — or 
Sixtus, as he was called in later times. Xystus was a 
Greek, a native of Athens, and a devoted teacher. His 
short episcopate was marked by the care which he 
bestowed upon the relics of the martyrs. In particular 
he removed the bodies of St. Peter and St. Paul from 
their original resting-places on the Vatican hill and on 
the road to Ostia, and buried them in the safer cemetery 
on the Appian Way which has given its name of Cata- 
cumbas to all similar cemeteries underground. 

It is possible that these activities of Xystus may 
have had some share in provoking the terrible second 
edict of Valerian, who in his first edict had forbidden 
the Christians to enter their cemeteries. On the 6th of 
August 258, Xystus was sitting in his chair and teach- 
ing in the cemetery called the Cemetery of Praetextatus, 
which, as being private property, may have seemed less 
dangerous than some of the others, when a body of 
soldiers burst in to arrest him and carry him to the 
prefect. His condemnation was immediate ; the terms 



of the edict were that *' bishops, priests, and deacons 
were to be executed at once/' But instead of taking 
him to some customary place of execution, he was 
carried back to the spot where he was found holding 
his forbidden assembly. The faithful endeavoured to 
defend their beloved teacher at the cost of their own 
lives ; but Xystus put them aside, and gave himself up 
to the sword, and was slain in the cemetery. Four of 
his seven deacons perished with him.^ When the 
cemetery was opened in the year 1848, there was still 
to be seen a rude drawing of him seated in his chair, 
with a disciple at his feet. Near it was scratched an 
invocation of January, Agathopus, and Felicissioius, 
who were three of the four deacons beheaded with 

A fifth of his faithful deacons was destined to attain 
a greater celebrity even than Xystus himself. His 
name was Lawrence. When he saw that Xystus was 
to die, and to die without him, Lawrence could not 
control his grief. According to the tradition of the 
Church, he cried, ** You never used to offer the sacrifice 
without your attendant deacon ; will you now leave him 
behind ?" Xystus replied, "I do not leave you behind 
for long. A more glorious conflict awaits you. In 
three days' time you will follow me." 

As deacon, and, according to some accounts the 
head deacon, of the great church of Rome, Lawrence 
was entrusted with the charge of the money by which 
its fifteen hundred widows and pensioners were main- 
tained, and of other treasures belonging to the com- 
munity. The prefect of the city sent for him, and 
demanded the surrender of the property. The story 

^ Cyprian, JE/ist. Ixzx. The inscriptions of Damasus relating to Xystus 
may be seen in Benson's Cjfrian, p. 4S9 foil. 



goes that Lawrence promised to comply, but asked for 
three days in which to collect the articles and to make 
an inventory of them. During the respite, he sold the 
precious vessels that were under his care, and gave 
everything away to the poor. When the day came, 
Lawrence invited the prefect to follow him to one of 
the churches of the city, and there showed him in long 
rows the aged, the maimed, the blind. According to 
another version of the story, he induced the prefect to 
send a number of waggons to fetch his treasures, and 
then presented himself at the head of the strange 
muster. "These," he said, "are the treasures of the 
Church." Enraged at the lesson which Lawrence 
wished to teach him, the prefect, instead of sending 
him at once to the sword, which was the usual death 
in this persecution, ordered him to the fire. Perhaps 
he intended it for a torture rather than for a capital 
punishment, hoping that Lawrence might be induced 
by it to renounce his Christianity ; for he expressly 
ordered that it should be a slow fire. The martyr was 
accordingly stretched upon an iron grate, or gridiron, 
and laid over the coals. Neither his faith nor his wit 
failed under the trial. After he had lain for a good 
while slowly roasting, he said to his torturers, " You 
can turn me now ; I am done enough on that side." ^ 

These were not the only martyrs of the church at 
Rome under Valerian. A priest, a subdeacon, a reader, 
and a doorkeeper were put to death at the same time as 
Lawrence, — doubtless for their share in the gathering 
in the cemetery of Praetextatus. Many other " com- 
panions of Xystus " are referred to in the inscription 
which Damasus, a hundred or a hundred and twenty 
years later, put up in the chapel where Xystus was 

1 AmbroM, Dt Offic, Ministr. i. 41, it. 28 ; Prudentius, Ttfl 2re^. ii. 


buried. It was probably at this time that a martyrdom 
took place in which no prefect or judge had part. 
The Christians were accustomed, when circumstances 
permitted, to send the Blessed Sacrament from the 
altar of the church to the confessors in prison, as well 
as to others who were hindered from communicating in 
the assembly of the faithful. The honour of bearing it 
was often given to those who were called acolytes. An 
acolyte named Tarsicius was passing on this sacred 
errand from one of the catacombs along the Appian 
Way to Christians in the city. The Eucharist, probably 
in a small box, or perhaps wrapped in a linen cloth, 
was concealed beneath his cloak. Something in his 
mien and bearing made him an object of suspicion to 
a band of soldiers whom he met. They stopped him, 
and inquired what he was carrying. Tarsicius refused 
to let them see. They struck him and beat him, but 
he was proof against their violence. At last they left 
him dead, with his secret still undisclosed. '' He chose," 
said the epitaph which Damasus cut over his grave, 
'' rather to lay down his life under the blows than to 
betray that heavenly Body to mad dogs." ^ 

If in the time of DeciuS the church of Spain pre- 
sented only examples of apostasy, it can boast of at 
least one group of martyrs under Valerian. On Sunday, 
January 16, in the year 259, Fructuosus, the Bishop of 
Tarragona, had retired to rest, when a band of six men 
from the governor's office were sent to seize him. At 
the sound of their feet, the bishop arose at once, and 
went to the door to meet them. " Come," said the 
soldiers ; ** the governor has sent for you and your 
deacons." " By all means let us go," said the bishop ; 
" or will you wait while I put on my shoes ? " They 

^ Damastts in Migne't FcUr, Lai, ziiL 392. 


said that he could please himself. When he was ready^ 
they took him at once to prison. The prison, however, 
was not very jealously guarded. The brethren passed 
in and out, bringing comforts for their bishop, and 
begging him to remember them when he should have 
passed to his glory. He was even able to administer 
baptism in the prison to one of his disciples. 

On the 2 ist, which was a Friday, Fructuosus and 
his two deacons were brought before the governor, 
whose name was i£milian. '' Have you heard what 
the emperors have ordered ? " the governor asked. 
" I do not know," said Fructuosus, " what their orders 
may be, but I am a Christian." '' They have ordered 
the worship of the gods/' said i£milian. ** I," said the 
bishop, "worship one God, who made heaven and 
earth, the sea, and all things that are therein." The 
governor said, '' I suppose you are aware that there are 
gods." " Indeed I am not," answered Fructuosus. 
" You shall soon know it," said iGmilian. The bishop's 
only reply was to cast himself in silence upon God. 
" Who," asked the governor, " will be listened to, or 
feared, or worshipped, if the gods are not religiously 
honoured, nor the countenances of the emperors 
adored ? " 

He turned to the deacons. " Do not listen to the 
words of Fructuosus," he said to one of them^ whose 
name was Augurius. '' I worship the Almighty God," 
the man replied. i£milian addressed the other deacoa, 
Eulogius. " Do you worship Fructuosus too ? " he 
asked. *' No," he answered, " I do not worship Fruc^ 
tuosus, but I worship the same God as Fructuosus 
does." ^milian came back to the chief prisoner^. 
" Are you a bishop ? " he asked. The word was 
expressly mentioned in the edict of Valerian, with a 


terrible penalty attached to it. " Yes," said Fruc- 
tuosus ; " I am." " You mean that you were^*' said 
the governor, and condemned them to be burned alive. 

As they passed to the amphitheatre, where they were 
to die, the heathen populace, to whom Fructuosus had 
greatly endeared himself — perhaps during the great 
plague which had lately ravaged the empire— were even 
more moved with grief than the Christians. The Chris- 
tians were proud of their bishop's approaching glory. 
Some of them pressed forward and offered to the 
sufferers a cup of drugged wine, to relieve their dying 
pains ; but the martyrs put it from them. Wednesday, 
in the early Church, as well as Friday, was commonly 
observed as a strict fast until after midday. This dis* 
cipline the good bishop and his deacons had observed, 
even in their prison. It was still only ten o'clock in 
the morning. It was not yet time, they said, to break 
their fast. As they entered the amphitheatre, one of 
the church readers drew near, with streaming eyes, to 
draw off the bishop's shoes ; but the bishop answered, 
'' Let be, my son. I will do that myself. I am quite 
strong and happy, and assured of the Lord's promise." 
Another Christiail seized his hand and begged that he 
would remember him. In a loud voice Fructuosus 
answered, '' I must bear in mind the whole Catholic 
Church, dispersed from the east even to the west." 

They mounted the pile on which they were to burn. 
In spite of the officers in charge, Fructuosus cried aloud 
to his fellow Christians in the amphitheatre, '' You will 
not be left without a shepherd. The kindness of the 
Lord can never fail, nor His promise, either here or 
hereafter. This which you see is but the weakness of 
an hour." The flames consumed the fastenings which 
held them to the stake ; and the martyrs, availing them- 


selves of their liberty, threw themselves upon their 
knees in the midst of the fire, and stretched out their 
arms cross-wise, as was the custom of the early Chris- 
tians at prayer, and so remained until they died. Some 
of the brethren who were servants of iEmilian, believed 
that they could see the three martyrs ascending crowned 
into heaven, and pointed them out to the governor's 

The records of martyrdoms under Valerian in the 
eastern part of the empire are less complete and less 
trustworthy than of those in the west. 

Eusebius relates that there were three young Chris- 
tians who lived near Caesarea in Palestine, of which 
Eusebius was himself bishop some fifty or sixty years 
later. Their names were Prisons, Malchus, and Alex- 
ander. They were safe and unmolested in their quiet 
country homes, but hearing of martyrdoms elsewhere, 
they began to reproach themselves for sitting tamely at 
their ease and keeping their religion hidden. Having 
formed their resolution, they started for Caesarea, and 
— in spite of the discouragement which the Church had 
always offered to such a proceeding — presented them- 
selves together before the magistrate, declared them- 
selves Christians, and were condemned to the wild 
beasts. About the same time, in the same city, the 
same dreadful death was awarded to a poor woman 
who belonged, like Metrodorus at Smyrna in the per- 
secution of Decius, to the heretical sect of the Mar- 
cionites. Eusebius does not record her name; perhaps 
by his time it had been forgotten upon earth.^ 

At another Caesarea, in Cappadocia, a young 
martyr, named Cyril, won great renown. It is not 
clear from the account which we possess whether his 

^ Ruinart, p. 191. ' Eusebius, Hist, Eccl, vii. 12. 


father was a heathen, or a cautious and timid Christian. 
The boy, however, had the name of our Lord con- 
tinually upon his lips, professing in the most unguarded 
manner that he was obeying the instigation of Christ. 
Threats and floggings seemed only to whet his appetite 
for a greater endurance ; and at last his father, with 
the approval of the neighbours, turned him out of the 
house without any means of support. Cyril seemed to 
be wholly unconcerned at this unnatural treatment, and 
was only delighted when the police brought him before 
the tribunal of the magistrate. "I forgive you, boy," 
said the magistrate, '' and so does your father. He will 
take you home again. You can have all the comforts 
of your father's house if you will be a good boy and 
think what you are about/' The boy answered : '' I do 
not mind being punished for what I have done. I am 
very happy with God, in spite of being turned out. I 
shall have a better home by-and-by. I am glad to 
become poor, that I may be rich. I am not afraid of 
a good death. I see a better life before me." The 
magistrate did not wish to put a boy to death, but 
thought that a feint of execution would bring him to 
his senses. He ordered his hands to be tied, and that 
he should be led to the fire. The officials reported 
that the boy had shed no tear, nor showed any sign of 
alarm. The magistrate recalled him and said, ''You 
have seen the fire, boy, and the sword. Be good, 
and you shall enjoy yourself at home again with your 
father." Cyril only answered indignantly, that it was a 
great shame to fetch him back when the fire and the 
sword were ready, and begged that they would make 
short work with him, and send him to the better home 
and the true riches. Some of the bystanders were 
moved to tears, but he told them that they would have 


rejoiced if they had known where he was going. He 
asked for no better way of spending his life. And so 
he went to die.^ 

There was an aged ascetic, probably at this time, 
who lived at Patara, on the southern coast of Asia Minor. 
His name was Leo. An acquaintance of his, called 
Paregorius, had su£Fered death, perhaps in the persecu- 
tion of Decius, and Leo felt deeply grieved that his 
own life had been spared. One day the proconsul, 
Lollianus, came to Patara. A festival of the god 
Serapis was being held, and the officials took the 
occasion to enforce the edict which compelled all the 
inhabitants to join in the sacrificial acts. Leo saw the 
people streaming to the festival, and withdrew indig* 
nantly to the place where the relics of Paregorius had 
been buried, and there prayed, as he was wont to do. 
He returned to his house with a mind preoccupied by 
the thought of his martyred friend. A dream that 
night showed him a great torrent in which he and 
Paregorius stood, and in spite of the violence of the 
flood he found it not difficult to reach the point which 
Paregorius had reached before him. Next morning he 
started once more for the grave of his friend. He 
chose the public road, which led past the temple of 
Fortune. The temple was all lighted with lanterns and 
tapers. Leo flung aside his self-control. He dashed in 
pieces the lanterns, and trampled the tapers underfoot, 
crying aloud, 'Mf you think that the gods have any 
power, let them defend themselves." A hue and cry 
was raised after him, and on his return home he found 
himself arrested by order of the governor. Confronted 
with the charge brought against him, Leo replied that 
lights and tapers were vain and senseless things, and 

1 Roittart, p. 213. 


that what the true God cared for was the contrite heart 
and the humble soul, and exhorted the magistrate to 
honour that God and His only-begotten Son, the 
Saviour of the world and the Creator of our souls. 
The magistrate replied that all this was irrelevant to 
the charge: Leo had been accused of an act of 
violence and was giving a lecture on Christianity. 
He ofiFered him liberty and friendship on condition of 
obedience to the edict, but Leo refused to worship gods 
who were no gods. The lash was applied, but Leo's 
heart was uplifted to the Lord, and he seemed to feel 
nothing. The patient magistrate was willing to forgo 
an act of sacrifice if Leo would only repeat after him 
the formula, " Great are the gods." " Great they are," 
answered the martyr, " to destroy the souls that believe 
in them." At last the patience of the official gave way. 
Yielding to the clamour of the multitude, he ordered 
the old man to be dragged away by the feet and 
thrown into the torrent which rushed through the 
town. Leo burst into thanksgivings to the God who 
allowed him so soon to be reunited to his friend 
Paregorius, and into prayers for the conversion of 
those who slew him. He was dead before they 
reached the rock from which they hurled him.^ 

The tale of Nicephorus, the martyr of Antioch, has 
been transmitted to us in a form intended to bring out 
its edifying value, but it is not on that account to be 

There was a priest at Antioch, called Sapricius, who 
had fallen out with Nicephorus, a layman, formerly an 
intimate friend of his, and refused to be reconciled with 
him. On the outbreak of the persecution of Valerian, 
Sapricius was arrested, and made his confession boldly 

^ Rninart, p. 47S. 


before the governor. He bore his tortures like a 
Christian, and was led away under sentence of death. 
As he passed to execution Nicephorus ran to meet him, 
fell at his feet, and begged his pardon ; but the priest 
made him no answer. At the gate leading out of the 
city, Nicephorus met him again, and cried, ''Martyr of 
Christ, forgive me the wrong I did you as a man, and 
give me absolution. The crown is already given you 
by the Lord whom you have not denied, but have con- 
fessed before many witnesses." But the martyr was 
obstinately silent. Even the hangmen remarked upon 
the eagerness of Nicephorus. " We never saw such a 
fool," they said ; " the man is going to be beheaded : 
what can you want from a condemned man ? " " Ah," 
answered Nicephorus — and the answer completely 
breathes the spirit of the time — "you do not know 
what I ask from the confessor of Christ, but God 
knows." The intercessions of the martyrs were held 
to be all-powerful with God. 

They came to the place of execution. Once more 
the importunate penitent approached Sapricius, re- 
minding him of the Gospel words which say, "Ask, 
and it shall be given you ; seek, and ye shall find ; 
knock, and it shall be opened unto you ; " but the 
heart of the priest was as hard as ever. Then the 
executioners ordered Sapricius to kneel down and 
have his head cut off, in accordance with the edict 
of Valerian. The terror of death came over him. 
"Why?" he asked. They told him it was because 
he would not sacrifice to the gods, and because he 
disobeyed the imperial command, and all for the sake 
of a man called Christ. " Do not strike me," cried the 
poor wretch. " I will do what your emperors require. 
I will sacrifice to the gods." 


The turn of Nicephorus was come. In the utmost 
distress he urged Sapricius to revoke his words, and 
not to cast away the crown which his confession and 
his torture had so nearly won. His exhortation, like 
his previous entreaties, fell upon deaf ears. Nicephorus 
o£Fered himself to the executioners. '' I am a Christian," 
he exclaimed ; '* I believe in the name of our Lord 
Jesus Christ, whom this man has denied. Behead me 
instead of him." So the unforgiving man fell away, 
and the penitent became a martyr in his stead.^ 

The last martyrdom of this period with which we 
are acquainted took place at Caesarea, in Palestine, the 
scene of the martyrdom of Priscus and his friends. 
There was a military officer there, named Marinus, of 
good birth and large fortune, who was a Christian 
believer. The position of a centurion in his legion fell 
vacant, and Marinus was the next in succession for the 
office. He was about to receive his promotion when a 
rival stepped forward and said that, as a Christian, it 
was impossible for Marinus to comply with the require- 
ments of the post, among which was an act of sacrifice 
to the emperors. The judge, a man of the name of 
Achaeus, questioned Marinus on the subject, and he 
acknowledged that he was a Christian. Achaeus gave 
him three hours in which to think things over, leaving 
him free to go wherever he pleased meanwhile. As 
soon as he left the court, Marinus was met by the good 
Theotecnus, bishop of the place, who took him by the 
hand and drew him into the church. He led him into 
the sanctuary itself, where none but the clergy were 
allowed to go. There, lifting the corner of the soldier's 
cloak, he pointed to the sword which hung at his side ; 
then, taking from the altar the copy of the Gospels 

^ Ruinart, p. 209. 


which lay upon it, he offered it to Marinus, and bade 
him choose between the book and the sword. Un-* 
hesitatingly Marinus grasped the book. ** Hold fast 
then/' said the bishop, ''hold fast to God, and may 
you attain what you have chosen, by the strength which 
God gives. Go in peace." Marinus returned from the 
church to the court. The three hours were at an end, 
and the herald was preparing to summon him. With 
increased fervour he proclaimed his faith, and was sent 
away to die. A noble Roman senator, named Astyrius, 
or Asterius, a friend of the imperial family, who was 
present at the scene, took the corpse upon his shoulder, 
swathed it in precious stuffs, and buried it with great 

By the time that Marinus suffered, Valerian was no 
longer emperor. In a disastrous campaign against 
Sapor, King of Persia, he had been taken prisoner. For 
the few years that he survived, the unhappy emperor 
was treated with barbarous insolence by his captor, 
who made him bend his neck to make a mounting- 
block when he mounted his horse or his chariot ; and 
when he died, his body was flayed, and the skin, dyed 
red, hung up in a Persian temple. His son, Gallienus, 
renounced the impossible task of crushing Christianity 
out, and for the first time in history made it a recog- 
nised religion of the Roman empire. 

^ EusebiuSy Ifist, EccL yii. 15, 16 ; Knopf's AusgnoahUe MdrtyreracUn^ 
p. 78- 



The year of our Lord 284 is the era from which some 
Christian nations of the East still date. It was the 
year in which Diocletian became emperor ; and so 
terrible was the persecution which began in his reign, 
that all former persecutions seemed to the Christians 
as nothing in comparison of it. They called the date 
of Diocletian's accession '' the Era of Martyrs." 

It was not till Diocletian had reigned for many 
years that he turned his hand against the Church. At 
the beginning; like Valerian, he favoured Christianity. 
His own wife and daughter were reckoned Christians 
by a writer who lived in the imperial city and mu^ 
have known. His most trusted chamberlains and 
court officials were all avowedly Christians. Christians 
were entrusted with the government of provinces and 
high offices of state, and were expressly dispensed, it is 
said, from attending religious ceremonies which were 
not agreeable to their consciences. 

Nevertheless, even those days of peace and tolera- 
tion were not wholly free from danger to Christians. 
Some localities, some positions in life, involved peril. 
This was especially the case with the army, and a few 
zealous Christians, especially in Africa, became martyrs 
for their faith, as others had done before them, by 
coming into collision with the rules of military disr 



In the year 295, while Dion, the proconsul of Africa, 
was engaged in levying new troops, a young man named 
Maximilian was brought before him to be measured, 
as he sat in the forum at Theveste. The proconsul 
asked him his name, but he answered, ''Why should 
you want to know my name ? I cannot serve in the 
army ; I am a Christian." There were many Christians 
in the army, and Dion would not listen to the excuse. 
" Measure him," he said. While they were doing it, 
Maximilian repeated, " I cannot serve ; I cannot do 
what is wrong." " Take his height," said the proconsul. 
He was five feet ten. " Let him be marked," said the 
proconsul. Maximilian resisted. '' I cannot do it," he 
said ; " I cannot serve." " You had better serve," said 
Dion, " or it will be the worse for you." " I cannot," 
repeated the young man ; " cut oflF my head if you like, 
but I cannot be a soldier of the world ; I am a soldier 
of my God." 

Maximilian's father was standing by. It was his 
business to collect the money paid by conscripts who 
wished to commute their service for a fine. The 
proconsul suspected that there was some collusion 
between the father and son. " Who has induced you 
to behave like this ? " he asked the young man. " My 
own mind," replied Maximilian, " and He who called 
me." Dion turned to Victor, the father. " Give your 
son good advice," he said. " He knows his own busi- 
ness," replied Victor ; " he has his own ideas of what 
is good for him." "Serve," repeated Dion to Maxi- 
milian, " and take the badge." " I will not take the 
badge," he answered ; " I already have the sign of 
Christ my God." " I will soon despatch you to your 
Christ," said Dion. " I wish you would do it at once," 
the young man retorted ; " that is my glory." 


Dion said no morCi but ordered the officials to 
hang the leaden badge round his neck. But Maxi- 
milian struggled against the distasteful emblem. **l 
will not take the badge of worldly warfare/' he cried ; 
''if you put it on me, I shall tear it off. It is of 
no use. I am a Christian ; it is not lawful for me 
to wear this bit of lead round my neck after receiving 
the saving sign of my Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of 
the living God, whom you do not know, but who 
suffered for our salvation, whom God delivered up 
for our sins. All we Christians are His servants. 
We follow Him as the Prince of life and the Author 
of salvation." "Take the badge, I say, and serve," 
persisted Dion, "or you will come to a bad end." 
" I shall not come to an end," replied the enthusiastic 
young man ; " my name is already with my Lord. 
I cannot serve." Dion condescended to argue once 
more. " Think of your youth," he said, " and serve ; 
it is the proper thing for a young man." Maximilian 
answered, " My service is for my own Lord ; I cannot 
engage in worldly warfare. I have already told you 
that I am a Christian." Dion the proconsul answered, 
" There are Christian soldiers in the sacred bodyguard 
of our lords Diocletian and Maximian, Constantius 
and Maximus: they serve." But no argument would 
convince Maximilian. " I suppose," he said, " that 
they know what is good for them ; but I am a 
Christian, and cannot do what is wrong." "What 
wrong do men do who serve in the army ? " the 
proconsul asked. "I need not tell you," said Maxi- 
milian ; " you know well enough what they do." 
Once more the proconsul urged him to comply : 
" Come," he said, " serve ; or else if you flout the 
service, you are on the way to perish." "I shall 


not perish/' answered Maximilian ; ** and if I pass 
out of the world, my soul lives with Christ my Lord." 

The patience of the proconsul was exhausted, or 
his stock of arguments failed. " Strike out his name/' 
he said to the officials. Then, turning to Maximilian, 
he said, ''Because you have disloyally refused the 
service, you must receive sentence accordingly, as a 
caution to others." Then he read the sentence ofiF his 
tablet : " Maximilian has disloyally refused the oath of 
service, and is therefore adjudged to be beheaded/' 
The young man answered, " Thanks be to God." He 
was twenty-one years old — ''twenty-one years in the 
world," says the ancient record, "three months and 
eighteen days." 

As they led him to the place of execution, he 
said to the Christians near him, "Beloved brethren, 
hasten with all your might and with eager desire 
that you may be permitted to see the Lord, and 
that He may bestow upon you a crown like mine." 
They marked the bright smile with which he said 
to his father, " Give this executioner my new garment 
which you had got for me to wear on joining the 
service. Thus I shall receive you," he added, with 
a reference to the Lord's promise to those who should 
forsake fathers for His sake, " I shall receive you an 
hundredfold, and we shall rejoice together with the 
Lord." His death was instantaneous. His mother, 
Pompeiana, received the body from the magistrate, 
and laid it in her own bedroom ; then carried it to 
Carthage and buried it, "under the hill near the 
palace," — or more probably " near the square " — close 
by the grave of the martyr Cyprian. A fortnight later, 
the mother herself died, and was buried in the same 
spot. " His father, Victor," adds the simple and 


touching record, "returned to his home with great 
joy, giving thanks to God that he had sent such a 
gift before him to the Lord, and determined to follow 
after." ^ 

At Tangier, the birthday of the emperor was 
being observed by the troops with feasting and 
sacrifices, when Marcellus, a centurion of the Trajan 
legion, horrified at some feature in the ceremonies that 
seems to have been new to him, rose up and, standing 
before the eagles of the legion, threw ofiF his military 
belt, and solemnly cried with a loud voice, " I am a 
soldier of Jesus Christ, the King eternal." Then cast- 
ing away the centurion's vine-stick and his weapons, 
he added, " From this moment I cease to be a soldier 
of your emperors ; and as for worshipping your gods 
of wood and stone, I despise them. They are deaf and 
dumb idols. If the terms of the service are such 
that we are forced to sacrifice to the gods and to 
the emperors, see, I throw away my vine-stick and my 
belt ; I renounce the standards and refuse to serve." 

The soldiers who heard him sat for a while 
astonished ; then they arrested him, and reported 
the occurrence to the commanding ofiicer, called 
Fortunatus, who ordered him to be put in prison. 
When the festival was ended, Fortunatus took his 
seat on the bench and sent for Marcellus. ''What 
was it," he asked, "that made you unbuckle your 
belt contrary to military regulations, and throw it and 
your vine-stick away ? " Marcellus answered by a 
plain statement of what he had done, and of the 
reasons which he had given at the time. Fortunatus 
said, " It is impossible for me to pretend that I am 
unacquainted with your rash conduct. I shall there- 

^ Ruinart, p. 263 ; Knopf, Ausgtw. Afdrtyrtracten, p. 79. 



fore refer the matter to the emperors and to the 
Caesar. You shall yourself be sent unhurt to my 
lord Aurelius Agricolanus, the deputy prefect of the 

On the 30th of October, Marcellus appeared before 
Agricolanus. The letter of Fortunatus was read, re- 
hearsing the charge brought against him. ''This 
soldier," ran one sentence in the letter, •* throwing 
away his military belt, avowed himself a Christian, 
and before all the people uttered many injurious 
words against the gods and against Caesar." Asked 
whether he had said what he was charged with saying, 
Marcellus replied that it was true. " Were you serving 
as an ordinary centurion ? " said the magistrate. ** I 
was." '' How came you to be so mad as to abjure 
your oath and speak like that?" ''There is no 
madness in those who fear the Lord." "Did you 
say the very words which are given in detail in the 
commandant's report ? " "I did." " Did you throw 
away your weapons ? " "I did. It was not proper 
for a Christian man, who is in the service of the 
Lord Christ, to serve the troublesome things of the 

The case was perfectly clear. Such a breach of 
discipline could not be passed over. Agricolanus had 
no choice but to dictate the sentence : " Marcellus, who 
was serving as an ordinary centurion, and who publicly 
abjured his oath, saying that he was polluted by it, and 
uttered other words full of madness contained in the 
commandant's report, is condemned to be beheaded." As 
he was led away to die, Marcellus said to Agricolanus, 
"God bless you." "That," says the ancient record, 
" was the proper way for a martyr to leave the world." 

A man named Cassian, doubtless already a Christian; 


was acting as military secretary to Agricolanus. It was 
his duty to take notes of the trial, and to write down 
the sentence dictated by the magistrate. But when he 
heard Marcellus condemned to die, Cassian threw his 
pen and his ledger upon the ground, and expressed 
aloud his detestation. Marcellus laughed for joy. 
The magistrate was not unnaturally annoyed. He 
sprang from his seat and asked for an explanation. 
Cassian answered that the sentence which he was 
required to take down was an unjust sentence. 
Agricolanus could not permit such a contempt of 
court, and ordered him to be committed at once to 
prison. He came up for trial on the 3rd of December, 
made answers like those of Marcellus, and was joined 
to his fellow Christian in a similar martyrdom.^ 

It is, perhaps, with good reason that recent scholars 
refer to this same period a group of martyrdoms which 
took place, apparently, at Dorostorum in the province 
of Moesia, in what is now called Bulgaria. 

There were two soldiers named Nicander and 
Marcian, who had won promotion in the army, but 
were expected to comply with some religious usage 
in order to take it up. This they were unable to 
do, as they had lately become Christians. The 
governor of the province, who bore the name of 
Maximus, called them up, and said, **U you are 
acquainted with the orders of the emperors, which 
require you to sacrifice to the gods, step up and obey 
the orders." '' It is only required," Nicander answered, 
^* of those who are willing to sacrifice. We are Christians, 
and cannot be bound by such a requirement." Maximus 
pointed out that by refusing they would lose the 
increased pay to which their promotion entitled them, 

^ Ruinart, pp. 265, 267 ; Knopf, p. 82. 


and asked why they should incur the loss. ^^ Because/' 
answered Nicanderi ''the riches of the ungodly are a 
pollution to men who desire to serve God." ''You 
need only honour the gods with a grain of incense/' 
the governor pleaded. Nicander replied, " How can a 
Christian man worship stocks and stones^ and forsake 
the everlasting God whom we worship, who made all 
things of nothing, and who is able to save both me and 
all who trust in Him 7 " 

The wife of Nicander was present She was a 
woman of the name of Daria, whom the wars had long 
separated from her husband, and who was now rejoicing 
in his return to her. With the intensity of a Christian 
woman's love she set herself to encourage her husband 
in his resolution. Addressing him with that respectful 
title which St. Peter approved on the lips of Sarah, she 
said, "My lord^ take good heed that you do it not^ 
Take good heed, my lord, that you deny not our Lord 
Jesus Christ. Look up to heaven, and you will ther^ 
see Him to whom you are bound in loyalty and 
conscience. He is your helper." Mazimus, the 
governor, heard some of these remarks. "You bad 
woman," he exclaimed, "why do you wish your 
husband to die?" "That he may live with God/' 
she replied, "and never die." "No, no," said the 
governor ; " it is nothing of the sort ; you want to be 
married to a finer specimen of a husband, and so are in 
haste to get this one out of existence." " If you imagine 
that such a thing is in my mind, and that I mean to do 
as you say," the brave woman answered, " kill me first 
for Christ's sake, — if," she added, " you have been told to 
do that with women as well as with men." It was not 
a time of general persecution. " I have had no instruc*- 
tions to proceed in that way against women," the 


governor answered, '' and I shall certainly not do what 
you wish ; but yon shall go to prison." 

As soon as Daria was gone, Maximus went on with his 
attempts to persuade her husband. He begged him to 
pay no heed to his wife or any other such adviser. ^' If 
you Uke/' he said, '' you can take time to think over the 
question whether it is better to live or to die." Nicander 
answered, " You may consider the time which you offer 
me as finished. I assure you that I have gone into the 
matter and am persuaded that the one thing to care 
about is how to be saved." The good-natured governor 
understood him in the sense of being saved from bodily 
death, and thought that Nicander was prepared to 
sacrifice. " Thank God," he cried ; and turning on his 
heel, he began to walk up and down with one of the 
members of his judicial council, in a state of high 
satisfaction. ''I too thank God," replied Nicander. 
To the Chrigtians who watched him he appeared to 
be 'Mn the spirit," like St. John in the Apocalypse. 
Thanksgivings poured from his tips, and prayers that 
be might be delivered from the stains of this world of 
temptation. The governor heard him. ^'You said 
but now that you wished to live," he remarked ; '' do 
you now desire again to die ? " "I wish," answered 
Nicander, ''to live the eternal life, not the temporal 
life of this world. That is why I put my body in your 
power. Do what you like ; I am a Christian." 

All this time Marcian had been silent and unques^ 
tioned. The governor now addressed him : " What do 
yon say, Marcian ? " he enquired. '' I say the same as 
my fellow-soldier," he replied. Maximus answered, 
''You shall be thrust into prison together, then, and 
shall assuredly suffer the penalty." 

Twenty days were spent in prison. Then the two 


men were again brought to the bar. Maximus asked 
them whether they had had time enough to consider 
the question of obeying the imperial orders. The task 
of answering fell upon Marcian. ''The multitude of 
your words/' he said, ''will not make us abandon our 
faith or deny God. He is with us. We see Him, and 
we know what He is calling us to. Do not detain us. 
Our faith in Christ is perfected to-day. Despatch 
us quickly that we may see the Crucified, whom you 
heathens do not hesitate to curse with your wicked lips, 
but whom we Christians revere and worship." " Very 
well," answered Maximus ; " you shall be delivered 
to death as you desire." "By the health of the 
emperors," said Marcian, "we entreat you to despatch 
us quickly. It is not the fear of your tortures," he 
added, " that makes us adjure you thus, but the wish 
to attain quickly the object of our desire." Maximus 
wished to part on good terms with the men whom he 
condemned. " The order which you disobey," he said, 
" is not of my making. I am no persecutor of yours. 
It is the command of the emperors, with which I have 
nothing to do. I am clean from your blood. If," he 
added, perhaps somewhat wistfully, "you know that 
you are going on a good journey, I congratulate you. 
May your desire be accomplished." So saying, he 
pronounced the capital sentence upon them. The 
two martyrs exclaimed with one voice, as to a Christian 
friend, " Peace be with you, kind governor." 

They went their way rejoicing and blessing God, 
attended by their friends. Nicander's wife was there, 
and with her a man named Papian, whose brother 
Pasicrates had su£Fered martyrdom a short time before. 
Papian carried in his arms the infant son of Nicander 
and his wife. Marcian's wife with her child was also 


therci but not in the same serene exaltation as Daria. 
She was either a heathen^ or more probably a nominal 
Christian. Her garment was torn, and as they went 
along she raised loud laments, '^l told you in the 
prison/' she cried, " that this was what it would come 
to. I was afraid it would be so, and I shed many tears 
for it. Woe is me ! will you not answer me ? Take 
pity on me, my lord. Look at your darling little son. 
Turn your face towards us ; do not disown us. Why 
are you so hasty ? Whither are you going ? Why 
do you hate us ? You have been carried o£F like a 
sheep to the slaughter." Marcian at length turned to 
the poor woman, and eyed her sternly. " How long," 
he said, ** has Satan blinded your mind and soul 7 Go 
your way and let me go mine. Allow me to perfect 
my martyrdom for God." A Christian named Zoticus 
seized Marcian's hand, and cheered him on. ** Be of 
good courage, domine frater^' he said ; ^^ you have 
fought a good fight. How shall we weak ones gain 
such faith 7 Remember the promises which the Lord 
has made, and which He will so soon pay. Perfect 
Christians are you indeed: blessed are you." The 
unhappy wife was still following with her cries, attempt- 
ing to hold Marcian back. ^^ Hold my wife," said 
Marcian to Zoticus ; and Zoticus did so. 

When they came to the spot, the spirit of the 
martyr relented a little. Looking round about him, 
he saw Zoticus in the crowd and, calling him to 
his side, he begged him to bring his wife to him. 
Then, kissing her, he said, '^ Depart in the Lord. You 
cannot bear to see me celebrate my martyrdom, with 
your mind beguiled by the evil one." He kissed his 
child, and looking up to heaven he said, <^ Lord God 
Almighty, take Thou care of him." Then the two 


martyrs embraced one another, and stepped a few 
paces apart to be put to death. At that moment, 
however, Marcian cast another glance around him, 
and saw the wife of Nicander vainly endeavouring to 
get to her husband through the crowd. Stretching 
out his hand to her, while the people made way for 
him, he brought her to Nicander. " God be with you," 
said the husband. ^'Be of good courage, good my 
lord," said the wife. " Show them how you can strive. 
I spent ten years at home without you, and there was 
not a moment when I was not wishing to God that 
I might see you. Now I have seen you, and I am 
glad that you are setting out for the land of life. I 
shall sing louder now. How proud I shall be, to be 
a martyr's wife 1 Be of good courage, my lord. Bear 
your witness to God, that you may deliver me also 
from everlasting death." Such confidence had the 
Christians of those days in the power of a martyr's 
prayers. Handkerchiefs were bound round the eyes 
of Nicander and Marcian, and in a moment the skilled 
stroke of the sword sent them where they desired to be.^ 
This was not the only case of Christianity with 
which the humane Maximus was called to deal. About 
a month earlier, as it seems, a veteran named Julius was 
brought before him. "What do you say, Julius?" he 
asked ; " is the charge against you true ? " " Yes," said 
the veteran ; " I am a Christian. I will not say that I 
am anything but what I am." '* What then ? Did you 
not know of the order of the emperors, prescribing sacri- 
fice to the gods ? " " Yes, I knew," said Julius ; " but I 
am a Christian, and cannot do what you wish. It would 
not be right for me to deny the living and true God." 
" What is there so very serious," argued the governor, 

^ Ruinart, p. 484. 


*' in offering some incense, and going your way ? " ''I 
cannot go beyond the commandment of God/' said 
]uliu8| ''and obey unbelievers. In that unprofitable 
service, in which I went up and down for six and twenty 
years, I was never court-martialled for misconduct or 
breach of discipline. Seven times I was engaged in active 
service, and never disputed the orders of those above 
me, nor did I fight worse than anybody else. The 
commanding officer never once found fault with me. 
And do you think that I, who was faithful in that 
which was worse, am likely to be unfaithful in what 
is better?" "What service have you seen?" asked 
Maximus. *^ I served my time under arms," answered 
Julius, " and fought in the wars in my rank even when 
I was entitled to retire ; but all the while I worshipped 
the living God who made heaven and earth, and to 
this day I still pay Him faithful service." 

Maximus, who was capable of recognising exceU 
lence, and anxious to befriend it, said, '^ Julius, I see 
that you are a sensible and a serious man. Take my 
advice therefore, and sacrifice to the gods." '* I will 
not do as you desire," said Julius, ''nor run into sin 
and eternal punishment." " If you think that sin/' 
said the magistrate, " let it be laid to my charge. I 
will apply force to you, that it may not look as if 
you had complied willingly. Then you can go home 
with no further anxiety. You will receive the money 
distributed at the tenth year of the reign, and nobody 
will trouble you any more/' The offer was all the 
more seductive because it was so kindly intended ; but 
Julius saw behind the indulgent governor the evil 
power which spoke through him. '• Neither that 
money of Satan," he exclaimed, " nor your crafty 
persuasiiH) can draw me away from the eternal Lord« 


I cannot deny God. Give sentence against me, there- 

fore, as a Christian." '^Unless you will be obedient 

to the imperial orders and sacrifice/' said Maximus, '' I 

will cut your head off." Julius was delighted at this 

change of language. '' That is a good thought/' he cried : 

'^ I beseech you, religious governor, by the health of the 

emperors, to put it in execution, and to give sentence 

upon me, that my desires may be fulfilled." '' If you 

do not change your mind and sacrifice," answered 

Maximus, " you shall be delivered over to your desire." 

** I shall thank you," said Julius, ** if you will but do 

it." '' You are in such a hurry to die," said Maximus ; 

^' you think that you will suffer for some praiseworthy 

object." Julius answered, '' If I am permitted to suffer 

thus, everlasting glory will await me." " If you were 

suffering for your country and for the laws," said the 

governor, " you would have everlasting praise." " It is 

indeed for the laws that I shall suffer," replied the 

martyr, " but for the laws of God." '* Laws," retorted 

Maximus, '^ which were bequeathed to you by a dead 

man who was crucified. See what a fool you are, to 

make more of a dead man than of the live emperors." 

*^ He died for our sins," answered Julius solemnly, 

'' that He might bestow upon us eternal life ; but He 

is God who endureth for ever, and whosoever confesses 

Him shall have eternal life, and whosoever denies Him, 

everlasting punishment." ^< I am sorry for you," said 

Maximus, ** and I advise you to sacrifice and live with 

us." " If I live with you," was the reply, ** it is death 

to me ; but if I die, I live." ** Hear me," said Maximus 

once more, ^^ and sacrifice, or, as I promised you, I shall 

put you to death." '^ That is what I have asked again 

and again," Julius answered, ^'if I may be counted 

worthy that you should do it/' Maximus said, '' You 


have chosen death rather than life." " I have chosen/' 
said the Christian, 'Meath for the moment and then 
life everlasting." The sentence was then pronounced. 
*^ Julius, who refuses to obey the orders of the emperors, 
is to receive capital punishment." 

On coming to the place where executions were 
generally performed, all the Christians gave Julius the 
kiss of peace. The martyr perhaps thought how his 
Master had received a kiss from a traitor. ''Let 
each one," he cried, ''take heed how he gives the 
kiss." Among the other Christians present was one 
called Hesychius, himself a soldier like Julius and like 
Nicander and Marcian. He was even then in custody, 
and perhaps Maximus had thought that it would be 
good for him to see the realities of martyrdom. Hesy- 
chius cried aloud to Julius, " I entreat you, Julius, to 
fulfil with joy what you have undertaken, and receive 
the crown which the Lord promised to those who 
confess Him; and remember me, for I am about to 
follow you. Bear my best greetings also to those 
servants of God, Pasicrates and Valention, who by a 
good confession have gone before us to the Lord." 
Julius, embracing Hesychius, answered, " Brother, 
make haste and come. Those whom you greeted 
have already heard your message." With these words 
Julius took the handkerchief and bound his own eyes. 
Then, stretching out his neck, he said, " O Lord Jesus 
Christ, for whose name's sake I su£Fer thus, vouchsafe 
to set my spirit among Thy saints." So he was be- 

^ Ruinart, p. 482 ; Analecta Boliandiana, x. 50. 




Such occurrences as these were a prelude to the 
great persecution which broke out in the year 303. In 
the early morning of February 23 in that year, a band 
of oflEicials was sent forth to destroy the fine church 
at Nicomedia, now Ismid, on the Sea of Marmora, 
which was at that time the capital of the empire, 
where Diocletian and his son-in-^law Galerius had been 
in conference together all the winter. Next day an 
imperial edict was posted in the city to announce that 
all Christian churches were immediately to be levelled 
to the ground, and of course all assemblies of Christians 
prohibited, that all copies of the Christian Scriptures 
were to be burned, that all Christians who held official 
positions were to be outlawed, and all private Christians 
reduced to slavery, while Christians who were slaves 
already were pronounced incapable of emancipation. 
It was Diocletian's express wish that in extirpating Chris- 
tianity no blood should be shed. He knew what had 
happened in earlier persecutions. ** As a rule," he said^ 
*' the Christians are only too happy to die." His own 
repression of Christianity was to be conducted on milder 
principles. But the very first utterance of them drew 
Christian blood. A gentleman of Nicomedia openly 
strode up to the pillar to which the edict was affixed 
tore the paper down, and rent it in pieces. Shortly 


before, high-flown proclamatiojas had been displayed, 
announcing an im.i>erial triumph over the barbarians of 
the northern frontier. " Look/' he cried ; *' new vic^ 
tones over the Goths and the Sarmatians I " He was 
immediately arrested for his defiant act, jand, aiter 
tprtures, was roasted to death .^ 

Such measures were not enough to satisfy the 
fanatical Galerius. A fire broke out m the palace 
shortly after the promulgation of the edicts Conr 
stantine, who was on the spot at the time, ascribed 
the fire to lightning sent by the judgment of God. 
JLactantius, who was living at Nicomedia, says that it 
was kindled by the orders of Galerius himself. At 
any rate Galerius used it as a weapon against the 
Christians. He accused them of attempting to burn 
himself and Diocletian alive. The elder emperor was 
very angry, and had his servants put to the torture 
to find out the cause of the fire, but nothing was dis<- 
covered. A fortnight later another fire was discovered. 


In a storm of real or feigned indignation, Galerius took 
his departure, saying that he had no intention of staying 
at Nicomedia to be burned by the Christians. 

The second fire produced the desired e£Fect. Dio^ 
cletian went to work in earnest with the Christians 
around him. All were called upon to sacrifice. His 
daughter Valeria, and his wife Prisca, were the first to 
be summoned. They were not ready to be martyrs, and 
they sacrificed. The Christian servants proved more 
staunch. A youth of the name of Peter was brought 
into an open place in the midst of the city, and, on his 
refusal to sacrifice, was stripped naked and raised aloft, 
and scourged in the sight of all, until his bones began 
to show through the skin. It was hoped that when 

^ Lftctantitti, D^ MwUbus Ptrswuiorum^ 13. 


his strength failed he would mechanically comply with 
the orders given him, in spite of himself. But Peter 
was inflexible. When his wounds became numb and 
lost feeling, they brought salt and vinegar and rubbed 
it into them ; but it had no effect upon Peter. Then 
a gridiron was sent for, and they laid him upon it, like 
Lawrence, over a slow fire, but Peter expired on his 
gridiron without a word or act of disloyalty to Christ. 
Others of the household were handled after the same 
fashion. The chief chamberlain, named Dorotheus, 
who had been the prop and mainstay of the palace, 
and had been more like a son to Diocletian than a 
servant, was quietly strangled, together with another 
chamberlain, Gorgonius. The poor bodies were buried 
by the surviving Christians ; but Diocletian, who pro- 
bably knew something of the inspiration which Christians 
drew from their visits to the martyrs' burying-places, 
ordered the remains to be dug up again and Hung into 
the sea.^ 

There was as yet no edict of persecution to touch 
the life of Christians in general, and Diocletian was still 
anxious not to shed more blood than he could help ; but, 
following to some extent the example of Valerian, he 
now put forth an edict which ordered that all the clergy 
of the Church — bishops, priests, deacons, and even 
those of still lower rank — should be cast into prison. 
There they remained, those who were arrested, until 
the following December. On the 21st of that month, 
303 — or, according to Lactantius, on the 20th of the 
preceding month — the emperor Diocletian kept the 
twentieth anniversary of his accession. In accordance 
with a common custom, he proclaimed that the prisons 
should be emptied on that occasion ; and that even 

^ Easebius, HisL EccL viii. 6, cp. 13. 


those prisoners who were Christians should be released, 
on condition of sacrificing first. If they were unwilling 
to sacrifice, torture might be applied to induce them 
to do so. Three or four months later, in March or 
April 304, when Diocletian was incapacitated by illness 
from taking part in the work of government, his col- 
league, Maximian, put forth an edict that all Christians, 
wherever found, were to be compelled to sacrifice in 
public, or upon refusal were to die. 

In the following year, Diocletian and Maximian, 
according to their long-formed intention, abdicated their 
sovereignty and retired into private life. Their places 
were taken by Galerius and Constantius, with Maximin 
and Severus for their Caesars. In the western half of 
the empire the persecution ceased ; but in the eastern 
half it continued, differing in intensity in different pro- 
vinces and at different periods. In the year 308 came 
the first signs of a relaxation on the part of the supreme 
authorities. Orders were given to inflict the sentence 
of death more sparingly; but the humanity which 
dictated this decree betrayed itself by prescribing that 
dreadful mutilations should take the place of death, and 
hundreds of unfortunate Christians were condemned to 
lose an eye or a foot, and in this miserable condition 
were set to work in the mines and quarries, as slaves of 
the imperial treasury. At last, in 311, when Galerius 
lay dying of a horrible disease, he published a strange 
edict of toleration, in which he began by explaining why 
the persecution had been undertaken, then confessed 
that it had completely failed of its object, and ended by 
requesting the Christians to pray for him. 

The city of Nicomedia, which had felt the first 
rigours of the long persecution, continued throughout 
to be worthy of its good beginning. There, at the very 


seat of empire, the law was for the most part observed 
according to the letter, and martyrdoms were at first 
few. One way in which the law was observed told 
hard upon the Christians. The magistrates arranged 
to have altars standing in their offices and in the courts 
of justice, and, before any one was allowed to bring or 
defend an action, he was required to prove himself to be 
no Christian by sacrificing. If he refused, he forfeited 
the protection and assistance of the law. Short of 
death, the Christians of the place showed a noble ex- 
ample. There was one, an African (as it appears) by 
birth, named Donatus^ to whom Lactantius dedicated 
his History of the persecution, who passed through the 
bands of three successive governors of 3ithynia, and 
was tortured by them all in turn. Nine several times they 
tortured him. Stripes, the iron claw, the fire, and the 
knife were all tried upon him in vain. ^' For six years 
the prison," as Lactantius says, ** was his home." At last 
the toleration edict opened his prison doors, and he 
came forth into liberty once more, and with him a 
number of other brave confessors.^ 

Upon the arrival of Galerius on one occasion at 
Nicomedia, a body of three and twenty confessors had 
borne striking testimony to their faith, when a young 
man, who was the chief of the officium (as it was called), 
that is, of the officials in attendance upon the magis- 
trate who examined them, was so powerfully impressed 
by what he saw, that he asked of them the secret of 
their courage. It was a not infrequent occurrence in 
the history of martyrdom. This young man's name 
was Hadrian. The dauntless three and twenty were 
brought before Galerius in person ; and when the 
emperor, incensed at an answer of theirs, called upon 

' Lactantius, De Marttbus Ptn,^ 15, 16, 35. 


his qfficiufn to make a note of it, Hadrian stepped forth 
and said, '' Make a note of my name among theirs : I 
too am a Christian." " Are you mad ? " asked Galerius ; 
"do you also wish to throw your life away?" "I am 
not mad, sir," Hadrian replied ; " I was once mad, 
but have come now to a right mind." " Do not talk," 
said Galerius ; " but beg my pardon. Say in the presence 
of all that what you said was a mistake. Your answer 
shall be erased from the minutes of the court." " No," 
said Hadrian ; " from henceforth I will ask pardon of 
God for my evil deeds and for the errors of my life 

Hadrian was thrown into prison with the other 
confessors. He had been married a little more than 
a year to a lady of the name of Natalia. His wife was 
of Christian parentage, and was overjoyed at his con- 
version. She visited him and his fellow Christians in 
the prison, and ministered to their wants, encouraging 
Hadrian to persevere in his confession. He promised 
that he would let her know when his final trial was to 
take place. 

It is said that when the day was fixed, he persuaded 
the gaolers to release him, on the security given by his 
fellow-prisoners that he would return in proper time. 
He went accordingly home ; but his wife was terrified 
at the sight of him, thinking that he must have pur- 
chased freedom by apostasy. She was only reassured 
when he told her that he had come in fulfilment of his 
promise, and that his trial was at hand. 

Galerius took his seat, and ordered the Christians 
to be produced in court, stripped to the waist for tor- 
ture. The others, who had been tortured before, were 
so crippled and lacerated that they could not move ; 
and on the advice of the oflEicials, Galerius gave orders 



that Hadrian should be brought in first. He came, 
carrying with his own hands the *' hobby-horse " on 
which he was to be tortured. Natalia was there to 
keep him true to his profession. '* Do you persist in 
your madness," asked the terrible Galerius, " and wish 
to make a bad departure from this life ? " Hadrian 
answered as before, that his days of madness were over, 
and that he was prepared to pour his life out. " Will 
you not sacrifice, then, nor worship the gods, as I do 
myself, and as every one else does ? " " You are in 
error," Hadrian boldly answered. " Why do you draw 
others into error, destroying both yourself and all this 
people, whom you persuade to worship gods which 
have no life, and to forsake the God who made heaven 
and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein ? " 
"Do you think our gods to be so little," asked the 
emperor, " when they are great ? " "I do not think 
them to be either great or little," was the answer ; 
" they are nothing at all." 

Galerius bade the ofiicials beat him with rods, and 
to keep repeating, as they did so, " Do not blaspheme 
the gods." At this signal, Natalia slipped from the 
court, found her way to the cell of the other confessors, 
and told them that her husband's martyrdom was 
begun, and sought their prayers for his support. Her 
husband, meanwhile, replying to the emperor's com- 
mand, remarked, " If I am tortured thus for blasphem- 
ing those that are no gods, what shall you have to bear 
for blaspheming the living and true God ? " Galerius 
condescended to reply, ''You learned that language 
from those impostors." " Why," answered the man in 
torture, "do you call them impostors, who are our 
guides to eternal life ? Rather it is you who deceive 
people, and bring them into the snares of destruction," 


The beating was made more severe ; and after a 
time Galerius pursued, "Come now, acknowledge the 
gods, and spare yourself and your youth." Hadrian 
was about eight and twenty years of age. ''Why," 
said the emperor, " do you so wantonly destroy your- 
self ? I swear to you by the great gods that I cannot 
look on such a fine young man without pity." '' I am 
sparing myself," said Hadrian; ''I do not wish to 
perish altogether." "Acknowledge the gods, then," 
Galerius urged, " that they may be favourable to you 
and restore you with honour to your former station. 
You are not like those others who were imprisoned 
with you. You are the son of a well-born and honour- 
able man, and though you are young, you deserve 
promotion. Those others are poor creatures, of un- 
healthy peasant origin." But Hadrian would not be 
separated from his new friends. "I dare say," he 
answered, " that you know about my home and family 
and ancestors ; but if you knew the family of those 
holy men, and their wealth, and the home that they are 
looking for, you would throw yourself instantly at their 
feet, and beg them to pray for you ; and, moreover, 
you would break your gods with your own hands." 

Hadrian was turned over, and beaten on the belly. 
After a while, the emperor told the beaters to stop. 
The delicately nurtured body could not bear much more, 
"You see," said the emperor, "how I wish to spare 
you. If you will only call upon the gods with your 
voice" — he meant, without performing any sacrificial 
act — " I will have physicians brought at once to attend 
to your wounds, and you shall be with me to-day in 
my palace." Hadrian replied that he would do so, if 
the gods would promise with their own lips to do what 
Galerius had said that they would do for him. " What," 


said the emperor, " they cannot speak." " Why, then," 
rejoined the Christian, "do you sacrifice to things 
which cannot speak ? " 

He was removed again to the prison ; and there, 
with some, at any rate, of the other confessors, had his 
wrists and ankles broken with a rod of iron. It is said 
that Natalia held his poor hands upon the block while 
it was done. Mortification set in, and Hadrian died in 
his prison. The young widow — so the story runs — 
who was a woman of wealth and of property, was 
forced to flee to Byzantium to escape the attentions of 
an officer of the town who desired to marry her. She 
carried with her, as her chief treasure, the hand of her 
martyred husband, embalmed, and wrapped in a purple 
covering, which she always kept at her bed's head.^ 

The sufferings of the celebrated Saint Euphemia 
are recorded for us in an interesting fashion in an 
oration of Asterius, Bishop of Amasea, who vividly 
describes a series of pictures which adorned the church 
at Chalcedon, erected in her honour upon the very site 
of her martyrdom — the church in which the fourth 
Ecumenical Council was afterwards held. Chalcedon 
was in Bithynia, some fifty miles from Nicomedia. 
As Asterius' oration was delivered before the end of the 
fourth century, and the picture does not seem to have 
been newly painted when he described it, the picture 
may be considered good evidence for the story which it 

The first scene depicted is this. *'The judge sits 
on a lofty throne, looking with a fierce countenance 
upon the virgin. With him there are magistrates, 
attendants, and a number of soldiers. There are also 
two secretaries holding tablet and pencil : one of them, 

^ Acta Sanctorum^ Sept 8. 


lifting his hand from the wax, looks intently at the 
virgin standing at the bar, bending his face towards her 
as if asking her to speak louder, lest he should mis- 
report her and get into trouble for it. The virgin 
stands there in a black dress, with the pallium of a 
philosopher over it. Two soldiers present her to the 
governor, the one in front pulling her, the other push- 
ing her from behind. The virgin's bearing shows a 
mixture of modesty and firmness. She is bending 
forward, with her eyes downcast, as if shrinking from 
the stare of the men, but she is not at all dismayed, 
and has no timidity about the encounter. 

" In the next scene, a couple of executioners are 
already plying their task, stripped naked, except for a 
light tunic. One has seized her head and bent it back- 
wards, so as to place the virgin's cheek conveniently 
for the other to torture her. The other stands over 
her and breaks her teeth. Instruments of torture, the 
mallet and the screw, appear. So vividly has the 
artist's brush depicted the blood, that you think that 
it is streaming from her lips, and turn away with a 

" Once more, the prison ; and once more the pure 
virgin sitting there, in black garments, and all alone. 
Both her hands are stretched towards heaven, appeal- 
ing to God to help her in her need. Over her head, as 
she prays, appears the sign which Christians worship 
and represent — the symbol, I doubt not, of her ap- 
proaching passion. 

" A little later, in another compartment, the painter 
has kindled a mighty fire, with thick red flames issuing 
here and there. In the midst of it he has placed 
Euphemia, stretching her hands towards heaven, but 
with no trace of sadness upon her countenance — 


nothing but joy at passing to the life of disembodied 
bliss." 1 

When Maximin, the successor of Galerius, took up 
his abode at Nicomedia after the death of that emperor, 
and revived for a time the bloody strife with Christianity, 
that city became the headquarters of the expiring perse- 
cution. Maximin seems purposely to have directed his 
attention to the destruction of the theologians of the 
Church. Thither the great scholar, Lucian of Antioch, 
was sent to be examined by the emperor himself. 
Lucian, a native of the same town as the witty satirist 
of that name who ridiculed the Christian martyrs of 
the time of Trajan, and perhaps a member of the same 
family, had spent a lifetime in the work of biblical criti- 
cism. His learned revision of the Septuagint was 
received as the standard text of the Greek Bible by all 
the churches of Syria, Asia Minor, and European 
Greece. Upon his arrival at Nicomedia he was invited 
to make a speech in his own defence before the emperor 
Maximin in person. A part of it is still preserved. 

'' It is no secret," he said, '' that the God whom we 
Christians worship is one God, who was preached to us 
by Christ, and who is breathed into our hearts by the 
Holy Spirit. We are not, as you suppose, the victims 
of some erroneous human persuasion, nor are we, as 
others are, the blind followers of an ancestral tradition 
which has never been submitted to criticism. Our 
authority for what we believe about God is God Him- 
self. Such great and transcendent conceptions could 
never have entered into the thoughts of men, if they 
had not been brought home to us by the power of His 
own Spirit, and revealed by the teaching of His own 
Word and Wisdom. 

^ Asferius, Ortti, xi. ; Ruinart, p. 43i> 


*' I confess that we ourselves were once in error, 
and thought that the images which our own hands had 
made were gods, the creators of heaven and earth ; but 
their claims were refuted by the consecration which 
we ourselves bestowed upon their perishable materials. 
Whatever measure of devotion they received was in 
proportion to the beauty which they derived from the 
artist's hand. But the Almighty God, who was made 
by no hands of ours, but whose handiwork we are, 
pitying our human errors, sent His own Wisdom into 
this world clothed in flesh, to teach us that the God 
who made heaven and earth was not to be sought for 
in the work of men's hands, but in the realm of the 
eternal and the unseen. He gave us also laws for life 
and rules of discipline — that we should avoid luxury, 
welcome poverty, cultivate a meek temper, carefully 
promote peace, love purity of heart, maintain endurance. 
All that you are now doing to us. He foretold to us. 
He said that we should be brought before kings, and 
set at the judgment seat of governors, and slaughtered 
like animals for sacrifice." 

Some years before Lucian was brought to Nico- 
media, a new weapon against Christianity had been 
forged. A little book was composed which professed to 
contain the true and official account of our Lord's trial 
before Pilate. It doubtless showed Him to have been 
guilty of many crimes for which He was justly sen- 
tenced to death. These Acts of Pilate obtained a very 
wide circulation ; and during the last year or so, Maximin 
had ordered that copies should be displayed in public 
places for people to read, and had even commanded 
that all schools should be provided with them, and 
that the school children should learn them by heart, 
and be examined in them, and compose rhetorical 


exercises upon them. To this abominable fiction 
Lucian referred in his speech before Maximin. 

"Immortal as He was by nature/' Lucian said, 
"because He was the Word and Wisdom of God, 
He gave Himself up to die, that He might give us in 
His incarnate life an example of endurance. We, to 
whom He showed Himself alive from the dead after 
three days, were under no false impressions about His 
death. He did not die such a death as those forged 
modern Acts of Pilate assert ; but innocent, pure, and 
spotless, He submitted to death for this purpose and 
this only — ^that He might overcome death by His 

So Lucian bore his testimony, in the face of the 
emperor Maximin himself, as St. Paul bore testimony 
before Nero. But Maximin was not persuaded. Lucian 
was beheaded, but in the privacy of his prison. A few 
days before his death, he wrote a farewell letter to the 
church at Antioch, of which he was a presbyter. He 
told them of many others who were associated in the 
same sufiFering as himself. Among them was Anthimus, 
the Bishop of Nicomedia, whose life had been spared 
during all the previous eight years of terror. " A whole 
choir of martyrs," he wrote, " salute you all at once ; 
and I tell you the good tidings that Pope Anthimus has 
just been perfected by the course of martyrdom." ^ 

If the law was strictly observed round Nicomedia, in 
the neighbouring provinces scruples of that kind seem 
soon to have been cast aside. Shiploads of Christians 
were taken out to sea and sunk. There was a town 
in Phrygia where the entire population had become 
Christian, including the civil and military authorities. 
Whether it was feared that an insurrection would take 

^ Routh, Reliquiae Sacrae, iv. 5 ; cp. Eusebitts, Ifisf, Eccl. viii. 6. 


place there when the moment came for demolishing 
the church, cannot now be told ; but a regiment of 
soldiers was sent to the place, who surrounded it on 
every side, set fire to it, and burned not only the 
church, as the edict ordered, but the whole town, with 
all the men, women, and children that it contained.^ 

It was not wonderful that in such circmnstances 
the Christians themselves occasionally lost their heads 
and behaved rashly and unbecomingly. At Amasea, 
the capital of Pontus, there was a young soldier of the 
name of Theodore, known to the Church by the title of 
Theodore the Tiro, that is, the Recruit. He was of 
humble origin, a native of Syria, and, having only 
lately joined the army, occupied no prominent posi- 
tion in "the legion of the Marmarites," to which he 
belonged. On some occasion Theodore made it plain 
that he was a Christian, and was accordingly brought 
before the governor of the province and the ofl&cer 
in command of the troops. On being asked why he 
would not sacrifice to the gods, he answered, " I know 
nothing of gods. You are wrong in giving the name 
of gods to seducing devils. My God is Christ, the 
only begotten Son of God.** An officer who had a 
reputation for wit interposed and asked him scoffingly 
how God came to have a Son. Theodore replied like 
a well-instructed Christian that the generation of the 
Son of God is not like human generation, and retorted 
upon his questioner by a reference to the worship for 
which Amasea was famous — the worship of the Mother 
of all the gods, which he condemned in no measured 
and, we may add, in no undeserved terms. 

The authorities were not anxious to be hard upon 
Theodore. They gave him time to think things over. 

^ Lactantius, InsHt, Div, v. 11 ; Eusebios, Hisi, EccL viii. 11. 


They did not even place him under arrest. The temple 
of the Mother of the gods "stood in the middle of the 
city, on the bank of the river Iris. Theodore made use 
of his liberty to go that night to the temple and to set 
it on fire. He made no concealment of what he had 
done, but gloried in his destruction of the scene of a 
hideous idolatry. It is said that the authorities even 
then were forbearing enough to promise him not only 
pardon but promotion if he would sacrifice. But 
Theodore answered with words of outrage not only 
against the gods but against the emperors. The 
magistrates tortured him, but amidst his tortures 
Theodore the Recruit kept singing the verse, '* I will 
alway give thanks unto the Lord ; His praise shall ever 
be in my mouth." A short but merry imprisonment 
ended in a death by fire.^ 

The government of the province of Galatia was 
entrusted to a man named Theotecnus, who was him- 
self an apostate from Christianity. He had already 
gained a reputation for skill and firmness in dealing 
with his former co-religionists, and even the know- 
ledge that he was coming to the province caused many 
Christians to take flight. Those who remained pre* 
pared themselves for the worst. 

Soon after his arrival a man named Victor was 
arrested for speaking words that reflected upon the 
crimes attributed in heathen mythology to the gods. 
Every effort was used to make Victor abandon his 
faith. Promises of worldly advantage in case of 
compliance, and dreadful threats of what refusal 
would involve, were employed in turn. Victor 
remained steadfast, and bore the beginning of his 

^ Gregory of Nyssa, Orotic de S. Theodoro Martyre ; AnaUcta BollancL 
ii p. 359 ; Conybeare, Monuments^ p. 220. 


tortures in a way that won the admiration of all 
beholders. But when his trials were almost over, 
and he was on the point of receiving his crown, he 
sent a message to the governor, asking for a short 
space for deliberation. The beating which he was 
undergoing was at once stopped, and the man was 
taken back to his prison. Victor died in the prison 
as the efiFect of what he had gone through, leaving 
it doubtful whether he was to be reckoned with the 
martyrs or with the renegades. 

The chief part in encouraging Victor to remain firm 
was borne by a man called Theodotus, whose history 
forms one of the most curious and interesting records of 
the time. Theodotus kept an eating-house in Ancyra, 
the capital of Galatia ; and one way in which he made 
use of his business to serve the purposes of the Christian 
Church was this : — Theotecnus had given orders that 
every article of food or drink that was sold in the city 
should be defiled by being ofiFered to idols, or by 
contact with something that had been offered. He 
made a special point of treating in this way all bread 
and wine, hoping thus to strike a blow at the Sacrap- 
ment which he knew to be the mainstay of the Church. 
Theodotus found means to sell to Christian customers 
what he had bought from Christian tradespeople, and 
in this way secured that there should always be un- 
polluted elements at hand for the celebration of the 
Christian mysteries. The victualler's shop, says Nilus, 
his biographer, became to the faithful of Ancyra what 
the Ark was in the time of Noah's Flood ; no one 
could be saved except by it. 

One day a curious adventure happened to Theo- 
dotus. He had gone to a place on the banks of the 
river Halys, about forty miles from Ancyra, where 


he fell in with a party of Christians whom he had 
formerly befriended. They made a little picnic in a 
wooded glade, and sent some of their company to the 
village hard by to invite the priest of the place to join 
them. The church of this remote village had escaped 
destruction, and the priest, whose name was Fronto, 
was just coming out of it after the hour of prayer. 
When the repast was ended, Theodotus remarked with 
a smile that the place was a suitable place for bestow- 
ing a martyr's relics, and asked Fronto why he was 
doing nothing. " Ah ! " answered the good man, '' put 
me in the way to get some relics, and then find fault 
with me for doing nothing. First get your relics, I 
say, and then think of building." He spoke in jest ; 
but Theodotus drew his ring from his finger, and, 
giving it to the priest, promised that he would find 
him some relics, and so returned to Ancyra. 

There he found everything in confusion, as if there 
had been an earthquake. Seven Christian virgins, 
some of them of an advanced age, had been seized 
by Theotecnus, who, after being foiled in an outrage- 
ous attempt upon the purity of their lives, decided to 
make an example of them in another way. A yearly 
festival came round, when it was the custom to bathe 
the images of Artemis and Athena in a lake near the 
city. The images were taken in procession in chariots, 
accompanied by an excited crowd. Theotecnus placed 
the seven unfortunate women in chariots, in a stand- 
ing position, with no clothes to cover them, and 
made them go in this procession in front of the idols. 
He himself took part in the frantic ceremony. Upon 
arriving at the lake, Theotecnus argued with his victims, 
but to no purpose. The heathen priestesses drew near 
and offered them garlands and white raiment, if they 


would take part in the bathing of the images. When 
they indignantly refused, the governor had stones hung 
round their necks; they were rowed out into deep 
water and drowned. Soldiers were stationed to guard 
the lake lest the bodies should be recovered by the 

Theodotus meanwhile, who had been brought up 
by one of the seven, had been praying earnestly and 
incessantly for them, that their faith might carry them 
through. In the deep darkness of the next night but 
one, Theodotus, with some companions, was able to 
evade the guards and to get possession of the dead 
bodies, severing the ropes which fastened them to the 
stones by means of a sharp scythe. The next morning, 
however, it was discovered that the bodies had been 
stolen. One of those who had assisted Theodotus in 
the work was imprudent enough to venture into the 
city to gratify his curiosity, and was soon detected. 
On being brought before Theotecnus and threatened 
with tortures and death, he confessed that Theodotus 
had led the party, and what they had done with the 
bodies, which the governor immediately fetched and 

When Theodotus heard this, he bade farewell to 
the friends about him, and betook himself straight to 
the court where the formidable governor was sitting, 
surrounded by the implements of persecution. Theo- 
tecnus made no attempt to terrify him ; he took 
another course. To gain so strong a man was worth 
an eflFort. " Not one of these tortures shall touch 
you," he said, '* if you will be wise and sacrifice. You 
shall have a free pardon, for the crimes which you 
have committed. You shall be a special friend of mine, 
and enjoy the familiarity of the emperors themselves. 


They shall write to you with their own hands, and you 
to them." He went on to offer the priesthood of 
Apollo, with all the influence and patronage which 
belonged to that dignified ofl&ce, if only Theodotus 
would forswear "that Jesus, whom Pilate, once a 
judge like me," he said, "crucified in Judaea." The 
people in court ventured to applaud his speech, and to 
congratulate Theodotus on his good fortune. 

The answer of Theodotus was not such as to 
invite further offers from the apostate. Amidst the 
hubbub which arose in the court, Theodotus was placed 
upon the rack ; Theotecnus himself, it is said, left 
his chair and actually assisted in the torture. All 
the usual horrors were tried. At last, when blazing 
torches were held under him, the martyr smelt the 
burning of his own flesh, and turned his nostrils a 
little on one side. Theotecnus, on the watch for the 
least sign of weakness, was soon beside him. "If 
you had not blasphemed the gods," he said, "you 
would never have suffered thus. I should advise you 
— for you are only a shopkeeper — not to talk any 
more against the emperors, who have power to shed 
your blood." The martyr's reply was suflicient to 
make Theotecnus order the executioners to dash his 
teeth out, as Euphemia's were dashed out. Theodotus 
only answered, " If you should cut my tongue out, and 
all my organs of speech, God can hear a Christian 
who cannot speak." 

He was remanded to prison. The governor 
thought that it would be beneficial to have him led 
thither, just as he was, fresh from the torture, through 
the market-place, that everybody might see what 
Christians had to expect. Theodotus said to the 
people who crowded round him, "It is fitting for 


those who believe in Christ to offer to Him such 
sacrifices as I have offered ; for He first suffered 
thus on behalf of each of us." After five days in 
prison, fresh arguments and fresh tortures were applied 
to him. Theodotus was not insensible to the pain. 
*'0 Lord Jesus Christ, Hope of the hopeless," he 
cried aloud, " hear my prayer and assuage this agony, 
for it is for Thy holy name that I suffer it." He 
received grace to endure ; and at last Theotecnus 
wrote his sentence of release : " Theodotus, a patron 
of the Galilaeans, and an enemy of the gods, who 
will not obey the emperors, and treats me also with 
disrespect, is condemned by my authority to undergo 
the penalty of the sword, and his beheaded body to 
be burned with fire." He was executed, praying to 
God that the violence of the enemy might come to 
an end in him, and that peace might be restored to 
the Church. 

The sequel of the story is not the least interesting 
part of it. The body of Theodotus lay unconsumed 
beneath a heap of wood and straw, under a guard 
of soldiers, when Fronto, the presbyter from the 
village on the Halys, appeared upon the spot, with 
an ass laden with old wine. It was evening, and 
the soldiers were preparing their supper, and in 
friendly terms invited the good old man to join 
them. He did so, and gave them some of his wine 
to drink. Their tongues were loose, and he soon 
found out what their business at that moment was. 
More and more of Fronto's wine went down their 
throats ; and when they fell into a drunken slumber, 
the wine skin which the ass bore was exchanged for 
the body of the martyr. Theodotus' ring was restored 
to his finger. ''Come now, martyr," said the old 


man, ''fulfil the promise that you made me," and 
turning the ass's head towards home he drove her 
off to the spot which Theodotus had thought to be a 
good place for a martyr's body to be buried in.^ 

^ Ruinart, p. 295 ; Franchi de' Cftvalieri in StutU e TssH^ vi. 



How literally Christians were reduced to the position 
of outlaws by the first persecuting edict of Diocletian 
is shown by the story of Julitta, as told by the great 
St. Basil. 

Julitta was a wealthy widow of Caesarea in 
Cappadocia, of which St. Basil was afterwards bishop. 
An unscrupulous fellow-citizen had possessed himself 
little by little of a great part of her property, and 
threatened to swallow up what was left. Julitta at 
length determined to bring a lawsuit against him. 
The day of the trial came ; the suit was called by 
the herald; the widow's counsel began to open the 
case, and to point out the wrongs which she had 
suffered at the hands of the defendant. Suddenly 
the defendant interrupted the proceedings, and main- 
tained that there was no case to come before the 
court. He pointed out that those who would not 
worship the gods and forswear Christ were not in 
a position to claim legal redress. The judge acknow- 
ledged that the plea thus advanced was true ; he could 
do no otherwise. Incense was brought, with fire, and 
Julitta was asked whether she would qualify by ofiFering 
it. Though taken aback by a turn which, in her 
ignorance, she had not expected, Julitta refused to 
save her worldly goods by casting away her soul. 
To every suggestion of a perhaps not unfriendly 

a4« Q 


magistrate she only replied that she was a servant 
of Christ. She was condemned to be burned, and 
went to the stake with alacrity, exhorting any Christian 
women who were near her to be as brave as the 
men. "Eve," she said — or St. Basil puts the words 
into her mouth — *' was not only made flesh of Adam's 
flesh, but bone also of his bone." It was the courage 
of women like Julitta which in the end broke the 
forces of the persecuting Roman Empire, and of the 
powers of evil which wielded them ; and St. Basil 
might well cry that the arch-enemy who began by 
boasting that all the world was his, and that "his 
hand would find as a nest the riches of the people 
and gather them like eggs that are left, so that not 
a wing should move,"^ was reduced to impotence 
by a widow's steadfastness.* 

There was no part of the empire where Christianity 
had gained a greater hold than in the province of Cap- 
padocia and the regions adjoining it. The independent 
kingdom of Armenia, close at hand, was already a 
Christian kingdom, under a Christian king ; and the 
Armenian subjects of the Roman emperors were already 
beginning that vast succession of obscure martyrdoms, 
which, to the shame of Christian Europe, continues to 
this day. Partly, perhaps, in consequence of its Chris- 
tianity, and partly for other reasons, that region was in 
a state of ferment and disturbance at the time when the 
persecution of Diocletian began ; and the emperor 
thought it advisable to place the government of Cap- 
padocia and the border in the hands of two special 
commissioners, named Lysias and Agricola. 

In levying recruits for the army, the agents of 
Lysias determined to press into the service a young 

^ Isaiah x. 14. ' Basil, UTom. v. 


man named Hiero, who owned and cultivated a small 
farm near Tyana. Hiero was at work in the fields with 
a party of labourers, when he saw the recruiting party 
coming. Detesting the thought of military service, 
with all its dangers for a Christian, the rash man deter- 
mined to resist. Drawing the handle out of a mattock, 
he laid it lustily about the intruders, until they thought 
it safer to retire. Then, with his men, he took refuge 
in a cave, and prepared for a siege. The case, however, 
was hopeless from the first ; and the brother of Hiero, 
who came with a message from the chief magistrate of 
the neighbouring town, persuaded him to surrender 
before committing himself further. 

Paying a farewell visit to his blind mother, Hiero 
set out for the town of Melitene, where Lysias was. 
There he suddenly found himself in prison with one 
and thirty others, all of whom were Christians. They 
made a compact together that none of them would 
sacrifice if called upon to do so. On his appearing before 
Lysias, however, next morning, the commissioner asked 
Hiero nothing of the kind, but only whether it was he 
who had resisted the recruiting agents. He confessed 
what he had done. The commissioner, wishing to make 
an example of him, ordered his hand to be cut ofiF at the 
wrist. The others were whipped, and all were thrust 
into prison. One of the party, by bribing a dishonest 
warder, got his name erased from the indictment, and 
escaped in the night ; but the rest remained for trial. 
Four days later, they, or a certain number of them, 
were examined by Lysias, and were condemned, after 
being beaten with rods, to have their heads cut off. A 
rich Christian negotiated with Lysias for the head of 
Hiero ; and according to Hiero's own desire the hand 
which had been first severed, and which had been 


preserved by Christian friends, was taken as his legacy 
to the blind mother.^ 

The position of head registrary in the court of Lysias 
was held that year by a Christian veteran, who bore 
the Greek name of Eustratius, but was known to his 
Armenian friends by the native name of Cyrisices. His 
mind was tormented by the scenes which he was com- 
pelled to witness. It was his duty one day to cite into 
court a presbyter named Auxentius, who had already 
made a good confession before Lysias. As he did so, 
he declared his admiration for the presbyter, and avowed 
himself also to be a Christian, and a Christian from 
infancy. For seven and twenty years he had been in 
the service, and in the same department of the service, 
as a military secretary. His avowal soon brought him 
to torture by fire, but Eustratius uttered not a sound, 
and only smiled at the pain. " Would you like me to 
think of some other little pleasure for you ? " asked the 
irritated magistrate. Eustratius welcomed the proposal. 
" Then bring some strong brine, mixed with vinegar," 
said Lysias ; '' scrape his burns with a bit of broken 
pottery, and pour plenty of the brine over the place, 
until he has had enough of these attentions." Eustratius 
bore it quietly. '^ It is theatrical ostentation," said Lysias, 
who was a learned man and perhaps knew the views of 
Marcus Aurelius about Christian martyrdom ; *' let him 
now tell us whether he will come to the altar and wor- 
ship the gods." Eustratius was not minded to do so. 
'^ Perhaps," said Lysias, " your bodily exhaustion has 
affected your mind, and made you delirious. Put away 
your groundless hopes, and accept the salvation which 
I offer you." But Eustratius would have none of it. 

His example was contagious. One of his under- 

^ Symeon Metaphrastes (Migne), vol. iii. p. 109. 


lings, called Eugenius, now stood out and said with a 
loud voice, " I too am a Christian, and I curse your 
religion, and am determined to resist your wishes and 
the command of the emperors, as my superior Eustra- 
tius has done." ** It is difficult to punish these people," 
exclaimed the commissioner. '* It wants a great deal 
of time and leisure to examine them, and I have enough 
to do in looking after affairs of state. Put these two 
men in irons, along with the others whom I have to 


When darkness fell, the magistrate started on a night 
journey towards the city of Nicopolis. He gave orders 
that the Christian prisoners should follow his train. 
Nails were placed in their shoes, to make the march more 
painful. The second day they came to a place, Arauraca, 
which happened to be the native place both of Eustratius 
and of Eugenius ; but although people flocked to gaze 
at the great man and at his afflicted followers, none of 
the kinsfolk or friends of Eustratius dared to come near 
him. One man of the district, however, named Mar- 
darius, took the opportunity to proclaim himself a 
Christian, and to claim the honour of being added to 
the number of the prisoners. Auxentius the presbyter, 
who also belonged to Arauraca, was undergoing an 
examination at the moment. " Do not give me any 
more trouble, Auxentius," said Lysias ; " pay yourself 
the compliment of thinking yourself worthy to be saved. 
Let us hear now whether you have given up this silly 
and dangerous obstinacy, and will enter into favour 
with the gods again." " I will tell you in very few 
words," answered the priest ; " I swear to you by the 
justice above us which takes account of all things, that 
my mind is not to be changed. I know and worship 
one God and one only." Lysias condemned him to be 


beheaded. " Now," he said, " bring the one who just 
attached himself to the others. We will soon give him 
the honour which he courts/' While they were getting 
Mardarius ready, the man appealed to Eustratius: 
" Pray for me, Cyrisices ; and tell me what to answer 
this wolf of a man. I am no scholar, and he will laugh 
at me." " Say nothing, brother," replied Eustratius, 
" except, ' I am a Christian ; ' *l am a servant of 
Christ' " Mardarius did as he was told. To all ques- 
tions his answer was the same. The *' wolf " of a 
magistrate had him tied up head downwards, by a rope 
passed through the tendons of his heels, and hot irons 
put to him. After a time, Mardarius expired, with 
thanksgiving upon his lips, and Eugenius followed 
closely after him. 

The troubles of Lysias were not yet over for the 
day. He went out into the field near the town to hold 
a review of the troops. He was particularly struck by 
the looks of a tall, handsome soldier called Orestes. 
He was paying the man a compliment, when accident- 
ally it came out that Orestes was a Christian. His belt 
was immediately taken away, and he was expelled from 
the army and placed under arrest. When Nicopolis 
was reached, there was quite a Christian demonstration 
amongst the troops who were stationed there. The 
feeling was so strong that Lysias did not dare to try 
his Christian prisoners at Nicopolis, but despatched 
Eustratius and Orestes under escort to his brother- 
commissioner Agricola at Sebastia. There Orestes was 
soon done away with. Agricola seems to have made 
an attempt to save Eustratius from his fate by suggest- 
ing that he should make a pretence in public of 
worshipping the gods, and seek forgiveness from his 
own God afterwards. Eustratius naturally rejected the 


base suggestion with contempt, and died like a good 
Christian in the fire. He was fortified, it is said, for 
his last conflict by receiving the Holy Communion 
in his prison from the hands of the good Bishop of 
Sebastia, St. Blaise, who had not yet sufiFered the 
martyrdom which he afterwards endured.^ 

It became a kind of fashion among the martyrs of 
that region to make a dying testament disposing of 
their property and of their relics, and the wills which 
Hiero put in the hands of Antonius, and Eustratius in 
those of St. Blaise, are among the most trustworthy 
parts of their history. The most elaborate testament 
of this kind was that of forty famous soldiers who died 
a year or two later at Sebastia while Agricola was still 
in office. 

** Meletius and Aetius and Eutychius," so runs this 
curious document, " the prisoners of Christ, to the holy 
bishops and priests, deacons and confessors, in every 
city, and to all others who belong to the Church, 
greeting in Christ. 

" When we by the grace of God and the common 
prayers of all shall finish the strife that is set before us, 
and come to the rewards of the high calling, we desire 
that then this will of ours may be respected, to wit, 
that our relics be conveyed to our father the presbyter 
Proidus, and our brethren Crispin and Gordius, and 
the zealous laity who are with them, to Cyril and 
Mark and Sapricius the son of Ammonius, in order 
that our relics may be deposited near the city of Zela, 
at the spot called Sarin. For although we all come 
from different localities, we have chosen one and the 
same resting-place. Since we have set before ourselves 
one common strife for the prize, we have agreed to 

^ Ssrmeon Metaphrastes (Migne), vol. iii p. 468. 


make also one common resting-place in the aforesaid 
spot. These things have seemed good to the Holy 
Ghost and have pleased us. Therefore we which are 
with Aetius and Eutychius and the rest of our brethren 
in Christ beseech our honoured parents and brethren 
to have no grief or distress, but to respect the decision 
of our brotherly fellowship, and to consent heartily to 
our wishes, in order that you may receive from our 
common Father the great recompense of obedience 
and of sharing in our sufferings. Moreover we intreat 
all men that no one will secure for himself any single 
fragment of our relics gathered out of the furnace, but 
to give them up to the persons aforenamed with a view 
to their being gathered together in the same place, in 
order that by such a proof of earnest determination and 
of disinterested goodwill he may receive the gain of 
a share in our sufferings themselves ; even as Mary, 
abiding steadfastly by the tomb of Christ, saw the Lord 
before the rest and was the first to obtain the grace of 
joy and blessing. If, on the other hand, any one shall go 
counter to our wish, let him have no part in the sacred 
gain, but incur the penalty of the entire disobedience, 
for depriving us of our right by his petty selfwill, by 
compelling us as far as lay in his power to be sundered 
from one another, when our holy Saviour by His special 
grace and providence has united us together in faith. 

"And if the boy Eunoicus by the favour of the 
gracious God shall be brought to the same end of the 
strife, he has requested to have the same dwelling-place 
with us. But if he shall be preserved unhurt by the 
grace of God and should be further proved in the 
world, we charge him to look liberally to our chapel, 
and we beseech him to keep the commandments of 
Christ, that in the great day of resurrection he may 


obtain part in our felicity, because while he was in the 
world he endured the same afflictions with us. For 
goodwill to a brother looks to the righteousness of 
God, but disregard for kith and kin tramples upon 
God's commandment ; for it is written, ' He that 
loveth unrighteousness hateth his own soul.' 

"Therefore I beseech you, brother Crispin and 
brother Gordius, and I charge you, to keep aloof from 
all worldly luxury and error. For the glory of the 
world is deceitful and has no stay in it ; it blooms for 
a little while, and then fades away like the grass, 
coming to an end even before it begins. Desire rather 
to have recourse to the gracious God, who gives riches 
that never fail to those who flee to Him, and bestows 
the prize of eternal life upon those who believe in 
Him. This time is an excellent time for those who 
desire to be saved ; it fixes generously the date for 
repentance, and takes away pretence from the practice 
of life, allowing nothing to be put ofiF to the future, 
because the change may come at any moment. If 
thou knowest this, look to that which is profitable, and 
show in thy conversation the sincerity of thy religion, 
that if thou art overtaken while so doing, thou mayest 
wipe out the handwriting of former sins, for He saith, 
'Wherein I find thee, in that will I also judge thee.' 
Endeavour ye therefore to be found blameless in the 
commandments of Christ, that ye may escape the 
eternal fire that never sleepeth. For that the time is 
short, the divine voice hath long ago told us loudly. 
Therefore honour charity above all things, for charity 
alone satisfies all requirements, by the law of brotherly 
love obeying God. For through the brother that is 
seen God who is not seen is honoured ; and though the 
word speaks only of brothers in the natural sense, it 


means all those who love Christ. For our holy Saviour 
and God said that those were brethren who, without 
being connected by birth, were bound together by 
uprightness in regard to the faith, fulfilling the will 
of our Father which is in heaven. 

" We greet the honoured presbyter Philip, and Pro- 
clianus, and Diogenes, together with the holy church. 
We greet the honoured Procliantis at Phydela, and 
those that are his, with the holy church. We greet 
Maximus, with the church ; Magnus, with the church. 
We greet Domnus, with his ; lies, our father, and 
Valens, with the church. I, Meletius, also greet my 
kinsmen, Lutanius, Crispus, and Gordius, with theirs; 
Elpidius, with his ; Hyperecbius, with his. We greet 
also those at Sarin, the presbyter, with his ; the deacons, 
with theirs ; Maximus, with his ; Hesychius, with his ; 
Cyriac, with his. We greet all those at Chaduthi by 
name. We greet also all those at Charisphona by name. 
I also, Aetius, greet my kinsfolk, Mark and Aquilina, 
and the presbyter Claudius, and my brothers, Mark, 
Trypho, Gordius, and Crispus, and my sisters, and my 
wife Domna, with my little child. I also, Eutychius, 
greet those at Ximara, my mother Julia, and my brothers, 
Cyril, Rufus, and Riglus, and Cyrilla, and my newly 
married wife Basilia, and the deacons Claudius, Rufinus,* 
and Proclus. We greet also the servants of God, 
Sapricius the son of Ammonius, and Genesius, and 
Sosanna with theirs. So, honoured friends, we all greet 
you all, forty brethren and fellow-prisoners — Meletius, 
Aetius, Eutychius, Cyrion, Candidus, Angias, Gaius, 
Chudion, Heraclius, John, Theophilus, Sisinius, Smarag- 
dus, Philoctemon, Gorgonius, Cyril, Severian,Theodulus, 
Nicallus, Flavins, Xanthius, Valerius, Hesychius, Domi- 
tian, Domnus, Helian, Leontius, otherwise called Theo- 


ctistus, Eunoicus, Valens, Acacius, Alexander, Bicratius, 
also called Vivian, Priscus, Sacerdon, Ecdicius, Athana- 
sius, Lysimachus, Claudius, lies, and Melito. We then, 
the forty prisoners of the Lord Jesus Christ, have sub- 
scribed with our hand by one of our number, Meletius, 
and have confirmed all that is above written, and it has 
pleased us all. We pray with our souls, and with the 
Divine Spirit, that we may all obtain the eternal good 
things of God and His kingdom, now and for ever and 
ever. Amen." ^ 

The story of these forty, as it was known to St. 
Basil some seventy years later, told how, after many 
other sufferings and trials, the general in command in 
Cappadocia made them spend one cold winter's night, 
when a keen north wind was blowing, with little or no 
clothing, on the ice-bound pool round which the city 
of Sebastia was built. Not far off from the spbt where 
they were posted was the public bath, with its comfort- 
able shelter and abundance of warm water. Towards 
morning one of the inseparable forty could bear it no 
longer. He crept to the cheerful warmth, but it was 
as much as his strength permitted. Upon reaching 
the baths he died. His place among the forty, how- 
ever, was not left empty. As soon as it was discovered 
that one out of the band was missing, another Christian 
volunteered for his crown, and won it. Death was at 
last hastened by the breaking of their legs. The mother 
of one of them, said to have been Melito, whose name 
stands last among the signatures to the will, was present, 
and seeing that her son's body, which still breathed, was 
not put on the cart which conveyed the others away, 
took it up in her own arms, and carried it to the heap 
in which his comrades were laid. Their wish to be 

* Von Gebhardt, p. i66 ; Knopf, p. 107. 


undivided was so far accomplished ; but it was not long 
before the popular craving for relics overcame the 
deference due to their request, and fragments of the 
bodies, though none knew to which of the forty they 
belonged, found their way to many churches far from 
the chosen Sarin.^ 

That "wolf" Lysias, under whom Hiero and Eu- 
stratius suffered in Cappadocia, is not improbably the 
same person as the Lysias who, in the neighboiu*ing 
province of Cilicia, gave judgment upon Claudius, 
Asterius, and Neon, and upon two female fellow 
Christians of theirs. 

"Lysias, the president of the province of Cilicia, 
sitting upon the judgment-seat in the city of Aegae, 
said, 'Let the Christians who have been delivered by 
the officials to the magistrates of this city be presented 
for my judgment.' The warder Euthalius said, 'Accord- 
ing to your commandment, my lord, the magistrates of 
this city present the Christians whom they have been 
able to get hold of. They consist of three boys, brothers, 
and two women with a baby. One of them is now 
before your worship. What, are your excellency's 
commands with regard to him ? ' " 

There was no need to find out whether the young 
man was a Christian ; that was already ascertained by 
the magistrates of the city. "What is your name?" 
asked Lysias. " Claudius." " Do not throw away your 
young life by mad folly. Come this moment and sacri- 
fice to the gods, according to the commandment of our 
lord the Augustus, and so escape the horrors prepared 
for you." " My God," replied Claudius, " does not 
require such sacrifices, but works of mercy and upright 
lives. But your gods are unclean devils, and that is 

^ Basil, Horn, xix. ; cp. von Gebhardt, p. 171. 


why they are pleased with sacrifices of this kind, de- 
stroying for ever the souls of those who worship them. 
You will never persuade me to worship them/' Lysias 
ordered him to be got ready for the rods. While this 
was being done, he told him that he had instructions 
from the emperors to oflFer rewards and promotions to 
Christians who consented to sacrifice. "Their rewards," 
answered the young man, " are temporal ; but to confess 
Christ is everlasting salvation." He was placed on the 
hobby-horse and flame applied to his feet. A bit of 
flesh from his foot was cut off and shown to him. 
Claudius only answered, "Fire and tortures cannot 
hurt those who fear God. It only helps them to ever- 
lasting salvation, because they suffer these things for 
Christ's sake." The hooked talons tore his sides. 
Other tortures followed in succession. They only 
made him assert more confidently that torture was 
the way to salvation, and at last he was sent to prison, 
and his brother Asterius was called in. 

After the usual preliminaries Lysias ordered him 
to the hobby-horse, saying, "Torture his sides, and as 
you do so say to him, ' Even now obey and sacrifice.' " 
Asterius replied, " I am the brother of the one who 
answered you just now. He and I are of one mind, 
and make the same confession. Do what you can. 
You have my body in your power, but not my soul." 
Fresh tortures were tried. " Fool ! madman ! " cried 
the poor tortured boy, ''why do you torment me? 
Do you give no heed to what the Lord will make you 
pay for this ? " After still further measures had been 
taken, "Blind," he cried, "blind altogether! I only 
ask of you to leave no part of my body untortured." 

The third boy. Neon, came into court. " My son," 
said Lysias, " come and sacrifice to the gods, and escape 


torture." " If your gods have any power/' answered 
the boy, '' let them defend themselves from those who 
deny them, without wanting you to defend them. But 
if you are as bad as they are, I am much better than 
your gods and than you. I will not obey you. My 
God is the true God, who made heaven and earth." 
" Hit him about the neck," said the governor ; " and 
as you do it say, ' Do not blaspheme the gods.' " " Is 
it blasphemy," asked the boy, '* to tell the truth ? " His 
feet were stretched upon the horse ; hot coals were 
laid upon him ; his back was lashed with thongs. 
" When it was done," say the Acts, " Neon said, 
'What I know to be for my good and profitable for 
my soul, that I will do. I cannot change my mind.' " 

Lysias withdrew to the magistrate's private apart- 
ment, and drew the curtain. Then he came out and 
read his sentence from the tablet : " Let the brothers 
Claudius, Asterius, Neon, who are Christians, who 
blaspheme the gods, and refuse to sacrifice, be crucified 
outside the gate, and let their bodies be left to be torn 
to pieces by the birds." 

The two women remained to be dealt with. 
Domnina was the first to be presented. " You see, my 
good woman," said Lysias, *' the tortures and the fire 
prepared for you. If you wish to escape them, come 
and sacrifice to the gods." " I do not wish," Domnina 
answered, '' to fall into eternal fire and into everlasting 
torments ; and therefore I worship God, and His Christ, 
who made heaven and earth and all things that are 
therein. Your gods are stone and wood, the work of 
men's hands." Lysias ordered her to be stripped naked, 
and laid out flat, and beaten all over. The very 
order was enough to kill her. "By your eminence," 
exclaimed the executioner, " Domnina has died already ! " 


'* Throw her body into a deep place in the river/' said 

Then came Theonilla. To her the same invitation 
was made, to which she replied in almost the same 
words as Domnina. *' Slap her face/' said the governor ; 
" throw her down on the ground ; tie her feet together, 
and torture her well." When this was done, Theonilla 
indignantly exclaimed, " Whether you think it good to 
torture a gentlewoman and a stranger like this, you 
know best. God sees what you do." Lysias ordered 
them to hang her up by the hair and to slap her in the 
face. " Is it not enough," Theonilla burst out, *' that 
you have stripped me naked? I am not the only 
one that you have covered with shame, but your 
own mother and wife also through me, for all women 
are of the same nature." Lysias asked her whether 
she were wife or widow. "It is three and twenty 
years," answered Theonilla, " since I was left a widow. 
I have remained a widow for my God's sake, fasting 
and watching in prayers ever since I forsook the 
unclean idols and knew my God." The answer of 
Lysias to this pathetic speech was to bid the tormentors 
shave her head with a razor to see if anything would 
make her ashamed, to put a girdle of wild briers about 
her, to tie her to four stakes, and to beat her all over 
the body. The last device was to put burning charcoal 
under or over her, and to let her die of the fumes. 
But before the charcoal was brought, Theonilla, like 
Domnina, was mercifully released. " Sir," reported the 
warder and the executioner, "she is no longer alive." 
" Get a sack," said the governor, " and put her body in 
it ; tie it tight, and let it be thrown into the sea." ^ 

What became of the little babe which was with these 

' Ruinart, p. 233 ; Surius, August 23. 


martyrs we are not told. But the fate of another 
innocent child has gained for him and for ;his mother 
— ^another Julitta — a wider celebrity than Theonilla's. 
Julitta, like Theonilla, was a stranger to the province of 
Cilicia in which she suffered. Her home was Iconium ; 
but when the persecution broke out there, she started, 
with two maid-servants and her little son of three years 
old, named Cyric or Cyriac, in search of a place where 
either the Christians were less molested or she herself 
would be less well known than at Iconium. Seleucia, 
to which she first went, was even more disturbed than 
the home which she had left, and she passed on to the 
great city of Tarsus, the birthplace of St. Paul and the 
capital of Cilicia. 

There she soon found herself before the judgment- 
seat of the governor. She confessed herself a Christian 
without hesitation, and told the governor what Christians 
thought of the worship of idols. Her babe was in her 
arms. The governor bade his attendants to bring him 
the pretty child, and to lay Julitta down and flog her. 
They did so. The frightened child naturally struggled to 
get back to his mother. When the governor attempted 
to set him upon his knee, the little lad, who heard his 
mother saying again and again under the blows, '' I am 
a Christian," literally resisted tooth and nail, and catch- 
ing up his mother's cry, called out, '' I am a Christian ; 
I am a Christian." As the child kicked in the governor's 
embrace, he seized the foot with his hand. The child 
fell over the edge of the tribunal and was killed on 
the spot. Julitta saw what happened, and cried out 
from her place of torture, " I thank Thee, O Lord, 
that Thou hast suffered my child to be perfected 
before me, and to receive the crown that fadeth not 
away." After this, various tortures were employed 


upon her, and she was asked again to have pity upon 
herself and sacrifice ; but Julitta answered that she 
would not sacrifice to devils, that she worshipped 
Christ, the only begotten Son of God, and that she 
was hastening to be with her child again. Her head 
was at last cut o£F. Her little son has given his name 
to one of the most famous of French schools, and her 
own name is borne by at least one parish far away in 

Julian, a young martyr who suffered, like Claudius 
and his brothers, at Aegae in Cilicia, had a remarkable 
history. For a whole year he was dragged about from 
place to place in the train of the governor of the province 
— then a man called Marcian — and examined with tor- 
tures at frequent intervals. His steps were followed 
from city to city by his devoted mother Asclepiodora, 
who carried with her the linen and the spices with 
which she hoped to be allowed to swathe his body after 
death. One day Marcian said to him suddenly in the 
middle of an examination, '* Julian, have you a mother ? " 
Probably it was his intention to induce the mother to 
work upon her son's feelings and make him abjure. 
Julian feared that his mother might be seized and 
tortured. It has often been maintained by Christian 
people that it is lawful to tell a lie in order to save 
another's life. Julian boldly answered, "No." After 
he had been removed from the court, Marcian inquired 
what the officials in attendance had to say upon the 
point. Some of the citizens who were present informed 
him that Julian's mother was alive. The young man 
was recalled. "Why did you tell me a lie," asked 
Marcian, " and say that you had no mother ? " " It is 
lawful for me," he answered, " to tell a lie on behalf of 

^ AnaUcta BQliandiana^ i. p. 192 ; Ruinart, p. 419. 



my own mother, who has borne such fatigues for me." 
Marcian said that the ofiBcials should arrange for her to 
be summoned. <'My mother will come/' said Julian, 
<< and," he added, ** she will not spare me." The end of 
the story, as told by St. Chrysostom, was that the judge, 
casting about for a mode of death which should cause 
horror by its novelty, ordered Julian to be tied up in a 
sack with a number of serpents and scorpions, and 
thrown into the sea. Eusebius tells us of another 
martyr of the same period, named Ulpian, who was 
drowned at Tyre wrapped up in a raw hide with a dog 
and an asp.^ 

^ AnaUcta Bo/landiana, vol. xv. p. 73 ; Ac/a Sanctorum^ March, vol. ii. 
p. 421. 



The province of Cilicia was the scene of the trials of 
three men, whose sufferings, and whose words in the 
course of suffering, are recorded for us with more 
fulness of detail than those of any other martyrs of the 
period. The president of the province at the time was 
Flavins Gains Numerianus Maximus, — the last being the 
name by which he was usually called. 

Tarachus, Probus, and Andronicus had first been 
brought before Maximus at the city of Pompeiopolis, 
but apparently he had not been able then to go into the 
case, and they were presented again to him at Tarsus by 
the centurion whose business it was. The following 
dialogue took place between Maximus and Tarachus : — 

<' What is your name ? You shall answer first, as 
being the senior in rank and appearance and age«" <' I 
am a Christian." '' Stop that impious language, and say 
what your name is." " I am a Christian." ** Hit him 
on the mouth, and say to him, ' Do not give crooked 
answers.'" "I tell you the name that I bear in my 
very self; but if you ask my name in general use, 
my parents gave me the name of Tarachus. In the 
army I was called Victor." '* What is your station in 
life ? " ''I am a soldier, of a Roman family, born at 
Claudiopolis in Isauria ; but because I am a Christian, 
I determined lately to retire." "You mean that you 
were not allowed to remain in the army ; you were too 



impious. Who gave you leave to retire ? " "I begged 
Fulvio, the head centurion, to let me go, and he did so." 
" I see your hair is grey ; I should be glad to do my 
best for you in the way of promotion, and to make you 
.a friend of the emperors, if you will obey me and come 
near and sacrifice to the gods. The emperors them- 
selves constantly do so on behalf of the whole world." 
" The emperors themselves are grievously mistaken ; 
Satan has imposed upon them." *' Strike him on both 
sides of his face for saying that the emperors are 
mistaken." ** I said, and I say again, that they are but 
men, and they are deceived." '* Drop your would-be 
sagacity, and sacrifice, I say, to the gods of your 
fathers." " I serve the God of my fathers, not with the 
blood of sacrifice, but with a pure heart. God has no 
need of such sacrifices as those." " I respect your time 
of life, and have compassion for your advancing years ; 
therefore I advise you to put away all madness, and to 
pay honour to the emperors, and to show respect for 
me. Be led by me and reverence the law of our 
fathers." *' I will not depart from the law of my 
fathers." " Come near then and sacrifice." " I cannot 
commit ungodliness ; I said, I honour the law of my 
fathers." " Is there any other law besides this, bad 
man ? " " Yes, there is one, which you transgress in 
worshipping stocks and stones, the devices of men." 
" Hit him across the neck, and say to him, ' Do not 
play the fool.' " " I shall never depart from this folly, 
which is my salvation." " I will cure you of this folly, 
and make a sensible man of you." " Do what you 
please ; my body is in your power." " Have off his 
tunic, and take rods to him." " Now you have made 
me a more sensible man indeed ; with your stripes you 
have strengthened me to trust yet more firmly in the 


name of God and His Christ." " Unholy, thrice accursed 
man ! do you serve two gods ? You confess it yourself, 
and yet you deny the gods." " I serve the God who is 
God indeed." *'And yet you said that Christ also is 
a God." ''That is so. Christ is the Son of the living 
God, the hope of Christians, by whom we are saved 
even though we suffer." " Stop this idle talk, and come 
and sacrifice to the gods." '' It is no idle talk, but the 
truth. I am now sixty years old, and I was always 
brought up to speak the truth and never to depart from 
it." Demetrius the centurion here joined in : *' Spare 
yourself, man ; listen to what I say, and sacrifice." 
'* Go away," answered Tarachus ; " keep your advice 
for yourself, minister of Satan." Maximus said, *' Let 
this man be put in heavier irons and taken to prison. 
Bring the next in seniority." 

Probus was presented. " Put away all foolish 
language," said Maximus, ''and tell me what you are 
called." " My first and best name is a Christian ; my 
second, by which men call me, is Probus." " Of what 
station in life ? " " My father was a Thracian, but I 
was bom at Sida in Pamphylia. I am a civilian, but 
a Christian." "Little good will you get from that 
name. Follow my advice, and sacrifice to the gods, 
that you may receive honour from the emperors, and 
be a friend of mine." " I do not want the honour of 
the emperors, nor am I anxious for your good offices. 
I had a considerable property, but I gave it up, to serve 
the living God through Christ." " Take off his cloak ; 
gird him up and put him at the stretch. Beat him 
with thongs of raw hide." The compassionate cen- 
turion Demetrius again spoke : " Spare yourself, man ; 
you see your blood running to the ground." " My body 
is at your disposal," answered Probus; "but your 


punishments to me are an anointing with sweet oint- 
ments." After a time, Maximus began again his attempts 
at persuasion. "Will you not have done with this 
madness now ? do you persist in it, unhappy man ? " 
** I am not mad. I am wiser than you ; I do not 
serve devils." "Turn him over and beat him on the 
belly." "Lord, help Thy servant." "As you beat 
him, say, ' Christian man, where is your helper ? ' " 
"He has helped me, and He helps me still. I care so 
little for your punishments that I will not obey you." 
" Think of your body, unhappy wretch. All the floor 
is covered with the blood from it." " Let me tell you 
this : the more my body suffers for Christ's sake, the 
better it is for the health of my soul." " Put him in 
irons, and stretch him to the fourth hole. Let him 
have no attention paid to him. Bring the other to the 
middle of the judgment-seat." 

Andronicus was placed there. "What is your 
name ? " " I am a Christian. That is what you want 
to know. There ; I have told you that I am a Chris- 
tian." "Those before you got no benefit from that 
name. I ask you a short question ; give me a short 
answer, — your name ? " " If you ask the common 
name that I bear among men, I am called Andro- 
nicus." " What is your origin ? " "I am of good 
birth. My parents occupy the highest position at 
Ephesus." " Get rid of all stupid fancies, and be 
willing to take my advice. I speak to you like a 
father. Those before you chose to play the fool, and 
they did themselves no good by it. But you, now, be 
loyal to the emperors, and sacrifice to the gods of our 
fathers, and you shall find the benefit of it." "You 
are right to call them the gods of your fathers. Your 
father is Satan. You are his children, and you are 


devils like him. You do his works." "Your youth 
makes you rash. It will get yi>u into worse trouble." 
'< You may think me young in years, but in soul I am 
of full age for anything." *' Stop that talkative tongue, 
and sacrifice to tiie gods, that you may be spared ill 
usage." ** Do you think me so senseless as to do worse 
than those before me, out of whom you got nothing ? 
I am readier than you are." " Take off his clothes ; 
gird him, and hang him up." Demetrius the centurion 
spoke : '* Before your body is marred, take my advice, 
my poor fellow." *' It is better for my body to be 
marred than my soul. Do what you please." Maxi- 
mus said, '' Follow my advice and sacrifice ; if I touch 
you I shall cripple you." " I never have sacrificed, 
not even as a child, and I will not sacrifice now, — 
certainly not to the devils to whom you compel me 
to do it." " Get to work upon him." An officer 
named Athanasius who was there said, ''Obey the 
governor. I am old enough to be your father. I give 
you good counsel." "Go away. Give good advice to 
yourself, because at your years you are so void of 
understanding as to persuade me to worship stones 
and devils." Maximus said, "The punishments have 
not yet touched you, unhappy man, because I wish 
you to have compassion upon yourself, and stpp this 
folly, which does you no good." " This folly of ours is 
necessary for those who have hopes in Christ. 'Wisdom' 
endures for a time and procures eternal death for those 
who have it." " Who taught you this folly ? " " The 
word of salvation, by which we live and shall live ; we 
have a God in heaven, who is our hope of resurrection." 
" Part with this folly of yours before I have you crippled 
with long tortures." '*My body is at your mercy. 
You have the power: do what you please." "Slash 


his shins as hard as you can." ''Let God behold 
and judge you speedily ; I have done nothing wrong, 
and yet you punish me as if I were a murderer." 
'* Do you call it nothing wrong to be irreligious to the 
gods and to the emperors, and to show contempt for 
my judgment-seat ? " "I am contending for religion — 
the religion of the true God." '' You would be religious 
if you honoured the gods, who are the objects of the 
religion of the emperors." " That would be not 
religion, but irreligion, if I were to forsake the living 
God and worship stocks and stones." ''Are the 
emperors irreligious, then, villain?" "They are, in 
my opinion ; and if you also choose to use your reason, 
you know that it is irreligious to sacrifice to devils." 
"Turn the instruments the other way, and prick his 
sides." " I am at your mercy ; abuse my body as you 
will." " Bring salt, and scrape his sides with pot- 
sherds." "Your injuries have only strengthened my 
body." " I shall destroy you bit by bit." " I am not 
afraid of your threats. My conviction is stronger than 
anything that your malice can devise. I despise your 
punishments." " Put chains upon his neck and his 
feet, and keep him in prison." 

From Tarsus the governor proceeded to Mampsista, 
or Mopsuestia, and the three prisoners, according to the 
common custom, were taken along with him. Tarachus 
was brought into court. 

" Well, well, Tarachus," said Maximus, " I suppose 
that the reason why people honour old age is because 
of the greater wisdom in counsel that comes with it. 
Therefore give yourself gOod advice, and do not to- 
day persist in your former notions, but sacrifice to the 
gods and earn the praise of piety." " I am a Chris- 
tian," answered Tarachus, " and I pray that you and 


your emperors may earn the same praise, and may put 
away all hardness of heart and blindness, and be quick- 
ened by the true God to a higher and better grounded 
conviction." ** Knock his mouth with stones, and say 
to him, ' Cease your folly.' " '' If I were not of sound 
mind, I should be a fool as you are." **See, your 
teeth are all loosened ; have pity on yourself, unhappy 
man." " Nothing that you can do hurts me, not if you 
were to cut off all my extremities. I stand steadfastly 
before you in Christ which strengtheneth me." "Follow 
my advice; you had better. Come and sacrifice." 
'' If I knew that I had better do it, I should not suffer 
as I do." " Strike him on the mouth, and tell him to 
cry out." " When my teeth are dashed out and my 
jaws crushed, I cannot cry out." " Will you not even 
now comply, impious man ? Come to the altars, and 
pour a drink-offering to the gods." " Though you have 
stopped my voice so that I cannot cry out, you cannot 
hinder the thoughts of my soul. You have made me 
bolder and firmer." " I will take down your firmness, 
rufiBan." *' I am at your disposal ; whatever you devise, 
I shall be more than a match for you in the name of 
God who strengtheneth me." '' Open his hands and put 
fire in them." " I am not afraid of your fire, which 
endures for a moment ; but I am afraid lest, if I were 
to obey you, I should become a partaker of the eternal 
fire." " Look, your hands are consumed with the fire. 
Will you leave off your madness, senseless man, and 
sacrifice ? " " You talk to me as if I had begged you 
not to use your arts of persuasion upon my body. I am 
proof against all that you are doing to me." " Tie his feet 
and hang him up aloft by them ; then send up a thick 
smoke in his face," " I thought nothing of your fire ; 
do you suppose that I shall be afraid of your smoke ? " 


" Consent to sacrifice, now that you are hung up." 
" You may sacrifice, sir ; you are accustomed to 
sacrificing — even to sacrificing men. But God forbid 
that I should do so." " Put strong vinegar mixed with 
salt up his nostrils." "Your vinegar is sweet, and 
your salt has lost its saltness." " Mix mustard with the 
vinegar and pour it into his nostrils." *' Your ofi&cers 
are deceiving you, Maximus; they gave me honey 
instead of vinegar." '^ I will think of some punishments 
for you next court day, and will put an end to your 
folly." " And I shall be the readier for your devices." 
** Take him down ; put him in chains and give him over 
to the gaoler. Call the next." 

*'Tell me, Probus," said the governor, when he 
appeared, ''have you determined to be rid of the 
torments, or have you not yet put away your folly ? 
Come near and sacrifice to the gods, as the emperors 
do for the common salvation of mankind." <'I am 
readier than you even to-day, and the former examina- 
tions and pains have given me vigour. Try me there- 
fore with all the punishments that you can think of to 
promise ; for neither you, nor your emperors, nor your 
father Satan will ever persuade me to be so impious as 
to worship gods whom I do not know. My God is the 
living God in heaven. I worship and serve Him." 
" Are not these gods living gods, execrable man ? " 
" How can they be living gods, when they consist in 
stocks and stones, the works of men's hands ? Great 
ignorance makes you go wrong, sir, in doing service to 
them." '' Do you think that I am wrong in admonish- 
ing you, abominable creature, and in doing service to 
the gods?" "'Let the gods that have not made the 
heavens and the earth perish,' and all who worship 
them. For ' he that sacrificeth to other gods shall be 


utterly destroyed/ We ought to offer to the Lord of 
heaven and earth, not with blood, but with praise in a 
pure heart, with truth and knowledge of Himself." 
**Make an end of these pernicious subtleties of yours, 
and sacrifice to the gods, Probus, and be saved." " I 
cannot serve many gods. The God whom I know to 
be God indeed. Him I serve and worship devoutly." 
** I will not ask you to worship many gods, as you say ; 
come to the altar of Zeus and offer." '< I have a God 
in heaven, and Him I fear. I do not serve those whom 
you call gods." ♦* I said before, and I will say it again, 
sacrifice to the great god, the invincible Zeus, who 
watches over us," *' Him whom all the poets describe 
as the husband of his own sister, an adulterer and 
corrupter of the young, a fornicator and profane, not to 
speak of the other disgraceful and unmentionable things 
attributed to him — O unrighteous and unholy man, do 
you bid me worship him?" "Hit him in the mouth 
and say to him, ' You must not blaspheme.' " ** Why do 
you strike me ? I told you that it was his worshippers 
who say these things about him. That is no lie, but 
the truth, as you very well know." **I am only 
nursing your folly by not putting you to pain. Make 
some irons red hot and set him to stand on them." 
"Your fire is cold; it does not burn me." "Make 
them as hot as possible and put him on them, holding 
him fast on each side." "Your fire has got cold; 
your ministers are mocking you." " Tie him tight, and 
stretch him out, and lay his back open with raw thongs, 
saying to him, ' Sacrifice, and do not be a fool.' " " I 
was not afraid of your fire, and I do not care for your 
tortures. If you have any other engine of torture, use 
it, that I may show the God who is in me." " Shave 
his head, and pile burning coals upon it." " You have 


burned my feet and my head, and have proved that I 
am a servant of God and can bear your threats." '' If 
you were a servant of the gods, you would have 
sacrificed to them like a religious man." ^'I am a 
servant of God, not of gods who destroy those who fear 
them." ** Are not all those worshippers of theirs, who 
stand near this judgment-seat, honoured by the gods 
and the emperors, while they look upon you being 
punished for speaking ill of the gods 7 " '' Believe me, 
they are all lost unless they repent of what they have 
thoughtlessly done, and unless they become servants of 
the living God." '< Smite his face, and make him say 
* gods,' not ' God.' " " Do you command my mouth 
to be struck for saying the truth, you lawbreaker ? " 
'^ I shall not only command your mouth to be struck, 
but your blaspheming tongue to be cut out, that you 
may cease your fool's language and come and sacrifice." 
" If you choose to cut out the organ of speech, I have 
within me the immortal tongue with which to answer 
you." " Let this one also be taken for the present into 
the prison. Call Andronicus to the bar." 

Andronicus had not seen or heard how his fellow- 
sufferers had answered. *' Those who were examined 
before you," said Maximus, "endured great punish- 
ments, and it did them no good, my poor fellow ; not 
till after all that ill-usage, and hardly then, were they 
persuaded to reverence the gods. Now they are to 
receive great honours from the emperors. Make up 
your mind before the tortures. Get yourself off the 
punishments, and by sacrificing to the gods show 
yourself a religious man and a good subject of the 
Augusti, that you too may receive suitable honours 
from them. If you will not, I swear to you by the 
gods and by the invincible emperors, the punishments 


that I shall inflict on you for disobedience will be 
no simple matter." " Do not tell me," answered 
Andronicus, ''that those who confessed before me 
were guilty of such feebleness ; and do not imagine 
that you can cheat me into yielding to crafty words. 
They never denied the law of our fathers, or consented 
to forsake their hopes in our God and join in your 
madness ; nor will I so far fall behind them in faith 
and endurance towards our Lord and God and Saviour. 
I do not know your gods, and I fear neither you nor 
your tribunal. Fulfil your threats. Apply your 
punishments. Get your instruments of torture in 
order. Use every endeavour against God's servant. 
Force me." "Stretch him upon the stakes, and flog 
him with raw thongs." " You have not done much to 
me ; you promised me something great, and swore by 
the gods and by those emperors whom you consider 
to be gods. Are these your threats ? " Athanasius, 
who had before endeavoured to persuade him, said, 
" Your whole body is one wound, my poor fellow, and 
do you think that nothing?" "Those who love a 
living God," replied Andronicus, " do not care for these 
things." Maximus said, " Sprinkle salt upon his back." 
" You must have more salt than that sprinkled," 
retorted the sufferer, " if I am to keep, and to be able 
to withstand your cruelty." " Turn him over, and beat 
him on the belly, that his first stripes may be torn open 
again and may get down to his marrow." " I was 
wounded with your first tortures, and yet all my body 
is sound, as you saw when I stood at your bar just 
now. He who attended me then will heal me again." 
" Did I not give orders, rascally soldiers, that they 
were to receive no attention from any one, but to 
, remain uncared for, so that they might be reduced 





by their wounds and so comply?" One of the 
turnkeys answered, ''By your greatness, no one took 
any care of them, nor h^ any one been in to see 
them. They were kept in chains in the inmost ward. 
'' How then do their wounds not make more show ? 
*'l do not know how they healed up, by your 
excellence." "Foolish man/' said Andronicus, "our 
Saviour and Physician is great, and He heals those 
who are true to God without applying remedies. He 
heals those who hope in Him by His word. He dwells 
in heaven, but He is with us wherever we are. You 
do not know Him ; you have no understanding." 
" Those foolish speeches will do you no good ; but 
come and sacrifice to the gods, or I shall do away with 
you in a horrible manner." "Once and again I have 
told you the selfsame thing. I am not a child, to 
be coaxed and deceived with words." " You shall 
not get the victory over me, or despise me and my 
judgment-seat." " Neither will we be conquered by 
your threats, whether in words or in tortures. You 
shall find us true champions of God, who enables us 
through Christ our Saviour. Perhaps even you, sir, 
begin partly to see that we shall not be afraid of you 
and of your ill-usage." " Let a variety of instruments 
of torture be prepared for me against his next examina- 
tion, and let this man be secured in irons and taken 
back to prison. Let no one see them in their 

The third examination took place at Anazarbus. 

" Has the respite from scourging made you willing 
at last to give up your impudent profession, Tarachus ? 
Come and sacrifice to the gods, by whom the universe 
stands." "God forbid that the world should be 
governed by those beings for whom is prepared the 


fire and the everlasting punishment, and not for them 
only, but for all you who do their will." " Will you 
stop your blasphemy, criminal ? Do you think that 
such e£Frontery will gain you your end, by making jme 
cut your head oflF and set you free ? " " If I were to 
die quickly, that would be no great trial. Now do what 
more you please, that the reward of my conflict in the 
Lord may be increased." " You have suffered no more 
than other classes of prisoners who are tortured by the 
law." '* That is another proof of your want of under- 
standing and of your gross blindness. You do not see 
that the workers of wickedness deserve to be punished 
thus, while those who suffer for Christ's sake obtain a 
recompense from Him." '' Detestable criminal, what 
recompense do you expect after a horrible death ? " 
*^ You have no right so much as to ask about it, or 
to be told what reward is in store for us. That is 
why we submit to your insane threats." " Wretch, do 
you speak to me as if you were my equal ? " ^' I am 
not your equal, and I pray that I never may be ; but I 
have liberty to speak, and no man can stop me, through 
God which strengtheneth me by Christ." " I will cut 
that liberty out, you ru£Ban." ^^ No one can take away 
my liberty — neither you, nor your emperors, nor your 
father Satan, nor the devils whom you are so misguided 
as to serve." " The very fact that I talk with you con- 
firms you in your frenzy, impious wretch." "You 
have only yourself to blame. My God whom I serve 
knows that I abhor the very sight of you, and much 
less do I wish to converse with you." " Now, consider 
what it would be to have no more tortures, and come 
and sacrifice." " Both in my first confession at Tarsus, 
and in my second examination at Mampsista likewise, I 
confessed that I was a Christian, and I am the same 


person here. Believe me, that is the truth." " When 
once I have killed you with tortures, what will you gain 
by repenting, unhappy man ? " " If I had meant to 
repent, I should have been afraid of your first blows, 
and of your second, and should have done what you 
wished. Now I am established, and in the Lord 
I do not care for you. Do what you please, shameless 
man." " I have made you more shameless by not 
punishing you." "I told you before, and I say it 
again : you have my body in your power ; do what you 
please." *'Bind him and hang him up, that he may 
not be a fool." " If I were a fool, like you, I should 
join in your impieties." '' Now that you are hung up, 
do what I tell you, before you undergo the pains you 
deserve." " Although, to begin with, you have no right 
over my person, to torture in this way an old soldier, 
which is illegal, still I make no objection to your mad- 
ness. Do what you please." " A soldier honours the 
gods and the Augusti, and receives gifts and promotions 
for his piety ; but you were impious, and were dis- 
missed from the army in disgrace. I shall order you 
to be worse tortured for it." *' Do what you please. I 
have asked you to do so again and again. Why do you 
put it oflF ? " " Do not flatter yourself, as I said before, 
that I am disposed to put you quickly out of existence. 
I shall execute you inch by inch, and give your remains 
to the beasts." " What you do, do at once. Do not 
promise without performing." ** Criminal, you think 
that after death your body will be tended by silly 
women and anointed with sweet ointments ; but I shall 
take care, with regard to that, that your remains shall 
be destroyed." '* 111 use my body now, and when you 
have killed me, do what you please with it." " Come 
near, I say, and sacrifice to the gods." "I told you 


once for all, but it makes no impression on you, that 
I will neither sacrifice to your gods nor worship your 
abominations." "Take hold of his cheeks and rip 
them up." '' You have disfigured and marred my face, 
but you refresh my soul the more." " Wretched man, 
you compel me to behave very uncomfortably towards 
you." " Do not think to terrify me with words. I am 
ready for you at every point. I wear the armour of 
God." "Thrice accursed creature, what armour do 
you wear ? — tell me. You are naked, and all over 
wounds." " You do not know these things. You 
cannot see my panoply. You are blind." " I am 
patient with your madness. For all your exasperating 
answers I shall not dismiss you summarily from your 
body." " What harm have I spoken ? You cannot, I 
repeat, see me and what I have on, not being pure in 
heart, but irreligious and an enemy to the servants of 
God." " I understand that you have long lived a bad 
life, and, as some tell me, you are a sorcerer as you 
stand here at the bar." " I never was so, nor am now, 
for I do not serve devils as you do, but God, who gives 
me endurance and suggests to me the word that I shall 
speak to you.'' "Those words will do you no good. 
Sacrifice, that you may have an end of ill-treatment." 
"Do you take me for a witless fool, not to listen to 
God and live for ever, but to you who would do my 
body good for a season and destroy my soul for ever 
and ever ? " " Make some spits red-hot and run them 
into his breasts." " You may do more than that, and 
yet never induce God's servant to yield and to worship 
the figures of devils." "Bring a razor and take his 
ears off. Shave his head and put red-hot coals about 
it." '' You have taken away my ears, but the ears of 

my heart are as sound as ever." "Take the skin ofiF 



his cursed head with the razor and cover it with red- 
hot coals." " If you were to order all my body to be 
flayed, I will not leave my God, who strengthens me 
to endure your weapons of wickedness/' " Take those 
hot irons and put them under his armpits." ''May 
God behold and judge you to-day." " What God do 
you call upon, accursed wretch?— tell me." "One 
whom you know not, though He is near us, who will 
render to each according to Ws works." "I am not 
going to kill you outright, so that, as I said before, they 
may wrap your remains in linen and whimper over 
them and worship them ; but I give you a dreadful 
death, and order you to be burned, and I shall scatter 
abroad the ashes of your body," " I told you before, 
and I say again, do what you please. You have re- 
ceived power in this world." " Let him be taken back 
to prison and kept for the next wild beast fight. Bring 
the second. 

" Have you reflected and taken counsel with your- 
self, Probus, that you may not fall into the same pains 
which you yourself endured some time ago, and which 
the last unfortunate wretch has endured ? I think you 
have, and am persuaded that like a sensible man you 
have changed your mind and are prepared to sacrifice, 
that you may be honoured by us, haying proved your- 
self devout towards the gods. Come near and do it." 
^' We have but one way of thinking, sir, for we serve 
God, both of us. Do not imagine that you will hear 
anything from me but what you have already heard 
and learned. It will be of no use to flatter, nor will 
you persuade me by threatening, nor unman my 
courage by your idle talk. I stand before you to-day 
a bolder man than before, and I despise your fury. 
What are you waiting for, foolish man ? Why do you 


not make bare your madness?" ''You have agreed 
together now to be impious and to 4eny the gods." 
" Vou have spoken the truth ; for once you have not 
lied, though as a rule you lie. We have conspired 
together in religion, and in regard to our conflict and 
confession ; therefore we withstand your malice in the 
Lord." " Before you meeft worse treatment at my 
hands, reHect, and make an end of this folly of yours. 
Pity yourself. Be willing to take my paternal advice, 
and pay reverence to the gods." ^ I see that you will 
believe nothing at all, sir ; but believe me when I swear 
to you by my good confession towards Ood, that neither 
you, nor the devils that you are misguided enough to 
worship, nor your father Satan, nor those who have 
given you power against us, shall be able to overthrow 
our faith and affection towards God." " Bind him and 
gird him, and then hang him up by the toes." '' Will 
you not cease your iniquity, wicked tyrant, contending 
on behalf of the devils which you resemble ? " " Be 
guided by me before you suffer. Spare your own body. 
You see what pains are before you." " All that you do 
to me is profitable to my soul ; therefore, do what you 
please." " Heat the spits and put them to his sides, 
that he may not be a fool." " The more fool you think 
me, the wiser I am to God." '' Heat the spits once 
more, and burn well into his back." ** My body is at 
your disposal. Let God behold from heaven my shame 
and my endurance, and judge between me and you." 
"Wretched man, the very God whom you invoke has 
given you over to suffer these things, as your choice 
deserves." " My God is a lover of men, and wishes no 
harm to any man ; but every man knows what is best 
for himself, and has his free will and is master of his 
own mind." *'Pour some wine off the altars upon 


himi and put some flesh in his mouth." ** Lord Jesus 
Christ, Son of the living God, behold this violence from 
Thy holy height and give sentence with me." "You 
have endured a great deal, unhappy man, and yet see, 
you have tasted of the altar. What can you do now ? " 
" It was no great stroke of business to pour over me by 
violence, as best you could, against my will, of your 
unclean sacrifices. ^God knows my will." "You both 
ate and drank, idiot. Promise to do it for yourself, 
and you shall be taken down out of your bonds." " I 
defy you, lawbreaker, to overcome my confession. Let 
me tell you that if you were to pour upon me of all 
your unclean meats at once you will do me no harm, 
for God in heaven sees the violence done to me." 
" Heat the spits and burn the lower part of his legs 
right through." " Neither your fire, nor your tortures, 
nor (as I have told you many times) your father Satan 
shall induce . God's servant to abandon the confession 
of the true God." "There is no part of your body 
still sound, unhappy wretch, and do you not yet under- 
stand ? " "I gave my body over to you for this pur- 
pose, that my soul might remain sound and unspotted." 
" Heat some sharp nails and pierce his hands with 
them." "Glory to Thee, O Lord Jesu Christ, that 
Thou hast vouchsafed even to allow my hands to be 
nailed for Thy name's sake." " So many tortures are 
beginning to make you still more foolish, Probus." 
"So much power, Maximus, and your malice, which 
is without measure, have made you not only foolish 
but blind, for you know not what you do." " Villain, 
how dare you call one who contends for piety towards 
the gods foolish and blind ? " "I wish that you were 
blind in your eyes, and not blind in heart ; now you 
think that you see, while you are gazing in darkness." 


" With your whole body disabled, do you accuse me, 
miserable creature, because I have left your eyes still 
uninjured?" "Even if your cruelty should tear my 
eyes out of my body, the eyes of my heart cannot be 
blinded by men." " I shall cut out your eyes, foolish 
man, and punish you in that way also." "Do not 
promise without performing. You cannot terrify the 
servant of God. If you do it indeed, you cannot 
injure my invisible eye." "Put his eyes out, that 
though he has a little while to live he may have no 
light." " There ; you have taken away my bodily eyes, 
but I defy you, cruel tyrant, to deprive me of my living 
eye." " Can you talk like that in the dark, wretch ? " 
" If you knew the darkness that is in you, you would 
call me blessed, ungodly man." " Your whole body is 
dead, and will you not leave o£F this idle talk, wretched 
creature?" " As long as my breath remains in me, I will 
not cease to speak by God's help, who strengthens me 
in Christ." " After all these tortures, do you expect still 
to live ? I assure you that I shall not leave you to die 
for yourself." "This is why I strive to contend with 
you, accursed man, that my good confession may be 
made perfect, and that I may die at your hands in 
whatever manner it may be, merciless hater of men." 
" I shall destroy inch by inch, as you deserve." " You 
have the power, proud underling of tyrants." "Take 
him away and load him with irons, and keep him 
in the prison. Let none of their tribe have access 
to them, to congratulate them on what they have gone 
through at my hands for their impiety. After the 
session he shall certainly be given to the wild beasts. 
Call that ruffian Andronicus. 

'^ Andronicus, have you at last had pity upon your 
youth, and taken wise counsel with yourself to reverence 


the gods^ or are you still in the same mad mind, 
which can do yoa no good ? If you will not listen to 
m«, and sacrifice to the gods, and pay due honour 
to the emperors, you will get no comfort nor pity 
from' me ; so come near and sacrifice and be saved." 
<^No blessing come to you, you enemy and alien to 
all truth 1 tyrant,, with less remorse than any wild 
beast! I have borne all your threats, and now do 
you think to persuade me by what in your wicked- 
ness you illegally command to be done to punish the 
servants of God ? No, you shall not undo my con- 
fession towards God» I stand here to defy your 
savage devices in the Lord, and will show you that 
the resolution of my soul is young and strong." '< I 
believe that you are mad and have a devil." **lt I 
had a devil, I should obey you ; not having one, 
I will not obey. You are a devil and nothing else, 
and you do the deeds of devils/' <<The men who 
preceded you said what they pleased, as you do, till 
they were tortured. Afterwards they were persuaded 
by the severity of the inflictions to reverence the 
gods, and came to be loyal to the August!, and 
poured drink-offerii^s to them, and are saved." ^' It 
is all in keeping with your evil belief to lie ; for the 
beings whom you are misguided: enough to serve did 
not abide in the trudu You are a liar, like your 
father. Therefore God shall speedily judge you, 
minister of Satan and of alt the devils." '< Let Him 
do so, if I do not treat you as the impious wretch 
that you are, and bring down your stubbornness." 
**l shall fesLP neither you nor your threats ia the 
name of my God." '^ Bring fire, and tie small wisps 
of burning stu£F and hold tfaem to his belly." 'Mf 
you could bum me all up and yet keep me aHve^ 


you should not prevail against me, accursed tyrant. 
The God whom I serve is with me and strengthens 
me." "How long will you be such a fool as to 
refuse? Do you not wish at least to die for your- 
self?" '^As long as I live, I shall prevail against 
your malice. I am eager to be wholly destroyed by 
you. That is my boast in Ood." " Drive in the 
red*hot spits between his fingers." ''Senseless man, 
the enemy of God^ full of all devices of Satan, when 
you see my body consumed with your tortures, do 
yoiii still think that I am afraid of your devices? I 
have within me the God whom I serve through Jesus 
Christ. I despise youv" ''Fool, do you not know 
that He whom you are calling upon was a man 
who, under the authority of a goiwmor named Pilate, 
was fastened to the cross for His crimes ? Records 
of it are preserved." " Be silent, accursed man ! 
You. are not allowed to say such things. You are 
not worthy to speak of Him, impious creature ! If 
youf were so blessed as to be worthy, you would not 
practise these impieties upon the servants of God. 
But now, being alienated from the hope that is in 
Him, you have not only lost yourself, but are en- 
deavouring to force those who are His. Transgressor 1 " 
"What good will you get, desperate wretch, by faith 
and hope in that criminal Christ of whom you speak ? " 
" I have already got good> and shall get more ; it 
is by that means that I bear all this." " I do not 
mean to use instruments of torture to do away with 
you quickly. You shall be given to the beasts, and 
shall see your members devoured one after another 
before you are rid of life." "Why, are you not 
more savage than any beast, and more ruthless than 
any murderer, because you have punished men who 


have done no wrong, and are not even accused of 
doing wrong, as if they were murderers ? I serve 
my God in Christ, then ; I do not ask to be excused 
your threats. Bring the most formidable instrument 
of torture that you can think of. You shall find 
that I have courage." "Open his mouth first, and 
put flesh from the altars in it ; and pour wine into 
it." "O Lord my God, behold the violence done 
to me I " " What will you do now, miserable creature ? 
You would not reverence them nor sacrifice to them, 
and now you have tasted of their altars." " O blind 
and senseless fool of a tyrant, you poured it down 
my throat by main force, God knows ; He under- 
stands the thoughts, and He is able also to deliver 
me from the wrath of Satan and his ministers." 
" How long will you play the stupid fool, and utter 
this nonsense which brings you no benefit ? " "I 
expect to reap the benefit from God, and that is 
why I endure all this ; but you do not understand 
what I look for, that makes me steadfast." " How 
long will you be a fool ? I will crop your tongue, 
and stop your nonsense that way. You show me that 
I am to blame, because my forbearance has made 
you more of a fool than you were." " I entreat you 
to do it : cut away the lips and tongue on which 
you flatter yourself that you laid your pollutions." 
" Fool, after all your obstinacy under punishment, 
see^ — as I said, you have tasted those meats." "Woe 
be to you, execrable tyrant, and woe be to those 
who have given you this power, for defiling me with 
those abominable sacrifices. But you shall see what 
you have done against the servant of God." "Do 
you dare to speak despitefuUy of the emperors, villain, 
— the emperors who have given so profound a peace 


to the world ? " "I did and I will speak despitefully 
of them, plagues and bloodbibbers that they are, 
who have turned the world upside down ; and may 
God, with His immortal hand, not being longsuflFering 
with them, requite them with such a chastisement 
that they may know what they are doing to His 
servants." '' Put an iron into his mouth and dash 
out his teeth, and take out his impudent, blaspheming 
tongue, that he may learn not to blaspheme against 
the Augusti ; and burn the villain's tongue and teeth 
to ashes and sprinkle them about, every fragment, 
that no foolish women belonging to his impious 
religion may keep an eye upon them, and get hold 
of them, and preserve them as precious and sacred 
things. And take the man himself, and consign him 
to the prison and keep him, that in company with 
his impious associates he may be given to the beasts 

The Christians of Anazarbus, or of Tarsus, paid 
two hundred denarii to one of the agents of the 
governor's court to make a transcript of the official 
Acta, or record, of this trial, and sent it to the 
brethren at Iconium, and here it now is. As we 
read it, we seem to be standing in the court, and 
watching and listening to the magistrate and the 
martyrs. It is indeed like a duel between them, — ^the 
judge determined not to kill them if he can help it, 
but to make them obey orders ; they, even more 
determined to endure. It is not to be wondered at 
that, in the heat of such a conflict, words were some- 
times wrung from the lips of the sufiferers which 
were hardly in accordance with Christian meekness. 
The voice of indignant protest was no less needed 
at the time than that of resignation and submission; 


and it was well that in an age of heartless tyranny 
presidents and proconsuls, and emperors themselves, 
should be told plainly what the human conscience 
felt under such oppression, even if the utterance 
occasionally hardened the magistrate's heart instead 
of softening it, and stung him to further cruelties.^ 

^ Roinart, p. 375. 



SOM)@ brave confessions took place in Syriay as else«- 
where. Cyril, the Bishop of Antioch, was sent into 
exile> ta work in the mines of Pannonia. But most of 
the martyrdoms at Antioch appear to have been those 
of strangers to the cit^i^ There Tyrannio, the Bishop 
of Tyre^ was thrown into the sea. There Zenobius, a 
priest and physician of Sidon, perished under torture. 
The Christians of Antioch themselves were more 
terrified than inspired by these examples. Christian 
men, accompanied by their wives and children, went 
together in crowds to sacrifice to the idols. A deacon 
and exorcist of Caesarea in Palestine, whose name was 
Romanus, had left his home for Antioch at the time 
when the churches were destroyed. He saw one of 
tiiese groups of unhappy apostates approaching the 
heathen altaus, and his spirit was grieved beyond endur- 
ance. With a loud voice he called upon them to desist 
from their sin, and to return to their Christian allegiance. 
Naturally, he was at once arrested. The local magis- 
trate, who was presiding at the interrupted sacrifices, 
ordered him to be burned; He was tied to Uie stake, 
and the faggots were heaped about him. But the 
enxperor Galerius was himself in Antioch at the 
moment. The magistrate thought it necessary to 
report to him what was taking place. Romanus grew 
impatient at the delay, and asked repeatedly, '' Where 



is my fire ? where is my fire ? " But his end was not 
to come so speedily. Galerius sent for him, and com- 
muted his sentence for a more cruel one. He ordered 
the deacon's tongue, which had dissuaded others from 
the service of the gods, to be cut out by the roots. 
Romanus willingly gave every facility for the horrible 
operation. According to some accounts, which there 
is no reason to disbelieve, the brave man could still 
make himself understood when his tongue was gone, 
and during an imprisonment of many months used his 
remaining powers of speech to confirm his fellow Chris- 
tians in their faith. When the festival of Diocletian's 
twentieth year of sovereignty was kept, and the other 
inmates of the prison at Antioch were set at liberty, 
Romanus was alone detained, with his feet day and 
night stretched in the stocks to the fifth hole. At 
length they gave him his liberty in the form which 
he most desired. A noose was thrown round his 
neck, and he passed by death to the presence of his 

There were some at Antioch, of whom Eusebius 
speaks, who, rather than touch the heathen sacrifices, 
were willing to hold their right hands in the fire till they 
were consumed. Some, less nobly, sought refuge in 
suicide, and threw themselves headlong from the tops 
of their houses. One distinguished lady, who had 
two beautiful and devout daughters, contrived to send 
them out of the country, thinking that they might be 
safer abroad. The authorities discovered where they 
were, and fetched them back to Antioch. Attended 
by an escort of soldiers, the two girls and their 
mother were on their way to the court of law, where 
they had reason to fear that worse things than 

^ Eusebius, De Mart, Paiaest. 2. 


martyrdom awaited them. They had taken counsel 
together, and their resolution was formed. The road 
lay along the bank of the river Orontes. They begged 
their attendants to loose their hold of them for a 
moment, and, gathering their garments round them, 
the three plunged into the river and were drowned. 
Another pair of sisters at Antioch were thrown into the 
sea by their persecutors.* 

The conflicts of the martyrs of Palestine were 
recorded by the hand of the historian Eusebius, himself 
a presbyter of the chief city of Palestine, Caesarea, and 
afterwards its bishop. 

The first whose martyrdom he records was a man 
of the name of Procopius. Procopius was a native of 
Jerusalem, and lived at Scythopolis, the Bethshan of 
the Bible, where he held the offices of reader and 
exorcist. His life from early youth had been that of 
an ascetic. Bread and water were his only food, and 
of these at times he partook only on alternate days. 
He was often known to go without food for a week 
together. Day and night he was occupied in the study 
of the Scriptures, and in translating Greek books of 
edification into the Aramaic of his country. Along with 
other Christian confessors he was brought, at the very 
outset of the persecution, to Caesarea. Immediately 
upon his arrival at the gate of that city, without having 
even visited the prison, he was brought before the 
governor, who required him to sacrifice to the gods. 
"There is but one God, the Almighty," Procopius 
answered. The governor refused to argue the question, 
and begged Procopius, if he would not acknowledge 
the gods, to burn incense to the emperors, of whom 
there were four. Procopius burst out laugjpingi and 

^ Eusebius, HisL EccL viii. 12. 


replied with a quotation from the Iliadt where Homer 

says — 

'' It is not good to have lords aiany ; 
Let One be Lord, One King." 

The governor did not understand, perhaps, the spiritual 
meaning which the Christian put upon these verses ; in 
any case he considered the language treasonable, and 
condemned Procopius to be beheaded.* 

Many of the leading Christians of the neighbouring 
churches were soon called upon to follow the example 
of Procopius. Some, Eusebius says, failed from the 
first. Others passed from torture to torture, were 
scourged, were racked, had their sides crimped, were 
loaded with heavy irons, so that some of them lost the 
use of their hands. In many cases the officials were 
satisfied with an unreal appearance of success. One 
man was dragged to the altar, both his hands held fast 
by attendants on either side ; some of the sacrificial 
meat was placed by force in his right hand, and he was 
dismissed. Another never even touched the sacrifice, 
but the bystanders shouted that he had sacrificed, and 
he went free. Another was brought from prison in a 
fainting condition, and thrown on one side for dead: 
his chains were taken off, and he was reckoned as having 
sacrificed. Others again, who vehemently protested 
that they had neither sacrificed nor intended to do so, 
were struck on the mouth, and their cries were drowned 
by the shouts around them, and they were hustled out 
of court. 

Out of all this number two only were put to death. 
Their names were Alphaeus and Zacchaeus. The latter, 
who was a deacon at Gadara, was so called by his friends 

^ Eusebius, De Mart. Palaest, i. Cp. Texteund Untersuchungen^ yol. xiv., 
part 4, p. 3. 


because, like the publican of Jericho, he was little of 
stature, and because he was so earnestly desirous to see 
the Lord. He joyfully bore his testimony before the 
magistrate under tortiu-e, and was thrown for a night 
into the stocks. Alpbaeus, who was a reader and 
exorcist at Caesarea itself, set himself strenuously to 
persuade his feebler brethren not to comply with the 
command to sacrifice. His unconcealed activity in this 
behalf soon brought him before the magistrate. There 
he delivered his beliefs with eloquence and freedom, 
was tortured, and cast into the stocks like Zacchaeus. 
After three days the two men were again brought into 
court. The magistrate bade them sacrifice to the 
emperors ; but they answered, " We know but one 
King, the King of all." Their o£Fence was like that of 
Procopius, and it was visited with a similar penalty. 
The two men were beheaded together, some five months 
after the death of Procopius.^ 

In the following year, which was the second year 
of the persecution, the difficulties of the Christians in 
Palestine were increased. A more severe governor, 
named Urban, took the place of Flavian, under whom 
Alphaeus and Zacchaeus had suffered, and two fresh 
and more formidable edicts came from headquarters, of 
which the second prescribed that all the inhabitants of 
every city, man, woman, and child, should be compelled 
to join in a common sacrifice. 

The town of Gaza had the reputation of being a 
bigotedly heathen town. One Christian inhabitant of 
Gaza, who bore the name of Timothy, had long endured 
ill-treatment from his fellow-citizens on account of his 
religion. When the edict was put in execution at Gaza, 

^ Euaebius, Dt Mart, Pakust, 1. Cp. Tepcteund Unt. (as above), p. 7. 


Timothy naturally foynd his way to prison. After a 
brave confession before Urban, and the usual tortures, 
he was condemned to die by fire, but Urban expressly 
ordered that the fire should be a slow one, — no doubt 
in order to give him the opportunity of changing his 
mind. So, like goM in the furnace, as the historian 
says, the faith of Timothy was proved true. 

Two other Christians, a man named Agapius and a 
woman named Thecla, who were Phrygians by birth, 
had been seized at Gaza at the same time with Timothy, 
but another fate was assigned to them. A great festi- 
val was approaching, and Urban determined to add a 
special interest to the celebration of it by announcing 
that, besides horse-races in the circus at Caesarea, a 
gala performance in the theatre, and other interesting 
spectacles, these two Christians, along with some others 
who came from Phrygia, would fight with wild beasts. 
The sensation throughout Palestine was immense, for 
such exhibitions had not been common in the country. 
On the day appointed, six stalwart young men tied one 
another's hands fast behind their backs, and running up 
at full speed, just as Urban set foot on the stairs of 
the amphitheatre, loudly proclaimed that they were 
Christians, and offered to show that they were not 
afraid of wild beasts. One of the six, Timolaus, was a 
native of the distant province of Pontus ; another, 
Dionysius, came from Tripoli in Phoenicia ; Romulus, 
the third, was a subdeacon of Diospolis; two were 
Egyptians, named Paesis and Alexander ; and the sixth, 
another Alexander, belonged to Gaza. As soon as the 
governor and his attendants recovered from the first 
shock of surprise, the six were sent to prison. There 
they were visited by the compassionate brother of the 
last-named Alexander, a second Agapius of Gaza, who 


had already several times borne gallant testimony to 
his faith, and by another Christian named Dionysius, 
who ministered to their necessities. So assiduous were 
these two in their attentions to the prisoners, that 
Urban ordered their arrest ; and after a few days all 
the eight were brought out together, condemned, and 

It seems that Eusebius intends us to understand 
that the woman Thecla perished by the wild beasts to 
which she was exposed ; but her companion, Agapius, 
survived for many a tedious day. For two years and a 
half he lay in his prison at Caesarea. Thrice at least 
during that long time he was led out with malefactors 
to execution ; but on each occasion the governor, either 
in pity, or in the hope of persuading him to abjure 
Christ, only threatened him and sent him back. But 
in November 306 the cruel emperor Maximin came to 
Caesarea to keep his birthday. The place was, of course, 
enfite. It was the custom for the emperor on such 
occasions to treat the populace to some fine show of 
strange creatures from foreign countries, or of acrobats 
and jugglers. But the only novelty which Maximin had 
to offer was that of a pair of criminals to be exposed to 
the wild beasts. Before one of them was carried a 
placard announcing that he was a Christian, Agapius ; 
the other was a slave who had murdered his master. 
No sooner were they presented before Maximin than 
the emperor, amidst shouts of applause for his clemency, 
bestowed a free pardon upon the murderer, before he 
had even seen the wild beasts, and gave him his manu- 
mission from slavery. Agapius, on the other hand, 
after being led round the amphitheatre amidst the 

^ Eusebius, De Mart, Palaest. 3. Cp. Texte uftdUnt, (as above), p. 15. 



derision of the spectators, was asked by the emperor 
whether he would abandon his Christianity, in which 
case he would be set at liberty. He refused, and with 
a loud voice called the multitude to witness that it was 
for no crime that he was condemned, but for his belief 
in the one Almighty God, and that for this belief he 
would gladly die, in order that his endurance might 
encourage younger Christians to despise death for the 
sake of eternal life. Upon this the cages were opened ; 
and Agapius ran and flung himself into the arms of a 
great she-bear, which tore him, but did not kill him. 
For one more night he was taken back to prison ; but 
the next day they tied stones to his feet, and dropped 
him into the sea.^ 

A similar death had been inflicted a little earlier in 
the year upon one in whom the historian Eusebius was 
more deeply interested. A young man of nineteen 
years of age, named Apphian, who belonged to a 
distinguished family in Lycia, had been sent by his 
heathen parents to complete his education at Beyrout. 
That city was as famous at the time for its luxurious 
vices as it was for its schools ; but Apphian was proof 
against the seductions of the society into which he was 
thrown, and surprised every one who observed him by 
the purity and severity of his life. When his course 
at Beyrout was ended, he returned to his Lycian home ; 
but during his absence, as it seems, he had embraced 
the Christian faith, and, finding the heathen atmosphere 
in which his parents lived intolerable, he determined to 
run away. Taking no means of subsistence with him, 
but casting himself wholly upon the providence of God, 
he found himself at Caesarea. It was the very place for 

^ Eusebius, De Mart. Paloist, 6. Cp. TexU und UtU. (as above), p. 47. 


a studious young Christian. There was the vast library 
of the learned Pamphilus, who had gathered round him 
a community of students, of whom Eusebius himself 
was one. Apphian was welcomed into the community, 
to which a brother of his already belonged, and threw 
himself with ardour into the teaching of Pamphilus, 
living, like his master, a life of stern asceticism. 

Apphian had been at Caesarea for nearly a year, 
when an edict was received, requiring the attendance of 
the whole population at sacrificial rites. Criers passed 
through the streets summoning men, women, and 
children to the temples, where military officers stood, 
furnished with lists of the inhabitants, and calling them 
over, name by name. Urban, the governor, was himself 
in the very act of pouring a libation, when the young 
Apphian, who had told no one what he intended to do, 
slipped through the band of soldiers and officials in 
attendance upon him, seized the governor by the right 
hand and bade him desist from the idolatrous proceeding. 
With gentle earnestness he warned him that it was not 
well to turn from the one true God and to sacrifice to 

Naturally the guards fell upon the audacious youths 
and with no very merciful handling carried him off into 
the darkness of the prison, where they left him for the 
night with his legs stretched in the torturing stocks. 
Next day he appeared before Urban. The governor 
bade him sacrifice, and he refused. Then began a 
dreadful series of tortures. Again and again the young 
man's ribs were laid open. Blows fell about his head 
and neck till his face was so swollen and disfigured 
that no one could have recognised him. As he still 
remained firm, Urban told them to soak some rags 
in oil, and wrap them about his legs, and set fire to them. 


The juices of his body exuded and dripped with the 
heat ; but Apphian was undaunted. To all questions 
about himself, his origin, his lodging-place, he only 
replied from time to time that he was a Christian. 
They took him back once more to the prison, and next 
day he was sentenced to death by drowning. Eusebius 
himself and all the city of Caesarea with him were 
eyewitnesses of the sequel. An earthquake — no un- 
common phenomenon in those parts — shook the city. 
A violent storm arose in the sea. Amidst the roaring 
and raging of the elements, the body of the young 
martyr was thrown up by the waves at the very gate 
of the city.* 

His brother Aedesius was determined not to be 
outdone by Apphian. Superior to Apphian in learning, 
and well acquainted with Latin literature as well as 
Greek, he was condemned, soon after his brother's 
death, to servile labour in the copper mines of Pales- 
tine. Upon his release, he followed for some time 
the austere profession of a philosopher. He found 
himself at Alexandria when Hierocles, the governor 
of Egypt, pronounced a shocking sentence upon some 
Christian girls. The indignant Aedesius strode up to 
the magistrate and not only told him what right- 
minded men thought of such sentences, but with his 
right hand and his left slapped him in the face, and 
threw him backwards to the ground. A deed so like 
to that of Apphian was rewarded with a similar end, 
and after a course of tortures Aedesius, like his brother, 
was thrown into the sea and drowned.* 

Five months after the martyrdom of Agapius at 

^ Eusebius, De Mart, Pal, 4; Analecta Bollami^ xvi. p. 122. Cp. Texte 
und Uni, (as above), p. 24. 

* Eusebius, De Mart. Pal, 5 ; AnaUcta Bolland, xvi. p. 126. Cp. Texte 
und Unt. (as above), p. 43. 


Caesarea, on the very day which the Church was 
keeping as Easter Sunday, a batch of Christian prisoners 
was sitting before the place of judgment, in the same 
city, awaiting trial, when a maiden named Theodosia 
approached to pay them her respects. She was a 
native of Tyre, and was not yet fully eighteen years old. 
She implored the brave confessors to remember her 
when they came to the Lord. The guards arrested 
her, as if she had committed a crime, and presented 
her before the governor. Upon her refusal to sacrifice, 
Urban had her sides and her breasts ripped open, but 
she bore the pain and indignity with a countenance 
of joy. Once more she was invited to sacrifice ; but 
opening wide her young eyes and smiling at the 
governor, she said, '^ What makes you think like that ? 
You are mistaken, man. I have got the very thing I 
prayed for. I am permitted to join the company of 
the martyrs." At length the governor commanded her 
to be thrown into the sea. The constancy of Theo- 
dosia made Urban deal less severely with the rest. 
He did not wish for any more such scenes at the 
moment. He said not a word to any of the prisoners. 
No torture was inflicted upon them. They were all 
condemned to the copper mines, and were led away 
in a body.^ 

In the following November — ^the fifth day of the 
month — Urban had a pitched battle with the Chris- 
tians. " How much harm he did on that one day," says 
Eusebius, " we must now relate.*' He began by sending 
to the mines of Phaeno a priest of Gaza, named Silvanus, 
who lived to become a bishop and a martyr, together 
with a group of his followers, who had made a brave 

^ Eusebius, D$ Mart, Pal, 7 ; AnaUeta Bolland, xvi. p. 127. Cp. Texte 
und Unt, (as above), p. 52. 


stand for their faith. But before sending them to 
their penal servitude he gave the shocking order that 
each of them was to have the sinews of one ankle made 
useless by being seared with a hot iron. A handsome 
and well-informed young man named Domninus, who 
had distinguished himself among the Christians of 
Palestine by the frequency and boldness of his con- 
fessions, and had already suffered in the mines, was 
burned alive. A reverend old man, by name Auxentius, 
was killed by the wild beasts. For others, the inventive- 
ness of Urban was set to work to devise other punish- 
ments. Some were mutilated in a way too abominable 
to describe. Three fine strong young men were given 
over to the captain of the gladiators, to be prepared 
to fight for their lives in the deadly boxing-gloves of 
the time. These three, like the three young men in 
Daniel, refused to eat the daily portion provided for 
their nourishment, or to go through the required 
exercises. Their trainers, after some time, finding it 
impossible to do anything with such refractory subjects, 
reported them to the governor, and he in turn to the 
emperor Maximin himself. Maximin, seeing that neither 
starvation nor flogging had any effect upon them, 
ordered that the left foot of each should be disabled, 
and their right eyes cut out with knives and the 
bleeding sockets seared with hot irons, and that they 
should then be sent to the mines. Eusebius saw 
ninety-seven other Christians treated in this barbarous 
manner. They were Egyptians, who were transferred 
from the porphyry quarries of the Thebaid to Palestine ; 
some of them were quite little children.* 

But the deed which made that fifth of November so 

^ Eusebius, De Mart. Pal. 7 and 8. Cp. Texte und Unt, (as above), 
p. 58 


sady yet glorious, a day to Eusebius was the arrest of 
his special friend, the learned Pamphilus. Of all the 
men of his time, there was none, in the opinion of 
Eusebius, himself no mean judge, who could rival 
Pamphilus in his knowledge of the Bible. A native of 
Beyrout, and educated in the heathen schools of that 
city, he renounced wealth and secular distinction to 
devote himself to sacred studies. Selling all the ances- 
tral property which had come down to him, and 
bestowing the proceeds upon the poor, he betook him- 
self first to Alexandria, where he was taught by the 
famous presbyter, Pierius, and then, like Origen, to the 
capital of Palestine. There he set himself to carry on 
the work of Origen, not only by the direct instruction 
of scholars who repaired to him, but also in the textual 
criticism of the Bible. He made it his business to issue 
correct and scholarly copies of the Scriptures, free from 
the interpolations and false readings which had largely 
corrupted the books in common use. In these labours 
he found a zealous and effective helper in Eusebius. 
More than one Greek Bible is still in existence which 
was transcribed from copies said to have been made 
by Pamphilus and Eusebius with their own hands. 
Such copies were freely given away by the generous 
copyist. For Pamphilus was no mere student, without 
interest in his fellow-men. His name, as Eusebius 
points out, designated him as '' the friend of all," and 
such he proved himself to be by open hand and open 
heart. The devotion which he inspired in others is shown 
by the example of Eusebius himself. Again and again 
when he refers to Pamphilus, instead of mentioning him 
directly, he speaks of '* the name so dear to me." 
Pamphilus became to him << my lord and master ; for 
I cannot speak in other terms of the holy and blessed 


man." From the day of Pamphilus' death the affec- 
tionate disciple assumed his name, and chose to be 
spoken of as Eusebius Pamphili, ** Eusebius the son of 

It was not, however, on that fifth of November 
307 that the martyrdom of Pamphilus was attained. 
Upon that occasion, Urban the governor first listened 
with interest to a display of the eloquence and philoso- 
phical erudition of the famous scholar, and then invited 
him to sacrifice. Upon his refusal, he was submitted to 
excruciating tortures and thrown into the prison already 
crowded with Christian confessors. Almost immedi- 
ately after, Urban fell into sudden disgrace with his 
master Maximin, and was executed at Caesarea itself, 
and another governor appointed in his place. Pam- 
philus lay apparently forgotten in his prison for two 
whole years. His time of respite was not spent in 
idleness. His friends had access to him ; and during 
that period he composed with the help of Eusebius a 
work in six books in defence of Origen, which he 
addressed to the confessors who were labouring in the 
mines of Palestine. 

There it seems as if he might have remained for 
ever but for an accidental circumstance. One day, in 
February 309— or perhaps Eusebius intends us to 
understand 310 — a band of Egyptian travellers arrived 
at the gate of Caesarea. Their outlandish appearance 
attracted attention. There were five of them. Ques- 
tioned by the guard at the gate, they made no secret of 
the fact that they were Christians. They were on a 
charitable tour. A gang of believers had lately been 
conveyed from Egypt to do penal servitude in Cilicia, 
and these five had accompanied them, to cheer them 
with their sympathy and attendance, and were now on 


their way home again. They were arrested at once, and 
taken to Firmilian, the successor of Urban as governor 
of Palestine, who remanded them to prison for the 
night ; and next day, February 1 6, not only the five 
strangers were brought to trial, but Pamphilus also, 
and his associates. 

The one who appeared to be spokesman of the 
Egyptian company was the first to be called upon. It 
was the custom, Eusebius tells us, for these Egyptians, 
when they became Christians, to discard the names 
which they had hitherto borne, if the names contained 
a reference to Isis, or Osiris, or Serapis, or some other 
heathen god, and to assume instead some name which 
was hallowed by Scriptural associations, like Jeremias, 
or Samuel, or Daniel. The governor asked the prisoner's 
name, and received in reply one of these Bible names. 
It puzzled him, and he went on to ask the man's origin. 
The Christian said that his home was Jerusalem. No 
town that the governor knew of bore that name : the 
city which had once borne it had long been destroyed, 
and that which was afterwards built on the site was 
known, both by Roman officials and by people in 
general, as Aelia. Firmilian asked where Jerusalem was; 
and to make sure that the man should tell the truth, he 
had his arms twisted behind him, and his feet crushed 
in a newly invented form of boot. The tortured man 
repeated again and again that he was only telling the 
truth. He and his comrades were Israelites indeed; 
they were Jews inwardly. To all inquiries about their 
home and city he answered that it was the home of 
the godly alone, and that none but they might enter it, 
and that it lay in the very quarter of light, where the 
sun arises. So he and his comrades who stood by 
amused themselves at their judge's expense, utterly 


regardless of the pains which he inflicted upon them. 
Firmilian, imagining that the Christians, driven to 
desperation, were massing in numbers on the eastern 
frontier of the empire with a view to war, plied the 
Egyptian with torture after torture, but the young man 
seemed to have no flesh and no body. He played his 
game to the end — he was going home te Jerusalem. 
At last Firmilian gave up the attempt to get anything 
more out of him, and ordered him to be beheaded. 
His four companions, some of whom were mere boys, 
were soon despatched to join him. 

Then Firmilian turned his attention to Pamphilus 
and his companions. One of them, Valens, was a 
venerable man, far advanced in years. He was a 
deacon of the church at Aelia, the earthly Jerusalem, 
and had a wonderful knowledge of the Bible. He had 
committed to memory so large a portion of it as to 
stand in no need of the written book ; wherever in it 
he was put on, Valens was able to continue. With 
him and Pamphilus was a third prisoner, named Paul. 
He belonged to the town of Jamnia in Palestine, and 
bore already upon his body the marks of previous 
suffering for his faith, where the hot irons had touched 
him. He was noted for his high spirit and his fervent 
zeal. These three men, after their long confinement, 
stood again before the magistrate ; but when Firmilian 
heard, perhaps for the first time, what they had gone 
through on former occasions, he felt that it would be 
only a waste of time to endeavour once more to force 
them into apostasy. He only asked them whether 
they were now disposed to submit and to sacrifice. 
Each of them in turn gave his final refusal, and the 
governor sentenced them to be beheaded. 

He had scarcely uttered the last sentence, and was 


turning to leave the court, when a boy's voice rang 
through the building, requesting the delivery of the 
bodies for burial. The brave boy who thus lifted up 
his voice from among the crowd surrounding the 
judgment-seat, was a slave in the family of "Pamphilus. 
His name was Porphyry. He was in his eighteenth 
year. His master valued him highly for the great 
beauty of his handwriting. All who frequented the 
house knew the charm of his grave and gentle 
manners. The pitiless Firmilian, however, was neither 
touched by Porphyry's youth, nor moved by the justice 
of the request. Ascertaining from the boy that he was 
a Christian, he applied himself and his executioners 
to break him of that profession. They handled his 
body as if it had been made of wood instead of flesh 
and blood. They went on with the business for a long 
time, until the boy could not speak and could hardly 
breathe. Then the brutal magistrate ordered them to 
take a piece of haircloth and rub it into the gashes 
which they had made in his sides. But no effect was 
produced, and Firmilian, tiring of the work, sentenced 
him to be burned alive in a slow fire. Clad only in 
the philosopher's cloak, which left his right arm and 
shoulder bare, the youth was led to the place of 
execution. His body was all covered with dust and 
blood, but his face was bright and full of spiritual 
exaltation. His mind was collected, and he spoke to 
those who knew him, and told them his last wishes 
with regard to his few possessions. The stake to which 
he was fastened was surrounded by faggots heaped up ; 
but they had been purposely arranged at a considerable 
distance from the stake, and the pile was lighted on the 
outside, in order that the fire might be the longer in 
reaching him. The first moment that the flame caught 


him, Porphyry gave one loud cry, calling upon Jesus, 
the Son of God, to help him. It was the only word 
that passed from his lips. Eager to be gone, he thrust 
his head — ^for his hands were bound — first on one side 
and then on the other, where the fire came nearest, and 
with his open mouth sucked in the flames and died. 
So he preceded the master whom he loved. 

The news of Porphyry's gallant death was carried 
to Pamphilus by a man of the name of Seleucus. 
A Cappadocian by birth, Seleucus had adopted the 
military profession, and rose high in the service. He 
was a man of commanding stature and presence, and 
remarkably handsome. At the very outset of the per- 
secution he had been cashiered for his religion, and 
had endured the disgraceful punishment of scourging. 
Since that time, Seleucus had given himself up to a life 
of devotion and to works of mercy. The orphan and 
the widow, the poor, the sick, the friendless, knew well 
his tall figure and his strong arm. He had learned 
that such kindnesses were the sacrifices with which 
God is really pleased. Perhaps none of his charit- 
able errands had ever given greater joy than when he 
brought word to Pamphilus and his companions of the 
glory which young Porphyry had won. Seleucus had 
bare time to deliver his message and to salute the group 
of martyrs with a brotherly kiss, when he was him- 
self arrested by the soldiers and led to the presence of 
the governor. Firmilian made short work with him. 
He sent him back at once, to have his head cut off 
with the rest. 

Of the death of Pamphilus himself no detail has 
been recorded ; but he was evidently beheaded soon 
after the death of Porphyry. 

Firmilian was not even then at the end of his 


bloody day's work. The great Pamphilus, Eusebius 
says, had set the door of heaven so wide open that day 
that it was easy for others to enter into the kingdom of 
God. The next to follow came from a quarter which 
gave Firmilian an unpleasant surprise. There was an 
old and trusted slave of his own, named Theodulus, 
who had long served the family with the utmost fidelity, 
and who had great-grandchildren in the same service. 
Theodulus was brought to his master, charged with the 
same offence as Seleucus — he had given the kiss of 
brotherhood to one of the martyrs. The exasperated 
Firmilian had the old man crucified at once. 

Eleven Christians had been despatched on that one 
day. Another offered himself, as if to complete the 
mystic number of the Patriarchs and of the Apostles. 
An inhabitant of Caesarea, called Julian, had been away 
from home, and happened to return from his absence 
that very day. Before he entered the gate of the city 
some one informed him of what had taken place. 
Instantly, without going to his house, Julian made 
his way to the spot where his fellow Christians had 
been executed. As soon as he saw the headless bodies 
lying outstretched upon the ground, in an ecstasy of 
devotion he threw himself upon each of the sacred 
corpses in turn and covered them with kisses. The 
executioners interrupted him, and took him to the 
governor, who gave him the martyrdom which he 
coveted, by means of a slow fire like Porphyry's. 
Leaping and shouting with delight, Julian went to his 
burning, and poured out his thanksgivings to God, 
who had so wonderfully blessed his home-coming. 
Like Seleucus, Julian was born in Cappadocia. He 
was esteemed a man of meek and gentle character, and 
breathed the fragrance of the Holy Spirit, 


By order of Firmilian the bodies of the martyrs 
lay for four days and four nights exposed to the beasts 
and birds of prey. But neither vulture, nor jackal, 
nor dog came near them ; and on the fifth day the 
Christians took them away and buried them reverently 
in a memorial chapel.^ 

These were not the only scenes of Christian forti- 
tude which were witnessed at Caesarea during the 
early days of Firmilian's governorship. A company 
of Christians were taken into custody at Gaza, where 
they were occupied in listening to the reading of the 
Bible. Some of them were treated in the way that had 
now become usual : their left feet were disabled, and 
their right eyes burned out. Others were still worse 
handled. A maiden named Ennatha, on being threat- 
ened with a horrible fate, could not contain her burning 
indignation, but loudly expressed her detestation of the 
tyrant emperor, who entrusted the government of the 
province to so barbarous a judge. For this outspoken 
language Ennatha was first submitted to the lash, and 
then hoisted upon the torture-block to have her sides 
laid open. When she had lain there for an hour or so, 
bearing patiently the thrice-repeated application of the 
knife or claw, a woman's voice cried aloud to the judge 
out of the crowded court, " How long do you mean 
to torture my sister in that barbarous way ? " The 
speaker was a woman of Caesarea, who had dedicated 
herself, like Ennatha, to a life of virginity. Her name 
was Valentina. She was of diminutive stature, and 
unattractive in appearance ; but her feelings were strong 
and her mind resolute. The sight of what they were 
doing to Ennatha was more than she could endure. Of 

^ Eusebius, De Mart. Pal, 7, ii; AnaUcta Bolland, xvi. p. 129. Cp. 
Texie und Unt, (as above), p. 74. 


course she was instantly set before Firmilian, and 
declared herself a Christian. The judge attempted to 
persuade her to sacrifice, but she refused. They 
dragged her up to the low altar, upon which a fire 
was burning. Valentina saw her opportunity and 
seized it. Her hands were held, but she deliberately 
raised her foot, and kicked o£F the altar the preparations 
for sacrifice, and the fire that lay upon it. The enraged 
Firmilian had her placed forthwith upon the block, 
and inflicted upon her a worse slashing of the sides 
than any one present had ever seen inflicted before. 
Then taking her down still alive, he tied her and 
Ennatha fast to each other and burned them together 
at the stake.^ 

A man named Paul was sentenced to death at the 
same time as the two maidens, though the sword, and 
not the fire, was assigned to him. He had not been 
subjected to tortures, but was condemned after a single 
refusal to sacrifice. When he came to the place of 
execution, Paul begged the executioner to give him a 
few minutes of respite, which he granted. Paul then 
lifted up his voice and praised God for allowing him 
the honour of martyrdom. Then he prayed for those 
of his own religion, that God would speedily grant 
them their liberty again ; then for the unfriendly Jews, 
of whom a large number were present, that they might 
be brought to God through Christ. He went on to 
pray in like manner for the Samaritans, and for the 
heathen who were still wandering in ignorance of God, 
that they might come to the knowledge of Him, and 
accept the true religion. He prayed especially for the 
mixed company of bystanders, and for the executioner, 
who was listening, waiting to cut off his head, for the 

1 Eusebius, De Mart, PaL & Cp. Texti und Unt. (as above), p. 60. 


judge who had sentenced him, and the emperors by 
whose authority he acted, beseeching God that his 
death might not be reckoned against them for sin. 
The people who stood near were moved to tears, and 
spoke freely of his death as undeserved ; but Paul 
calmly bared his neck, and held it in the best position 
to be severed, and so passed to his joy.^ 

Soon after the death of Paul there was a lull in the 
persecution, and many of the unfortunate prisoners in 
the mines were allowed to creep forth to such liberty 
as they were still capable of enjoying. But the lull 
was short. It was suddenly broken by a set of fresh 
injunctions to the civil and military authorities to 
enforce sacrifice more rigorously than before. Orders 
were given that every article sold in the markets should 
be sprinkled with drink-offerings, and that every one 
who availed himself of the public baths, which formed 
so large a part of the life of the time, should first 
partake of the sacrifices. The heathen themselves were 
disgusted at the length to which the government was 

Great excitement was naturally felt among the 
Christians. Three men at Caesarea agreed together, 
and sprang upon the governor as he was performing 
sacrifice in the middle of the city, calling upon him 
loudly to desist from his error. There was no other 
God, they said, besides the Creator. On being ques- 
tioned, they boldly confessed themselves Christians. 
Firmilian did not take the trouble to torture them, 
but ordered them to be beheaded. Their names were 
Antoninus, who was a presbyter ; Zebinas, who came 
from Eleutheropolis ; and Germanus. On the same 
day with them was slain a consecrated virgin from 

^ Ettsebius, De Mart Pal. S. Cp. Texte und Unt. (as above), p. 65. 


Scythopolis — another Ennatha. She had not been con- 
cerned in the daring act of Antoninus and the others, 
and had already suffered at the hands of an unautho- 
rised persecutor. There was an overbearing military 
officer named Maxys, who had long been a terror to 
the neighbourhood where he was stationed, who, with 
no commission from the magistrates, laid hold upon 
Ennatha, stripped off her clothes down to the waist, 
and had her dragged with thongs round Caesarea from 
market-place to market-place, and publicly flogged in 
each. At last he brought her to the governor, where 
she made a brave confession, and was sentenced to be 
burned alive. 

Firmilian, as once before, gave orders that the 
remains of these sufferers were to be left unburied. 
Day and night they lay exposed, with sentinels to watch 
them. The guards, who kept at a distance the friends 
who would have buried them, did nothing to drive off 
the beasts and the birds which fed on carrion. All 
Caesarea, pagan as well as Christian, was sickened by 
the sight of pieces of human flesh, bones, and entrails, 
which these creatures carried about and fought over, 
and dropped even inside the gates of the city. This state 
of things went on for several days, and then a strange 
occurrence took place. " It was fine, clear weather," 
says Eusebius, ''and the sky was brilliant and calm. 
Suddenly the pillars supporting the public colonnades 
which run through the city were seen to drip with 
what looked like tears. The streets and squares be- 
came mysteriously wet, though there was no discharge 
of moisture from the atmosphere. The saying passed 
from mouth to mouth that the earth itself, outraged 
at the horrors that had been perpetrated, wept, and 
that stones and lifeless wood mourned for what had 



been done, to put to shame the human beings whom 
nothing could melt or touch. I know/' says Eusebius, 
" that this will seem to those of a later time to be an 
absurdity and a fable, but it was not so to contem- 
poraries who knew the truth." ^ 

A little later another band of Egyptian Christians 
was arrested at the gates of Ascalon. They were bent 
on a similar errand to that of a company already 
mentioned. They were on their way to Cilicia, to 
minister to the wants of their fellow Christians in 
captivity there. Some of them were subjected to the 
same fate as those whom they were journeying to help, 
and were deprived of a foot and an eye. Three of 
them suffered death at Ascalon. One of the three, 
named Ares, was burned ; the other two, Promus and 
Elias, were beheaded. A month or so later, a young 
ascetic, known by the name of Peter Absalom, was 
brought before the governor at Caesarea. The governor 
and the bystanders alike were moved at the thought of 
his young life being thrown away for reasons which 
they could not understand. They implored him to 
spare himself, and to have compassion upon his tender 
years ; but Absalom valued his hopes of heaven more 
than life. He was sent to the fire. Bound to the 
same stake with him was a bishop of the once powerful 
but now dwindling sect which bore the name of the 
heretic Marcion. He had, Eusebius says, a zeal of 
godliness, though not according to knowledge. His 
name was Asclepius.^ 

While the martyrdom of Pamphilus and his com- 
panions was still fresh, two Christians from a distant part 
of Palestine came to the capital to visit the confessors. 

^ Eusebius, De Mart, Pal, 9. Cp. Texte und Unt, (as above), p. 66. 
' Eusebius, De Mart, Pal, 10. Cp. Texte und Unt, (as above), p. 7a 


The gate-keepers asked them their business. They 
made no secret of it. Thereupon they M^ere taken to 
the governor. Firmihan put them under torture there 
and then, and sentenced them to the wild beasts. Two 
days later was the feast of the Fortune of the city, and 
one of the two men, called Hadrian, was given to the 
lion. The lion, however, did not kill him, and he died 
by the sword. Two more days passed, and Eubulus, 
the other, was brought out. Firmilian besought him 
earnestly to sacrifice, and so to purchase his liberty. 
Eubulus would not hear of it, and, like his friend, was 
first exposed to the beasts, and then put to the sword. 
His was the last of the long line of martyrdoms which 
took place at the town of Caesarea.^ 

But there were still a few more crowns to be 
won in other parts of Palestine. The persecution 
was languishing to its close. When the year 310-— 
the eighth of the persecution — opened, the repressive 
measures against the Christians had been greatly relaxed. 
The maimed confessors in the mines of Phaeno had not 
been set at liberty, but, short of this, they were allowed 
to please themselves. With surprising hardihood they 
had even set apart places of Christian worship within 
the precincts of the mines. 

One day, the successor of Firmilian in the govern- 
ment of the province — for Firmilian himself had 
been disgraced and beheaded, like Urban before 
him — paid a visit to the place. He felt constrained 
to report what he had seen to the emperor Maximin. 
Instructions were sent without delay from head- 
quarters, in accordance with which the church in 
the mines was broken up. Some of the confessors 
were sent to Cyprus, some to the Lebanon, others to 

^ Eusebius, De Mart. Pal, ii. Cp. TexU und Unt, (as above), p. 103. 


other parts of Palestine. Four of them were made an 
example of. They were all Egyptians. Two bishops, 
called Peleus and Nilus, a presbyter whose name is 
not recorded, and a layman called Patermuthius, who 
had distinguished himself by his devotion to the interests 
of others, were despatched to the officer in command 
of the troops in the district, who summoned them to 
renounce their religion, and, upon their refusal, burned 
them alive. * 

There were others to whom had been assigned a 
special location at Phaeno. They were persons who 
through old age, excessive mutilation, or other bodily 
infirmity, were incapable of work, and had been turned 
loose in a separate compound of their own. At the 
head of this group was a bishop who has been mentioned 
before, Silvanus of Gaza. Again and again since the 
first outbreak of the persecution Silvanus had been put 
to the proof, and had never failed. The Egyptian con- 
tingent was conspicuous in this group as in other circles 
of confessors. Among them was a man named John, 
who was gifted with a prodigious memory. He had 
lost the sight of his eyes before the persecution touched 
him ; but when he came into conflict with the magis- 
trates he was not only condemned, like the rest, to lose 
a foot, but in wantonness of cruelty the scorching iron 
was applied to his blind eyes. John was a "philo- 
sopher," or monk ; and he committed to memory, both 
before and after his loss of sight, whole books of the 
Bible, so that he was able at an instant to produce out 
of his unseen storehouse law and prophecy and history, 
gospels and epistles. Eusebius relates how on one 
occasion he entered the church where John was standing 
up in the midst of a great congregation of people, 
reciting passages of Scripture. Judging only by the 


voice, he supposed that it was an ordinary reader at 
the lectionary ; but on advancing a little further he saw, 
to his astonishment, the blind man delivering the inspired 
words to his fellow Christians who had the use of their 
eyes. It was to the philosophical historian a supreme 
proof of the reality and the supremacy of the human 
soul, that one whose bodily powers had been taken 
from him one after another should show such superiority 
over men of sound and perfect frames. 

These Christians, unable to do anything else, spent 
their days in prayer and fasting, and in mutual en- 
couragements and assistance. At length a missive came 
from Maximin to exterminate them. Nine and thirty 
of them, including Silvanus and John, were brought out 
and beheaded on the same day. So ended the tragic 
history of the martyrs of Palestine.^ 

^ Eusebius, Dt Mart, PaL 13. Cp. Texte und UrU, (as above), p. 105. 



The see of Alexandria was held during the greater 
part of these troubled years by a holy bishop of the 
name of Peter. When the first break in the storm 
took place at Eastertide in the year 306, Peter put 
forth a series of canons, or regulations, for the treat- 
ment of Christians who had failed under the trial. 
Christians who had not broken the Church's rule by 
going to the magistrates of their own accord, but had 
been arrested, and after many tortures had given way, 
and had now been under penance for nearly three 
years, were to be readmitted to communion, because 
they bore in their bodies the marks of the Lord Jesus ; 
but they were to prolong their Lent after Easter for 
another forty days that they might learn to be able to 
say to the tempter, like the Lord Himself, " Get thee 
hence, Satan ; thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, 
and Him only shalt thou serve." Another year's 
probation is assigned to those who had not been 
tortured, but whose spirits had been broken by the 
hardships and foul smells of the prison in spite of the 
bountiful alleviations which the brethren had supplied 
to them. This measure of extra discipline would teach 
them to long for deliverance from the far worse 
captivity of sin, and lead them to Him who said, 
" The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me ; because He 

hath anointed Me to set at liberty them that are 



bruised." Men who had weakly surrendered at the 
beginning without suffering anything at all, but who 
now • were penitent, were to take for their warning 
the parable of the fruitless fig-tree, from which fruit 
was expected — first for three years, and then for a 
year more, while due nourishment and culture was 
graciously bestowed upon it* If at the end of the 
fourth year there were not fruits worthy of repentance, 
the tree must be cut down. Some there were who 
had feigned submission to the edict, like David who 
feigned epilepsy when he was no epileptic. They had 
deceived the authorities into thinking that they had 
complied, and afterwards, like some in Cyprian's day, 
had obtained indulgences from stronger brethren who 
had stood firm in their confession. Indulgence or 
no indulgence, Peter insisted that they should do six 
months' penance before he would hear of their being 
restored to communion. Some base-minded Christians 
had sent Christian slaves to represent them at the 
sacrifices. The slaves who had been terrified into this 
dishonesty were to continue a year under penitential 
discipline, and learn that they were the servants of 
Christ and not of men ; the masters were to be under 
the same discipline thrice as long, both for their 
hypocritical compliance with the heathen law, and 
for having compelled their "fellow-servants" to sacri- 
fice, in order to save their own necks at the risk of 
those of their equals in Christ. Another class of 
penitents consisted of men who had been betrayed to 
the persecutors and had fallen, but, after their fall, 
had voluntarily come forward again and confessed 
their faith, and had been imprisoned for it, and 
tortured. These were to be joyfully welcomed at 
once to communion and all other Christian privileges; 


*'for a just man," says the Scripture, "falleth seven 
times, and riseth up again." 

The prudent see of Alexandria had words of grave 
though kindly reproof for those who volunteered for 
martyrdom, even though they came well out of the 
trial ; they were not to be refused communion, 
because it was for Christ's sake that they had done 
what they did : but they are reminded that Christ 
has bidden us pray that we might not enter into 
temptation. " Perhaps they are unaware," says the 
considerate bishop, ''how frequently our Master Him- 
self withdrew from those who designed mischief for 
Him, and sometimes would not walk openly because 
of them ; and when the time of His passion drew 
near, He did not deliver Himself up, but waited until 
they came against Him with swords and staves. He 
wishes us to skip from place to place when we are 
persecuted for His name's sake. It is not His will 
that we should present ourselves of our own accord 
to the attendants and men-at-arms of the devil, and 
bring upon them the guilt of additional deaths, com- 
pelling them to be more cruel than they would other- 
wise have been." If any member of the clergy therefore 
had been guilty of such forbidden and self-seeking 
rashness, and had found himself unequal to the 
contest and had fallen, he was not to be allowed on 
his recovery to resume ministerial functions. Personal 
forgiveness was to be his, and the communion of the 
Church ; but he had forfeited the right to minister to 
the souls of others by a behaviour so contrary to the 
spirit of the apostle who desired to depart and to be 
with Christ, but who saw that it was more needful for 
others that he should abide in the flesh, not seeking 
his own profit, but the profit of many, that they might 


be saved. Yet the good bishop could not find it in his 
heart to censure those who, at the beginning of the 
persecution, standing at the judgment-seat and watch- 
ing the sufferings of the martyrs, had been unable 
to contain their emotion, and had declared themselves 
Christians ; still less those who were present when 
their fellow Christians fell away under torture, and 
who felt that the defection of others was a challenge 
to themselves to show the adversary what believers 
think of torturing claws, and scourges, and the sharp 
sword, and the burning fire, and the whelming water. 
For men who in such circumstances offered themselves 
up, Peter has nothing but warm-hearted words of 

Prayers were to be offered by the faithful for 
those whose flesh had proved too weak to endure 
under persecution. " It does no one any harm," says 
Peter, "to share the grief and pain of those who are 
lamenting and groaning for their parents or brethren 
or children who have been overcome. We know that 
in some cases the goodness of God has been bestowed 
in answer to the faith of others, both for remission of 
sins and for bodily health, and even for resurrection 
from the dead." Christians will therefore pray together 
for the fallen, through Him who is our Advocate with 
the Father and the propitiation for our sins. No blame 
is to be attached to those who have paid money to be 
left unmolested in their religion. They have shown 
their earnestness on its behalf by the pecuniary losses 
they have borne, which is more, says the good bishop, 
than many others have done. Their conduct is, 
according to his interpretation of the words, justified 
by the conduct of Jason and others spoken of in the 
Acts, who were drawn to the rulers of the city, but 


were released on the payment of a consideration. Still 
less open to question was the conduct of those who 
had forsaken all their property and withdrawn into 
hiding, even if others were apprehended instead of 
them. St. Paul allowed himself to keep in the back- 
ground, while Gaius and Aristarchus, his companions 
in travel, were dragged into the theatre. St. Peter was 
rescued from chains by an angel, though it cost the 
lives of four quaternions of soldiers who kept the 
prison. Jesus Himself in infancy was sent away from 
Bethlehem by a divine intimation, leaving the other 
babes of the district to be slaughtered and — as Peter 
of Alexandria supposed — Zacharias, the father of the 
forerunner, to be slain for his connivance, between the 
temple and the altar. Finally, "if any have been 
subjected to violent compulsion, and the gag has* 
been put in their mouths and their arms have been 
tied, while they have remained firm in faith and 
purpose, so that their hands have been scorched by 
the fire of the unhallowed sacrifice to which they 
have been unwillingly brought near — as was the case 
with those in Libya, as the letter of the blessed 
martyrs in prison informs me, and others likewise 
who are their fellow-ministers — such men, especially 
when they have also the testimony of the other 
brethren, may continue in their ministry, and be 
counted among the confessors ; and so in like 
manner may those who swooned under repeated 
tortures, and were unable to speak or utter a sound, 
or make a movement of protest against the futile 
violence done to them ; for they gave no assent to 
their pollution, as I am informed once more by fellow- 
ministers. Every one shall be counted among the 
confessors who lives, like Timothy, in obedience to 


him who says, 'Follow after righteousness, godliness, 
faith, love, patience, meekness ; fight the good fight of 
faith, lay hold on eternal life whereunto thou art called, 
and hast confessed the good confession before many 
witnesses.' " 

It seemed in that spring, when Peter issued these 
large-minded regulations, that peril was over, and that 
the Church only needed to close up her ranks, and 
to repair her breaches. But not very long after they 
were issued, the holy author of them was compelled 
to put in practice the conduct which he had justified. 
Like his predecessor Denys, he fled from Alexandria ; 
and as Denys had been assailed as a deserter from 
his post by the hot-headed Germanus, so Peter in 
his concealment was forced to see his diocese and 
his province invaded and overrun by Meletius, the 
next to him in rank of the Egyptian bishops, who 
ordained priests without asking Peter's consent, over- 
threw Peter's arrangements, and left a schism in Egypt 
which even the great Council of Nicaea failed to heal, 
and which lingered on for at least a hundred years 
after both Meletius and Peter were dead. 

The death of Peter came to him at last in the 
form that he would most have desired. His life had 
become one of ever-increasing severity. Penitence 
for past sin, which he thought to have been enough 
to exhaust the long-suffering of God, was joined to 
the strictest watchfulness over the present. On one 
occasion he is said to have been troubled by blas- 
phemous thoughts. In his trouble he consulted the 
brave bishop Paphnutius, who some years later took 
part in the Council of Nicaea, where he showed the 
gaping socket out of which his eye had been dug 
in the persecution. Paphnutius, a man of sense as 


well as courage, told him that, when he too had been 
tempted with such thoughts, he had replied to the 
tempter, "O evil one, this blasphemy against God is 
thine, and shall recoil upon thyself." When the 
persecution was near its end, a sudden order came 
from Maximin, giving no explanations, and Peter was 
seized and beheaded.^ 

The most eminent of the Egyptian prelates, who 
looked up to Peter as their " great bishop and father," 
was Phileas of Thmuis. A man of wealth and position 
before he became a bishop, he was also learned in 
secular and philosophic literature, and enjoyed great 
popularity among the townspeople, even among those 
who did not share his faith. Phileas, along with 
other bishops, was thrown into prison ; but they suc- 
ceeded in keeping up constant intercourse with their 
dioceses, and were justly indignant with Meletius for 
acting as if their sees were vacant. 

Great part of one letter is preserved, in which 
Phileas addressed his flock at Thmuis not long before 
his death. He describes how the martyrs with whom 
he had been associated strengthened themselves by 
meditation upon the examples and promises contained 
in Holy Scripture, and especially the example of Jesus 
Christ Himself, ''who was made man for us that 
He might extirpate all sin, and provide us with 
sustenance for our entrance into eternal life." *' There- 
fore," he continues, ''bearing Christ within them, 
the martyrs coveted earnestly the best gifts, and 
endured every distress and every outrage that could 
be desired, some of them not only once, but twice 
over ; and, though the guards vied with each other 
against them to frighten them by acts as well as by 

^ Routh, Rel, Sacr. iv. 31 foil., esp. p. 80. 


words, they did not abandon their conviction, because 
their perfect love cast out fear." 

"Every one who pleased," says Phileas, "was at 
liberty to insult them. Some hit them with sticks, 
some with rods, others with whips, or thongs, or 
ropes. The spectacle of outrage was constantly 
shifting ; the utmost malice was employed. Some 
had their hands tied behind their backs, and every 
member of their bodies racked as they hung on the 
hobby-horse. Then, when they were in that condition, 
the torturers went to work, by order, upon all parts 
of their bodies : the rule with murderers is to torture 
them only on the sides, but they punished the martyrs 
on the belly, the shins, and the cheeks. Others were 
hung up aloft on the portico by one hand, to bear 
that worst of all pains which comes from the tension 
of the joints and limbs; others were fastened to the 
pillars, facing one another, their feet not reaching 
the ground, so that their weight bore upon the ropes 
and tightened them. And this they endured not only 
during the time that the governor was talking to 
them and at leisure to attend to them, but almost the 
whole day ; for when he turned to others, he left his 
apparitors to keep an eye on the earlier cases, on 
the chance that one or another might show signs 
of giving way under the sufiFering. He ordered the 
chains to be mercilessly tightened ; and then, when 
the men fainted, he told the officials to lay them on 
the ground and drag them away, for no heed what- 
soever was to be bestowed upon them ; they were 
to be thought of and dealt with as dead men. Here 
was a second form of torture invented by the enemies, 
to follow upon the wounds they had inflicted. Some 
there were who after the tortures were left lying 


on the hobby, with both feet stretched to the length 
of four holes, so that they were forced to lie back 
upon the hobby, although they could not bear it, 
because their bodies were all covered with flesh 
wounds. Others, flung upon the ground, lay there, 
unable to move because of the accumulated injuries 
which they had suffered, and presenting to the be- 
holders a sight more dreadful than the infliction itself, 
because they bore upon their persons so many different 
devices of torment. Some of them actually expired 
under torture, thus putting the adversary to shame 
by their steadfastness ; others, already half-dead when 
they were committed to prison, were perfected after 
not many days by the pains which crushed them. 
The rest, receiving restorative treatment, became bolder 
in course of time during their sojourn in prison. So, 
when the choice was given them either to touch the 
abominable sacrifice, and obtain an accursed liberty, 
and have no more trouble, or on the other hand to 
be sentenced to death on refusing to sacrifice, without 
a moment's hesitation they went gaily to their deaths. 
For they knew what is laid down for us by the 
Holy Scripture, ' He that sacrificeth to other gods, 
he shall be utterly destroyed,' and 'Thou shalt have 
none other gods but Me.' " ^ 

The turn of Phileas himself came ; but he was 
spared the horror of those tortures which he so 
graphically describes. Culcian, a trusted friend of 
Maximin, was by that time prefect of Egypt. He 
shrank from treating the learned bishop like an ordi- 
nary criminal. Perhaps no recorded trial since those 
of Cyprian and Achatius, fifty years before, has the 
same kind of interest as that of Phileas. 

^ Eusebius, Hist, EccL viii. lo. 


*' Phileas was placed in the dock. Culcian, the 
governor, said to him, 'Can you now be brought 
to reason ? ' Phileas answered, ' I have always lived 
reasonably, and am reasonable now/ 'Sacrifice to 
the gods/ 'I do not sacrifice.' 'Why not?' 'Be- 
cause the sacred and divine Scriptures say. He that 
sacrificeth unto any god, save unto God only, he 
shall be utterly destroyed/" Culcian was ready to 
meet his prisoner on that point. "Then sacrifice to 
God only," he said. If the act were performed, he 
would not quarrel about the name. "No," answered 
Phileas ; " God does not desire such sacrifices. The 
Scriptures say, 'To what purpose is the multitude of 
your sacrifices unto Me 7 saith the Lord. I am full of 
the burnt o£Ferings of rams, and the fat of lambs ; and 
I delight not in the blood of he-goats. Offer me no 
fine flour/" One of the advocates in court burst in, 
" Has fine flour anything to do with your case ? are 
you not pleading for your life ? " " What sacrifices 
does your God delight in ? " asked the governor. 
" God delights in a clean heart," answered the bishop, 
"and in pure thoughts, and in the sacrifice of true 
speech/' "Now offer/' "I do not offer; I have 
never learned to do it." Culcian had some acquain- 
tance with Christianity. " Did not Paul offer sacrifice ? " 
he said. "God forbid," was the answer. "Nor 
Moses ? " " Only the Jews," Phileas answered, " were 
commanded to sacrifice, to none but God, and only 
at Jerusalem. The Jews do wrong now, by celebrating 
their rites in other places." "A truce to these idle 
words ; sacrifice even now/' " I will not defile my 
soul/' "Do we endanger our souls by it?" "Yes, 
both soul and body." "This body?" "Yes, this 
body." " Will this flesh of ours rise again ? " " Yes." 


Culcian suddenly returned to what he had heard 
about St. Paul. "Paul denied Christ, did he not?" 
" No," said Phileas ; '' God forbid." Another sudden 
change of subject : " I have sworn the oath ; do you- 
swear too." "We are not bidden to swear. The Holy 
Scripture sajrs, Let your yea be yea, and your nay, nay." 
" Paul was a persecutor, was he not ? " " No ; certainly 
not." " Paul was no scholar. He was a Syrian, was 
he not, and taught in Syriac ? " " No ; he was a 
Hebrew, and he taught in Greek. He had the loftiest 
wisdom that ever man had." " Perhaps you will tell 
me," said the philosophical magistrate, "that he was 
superior to Plato." "He was not only wiser than 
Plato," replied Phileas, " but wiser than all the philoso- 
phers put together. He made converts of wise men, 
and, if you please, I will tell you what he said." " Come 
now, sacrifice." " I do not sacrifice." " Have you a 
conscientious objection?" "Yes." "Then why does 
not your conscience tell you to do what is right by your 
wife and children ? " " Conscience towards God has 
the higher claim. The Bible says, Thou shalt love the 
Lord thy God, who made thee." " What God is that ? " 
Phileas spread out his hands towards heaven, and 
answered, " The God who made heaven and earth, the 
sea, and all things that are therein ; the Creator and 
Maker of all things visible and invisible ; the God whom 
words cannot express, who alone is and abides for ever. 

The advocates wished to stop Phileas from further 
speech. "Why," they said, "do you withstand the 
governor ? " Phileas replied, " I am only answering his 
own question." Culcian said curtly, "Spare your 
tongue, and sacrifice." " I do not sacrifice," the 
bishop once more replied ; " I wish to spare my soul. 


Christians are not the only people who thus spare their 
souls. Gentiles do the same. Remember Socrates, for 
instance. When he was led to death, though his wife 
and children stood by, he would not turn back, but 
drank the deadly hemlock cheerfully." "Was Christ 
a god ? " the governor asked abruptly. " Yes," said 
Phileas, " Christ was God." " What makes you think 
that he was a god ? " " He made the blind to see, the 
deaf to hear ; He cleansed the lepers, raised the dead, 
restored speech to the dumb, and healed many sicknesses. 
A woman with an issue of blood touched the hem of 
His garment, and was made whole. After His own 
death. He rose again; and He did many other signs 
and wonders besides." " And God was crucified, was 
He?" "He was crucified for our salvation. He 
knew that He should be crucified and should su£Fer 
shame, and freely gave Himself to endure all for us. 
The Holy Scriptures had foretold these things concerning 
Him, — the Scriptures which the Jews think they hold, 
but do not. Let any one who wishes come and see 
whether this is not the case." 

" You remember," said Culcian, " that I have paid 
you a compliment. I might have disgraced you in your 
own city ; but I wished to pay you a compliment, and 
forbore." " I am much obliged to you," answered the 
bishop, "and only beg you to complete the obligation." 
" What is your desire ? " " That you would do your 
worst upon me. Do what you have been ordered to 
do." " Do you wish to die for nothing ? " " Not for 
nothing, but for God and for the truth." " Paul, 
now," said Culcian, " was he a god ? " " No." " What 
was he, then ?" "A man like us ; only the Spirit of 
God was in him, and by the Spirit he did miracles and 
signs and wonders." 



The heathen brother of Phileas was present in court 
" I make a present of you to your brother," said the 
judge. " Do me a still greater favour," said Phileas ; 
" use all your power upon me, and do as you are 
bidden." " If I knew that you were a poor man," 
answered Culcian, " and that want had driven you into 
this madness, I would not spare you. But you have 
plenty of wealth ; you could maintain almost the whole 
province, as well as yourself ; so I wish to spare you, 
and to persuade you to oflFer." " I cannot oflfer," said 
Phileas ; " I say it to spare myself." The advocates 
interposed again. '* He has already offered," they said, 
" in the school yonder." " I did nothing of the sort," 
he cried. "Your poor wife," said the governor, "is 
making for you." "The Lord Jesus Christ is the 
Saviour of all our spirits," said the saint, — "whom I 
serve in bonds. He who has called me to the in- 
heritance of His glory is able to call her also." 
" Phileas asks for a remand," called out the advocates. 
"I grant you a remand," the governor said to him, 
"that you may reflect." "I have reflected many 
times," he answered, " and have elected to suffer with 

Then a striking scene took place. The friendly 
advocates, the officials who attended the prefect, the 
curator or mayor of Thmuis, joined with the family of 
Phileas, and threw themselves at the bishop's feet, 
imploring him to think of his wife and children. " He, 
like a rock washed by the waves which cannot move 
it, rejected their clamorous words. His mind was set 
towards heaven, and he kept God before his eyes, and 
said that it was duty to think of the holy martyrs and 
apostles as his kinsfolk and near friends." 

Phileas was accompanied by a Christian of high 


position in the civil service, whose name was Philoro- 
mus* Seeing Phileas beset by his weeping friends and 
by the machinations of the governor, Philoromus urged 
them to allow Phileas to follow his own mind. Culcian 
gave sentence that both Phileas and Philoromus should 
be beheaded. As they were on the way to the place of 
execution, the brother of Phileas, who was himself one 
of the advocates practising in the prefect's court, cried 
out that Phileas desired to have his sentence cancelled. 
Culcian called the bishop back, and asked on what 
grounds his appeal was based. ''I made no appeal," 
answered Phileas ; " God forbid that I should. Pay 
no attention to this unhappy man. I have nothing but 
gratitude to the emperors and the government, for I am 
made a fellow heir with Jesus Christ." Then Phileas 
went forth. When they reached the spot, Phileas 
stretched out his hands towards the east, and addressed 
a short exhortation to the Christians within hearing ; 
then, after an ascription of glory to the Spotless One, 
who sitteth upon the cherubim, and who is the 
Beginning and the End, the two men received the 
headsman's stroke, and ''their unconquerable spirits 
were set free." ^ 

A powerful and touching poem of Charles Kingsley's 
has made known to many English people the names of 
Timothy and Maura, who sufiFered — apparently in that 
part of Egypt known as the Thebaid — a year or so earlier 
than Phileas. Timothy was a reader in the town to 
which he belonged. One of the first objects of this 
persecution was to destroy the sacred books of 
Christianity, and Timothy was required by the magis- 
trate to give up his books. He refused, saying — 
though the story has not come down to us in such a 

^ Ruinarti p. 434 ; Knopf, p. 102. 


form that we can entirely rely upon the words which 
are put into the mouths of the martyrs — that the books 
were as dear to him as children. He refused likewise 
to sacrifice, and torture was used to compel him. Hot 
spits were thrust into his ears. He lost the sight of 
his eyes under the torment. Arrian, the magistrate, 
ordered him to be treated like some of those of whom 
Phileas speaks ; he was to be fastened head downwards 
to one of the pillars of the colonnade, with his mouth 
in a gag and a stone round his neck. 

The executioners themselves hesitated to inflict so 
horrible a punishment, and came to Arrian and sug- 
gested that milder methods might be more efficacious. 
The man was newly married, they said. It was not 
quite three weeks since the wedding. Perhaps the 
young wife might be able to persuade him. Arrian 
sent for Maura. He told her that he was sorry to 
think of her being left a widow at her age, and bade 
her put on her best looks and induce her husband to 
conform. She did what she could. The gag was 
taken from Timothy's mouth to enable him to answer 
her ; but the only use which he made of ^Jiis lips was 
to implore his father, the priest Poecilius, to throw 
something over his head, that he might not see the 

The story ascribes to Maura a pathetic expostula- 
tion, which throws light upon the manners and customs 
of the time. She did not deserve such treatment, she 
said. Timothy did not yet know her, nor was she yet 
really at home in his house. He could not suspect 
her of being unfaithful to him during these twenty 
days of married life. Why should she be left a widow ? 
Why did he wish to die ? Was he in debt ? Had he 
been arrested for not paying taxes that were due ? 


She would give him all her wedding ornaments ; they 
would sell all they had in the house and pay it off. 
Then she tried another way of arguing. When Satur- 
day and Sunday came, who was to read Timothy's 
books instead of him ? 

Timothy answered her patiently, and entreated her 
to join with him, and to go with him to the Saviour, 
who would not impute their trespasses to them if they 
went to Him freely. The poor girl (she was only 
seventeen) replied that that was what she longed to 
do, but that she did not know that she might. She 
thought she was not good enough, but what her hus- 
band had said did her good, and for his sake she 
would try to be better. Timothy told her to go to 
the governor, and say what she thought of these pro- 
ceedings. "O brother Timothy," she cried, "I am 
afraid .that when I see the governor angry, and all the 
dreadful tortures, I shall not be able to bear the pain.'' 
" Hope in the Lord Jesus Christ," he answered, " and 
the tortures will be like oil poured over you." 

She went. The magistrate offered to find her a 
fine husband, instead of Timothy, if she would abandon 
her religion. Upon her refusal, she went through a 
variety of horrors. One saying ascribed to her has 
a sound of truth about it. They put her into a caldron 
of hot water. The brave girl mocked at the tempera- 
ture. " If you have not fuel enough to heat it," she 
said, '' send to my father. He is a builder. He will 
give you a cartload of wood to heat this caldron." 

At length the governor gave sentence that the hus- 
band and wife should be crucified, face to face. For 
more than a week, it is said, they hung there, with the 
well-known powers of endurance which belonged to 
their race, still alive, conversing with one another. 


They agreed together not to seek relief in sleep, lest 
the Lord should come, and be wroth at finding them 
sleeping. Sleep came, however, from time to time, 
unbidden, and with it the dreams that were natural 
in their situation. 

'* Wabe up, brother," cried Maura at one time ; 
'* I saw, in a kind of trance, a man standing before 
me with a cup of milk and honey in his hand, and 
he said to me, 'Take this, and drink.' And I said to 
him, * Who art thou ? ' He answered, * An angel of 
God.' Then I said to him, 'Arise, then, and let us 
pray.' But he said, ' I came because I had compassion 
on thee, because thou wast fasting till the ninth hour, 
^nd wast hungry.' I answered, 'What makes thee to 
speak like that ? Why may I not su£Fer and endure ? 
Knowest thou not that, when we pray, God grants us 
things that are impossible ? ' And when I began to 
pray I saw him turn away from me, and I perceived 
at once that it was a device of the enemy, who desired 
to overcome us upon the cross ; and forthwith he 
departed from me." 

Another time : " One came and led me to a river 
that flowed with milk and honey, saying to me, ' Drink.' 
And I said, ' I have already said that I will not drink 
water, nor taste any other kind of drink, until I drink 
Christ's cup, which is mingled for me by death unto 
salvation and everlasting life.' The man himself drank ; 
and as he did so the river was changed, and the man 
departed from us." 

In a third dream : " One stood by me in comely 
raiment, with his face shining like the sun ; and he 
grasped me by the hand, and took me into heaven, 
and showed me a throne made ready, with a white 
robe and a crown upon it. I was astonished, and said. 


* Whose are these, my lord ? ' And he answered me, 

* These are the rewards of thy victory ; the throne and 
crown are prepared for thee.' Then he took me 
somewhat higher, and showed me another throne, 
which likewise had a white robe and a crown ; and 
when I asked whose they were, he said, 'These are 
thy husband Timothy's.' Then I prayed him to tell 
me why there was a distance between the thrones, and 
he said to me, ' There is a great di£Ference between thee 
and thy husband. Knowest thou not that it is through 
him and his exhortation that thou wilt receive the 
crown? Go thy way, therefore, and return to thy 
body until the sixth hour. To-morrow the angels will 
come to receive your souls, and to carry them to 
heaven. But watch ye, that the enemy may not again 
assail you.' " ^ 

No martyrs of the time showed greater fortitude 
than those of the Thebaid. Sometimes, Eusebius tells 
us, they were scraped to death with potsherds. Women 
were hung up by one foot, head downwards, without 
a shred of clothing. Some were tied up to the trunks 
of trees, and there left to die. There were cases in 
which the branches of neighbouring trees were brought 
together by mechanical appliances, the legs of the 
martyr secured to the two branches, and then the 
branches released, so as to rend the unhappy crea- 
ture asunder. This kind of thing lasted, not for a 
few days, but for years together. The number of 
the sufferers was great. Ten, twenty, thirty, even 
sixty, and as many as a hundred were put to death 
in one day — men, women, and quite young children. 
Nothing could daunt the enthusiasm of the believersJ 
*' As soon as sentence was pronounced upon one batch/ 

^ Acta Sanclarum, May 3. f 


another batch made their appearance from somewhere 
else, and sprang upon the dais where the magistrate 
sat, confessing themselves Christians, offering them- 
selves without concern to torture in all its various 
horrible shapes, without a moment of fear, giving open 
expression to their confident devotion to Almighty God, 
and receiving the sentence of death with joy and 
laughter and merriment, singing psalms and hymns, 
and ofiFering thanksgivings to God with their last 
breath," ^ 

The great French tragedian who dramatised the 
friendship of Polyeuctus and Nearchus attempted also 
to dramatise the story of two Egyptian martyrs, be- 
longing to this period, whose names were Didymus 
and Theodora. Perhaps the story, as it has come 
down from antiquity, is as affecting as in the form 
given to it by Corneille. 

The judge called for Theodora. The ofl&cers of 
the court presented her. "What is your rank?" he 
asked. " I am a Christian." " Free-woman or slave ? " 
" I have told you, I am a Christian. Christ's coming 
set me free. So far as this world goes, I was free 
born." "Call the curator of the city." He came. 
"Tell me," said the judge, "what you know of this 
girl, Theodora." The curator said that she was of a 
respectable family. Theodora had taken the vows of a 
virgin. "Why," asked the judge, "if you are of good 
family, did you not wish to be married ? " " For 
Christ's sake," she answered ; "His coming in the 
flesh delivered us from corruption, and brought to us 
eternal life. I will not abandon my faith in Him, and 
I am determined to live a life of virginity." The judge 
replied by telling her of the monstrous order by which 

^ Eusebius, Hist, EccL viii. 9. 


Christian women of her views were to be reduced 
to compliance by physical outrages. Probably Theo- 
dora was already acquainted with the order. '' I think 
that you must know/' she is said calmly to have replied, 
''that the Lord has regard to men's wills. God sees 
the chastity of the intention. If you compel me to 
thiS; it is no sin of mine, but a thing violently inflicted 
upon me." " Do not bring shame upon your family/' 
said the judge ; '' it is a disgrace which will never be 
forgotten." " Christ/' she answered, " will know how 
to preserve His own turtle-dove." "Why are you so 
misguided," he said, ''as to trust a man who was 
crucified? Do not flatter yourself that you will be 
kept from stain in the place that I shall send you to." 
Theodora's answer showed that her spirit was not 

" I have borne with your speeches," said the judge, 
" and have not yet applied torture to you ; but if you 
persist in your opposition, you must be treated like 
any slave girl. I must see that the commands of our 
lords, the emperors, are performed in your case, as an 
example, to other women." Theodora answered that 
her body was in the judge's power, but that God alone 
had power over her soul. "Slap her pretty sharply 
with the palms of your hands," said the judge, " and 
say to her, ' Do not be a fool, but go near and sacrifice 
to the gods.' " " By the Lord," she answered, " I will 
not sacrifice, nor worship devils, when I have the Lord 
for my helper." "Foolish woman/' said the judge, 
" you compel me to do what is an insult to a lady like 
yourself, to throw you into the hands of such a rabble 
as is waiting for your sentence to be pronounced." 
Theodora replied that it was no folly to confess the 
Lord, and that what the judge called shame would turn 


to her everlasting glory. He answered that he could 
wait no longer ; he had waited in the hope of persuad- 
ing her, but if he spared her any longer he would be 
disobeying the imperial orders. *' As you are afraid/' 
the girl answered, '^ and make haste to do as you are 
bidden, so I make haste not to deny my Lord. I am 
afraid to despise the true King." 

The judge said that he would give her three days' 
grace. If at the end of that time she was not more 
compliant, he swore that he would send her to a bad 
place. She only begged him to guarantee that no harm 
should be done to her before the three days expired. 
At the end of the time her mind was unchanged ; the 
revolting sentence was pronounced, and Theodora was 
taken away to a den of sin and infamy. 

But the Lord in whom she had trusted did not 
desert her. The first person who entered the chamber 
where Theodora was confined was the Christian Didy- 
mus. Wrapping himself in a soldier's cloak and crush- 
ing a large hat over his head, he pushed his way 
through the crowd of people who were amusing them- 
selves by watching the house ; and giving the hat and 
cloak to Theodora, he insisted upon her escaping in 
them and leaving him in her stead. He told her to 
hang her head low, and to speak to nobody. 

When Didymus was discovered, he was of course 
taken to the magistrate. The magistrate asked, who 
put it into his head to do what he had done. ''God 
sent me to do it," was the simple answer. *' Confess 
before you are tortured," said the magistrate, '' where 
Theodora is." "By Jesus Christ, the Son of God," 
replied Didymus, '' I do not know where she is. I only 
know and am sure that she is the handmaid of God, 
and that having confessed Christ she was preserved 


from stain. It is not my doing, but the Lord's. God 
has dealt with her according to her faith, as you very 
well know if you would confess it." Didymus was 
sent to execution, and died thanking God for having 
favoured and blessed his device for the preservation of 

^ Ruinart, p. 351. 



Across the narrow seas from Nicomedia, where the 
last of the persecutions began, lay the great province 
of Thrace. That part of it of which the capital was 
Heraclea was governed at the time by a magistrate 
of the name of Bassus. The wife of Bassus was 
herself a Christian, and this circumstance made the 
governor disinclined to proceed against the Christians 
more severely than he was compelled to do. For 
nearly a year after the persecuting edict the Christian 
assemblies were not interfered with, and the church 
buildings remained standing. 

The Bishop of Heraclea was a venerable man, 
named Philip. When the feast of the Epiphany was 
approaching — the feast which at that time and in that 
country commemorated the Nativity of Christ — ^the 
Christian people of the city urged him to escape, as 
there were signs that Bassus could no longer resist the 
pressure brought to bear upon him. He refused to 
leave his post. '' Let the heavenly commandment be 
fulfilled," he said. He told them that Christ would 
give to His soldiers power to endure and good reward 
for their endurance, and that he was convinced that 
the purpose of the enemy would be defeated. 

While he was speaking, a police officer appeared 
upon the scene, charged by Bassus to close the church 

door against the Christians, and to set a seal upon it. 



The bishop's only reply was that it was " a foolish and 
dreary persuasion " which thought that God dwelt 
within the walls of a building, and not in the hearts of 
men. Next day, the officer made an inventory of all 
the furniture and utensils of the church, and sealed the 
place up, and departed. The sorrow of the brethren 
was great. Philip could not be torn from the spot. 
He ** leaned against the doors of the Lord's house," and 
concerted measures with his clergy for the discipline 
and safeguarding of his flock. 

It was not very long after that Bassus visited 
Heraclea, and found Philip with the rest outside the 
church, where they had boldly assembled for divine 
service at the closed doors. The governor took his 
official seat, and the law-breakers were brought before 
him. " Which of you," he asked, " is the master of the 
Christians, or teacher of the church ? " Philip said 
that it was he. " You have heard," said the governor, 
" the law of the emperor, who forbids the Christians to 
assemble anywhere, and commands that the adherents 
of that body throughout the world should return to the 
sacrifices, or pay the penalty with their lives. There- 
fore you must submit to our examination whatever 
vessels you have of gold or silver or of any other metal 
or ornamental work ; the Scriptures also, which you 
use in reading or teaching. If you demur to do this, 
you will be tortured till you do so." Philip answered, 
"If, as you say, you are pleased to torture us, our 
courage is prepared to endure it. You have this weak 
body in your power ; tear it in pieces with such cruelty 
as you will. Only do not suppose that you have any 
power over my soul. As for the vessels that you ask 
for, you shall have presently whatever we possess ; for 
when you compel us to it, we easily despise such things. 


We do not worship God with precious metals, but with 
fear ; nor is it the adornment of the church which 
pleases Christ, but the adornment of the heart. But 
the Scriptures it would neither be right for you to 
receive nor for me to give." 

Upon this answer, the governor ordered the tor- 
turers to come. They tried their inhuman hands upon 
Philip for a long while in vain. At last his faithful 
deacon, Hermes, who was standing by, burst out, 
" Even if we were to surrender to you all our Scrip- 
tures, harsh examiner, so that there should be no traces 
left anywhere in the world of this true tradition of 
ours, yet our descendants, in memory of their fore- 
fathers, and for their own souls' good, will compose 
greater Scriptures, and will teach yet more earnestly 
the fear that we owe to Christ." 

It was a daring thing on the part of the bishop to 
make light of the vessels of the sanctuary, and to be 
prepared to surrender them under compulsion ; but it 
was a more daring thing still for the deacon to picture 
to himself a yet more ample collection of sacred writ- 
ings when the heathen should succeed in abolishing 
the Bible from o£F the face of the earth. After this 
sublime answer, the deacon entered, but not until he 
had been scourged for a long while, into the hidden 
chamber where the vessels and the sacred books were 
stored. He was followed by one of. the governor's 
assessors, whom Hermes detected in the act of secret- 
ing for his own purposes some of the valuable articles 
on the list. Hermes expostulated with him, and the 
dishonest official struck him in the face, and drew 
blood. When Bassus heard what had happened he 
was very angry with his assessor, and humanely gave 
orders that the deacon's hurt should be attended to. 


The vessels and the Scriptures were delivered to the 
police. Philip and the rest, guarded on either side, 
were led to the forum, to gratify the people by the 
spectacle, and to strike fear into any possible imitators. 

The governor returned to his official residence. 
He had set his hand to the work, though late, and was 
determined to see it through • Men were sent up to 
the roof of the church to strip the tiles oflf. They 
were beaten with the lash to make them work faster. 
Soldiers laden with copies of the Scriptures made 
their way to the forum, where a bonfire had been 
lighted, into which they flung the books, amidst a 
throng of the townspeople and of visitors to the place. 

Philip and the rest were under custody in the 
market place, when Hermes saw a heathen priest, 
attended by his subordinates, carrying the materials 
for an idolatrous sacrifice and feast. He drew the 
attention of his fellow Christians to the sight. "They 
will certainly endeavour to pollute us," he said. " Let 
the good pleasure of the Lord be done," answered the 
bishop. At this point Bassus reappeared, accompanied 
by a great crowd of people, among whom it was soon 
apparent that sympathies were divided. Some were 
sorry for the Christians ; others, especially the Jews, 
of whom there were large numbers in the province, as 
there had been in the time of St. Paul, clamoured for 
violent measures to be taken against them. 

Then ensued this dialogue between the governor 
and the bishop. " Offer victims to the deity." " How 
can I who am a Christian worship a piece of stone ? " 
"Sacrifices must be paid to our sovereign lords." 
" We have been taught to obey our betters, and to pay 
homage to the emperors, but not worship." "Well, 
then, at any rate sacrifice to the Fortune of the city. 


See how beautiful, how smiling she is, and how graci- 
ously she welcomes the devotion of all the people." 
" You who worship her may take pleasure in her ; but 
human art cannot detach me from my duty to God." 
" Let this image of Hercules " — whose name the city 
bore — "appeal to you, so colossal, and yet so hand- 
some." The bishop indignantly refused. 

Bassus could not help admiring the constancy of 
Philip. He turned to the deacon, Hermes, and told 
him to sacrifice. " I do not sacrifice," he answered ; 
" I am a Christian." "Tell me what your rank is," said 
the judge. "I am a decurion," he said, — that is a 
member of the local senate, — " and I follow my teacher 
in everything." Bassus caught at the suggestion. " If 
Philip can be induced to sacrifice," he said, " will you 
follow his example ? " " No," said Hermes ; " neither 
should I follow him, nor will he be overcome. He 
and I are of the same force and of the same courage." 
"You shall be burned," said the magistrate, "if you 
persist in this madness." "The fire with which you 
threaten me," he replied, " has but little heat, and is 
quenched almost before it is kindled. You do not 
know the violence of the everlasting flames, which burn 
without ceasing, and consume the disciples of the devil 
in slow destruction." " Sacrifice, then, to our lords the 
emperors, and say, ' All hail, our sovereign lords.' " 
" We are hastening to life," was the answer of Hermes. 
** Sacrifice, I say," rejoined Bassus, " if you seek for 
life, and so escape the horrors of imprisonment and 
cruel tortures." " You will never persuade us to that, 
ungodly judge," said Hermes ; " your threats will 
strengthen our faith and courage, and will strike no 
faithless terror into us." 

Bassus sent them away to gaol. As they went 


along, some rough hand pushed the aged bishop with 
such violence that he fell upon the ground. When he 
rose to his feet the act was repeated, and repeated 
more than once. But the countenance of the saint 
betrayed no sign either of resentment or of pain. The 
confessors raised their voices in a psalm, thanking God 
who had given them a strength beyond their own, and 
so delivered themselves over into prison. There for a 
few days they remained ; but the lenient Bassus soon 
allowed them to be transferred to a private house 
adjoining the prison, where they abode, like St. Paul 
at Rome, with a soldier or two to keep them. Disciples 
and inquirers flocked to them, and many converts 
were made. The numbers were so great that offence 
was taken, and Bassus was compelled to send them 
again into the prison. It so happened that the prison 
adjoined the theatre, with a secret entrance into the 
corridor which ran round it ; and by the connivance 
of the gaolers, as it must be supposed, the spacious 
hall of entertainment became a Christian school, to 
which people resorted both by day and by night, to 
learn from the prisoners, and to cover the feet of Philip 
with kisses. 

But Bassus' tenure of office came to an end. He 
was succeeded by one Justin, who had no believing 
relatives to soften him towards the Christians. Philip 
was set before his tribunal by the chief magistrate of 
the town of Heraclea, and was asked whether he was 
a Christian bishop. He said that he was, and that 
he could not deny it. " Our lords have thought 
good," the new governor began, " to command 
that all Christians who will not do it of their own 
accord shall be compelled to sacrifice, and punished 
in case they refuse. Spare your advanced age there- 



fore, that I may not have to submit you to hardships 
which would be too great even for the young." Philip 
answered, "You have received commandments from 
men like yourselves, and you obey them for fear of a 
brief penalty : how much more ought we to comply 
with the commandments of God, who awards to those 
who deserve it a punishment that never ends ?" " It is our 
duty to obey the emperors," said Justin. Philip replied, 
" I am a Christian, therefore I cannot do as you say. 
Your orders are to punish, not to compel," " You do 
not know," the other answered, " what tortures surround 
you." Philip answered, "You may torture me, but 
you cannot subdue me. No one will ever induce me 
to sacrifice." " You shall be dragged by the feet," said 
the cruel governor, " through the middle of the city, 
and, if then you are still alive, you shall be taken back 
to prison to be tortured afresh." " You are welcome," 
the bishop answered, " to confirm what you say, and to 
wreak your ungodly will." So Justin gave sentence 
that he should be dragged by the feet through the 
city. Some Christian brethren at length took the 
bruised and bleeding body from the ground, and carried 
it to the prison. 

A priest called Severus had been for some time in 
close hiding, and could not be found ; but he now 
came forward of his own accord. The judge bade 
him take warning by the fate of his teacher Philip, and 
to love life and accept its pleasures. Severus answered, 
" I cannot but hold fast what I have learned, and be 
faithful to my religion." " Think what the penalty is," 
said Justin, " and what it is to be spared it, and you 
will see that it is desirable to sacrifice." The mention 
of sacrifice fired the mind of Severus with indignation 
and horror ; and the judge sent him away to prison. 


Hermes was then called. Justin warned him not 
to incur the punishments of the other two. Hermes 
was a father ; the judge bade him think of the interests 
of his children, and to sacrifice. Hermes replied, 
" You will never induce me to do what you demand. 
In this faith I grew up. My holy master impressed 
this truth upon me from my cradle. I cannot falter 
in it now, nor in any way turn aside from it. Rend 
me therefore as you like ; I deny nothing." '' You do 
not know," cried the judge, " the evil that is before you. 
It is ignorance which makes you confident. When 
you have been put under torture, it will be too late to 
be sorry." Hermes answered, " However severe may 
be the pains that you lay upon us, Christ, for whom we 
suffer, will assuage them for us by His angels." 

After a couple of days in which they were tempted 
by gentler treatment, and lodged in the comforts of an 
inn, the Christian confessors endured a rigorous con- 
finement of seven months at a stretch. Then orders 
came that they were to be taken to Adrianople, where 
they were entertained in a suburban house until 
the arrival of the governor. The weary round of argu- 
ment and answer, of torture and outrage, began again, 
but without effect. Hermes, in particular, was 
assailed by the kindly intended efforts of the o£Bcials 
of the court. He had himself at one time been the 
chief magistrate of Heraclea, and in that cs^acity 
had won all hearts among his subordinates by his 
thoughtful kindness. Now they attempted to repay him 
by their anxiety to save his life. Hermes found it a 
relief to get back into his prison, and so to escape from 
their mistaken affection. After three days more in 
prison, they were questioned once again, and then the 
governor, after consulting with his council, pronounced 


sentence upon them, that as, by their disobedience to 
the emperors, they had forfeited the name of Romans, 
they were to be burned alive. 

The bishop had been so much injured by his tortures 
that he could not walk, and was carried to the place of 
execution. Hermes was not much firmer on his feet, 
but he made his way as best he could, cheerfully re- 
marking to Philip as they went that they would not 
need that mode of progression much longer. He told 
some of those who accompanied him that he had received 
beforehand an assurance of his coming martyrdom. 
He had fallen into a pleasant sleep, and dreamed that a 
white dove had flown into the chamber, and lighted 
upon his he^d ; then it moved and settled upon his 
breast, and offered some pleasant food to his lips. By 
this he knew that the Lord was pleased to call him, and 
had bestowed upon him the gift of martyrdom. 

When they came to the appointed spot, Philip was 
buried in the ground as far as to the knees ; his hands 
were tied behind him, and nailed to a stake. A similar 
pit was made for Hermes, and he was told to get into it. 
His poor maimed ankles were so unsteady that he could 
only obey by leaning heavily upon the stake. The 
humour of the situation struck him, and, laughing 
merrily, he cried, " Even here the devil cannot bear my 
weight." When the earth had been filled in about him, 
he called a Christian bystander, and adjured him to carry 
a last message to his son Philip, bidding him see that 
all moneys deposited with him were safely returned to 
their owners. " And say," he added, " You are young ; 
you must work diligently for your living, as you re- 
member that your father did. You know that he lived 
an honest life with all men." Fire was then set to the 
faggots around the martyrs. As long as life lasted they 


were heard to be giving thanks, and the word " Amen " 
was the last that could be distinguished. The bodies of 
Philip and Hermes were found scarcely marked by the 
fire which had suffocated them : by the orders of Justin 
they were thrown into the river Hebrus ; but the 
Christians netted the river and recovered them, and 
buried the precious relics in a safe and beautiful place.^ 

The sacred books came into prominence in the 
persecution in the neighbouring province of Macedonia. 
The deacon Agathopodius of Thessalonica, and the 
reader Theodulus, acting in the same spirit as Philip of 
Heraclea and his company, stayed at the church after 
the suppression of the Christian assemblies, and con- 
tinued to preach and to read the Bible. It was the 
business of Theodulus to keep the church books, and 
the governor demanded their surrender. Theodulus 
replied that he would deliver them to him as soon as 
the governor renounced idolatry and was ready to 
learn the truth from the sacred authors, but not before. 
After a second and a third appearance before the judge, 
the two men were taken out to sea and drowned.' 

In the same city a little later a band of seven Chris- 
tians, of whom six were women, were brought, before 
Dulcitius the governor, charged with refusing to eat 
what had been offered in sacrifice to the gods. " Why," 
said Dulcitius to the man, Agatho, " why did you go 
to the sacrifice after the manner of those who are de- 
voted, and then refuse to partake ? " He answered, 
" Because I am a Christian." " Do you still remain in 
the same mind to-day ? " *' Certainly." The women 
were asked a like question in turn. " I believe in the 
living God," said Agape, " and I will not part with my 
good conscience." " Why did I not obey the emperors 

^ Ruinart, p. 364. ' Acta SanctoruMy April, vol. i. p. 42. 


and Caesars ? " said Irene ; " for fear of God." " I 
believe in the living God/' said Chione, '< and therefore 
I never do such a thing." " I wish to save my soul 
alive/' said Cassia. '^ Will you partake of the sacrifices 7 " 
asked Dulcitius. " Certainly not/' she answered. " I say 
the same/' was the answer of Philippa. ^^ What do you 
mean by 'the same'?" the judge asked. '< I would 
rather die than eat of your sacrifices/' Philippa replied. 
** I also say the same/' answered Eutychia ; '' I too 
would rather die." Eutychia was far advanced in preg- 
nancy. " Have you a husband ? " Dulcitius inquired. 
'' He is dead/' the woman answered. ** How long has 
he been dead ? " " Nearly seven months." '^ How 
came you to be in that condition ? " " By the husband 
whom God gave me/' replied the widow. " Eutychia/' 
said the governor, *' I earnestly advise you to withdraw 
from that madness, and to come back to ordinary human 
ways of thinking. Tell me, will you obey the imperial 
edict ? " "I will do no such thing/' she answered ; 
'^ I am a Christian, a servant of Almighty God." '^ As 
Eutychia is with child," the governor said, " let her be 
kept in prison for the time being." 

He then singled out Agape and Chione for interro- 
gation. He asked them if they were prepared to comply 
with the imperial requirements, like loyal subjects. *' I 
cannot sacrifice to Satan," said Agape ; " my mind 
is not under his government ; it is quite made up." 
*' No one," said Chione, '' can influence our minds 
in that direction." The governor turned suddenly 
to a dangerous subject. *' Have you got in your 
possession," he asked, '' any of those wicked Chris- 
tian records, or parchments, or books ? " *' No, none, 
sir," answered Chione: "the present emperors have 
taken them all away." " Who was it," asked Dulcitius, 


'* that put these ideas in your heads ? " " Almighty 
God," she answered simply. "What people were 
those/' he persisted, " who prevailed upon you to take up 
with this folly ? " « Almighty God," she replied, " and 
His only-begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ." " It is 
plain to every one," said the governor, " that all ought 
to be loyally obedient to our emperors and Caesars. 
But forasmuch as, after this length of time, and so 
many warnings, and the publication of so many edicts, 
and all the threats that have been launched at you, you 
are so rash and headstrong as to despise the command 
of our lords the emperors and Caesars, and to abide by 
that wicked name of Christians ; and whereas, in spite 
of being pressed by the heads of the police, and by the 
civil authorities, to make a written denial of Christ, and 
to do what has been ordered, you refuse even to this 
day to do so ; for these reasons you must receive the 
punishment that you deserve." He wrote the sentence, 
and then read it aloud. Agape and Chione, for dis- 
loyally defying the divine edict of the emperors and 
Caesars, and for still clinging to the irrational and vain 
religion of the Christians, which is execrable in the 
eyes of all devoted men, were to be given over to the 
flames. The governor added that Agatho, and Cassia, 
and Philippa, and Irene, were to be detained in prison 
during his good pleasure, by reason of their youth. 

After the martyrdom 'of Agape and Chione, Irene, 
who was sister to them both, was again examined. 
This time the Scriptures were the chief article in the 
examination. It had come to the governor's knowledge 
that Irene, at least, had kept Christian writings by her 
instead of surrendering them. "Your conduct," he 
said, " shows your obstinate madness. You have 
wilfully kept to the present time a whole quantity of 


parchments, books, writing tablets, notes, and pages of 
the writings of the wicked Christians of all ages. When 
they were produced, you acknowledged them, although 
day after day you denied that they were yours. The 
punishment of your own sisters was not enough for you, 
nor had you the fear of death before your eyes. There- 
fore you must be punished. I think, however, that I 
may still without impropriety show you some mercy. If 
even now you will acknowledge the gods, you shall be free 
from punishment and from peril. Will you then do as 
the emperors and Caesars have commanded ? Are you 
prepared to eat of the sacrifices to-day, and to oflfer to 
the gods ? " " No," answered Irene ; " I am not pre- 
pared to do so, because of God Almighty, who created 
heaven and earth, the sea, and all things that are therein. 
The supreme condemnation of everlasting torment is 
appointed for those who transgress the word of God." 
" Who was it," asked Dulcitius, on the watch for accom- 
plices, " that suggested to you to keep those parchments 
and writings until now ? " " It was that Almighty God," 
she answered, " who commanded us to love Him to the 
death. For that reason we did not dare to give them 
up, and chose rather to be burned alive, or to bear what- 
ever else might happen to us, than to give them up." 
'' Who was aware," urged Dulcitius, " that they were in 
the house where you lived ? " Irene answered, " Al- 
mighty God, who knows all things, saw them, but no 
one besides ; I call God to witness. No one, for a 
very good reason. We thought our own people more 
dangerous than enemies, and feared that they might 
accuse us ; so we showed the books to no one." 
" Last year," the governor continued, " when first 
this edict of our lords the emperors and Caesars 
was published, where were you concealed ? " Irene 


hesitated to tell. " Where it pleased God," she said, 
and then added, " God knows, we were in the moun- 
tains, in the open air." " With whom were you living ? " 
" We were in the open air," she repeated, " wandering 
from mountain to mountain." '' Who supplied you 
with bread ? " '' God," she answered, " who giveth 
food to all." Then the governor asked her, " Was your 
father privy to all this ? " " No," said Irene ; " by God 
Almighty, he was not privy to it ; he knew nothing 
whatsoever about it." "Which of your neighbours, 
then," he pursued, " knew about it ? " " Ask the 
neighbours," replied the spirited girl, "and the 
places, if any one knew where we were." " When 
you came back from the mountains, as you say," 
Dulcitius continued, "did you read these writings 
in the presence of anybody else ? " " They were in 
our own home," she answered, " and we did not dare to 
take them out. It was a great grief to us that we could 
not study them day and night, as we used to do from 
the beginning until this day last year, when we hid 

Dulcitius pronounced sentence upon Irene. No 
rack or claw was used upon her, but she was sub- 
mitted to a moral torture which was far worse. Her 
sisters, the judge said, had been quickly despatched. 
Irene, first for fleeing from justice, and then for hiding 
the Scriptures, was liable to the penalty of death ; but 
before she died, she was to be stripped of her clothing, 
and exposed to the outrages of the ill-disposed, with 
the provision of one loaf from the governor's palace. 
The aediles of the city and their police officer were 
called in, and the governor gave them to understand 
that if he should receive information from his agents 
that Irene had been allowed to leave the place for 


an instant, the severest punishment would fall upon 
them. The books which had been produced in court 
out of Irene's boxes and coffers were to be publicly 

The horrible sentence was carried out, but Irene 
came through the trial untouched and even unac- 
costed. Once more she was brought to the tribunal. 
Dulcitius asked if she persisted in her foolhardi- 
ness. She replied that it was no foolhardiness, but 
her duty towards God, and that she persisted in it. 
Dulcitius called for paper and wrote her final sentence. 
Like her sisters, and on the same spot as they, she 
was burned alive. What became of her four surviving 
companions is not known.^ 

^ Franchi de' Cavalieri in Studi e Tesii, vol. ix. p. 15 ; Ruinart, p. 348; 
Knopf, p. 91. 



The provinces along the Danube were rich in mar- 
tyrdoms. Either at Dorostorum, or at Axiopolis not 
far from it, by the lower reaches of that river, a soldier 
named Dasius attained his crown during the reign of 
Diocletian, though the strange circumstances of his 
death give reason to think that it may have occurred 
earlier in the reign, and not as a part of the general 
persecution of the Church. 

The feast called the Saturnalia was one of the most 
popular of heathen feasts, especially in the army. It 
was a time of chartered excess and debauch, and 
was eagerly looked forward to. Among the troops in 
Moesia a custom had crept in which seems to us in- 
credible, and yet serious scholars have argued for the 
truth of it The soldiers, a month before the festival, 
chose one of their number by lot to be the king of the 
revels. He was clothed with the insignia of an emperor 
and attended by a bodyguard, and for thirty days had 
liberty to do anything he pleased ; but at the end of 
the time he was expected to commit suicide, as a kind 
of expiatory ofiFering to Saturn. The lot one year fell 
upon Dasius, who was a Christian. He refused the 
position assigned to him. If he was to die, he said, 
he preferred to make a freewill ofiFering of himself to 
Christ, instead of being sacrificed to an idol. 

Some time before persecution touched the civilian 



world, Diocletian attempted to weed Christianity out of 
the army ; but it was difl&cult, no doubt, to do it ex- 
haustively. Here and there a Christian would still be 
found in the ranks, and each case would be dealt with 
as it arose. The soldiers at Dorostorum, angry with 
Dasius for his refusal, put him under arrest, and next 
day denounced him to the legate, who bore the name 
of Bassus. Bassus, of course, was not concerned with 
the arrangements for the Saturnalia, but a charge of 
Christianity was a different matter, especially if it was 
accompanied by anything like insubordinate language. 
He ordered Dasius to make supplication to the effigies 
of "our lords the emperors, who give us peace and 
provide us with sustenance, and take thought for our 
welfare every day." Dasius, if we may trust the Acts, 
replied that he was a Christian, and as such was no 
soldier of an earthly sovereign, but a soldier of the 
heavenly King, " whose gift," he said, " I enjoy " — 
meaning, no doubt, the gift of the Holy Ghost — "by 
whose grace I live, and in whose unspeakable loving- 
kindness I am rich." The legate urged him again. 
"Pray," he said, "to the sacred images of our em- 
perors. Even the barbarous nations revere and serve 
them." Again Dasius declined. " You are aware, 
Dasius," said Bassus, " that everyone is bound to obey 
the commands of the emperors and the sacred laws. 
I wish to be lenient with you. Answer me without 
anxiety or fear." " Do," he replied, " as you are com- 
manded by those ungodly and abominable emperors. 
I will maintain the faith which I once for all pledged 
myself to my God to maintain. No threats of yours 
can change my purpose." Bassus offered to give him 
two hours to think it over. "What is the good of 
giving me two hours ? " cried Dasius ; " I have already 


told you what I think. Do what you please. I am a 
Christian. I despise and abhor your emperors and 
their glory." There was only one answer to such 
language. Bassus ordered him at once to be be- 

Sirmium, on the Save, a little above its confluence 
with the Danube, was one of the main seats of empire 
in the time of Diocletian. The Bishop of Sirmium, at 
the height of the persecution, was a young man for his 
station. His name was Irenaeus. Probus, the governor 
of Pannonia, summoned him, and bade him obey " the 
divine ordinances," and sacrifice. Irenaeus replied with 
the words of Exodus, so often quoted in those days of 
strife with paganism, '^ He that sacrificeth unto the gods 
and not to God, he shall be utterly destroyed." " Our 
most gracious princes," said the governor, " have ordered 
sacrifice to be done, or torture to be applied." " My 
orders are to submit to torture rather than to deny 
God and sacrifice to devils." "Sacrifice, or I must 
have you tortured." " I shall rejoice if you do, that I 
may be found a partaker of the suffering of my Lord." 
The torture was severely inflicted. While it was going 
on, Probus said, "What do you say, Irenaeus — will 
you sacrifice ? " The bishop answered, " I am sacri- 
ficing to my God by a good confession, as I have 
always done." 

Then took place one of those scenes in court which 
must have been hard to witness unmoved. His kins- 
folk drew near to the tortured man, and besieged him 
with entreaties. His children kissed his feet and im- 
plored him to pity them. His own wife, and those of 
his relatives, joined in the supplication. His father and 
mother wept and wailed over him. His faithful ser- 

^ Analecta Bollandiana^ vol. xvi. p. 1 1 ; Knopf, p. 86. 


vantSy his neighbours, his friends, raised their voices in 
lamentation, and told him that he was too young to 
die. But Irenaeus made no answer to any of them, 
good or ill. At last the governor addressed him again. 
" Let their tears," he said, " draw you away from your 
madness. Think of your youth, and sacrifice." " I 
think of my eternal welfare," replied Irenaeus, "when 
I decline to sacrifice." 

Probus commanded him to be thrown into prison, 
where for many days great hardships were inflicted 
upon him. One day, in the middle of the night, 
Probus sent for him, and bade him sacrifice, and so 
save himself further troubles. " Do as you have been 
bidden," the young bishop answered ; " you must not 
expect that of me." Probus was so annoyed that he 
ordered him to be beaten with sticks. " I have a 
God," Irenaeus rejoined, " whom I have learned from 
early years to worship. 1 adore Him. He comforts 
me in everything, and to Him I offer sacrifice ; but I 
cannot adore gods made with hands." " Save yourself 
death," said the governor ; " be content with the 
tortures which you have endured." "I save myself 
death in a moment," he answered, ^'when by means 
of the punishments which you inflict, and which I do 
not feel, for God's sake I gain eternal life." ''Have 
you a wife ? " the governor inquired. " No." " Have 
you any children ? " " No." " Have you a father and 
mother?" ''No." "Then who were those people 
weeping at the last session of the court?" Irenaeus 
answered, "There is a commandment of Jesus Christ, 
my Lord, who said, ' He that loveth father or mother, 
or wife or children or kinsfolk, more than Me, is 
not worthy of Me.'" "Sacrifice," said the governor, 
" if it were only for their sakes." " My children," 


answered Irenaeus, ''have the same God as I have, 
and He can save them. You do as you are bidden." 
Once more the governor urged the young man to 
sacrifice and avoid suffering. "Do what you will," he 
answered ; " you shall see what power of resistance to 
your insidious attacks the Lord Jesus Christ will give 
me." "I must pronounce sentence upon you," said 
Probus. " I shall be much obliged to you, if you 
will," replied the bishop. The sentence was given. 
"I ccmimand that Irenaeus, who refuses to obey the 
imperial orders, should be thrown into the river." 
The young bishop was a little disappointed. '' I 
thought that I should have all those tortures that 
you threatened me with, and then, at the end of 
them, be put to the sword ; but you have treated 
me with none of these things. Do it, I beseech you, 
that you may learn how Christians, through their faith 
in God, are schooled to despise death." 

Probus gratified the bishop's wish so far as to 
add to his sentence the death of the sword. With 
thanksgiving to Christ for extending the range of his 
sufferings, Irenaeus was led out to one of the bridges 
over the Save, where he took off his garments, stretched 
out his hands towards heaven, and prayed, ''O Lord 
Jesus Christ, who didst vouchsafe to suffer for the 
salvation of the world, let Thy heavens open that the 
angels may receive the spirit of Thy servant Irenaeus, 
who suffers thus for Thy name and for Thy people 
brought forth by Thy Catholic Church of Sirmium. I 
beseech Thee, and I entreat Thy mercy, that Thou 
wouldest vouchsafe both to receive me and to confirm 
them in Thy faith." Then the sword fell, and his 
body was thrown into the Save.^ 

^ Ruinart, p. 356 ; Von G«bhardt, p. 162. 


This was not the first martyrdom with which 
Probus was concerned ; nor was it the last. Ap- 
parently not long before, a priest, named Montanus, 
from Singidunum, the modern Belgrade, had fled for 
refuge to Sirmium and fallen into the hands of Probus, 
who put him to death. Not long after, his ofiBcial 
duties took him to the town of Cibalae, some fifty 
miles from Sirmium, afterwards the birthplace of the 
Christian emperor Valentinian, A Bishop of Cibalae, 
named Eusebius, had suffered martyrdom in the persecu- 
tion of Valerian ; and on the anniversary of his glorious 
death, the head reader of that church was brought 
before Probus. The examination was as follows : — 

''What is your name?" "PoUio." "Are you a 
Christian?" "Yes." "What office do you hold?" 
" I am the head of the readers." " What do you mean 
by readers?" "Those whose duty it is to read the 
word of God to the congregation." "Those who 
impose upon silly women, and tell them not to marry, 
and persuade them to adopt a fanciful chastity." 
" You will be able to test our silliness and fancifulness 
to-day." "How?" "The silly and fanciful people 
are those who forsake their Creator and consent to 
your superstitions. Those who have read the com- 
mandments of the eternal King, and strive to fulfil 
them in despite of tortures, prove themselves to be 
loyal and steadfast." "What king do you mean, and 
what commandments?" "The good and holy com- 
mandments of our King, Christ." " What are they ? " 
Pollio gave an excellent summary of Christian morality. 
" Now what is the good of all that," Probus answered, 
"if a man is killed, and sees the light no more, and 
loses all his corporal possessions ? " " This brief light 
is not so good as the light eternal, and possessions 


which endure are more precious than those which 
perish ; and it is not prudence which prefers things 
temporal to things eternal," " Enough of that ; do 
what the emperors have commanded." " What is 
that ? " " To sacrifice." " Do what they have com- 
manded you ; for I shall do nothing of the kind, because 
it is written, ' He that sacrificeth to devils and not 
to God shall be utterly destroyed.'" "You shall be 
smitten with the sword if you do not sacrifice." " Do 
as you have been bidden. My duty is to follow in all 
sincerity the footsteps of the bishops, and presbyters, 
and all the fathers, whose teaching I have imbibed. 
Anything that you may like to inflict upon me I shall 
gladly welcome." 

The governor sentenced him to be burned. He 
was executed a mile from the city, blessing and 
glorifying God.^ 

The carefulness of Christians with regard to chastity, 
to which Probus made reference, was displayed in 
connexion with another martyrdom, at Sirmium, about 
the same time — though whether Probus was then 
governor of Pannonia or not is not known. There 
was a Greek Christian, called Syneros — or, as the name 
is sometimes written, Serenus — who had taken up his 
residence at Sirmium, where he followed the occupation 
of a gardener. His garden seems to have become a 
favourite resort of the citizens. When the persecution 
first reached Sirmium, Syneros thought fit to retire ; 
but after a time he came back and resumed his 
position. One day a lady, accompanied by two maids, 
made her appearance in his garden at an unconven- 
tional hour, and walked up and down in a manner 
which seemed to Syneros suspicious. He was an 

* Roinart, p. 359. 


elderly man; and ventured to remonstrate with her. 
He told her that she had no business there, and advised 
her to go back to her husband's house and behave like 
an honest woman. 

The lady's husband was an officer of the household 
of Galerius, and was in attendance upon the emperor 
at a distance. In her mortification, she wrote him an 
angry letter, saying how she had been insulted. Her 
husband obtained leave of absence from Galerius, and 
returned to Sirmium, where he soon brought Syneros 
before the governor. Upon inquiry, however, the 
charges brought against him by the lady fell to the 
ground, and the husband was convinced that his wife 
had been really to blame, and that Syneros had acted 
very properly in finding fault with her behaviour. 

But the conduct of Syneros struck the governor 
as so unusual, that he guessed him to belong to the 
proscribed religion. He asked him what his nationality 
was. Without a moment's hesitation, Syneros, seeing 
what was coming, answered, *' I am a Christian." The 
governor asked him how he had hitherto escaped the 
sacrificial test which had been imposed. He answered 
modestly, "As it seemed good to God to keep me 
hitherto in the body. I was like a stone rejected from 
the building ; but now the Lord has need of me for it. 
Now, because He would have me discovered, I am 
ready to suffer for His name's sake, that I may have 
part in His kingdom with all the saints." The 
governor subjected him to no tortures or indignities, 
but gave sentence that, for withdrawing and concealing 
himself in contempt of the imperial command to 
sacrifice, he was to be beheaded.^ 

A special interest attaches to the martyrdom of a 

* Ruinart, p. 433. 


group of sculptors in the same province, because it 
took place under the direction of the great emperor 
Diocletian himself, though probably after his abdication 
of sovereignty. Diocletian was a great builder, and 
deeply interested in everything connected with archi- 
tecture and its attendant arts. He made a journey one 
day into the province of Pannonia, probably from 
the wonderful palace of Spalato, on the Adriatic coast, 
which he built for his old age. His object was to 
inspect certain newly-opened marble quarries in the 
mountains. There was an encampment of no fewer 
than 622 masons and carvers at one of these quarries, 
with a number •of " philosophers," or more scientific 
workmen, over them. Amongst the men were four 
Christians, whose names were Claudius, Symphorian, 
Nicostratus, and Castorius, who were particularly suc- 
cessful in their work. 

Diocletian expressed his wish to have an image of 
the Sun, in his chariot with four horses, carved out of 
a single block of ** Thasos " stone. When one attempt 
had failed, and the ''philosophers" were much per- 
plexed to find another block of sufficient size, and all 
were busy in trying to find how the veins of the 
marble lay, Symphorian begged that his gang might 
be allowed to try. They got out a block from which 
they succeeded in carving a group of not less than five 
and twenty feet in length. Diocletian was exceedingly 
delighted. He rewarded the men handsomely, and 
proceeded to order from them a number of columns 
and capitals of porphyry. When they arrived at the 
porphyry quarry, one of the gang, called Simplicius, 
found that his tools broke more frequently than those 
of the others. They told him the reason. He was 
a heathen, while everything that his companions did 


was done in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. At 
his desire they blessed his tools for him, and the result 
so impressed him that he asked for instruction in their 

When they began to look about for a priest to 
teach him, they found no less a personage than Cyril, 
the bishop of the great see of Antioch in Syria, who 
had now for three years worked in chains at some 
quarry in this distant province for his confession of 
the name of Christ. The four masons brought Sim- 
plicius to him one night, as he lay in irons, surrounded 
by other confessors, and, falling at his feet, they be- 
sought him to baptize their friend. '^My son," said 
the bishop, '^you have seen a deed of power at your 
work ; only believe faithfully." Simplicius asked what 
he was to believe. *' Believe," said Cyril, "on Jesus 
Christ our Lord, the Son of God, who created all 
things ; and renounce all idols made with hands." 
Simplicius professed his faith, and Cyril made him a 
catechumen, according to the custom of the Church, 
and then baptized him in his place of confinement. 

Emboldened by what had happened, the five men 
returned to their work, and began so openly to make 
the sign of the cross over everything that they did, that 
the " philosopher " under whom they worked observed 
it, and accused them of practising magic. Their suc- 
cess, and the rewards which Diocletian bestowed upon 
them, roused the jealousy of the philosophers, and they 
watched for an opportunity of getting them into trouble. 

Before long the opportunity came. Diocletian 
ordered the five to carve him a number of Cupids 
and Victories out of the porphyry quarry, and, above 
all, an image of Asclepius, the god of health, to whom 
the ailing emperor had a great devotion. The men 


readily obeyed his orders with regard to the Victories 
and Cupids, as they had formerly done with regard to 
the Sun in his chariot. These were but ornamental 
symbols. But the Asclepius was to be used for idola- 
trous purposes, and they intentionally left it alone. At 
a fixed time an exhibition of the artistic output of the 
last few months was held in a field, and the emperor 
came to inspect it. The emperor was deeply dis- 
appointed to find no Asclepius. He asked the reason. 
The philosophers told him that the reason was that the 
men were Christians, and did everything in Christ's 
name. They thought that Diocletian would at once 
punish his favoured workmen, but he only answered, 
'' If all that they do in their Christ's name proves so 
fine, I see no harm in it. It does them great credit." 

When the philosophers insisted, however, upon the 
disobedience of the five men, he sent for them. He 
reminded them of his past favours, and asked why they 
had not executed the Asclepius. Claudius replied re- 
spectfully, but said that they would never make an 
image of a poor human being — ^for it was the fashion 
of Christians at the time to consider the heathen gods 
to have been deified men — for purposes of worship. 
"There, sir," said the philosophers, "you hear their 
treason, and how haughtily they speak to you." But 
Diocletian reproved them for their officious interfer- 
ence. " I will not have my skilled workmen reviled," 
he said, " but encouraged." 

The work was put into other hands, but when it 
was presented to the emperor it proved to be so in- 
ferior that he asked whether it was done by the men 
who had formerly given him such satisfaction. " No," 
the philosophers replied, and repeated their former 
accusations of Christianity and of magic. At last 


Diocletian felt himself bound to take action, though 
he did it as unwillingly as be had formerly done 
against his Christian chamberlains at Nicomedia. He 
ordered a tribune to give them a fair trial, and to visit 
any one who bore false witness against them with the 
same penalty that would be due if the accusation were 
well founded. When called upon to worship the sun- 
god, the five men at once confessed themselves Christians, 
and were sent to prison for nine days. The next time 
that they appeared before the tribune, he warned them 
not to trifle with the favour which Diocletian had so 
markedly shown them. "Our gracious prince," he 
said, "is so kind-hearted that he treats men like 
brothers or sons, but especially those who worship 
the gods." " If he cares so much for men," Sym- 
phorian answered, "he ought to see that they do not 
offend God, their Creator. Our care is to avoid 
perishing in the world to come, where the fire is not 

The tribune reported the case to Diocletian, who 
ordered that if they still refused, they should be beaten 
with scorpions. Acting on these instructions, the 
tribune once more offered them their choice between 
the friendship of the emperor and the torture. The 
choice was soon made. They were stripped and 
beaten with scorpions, while an officer of the court 
cried aloud, " Despise not the bidding of the princes." 
Finally, by Diocletian's orders, they were enclosed in 
lead and thrown into the river. The good bishop 
Cyril was so affected by the news that "he afflicted 
himself and passed to the Lord " in the prison.^ 

The Bishop of Siscia, in the same province of Pan- 
nonia, was a man named Quirinus. When he knew 

* Untersuchungen tur Romischen Katsergeschichte^ vol. iii. pp. 3, 324. 


that measures were to be taken against the Christians, 
he left the city to seek refuge elsewhere, but was caught 
and brought before the local justice, Maximus. We 
cannot be sure that the report of the examination is in 
every respect exact, as later hands have tampered with 
it ; but, no doubt, it reproduces in the main what 
passed between the two men. Maximus asked the 
prisoner where he was fleeing to. Quirinus replied 
that he was only obeying the precept, " When they 
persecute you in one city, flee ye into another." 
'' Whose commandment is that ? " said Maximus. 
''The commandment of Christ, who is true God," the 
bishop replied. ''And do you not know/' said Maxi- 
mus, " that the commandments of the emperors could 
find you wherever you were ; and He whom you call 
true God can give you no help when you are caught, 
as you have just found when you ran away and were 
brought back ? " Quirinus answered, " The Lord whom 
we serve is always with us, and wherever we are. He is 
able to help us. He was with me when I was caught, 
and He is with me here to comfort me, and it is 
He who answers you by my mouth." "You talk a 
great deal," said the magistrate, " and while you do . so 
you put off obeying the emperors. Read their divine 
orders, and do as you are bidden." " I will not listen 
to the bidding of your emperors," the bishop answered, 
" because it is sacrilegious, and commands Christ's ser- 
vants to sacrifice to your gods. I cannot serve them, 
for they are nothing. My God, whom I serve, is in 
heaven and earth, and in the sea and everywhere, but 
is higher than all, because He contains all things within 
Himself ; for all things were made through Him, and 
in Him all things consist." " You have lived too long," 
said Maximus, " and have picked up old wives' fables. 


See, they are offering you the incense. Learn that 
ther^ are gods, though you do not know them. You 
shall be well rewarded for your good sense if you 
comply ; but if you will not show yourself loyal, you 
will have to undergo a variety of pains, and end with a 
horrible death." "The pains with which you threaten 
me I consider to be glory," said Quirinus ; " and the 
promised death, if it is vouchsafed to me, will give 
eternal life. Therefore I will be loyal to my God, not 
to your emperors. I do not believe these gods to be 
gods, when they are not ; and I will not put incense 
upon the altars of devils, because I know that my God 
has an altar upon which I offer sacrifices of a sweet 
smell, such as are suitable to Him." " I see that mad- 
ness is driving you to death," said Maximus ; ** sacrifice 
to the gods." " I will not sacrifice to devils," the bishop 
replied ; " for it is written, ' All the gods of the heathen 
are but devils,' and, 'Whosoever sacrificeth to gods 
shall be utterly destroyed.' " 

Then Maximus ordered them to thrash him with 
sticks. While this was done, he said, "Come back 
to reason, and acknowledge that the gods whom the 
Roman empire serves are mighty gods. If you comply, 
you shall be made a priest of the great god Jupiter ; if 
not, you shall be sent on to be tried by Amantius, the 
governor of Pannonia Prima. He will award you the 
death you deserve. Now, come back from your folly. 
Agree to do it." The bishop answered, "I am now 
discharging the office of priesthood. I am made a 
priest indeed, if I am allowed to offer my own body 
to the true God. As for the beating of my body, 
I like it ; it does not hurt me. I put myself at your 
disposal for worse inflictions, that those whom I have 
governed in this life may follow me to that eternal life 


which is easily reached by a road like this." Maximus 
ordered him to be put in heavy chains in the prison 
till he became sober. Quirinus replied that he had no 
horror of the prison : God would be with him there. 

Three days after, he was conveyed in heavy chains 
from town to town along the Danube till he reached 
the governor, Amantius, at the town of Sabaria, the 
modern Stein-am-Anger, and famous as the birthplace 
of the great St. Martin, who was born almost the same 
year. Amantius asked him whether the report which 
he had received of his trial before Maximus was correct. 
He said that it was ; he had confessed the true God at 
Siscia, and that nothing could separate him from Him. 
Amantius courteously expressed his reluctance to lay 
stripes upon a man of Quirinus' age, and besought him 
to perform the required acts, that he might spend the 
rest of his days in peace. Quirinus replied that, old as 
he was, faith could give him a strength superior to all 
punishments, that he had no great desire to live, and 
no fear at all to die. Amantius told him that it was 
inhuman to court death in that fashion. Other criminals, 
he said, pleaded Not Guilty in order to escape death : 
why would not Quirinus do the same ? The bishop 
explained that there was no likeness between the cases ; 
the criminals in seeking life denied God, and died ; the 
Christian gains eternal life by obeying the laws of 

The sentence pronounced upon him was that he 
should have a stone fastened round his neck and be 
thrown — ^like Irenaeus at Sirmium, and like the five 
stone-workers in the same province — into the river. 
The road to Scarabantia crossed the river Sibaris on 
a lofty bridge, and from this the bishop was thrown. 
It was widely believed in Christendom a little later that 


in spite of the stone hung round his neck the body of 
Quirinus would aot sink, and that he was heard praying 
on the waters.^ 

A similar death put an end to the sufferings of 
the deacon Hermylus, and of his compassionate 
gaoler Stratonicus, who were thrown into the Danube, 
-and after three days were washed up not far from 

^ Ruinart, p. 437. ■ Acta Sanctorum, January 13. 




Unhappily it is almost impossible to find anything 
historical to relate about the martyrdoms which took 
place at Rome and in Italy during the last and greatest 
persecution. That the church of the capital of the 
empire was not behind other cities in the number and 
courage of its martyrs is certain, and the famous names 
which they bore only make it the more sad that their 
deeds are lost in the fictions which were invented in 
their honour. 

Diocletian himself visited Rome '^ immediately after 
the loss of his happiness/' as Lactantius expresses it ; 
that is to say, directly after promulgating the edict of 
persecution in February 303. The main object of the 
visit was to celebrate his Vtcennalia, the twentieth anni- 
versary of his accession. That festival took place in 
November, but the emperor's stay perhaps began earlier 
in the year than has been thought by some recent 
authorities. He was not at all pleased with the state 
of things which he found there ; in particular, the way 
in which the public games were conducted at Rome 
appeared to him indecent. ^* I am censor," he is 
reported to have said ; *' when I am looking on, the 
games oyght to be of a better character." 

It may be that an incident with which a Christian 
was concerned contributed to his displeasure. It is 

said that one day Diocletian was present at a panto- 



mimic performance in Rome, where the player made 
it his business to take off the ways of the obnoxious 
religion. Lying on the stage as if he were very ill, 
he called loudly for baptism. " I feel so heavy/' he 
said ; " I want to be made light." " How is that to 
be done ? " asked the other performers ; " do you 
think that we are carpenters, and are going to plane 
you?" "Fools," cried Genesius, for that was the 
chief player's name, "I wish to die a Christian." 
"What for?" they asked. "That I may find refuge 
in God in that day," was the answer. 

Great laughter, of course, followed this presentment 
of the unfamiliar Christian phrases. A presbyter and 
an exorcist were introduced upon the stage, and sat 
down by the sick man's bedside. "Why have you 
sent for us, my son ? " the mock-priest inquired. But 
Genesius had Christian friends and relations, perhaps 
even Christian parents. His use of Christian language 
was based upon some real acquaintance with the faith 
and its solemnities. According to the story, at the 
moment when he was to undergo the sacred rite in 
mockery, his heart misgave him. Grace, which had 
been spurned before, appealed again to his better self ; 
and he answered with a more serious meaning than 
he had intended, " I desire to receive the grace of 
Christ, that I may be born again, and set free from 
the iniquities which have been my ruin." The actors 
clothed him in white garments. The fun of the piece, 
however, was that directly the sick man was baptized, 
he was called upon, in the play, to pay the penalty 
of his new faith in a way that he had not expected. 
Soldiers followed the priest, and he was carried off 
to answer for his religion before the judge. Genesius 
seized the dramatic moment, and turned it into a 


reality. Addressing the great emperor himself, he 
declared how he had always hated and insulted the 
Christian name, but that his mind was changed, and 
he now exhorted Diocletian and all who heard him 
to follow him in the change. 

The affront was too great to be borne quietly. 
Diocletian commanded him to be beaten and delivered 
over to Plautian, the prefect, to see that he did 
sacrifice. He was hung on the hobby horse, and 
had his sides torn ; lighted torches were applied to 
him ; but he would not go back from the confession 
which he had made. At last he was beheaded, ex- 
pressing the liveliest penitence for having held up 
the holy name of Christ to ridicule, and for having 
turned too late to the service of the true King.^ 

Not inconceivably, this may also have been the 
time at which a more celebrated martyrdom took 
place. If it is true that Sebastian was condemned 
by Diocletian in person, the choice lies between this 
time and the year before, when Diocletian and Maxi- 
mian celebrated a triumph at Rome ; for on no 
other occasion is Diocletian known to have visited 
the city. Sebastian was a native of southern Gaul, 
and brought up at Milan. He entered the army, 
and rose to command one of the cohorts of the 
Praetorian Guard. In that position he is said to 
have endeared himself greatly to his imperial masters. 
But when the Christian troubles began, Sebastian was 
unwearied in his endeavours to fortify those who 
were in danger of compromising their Christian 
faith. He took part in burying the bodies of other 
Christian soldiers who died for their religion. He 
came to be regarded as the protector of the Church. 

^ Ruinart, p. 236. 


For such actions as these he was denounced to 
Diocletian. The story goes that Diocletian upbraided 
him for secretly practising a religion derogatory to 
the gods and injurious to the emperor in the very 
household of the emperor, who had been so kind 
to him. Sebastian answered that he had always 
prayed to Christ for the emperor, and had interceded 
for the welfare of the Roman world with the God 
who is in heaven, thinking that it was a foolish thing 
to seek help from images of stone. Diocletian there- 
upon commanded him to be taken out into the 
Campagna, and tied up, and shot with arrows. A 
company of archers made him their target, ''until," 
as the story says, '' his body bristled with the arrows 
like a hedgehog." The injuries, nevertheless, were 
not fatal. A woman, who came to do the last offices 
for the body, found him still breathing. She nursed 
him, and he recovered enough to present himself 
one day to Diocletian "on the steps of Elagabalus." 
Diocletian, in surprise, asked if it was indeed Sebastian. 
"Yes," he replied ; "the Lord Jesus Christ has brought 
me back to life that I might meet you and testify that 
this persecution of yours against His servants is wholly 
undeserved." He was then taken to the basement 
of the palace, and beaten till he died, and his body 
was thrown into the great sewer .^ 

A whole series of Roman martyrdoms are woven 
into the legend of St. Sebastian. Probably they have 
no historical connexion with that saint, and took 
place at a later point than his ; but there is no reason 
to doubt the reality of the martyrdoms, or of some 
parts of the story concerning them. A woman named 
Zoe was arrested for praying at the tomb of St, 

^ Acta Sanctorum^ Janaary 20. 


Peter on the festival of St Peter and St. Paul, and 
taken before an officer called the patron of the district 
of the Naumachia, in which St. Peter's stood. Upon 
her refusal to ofiFer incense to a little statue of Mars 
with which his office was furnished, he committed 
her for five days to a dark dungeon, where she was 
nearly starved to death. Her spirit, however, was 
unbroken, and she was heard solacing herself by 
singing hymns to God. At the end of the five days, 
the prefect of the city had her hung up to a tree 
and a filthy smoke sent up in her face. Zoe died 
at the first breath of it, and her body was thrown 
into the Tiber. A man called Tiburtius was be- 
trayed by an apostate Christian. He was of good 
family. " Restore yourself to your proper rank," 
said the prefect, ''and be what nature meant you 
for." Tiburtius refused to comply. Fire was applied 
to him, but he professed not to. feel it. The prefect 
remarked that it was well known that Christ had 
taught His followers magic. " Be silent, wretch ! " 
cried the indignant martyr ; " do not let me hear 
you name that sweet and holy name." The prefect 
gave sentence upon him. ''Let the blasphemer of 
the gods be punished with the sword." The sentence 
was executed three miles out of the city on the 
Labican road, where a Christian relative contrived 
to bury him. Castulus perished a little further out 
along the same road. He was a diaetarius (as it was 
called) of the imperial house ; that is, he had the 
charge of certain apartments in it. He is said to 
have been active in protecting his fellow Christians, 
among them Gaius the Bishop of Rome, at the time 
when Diocletian first came to the purple. It had 
been a moment of great distress for them. In the 


confusion of the civil war which placed Diocletian 
in power, the Roman authorities would allow nothing 
to be bought or sold in the markets without buyer 
and seller offering incense before the little images which 
were everywhere set up. Ofl&cers were stationed in 
the street, and by the fountains, whose business it 
was to see that no one even drew water without 
pouring some of it out in honour of the idols. 
Castulus in those days found shelter for some of his 
brethren within the imperial palace itself, yet he 
survived to exhibit his faith again in the great per- 
secution twenty years later. Thrice he was tortured 
and stood firm. At length, whether by judicial sentence 
or by the caprice of underlings is uncertain, he was 
pushed into a ditch by the roadside, and buried 
under a mass of sand. Two brothers, Marcus and 
Marcellian, were nailed to one stake. It is said that 
the prefect offered to unfasten them if they would 
do the idolatrous act, and that they answered that 
they were very well-off where they were ; for the 
first time, they said, they were sure of abiding in the 
love of Christ ; the nails held them fast to it.^ 

Two martyrs, Marcellinus and Peter, whose names 
have found a place in the canon of the Roman Mass, 
were respectively priest and exorcist. It appears that 
they were arrested as they came out of a catacomb 
on the Aurelian road, where Marcellinus had celebrated 
the Eucharist. The soldiers who arrested them were, 
at the very moment, conveying out to execution a 
man called Artemius, with his wife and daughter. 
They beheaded Artemius on the spot, and threw the 
wife and daughter down the shaft of the catacomb, 
and hurled stones upon them as they lay at the 

^ Acta SoftcUrum^ January 20. 


bottom. MarcelHnus and Peter were taken to a place 
known as the Black Wood, though the Christians 
of Rome called it the White Wood in their honour, 
and there beheaded. Damasus, the celebrated Bishop 
of Rome, put an inscription upon their grave, in which 
he says that, when he was a boy, the executioner who 
had beheaded them told him some circumstances of 
their death. He received orders to behead and bury 
them in a deep thicket, that the Christians might not 
discover where they were laid ; and when they reached 
the spot, the two saints cheerfully busied themselves 
in clearing away the bushes, that they might have 
room to die.^ 

The story of St. Agnes has come down to us 
by the hands of several ancient writers, besides the 
late and worthless " Acts ; " but when the accounts 
of St. Ambrose, of Damasus, and of Prudentius are 
compared, there is little that can be considered 
historical in any of them. St. Ambrose in his prose 
works tells the story differently from the way he does it 
in his hymn for St. Agnes' day. It is not even certain 
that Agnes suffered in the last great persecution, or 
whether it was not fifty years earlier, under Decius 
or Valerian. So far as the facts can be ascertained, 
they are as follows : 

Agnes, at the time of her death, was only about 
twelve or thirteen years of age. It seems that, like a 
famous young Spanish maiden of whom we must speak 
by and by, she was confined to the house by her anxious 
parents, who feared that she would offer herself for the 
honours of martyrdom. She contrived notwithstanding 
to escape, and came before the judge. According to 
the imaginary account of the scene given by St. Ambrose, 

^ Acta Sanctorum^ June 2. 

2 A 


the judge endeavoured by turns to frighten and to cajole 
her into sacrificing. He reminded her — it is a common 
feature in the narratives of virgin martyrs — how many 
young men would think her a desirable match. She 
answered that it would be doing a wrong to her Spouse 
to look for some other whom she might like, and that 
none should have her but He who had first chosen her. 
Prudentius, probably through misunderstanding an ex- 
pression of St. Ambrose, says that Agnes was exposed 
to shame and outrage, like many of the female martyrs 
of the time, but protected by a divine miracle ; and 
later writers have followed his story, and enlarged upon 
it. The earlier writers knew nothing of this part of the 
story. St. Ambrose in his hymn relates that when the 
judge called upon her to put the torch to the incense 
upon the idol altar, she said that these were not the 
torches for the virgins of Christ, thinking, no doubt, of 
the torches that were used at a wedding. Both St. 
Ambrose and Damasus relate that when she was to die 
she took pains at the last moment, like St. Perpetua in 
older days, to cover herself well with her garment, or 
with her flowing hair, " that no mortal eye might look 
upon the temple of the Lord." St. Ambrose pictures her 
as dying by the sword, Damasus as being burnt alive.^ 

A lady of St. Ambrose's own family left behind her 
a reputation which he uses more than once to enforce 
the lesson of chaste unworldliness. Her name was 
Soteris. The family was one of great distinction, and 
Soteris was a maiden of remarkable beauty. She was 
called upon to sacrifice, and refused. Then the judge 
bade his attendants to slap her in the face. He thought 
that if he treated her like a saucy slave-girl she might 
be brought to a sense of what became her position. 

^ Franchi de' Cavalieri, S. Agnese nella tradiwme e nella leggimda. 


When Soteris heard the order, she removed the veil 
which hung over her head^ and offered her cheek to the 
rude hands of the executioners. Other maidens might 
have shrunk not only from the pain and from the shame, 
but also from the loss of their good looks; Soteris 
welcomed the loss of what was, after all, a perilous gift. 
The beating was unmercifully administered, but without 
changing the girl's mind, and finally, as St. Ambrose 
says, " she found the sword that she was seeking." ^ 

There was a Christian lady at Rome, whose name, 
according to Rufinus, was Sophronia. She was the wife 
of no less a person, Eusebius tells us, than the prefect of 
Rome. Maxentius, the son of the emperor Maximian, 
set his unhallowed desire upon her, and, instead of 
threatening her with the shameful exposure so often 
employed upon Christian women, sent agents to convey 
her to his palace. The cowardly husband was afraid 
to resist. But Sophronia, if that was her name, asked 
to be allowed to retire for a few minutes to her own 
apartment, as if to put on suitable apparel. When she 
found herself alone, like the Lucretia of ancient Roman 
history, she drove a sword into her body and died. 
Eusebius, in his enthusiasm, declares her to have been 
the noblest of all the female sufferers of the time ; but 
such suicide was not approved by the Western Church 
in general, and probably that is the reason why the 
woman does not appear in the lists of the acknowledged 
martyrs of Christendom.* 

If the Acts of the Roman martyrs are in general 
untrustworthy, there are a few from other parts of Italy 
which bear every mark of truth. Of such a character 
are the Acts of St. Euplus. 

^ Ambrose, de Exhort. Virg» 12; de Virg. iu. 6. 
* Eusebius, Hist. EccL viti. 14. 


The governor of Sicily, Calvisianus, was sitting in 
his private office at Catania, on the 12 th of August in 
the year 304, or perhaps more probably 303, when a 
voice was heard outside the curtain which screened the 
office from the court, crying 'U am a Christian, and for 
the name of Christ I desire to die." The governor 
ordered the speaker to be brought in. It was a deacon 
of the name of Euplus, or Euplius. He was carrying a 
manuscript of the Gospels. A friend of Calvisianus, 
perhaps a member of his council, exclaimed that the 
man ought not to keep papers of that kind, contrary to 
the imperial command. " Where did these come from ? " 
asked the governor ; " out of your own home ? " "I 
have no home,'* Euplus replied, *'as my Lord Jesus 
Christ knows." Doubtless, like Agape and her sisters 
at Thessalonica, he had taken to the hills in order to be 
able to read the Gospels in peace. " Was it you who 
brought them hither?" Calvisianus asked. ''Yes, I 
brought them with my own hands, as you see," was the 
answer; "they found me with them." A curious 
impulse came over the judge. " Read them," he said. 
Euplus opened the book and read, " Blessed are they 
which are persecuted for righteousness* sake, for theirs 
is the kingdom of heaven." Then he turned over the 
pages, and read again, " Whosoever will come after Me, 
let him take up his cross and follow Me." He was 
proceeding to read other texts, when Calvisianus said, 
"What does this mean ?" " It is the law of my Lord," 
said Euplus, " which was delivered to me." Calvisianus 
thought that accomplices might be within reach, and 
asked who it was that had delivered the laws to Euplus. 
He answered, " It was Jesus Christ, the Son of the living 
God." Calvisianus saw no advantage in prosecuting the 
informal inquiry any further. "Since he has openly 


confessed," he said, '* let him be examined by torture ; 
let him be given over to the torturers." 

The formal trial began the same day. Euplus lay 
ready for torture. Calvisianus said to him, "With 
regard to the confession which you made to-day, what 
have you to say now?" Euplus had one hand free, 
and, making the sign of the cross with it upon his fore- 
head, he answered, "What I said then, I confess still, 
namely, that I am a Christian, and that I read the 
divine Scriptures." "Why," said Calvisianus, "did 
you keep these writings beside you, and not give them 
up, when the emperors forbade them ? " Euplus 
answered, "Because I am a Christian, and it was not 
right for me to give them up. It is better for me to 
die than to give them up. In these is eternal life. The 
man who gives them up, loses eternal life. I give my 
life that I may not lose it." 

Upon Calvisianus' order, the torturers went to 
work. While they were at it, the deacon cried, 
"Thanks be to Thee, O Christ. Keep me, for it is 
for Thee that I suffer these things." The judge said to 
him, " Desist from this madness, Euplus ; worship 
the gods and you shall be set free." " I worship 
Christ," he answered; " I detest the devils. Do 
what you please ; I am a Christian. I have long 
wished for this. Do what you please. Add fresh 
tortures ; I am a Christian." After a considerable 
time, the torturers were bidden to pause for a while. 
"Wretched man," said the judge, "worship the gods. 
Do reverence to Mars, Apollo, Aesculapius." "I 
worship the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost," the 
man answered: "I worship the Holy Trinity, beside 
whom there is no God. ' The gods that have not made 
the heavens and the earth, let them perish.' " Calvisianus 


said, " Sacrifice, if you wish to be set at liberty." Euplus 
answered, '' I am now sacrificing, and sacrificing myself, 
to Christ, my God. There is nothing else that I can do. 
Your endeavours are in vain. I am a Christian." The 
governor gave orders to torture him again, and worse 
than before. Euplus, under the torture, cried out 
again, " Thanks be to Thee, O Christ O Christ, help I 
It is for Thee that I suffer these things, O Christ" The 
cry was repeated over and over again, so long as the 
sufferer had strength to speak ; and when the strength 
failed him, his lips were seen to move, forming noise- 
lessly the same or similar words. 

Calvisianus then withdrew into his office behind 
the curtain, dictated his sentence, and came out again, 
carrying the tablet in his hand. He read it aloud. 
^* I order the Christian Euplus, who despises the edicts 
of the princes, blasphemes the gods, and refuses to 
return to a better mind, to be executed with the sword. 
Take him away." Then the Gospel, which he had 
when he was arrested, was hung about his neck, and 
he was led out, the crier proclaiming, ''The Christian 
Euplus, the enemy of the gods and of the emperors/' 
Euplus was very happy, and kept repeating, *• Thanks 
be to Christ, my God." When the place of execution 
was reached, he knelt down and prayed at some length ; 
then, with renewed thanksgivings, he offered his neck 
to the sword and was beheaded.^ 

At Bologna took place — probably at this time — 
two martyrdoms, of which St. Ambrose speaks, though 
evidently he knew but little of the circumstances. Vitalis 
was the slave of Agricola, and seems to have owed to 
him his Christian faith. Agricola was a man of gentle 
and kindly ways, and had acquired great popularity, 

^ Ruinart, p. 361 ; Knopf, p. 97. 


even among the enemies of his religion. They were 
loth to enforce the edicts against him, but hoped that 
he might be alarmed and abjure his Christianity, if the 
hand of the law were laid upon his household. Vitalis 
was seized, tortured, and put to death. But his martyr- 
dom only served to prepare his master for a like end, 
which followed, not long after, by crucifixion. The 
Christian cemetery at Bologna was closed, but the 
bodies of the martyrs found a resting-place in the 
cemetery of the Jews, who, if St. Ambrose was rightly 
informed, eagerly offered this hospitality to the dead 
bodies of men whose courage they admired, without 
sharing their belief. St. Ambrose was himself present 
when the bodies were taken from their first graves, 
amidst the respectful sympathy of the Jews of Bologna, 
and carried to a more distinguished place of burial. 
The Christians of the place made him a present of the 
cross on which Agricola died, and of the nails — a great 
number of them, he says-^with which he was fastened 
to it ; and St. Ambrose in turn made a present of them 
to the church at Florence, built to receive them by a 
lady named Juliana, at the dedication of which he 
preached the sermon in which he gives his account of 
the martyrdom.^ 

A series of pictures in the church at Chalcedon 
recorded the history of St. Euphemia ; a picture in 
the church at Imola told how St. Cassian died. 
Prudentius, the Spanish poet of the fifth century, re- 
lates that on his pilgrimage to Rome he was lying 
prostrate at the tomb of Cassian, when, raising his 
head, he saw on the wall facing him the representa- 
tion of a horrible scene. A man was in course of 
being pricked to death by a mob of children. The 

^ Ambrose, tU Exhort, Virg, i, 2 ; Rmnart, p. 409. 


guardian of the church drew near and explained the 
picture to him. His tale is not one of the most likely, 
but things as strange have happened in the history 
of the world. Cassian was a schoolmaster and a 
Christian. When the persecution broke out, Cassian 
refused to comply with the order to sacrifice, and 
opened his school as usual. The magistrate sent and 
arrested him in the midst of his pupils. It was a 
time when atrocious forms of execution were sought 
for ; and the magistrate conceived the idea of giving 
him over to the boys to do their worst upon him. 
Prudentius thought that boys must always hate the 
schoolmaster : Cassian, at any rate, seems not to have 
endeared himself to those whom he taught. School 
exercises were written in those days upon waxen 
tablets, with a sharp-pointed stiletto. It was a formid- 
able weapon, and this was neither the first nor the last 
time in history that it was used for murderous pur- 
poses. The boys of Imola plied their stilettos with all 
their might, and at last the unfortunate Cassian died, 
exhausted by innumerable little wounds.^ 

Gaul and Britain were under the direct government 
of Constantius, the father of the future emperor, 
Constantine. He was a humane prince, and had no 
sympathy with the persecution of the Christians. 
Though not a Christian himself, he gave as much 
protection as he could to the oppressed religion. He 
allowed the churches in his dominions to be destroyed, 
but, as Lactantius says, he preserved from outrage the 
true temples of God, which are human beings. Yet 
some martyrdoms appear to have taken place in Gaul, 
in spite of Constantius ; and the first martyrdom in 
Britain of which we have any detailed account is 

^ Pradentitts, repi 2re0. ix. 


generally attributed to this persecution; though it might 
be placed earlier. 

Alban is usually supposed to have been a soldier, 
but the fact is not stated by our only authorities. He 
was still a heathen when the edicts of persecution were 
published ; but one day a Christian priest, or clerk, 
flying from the law, came to his cottage, and Alban 
kindly gave him shelter. He saw his guest engaged 
day and night in prayer. The sight drew him to 
inquire, and, under the instruction which was given 
him, Alban determined to give up idolatry and ac- 
cepted the Christian faith. After some days it came to 
the ears of the governor that the man whom his agents 
were seeking was hidden in Alban's house. Soldiers 
were sent to the place. On the threshold Alban met 
them, dressed in the long garment of his clerical friend, 
and was led away to the judge, under the supposition 
that he was the priest himself. 

At the moment when Alban was brought in, the 
judge was at the altar offering sacrifice. It was soon 
discovered that they had got the wrong man, and the 
judge told Alban that because he had harboured a 
traitor, instead of delivering him up to justice, he must 
suffer the same punishment as the other would have 
suffered, unless he would conform to the established 
religion. Alban, who had deliberately put himself in 
the hands of the persecutors of Christianity, was not 
likely to be terrified by those threats. He refused to 
obey the command to sacrifice. The judge asked him 
of his origin and his family. " What does it matter to 
you," answered the prisoner, " what family I belong to ? 
I am a Christian, and will do a Christian's duty." 
When asked his name, he replied, " My relations call 
me Alban, and I worship and adore the true and living 


God, who created all things/* " If you wish to live and 
be happy/' said the judge, " make haste and sacrifice 
to the great gods/' "These sacrifices/' he answered, 
" which you offer to devils, do no good to their devotees, 
and can never fulfil their desires and their prayers: 
those who ofiFer them only get the eternal pains of hell 
for their reward/' 

The judge ordered him to be beaten. He bor^e it 
with fortitude and cheerfulness, and, as he was no more 
minded to obey at the end of the beating than at the 
beginning, the judge pronounced sentence that he should 
be beheaded. So far the story runs plainly and soberly 
along ; but here it breaks into a series of miracles. 
The stream that ran below Verulam ^ops while the 
martyr goes over ; the executioner seeing it, embraces 
the martyr's faith, and is put to death with him ; the 
martyr, arriving at the top of the hill where he is to 
die, prays for water, and a spring starts up at his feet. 
Bede relates it all without hesitation. He is at any 
rate justified in praising the beautiful situation of St. 
Albans, and there is no reason to doubt his statement 
that the martyrdom occurred on June 22. Our modern 
observance of June 17 is derived from an accidental 


The bloodthirsty Maximian himself, in all probability, 
had Spain as well as Africa under his jurisdiction, and 
a large contingent of Spanish martyrs was the result. 
Among all the towns of Spain none held its head more 
proudly in the following century than Caesaraugusta, 
or Saragossa. The poet Prudentius was a native or 
inhabitant of the place, and dwells with fervour upon 
the fact that while Cordova, Tarragona, Calahorra, 
Barcelona, Alcala, could only boast of two or three 

^ Bede, Hist Gent. Angl, i. 7. 


martyrs each, and none of them of more than five, 
Saragossa had no fewer than eighteen. Scarcely 
Carthage or imperial Rome, he says, could beat that 
number. Of their trials and exploits, however, Pru^ 
dentins knew, or has recorded, no details. About one 
virgin confessor of Saragossa he was better informed. 
Her name was Encratis. From the poet's description 
of her as a vMenUt virgo, it may be understood that 
Encratis, like a still more celebrated Spanish martyr, 
showed her abhorrence of idolatry by some bold and 
forcible action. She endured tortures almost too 
horrible to be related. Besides the gashings and 
scrapings which were usual at the time, her left 
breast was cut off, and the claws entered so deeply 
into her body that even a part of her liver was torn 
away. Prudentius mentions that he had seen the 
dreadful relic preserved by the church of Sara- 
gossa. The persecuting magistrate refused to have her 
put out of pain. She was thrust with her festering 
wounds into prison ; and such was her vitality that 
she seems to have survived the persecution, and, as 
Prudentius says, to have gained for her dwelUng*place 
the unusual distinction of providing a home and shrine 
for a still living martyr. Two other Christians of the 
place. Gains and Crementius, likewise " had a taste of 
martyrdom " without being put to death.^ 

From the language of Prudentius, it is uncertain 
whether Encratis suffered in the persecution of Diocle- 
tian or at some earlier date. The eighteen must have 
suffered earlier, because Prudentius seems to say that the 
knowledge of their history influenced in boyhood a fellow- 
citizen of theirs, who rose in the last persecution to be one 
of the most celebrated martyrs of any age or country. 

1 Pnidentius, v€pl 2tc0. iv. 


Vincent was born of a distinguished family. His 
grandfather, Agressus, had been decorated with the 
rank of consul. In his boyhood he was a diligent 
student, and under the care of the Bishop of Saragossa 
he attained a great reputation for learning, both secular 
and religious. The bishop's name was Valerius. He 
belonged, as Prudentius says, to *'a mitred house" 
which gave more than one early bishop to the see of 
Saragossa. Valerius advanced the young Vincent to 
be the head of the deacons of his diocese ; and, as he 
himself laboured under an impediment in his speech, 
he delegated the duty of teaching to Vincent, as another 
Valerius did later on, at Hippo, to St. Augustine. 

The persecution in Spain was entrusted by Maximian 
to an officer named Datian, who left behind him a 
terrible remembrance among the Christians of the 
peninsula. To him Valerius and his deacon were 
brought. They confessed what they were, and Datian, 
hoping to break their spirits by delay and weariness, 
dragged them off in chains to Valencia, and there threw 
them into prison. They saw no one ; they were barely 
kept from starvation ; the irons with which their necks 
and arms were loaded nearly crushed them. Yet when 
they were called again to the bar, the judge was 
astonished and disappointed to see how well -liking 
they were. He addressed them, nevertheless, in kindly- 
sounding words, and urged them to comply with the 
law. The meek Valerius placed his defence in the 
hands of his deacon, who expressed to Datian, in elo- 
quent terms, the Christian view of idolatry. Datian 
did nothing worse to the bishop than to sentence him 
to exile. He gave orders to submit Vincent to torture. 

Vincent was put on the horse, and those tortures 
were applied which were commonly used to extract a 


confession from criminals. The martyr only answered 
his judge's questions by saying that he had got what 
he wanted. His wishes were more than satisfied. 
God's servant was prepared for all. It is said that 
Datian became so excited that he laid about him with 
a rod upon the ministers of punishment, to hasten 
them in their work. " You are yourself avenging me," 
cried the deacon, "with your own hands." Datian 
demanded of him, according to Prudentius, the sur- 
render of the sacred books upon which so much of 
this persecution turned ; but Vincent only warned him 
that the word of God, which they contain, is guarded 
by a fiery sword which will consume its enemies. The 
torture went on with renewed energy. It became a 
direct personal conflict between will and will — the will 
of the judge to make Vincent yield, the will of the 
Christian to show what Christian fortitude could endure. 
At last Datian said that, as lesser punishments had 
failed, he should proceed to real tortures. The same 
kind of instrument was prepared for Vincent which had 
served his brother deacon, Lawrence, at Rome. An 
iron bed was produced, and hot coals put under it, 
and the martyr was stretched upon the hot bars, or 
rather laid himself down upon them. Hot plates of 
iron, besides, were pressed into his flesh. Salt was 
sprinkled upon the burnt parts ; and when his body 
presented no fresh surface for a wound or burn, they 
began again upon the old places. 

Even this appalling treatment could neither bring 
Vincent to submission, nor kill him. By Datian's 
orders he was taken to a dreadful dungeon, which 
was reached by no ray of daylight. There he was 
placed in the stocks, with his feet as far apart as they 
would go ; and to make matters worse the ground was 


strewn with broken potsherds, so that whichever way 
the poor torn body turned for relief, it might find 
another wound reopened. Datian gave orders that no 
one was to be left near the sufferer, so that he might 
not have the solace of even a gaoler's companionship. 
The belief of the following century was that the dungeon 
was illuminated by heavenly light, and its solitude filled 
with comforting angels, while flowers covered the cruel 
ground. This legend probably takes a spiritual truth 
and makes it material, and in so doing it robs the 
martyr of the glory of his fortitude. Whatever inward 
consolations were vouchsafed to him, it is most likely 
that his outward sufferings went unrelieved. 

After a time, however, Datian, learning that Vincent's 
mind was unchanged, thought to change it by a gentler 
method of treatment. The deacon was brought out 
of the dungeon. He was placed in the comforts of 
the libera custodia — surveillance without constraint. His 
fellow Christians visited him without being molested. 
It is probable that his liberation took place before the 
edict of 304, which made the persecution general. 
They vied with one another both to heal the mangled 
body and to carry away from it handkerchiefs moist- 
ened with his blood, to keep as precious treasures. But 
the cruel kindness of Datian was defeated. << While 
he was vainly thinking over future punishments," says 
the ancient writer, '< Christ made His own disposals 
for the reward." Vincent scarcely felt the ease of his 
altered circumstances. Too great a strain had been 
placed upon his bodily frame, and he died peacefully 
in the bed where they had laid him. 

The judge, baulked of his conquest, determined that 
the Christians should at least not make religious use 
of the martyr's body, and ordered it to be cast to the 


birds and beasts* No beast, no bird, attacked it. It 
was believed that a great raven mounted guard over 
the corpse, and would not allow any other creature to 
touch it. Datian next tried throwing it into the sea 
in a sack, the way in which parricides were treated by 
Roman justice. But, as in m^lny other cases, the body 
was found by Christians on the beach, and buried in 
a little church which had escaped destruction. After 
the great peace it was translated to a more sumptuous 
resting-place outside the walls of Valencia; and Pru- 
dentius describes the impassioned scenes which in his 
time took place around the tomb. A more subtle and 
a more effective revenge upon the martyr was taken 
by Datian, when he ordered that no official record of 
his trial should be kept. The existing " Passion " of 
St. Vincent was composed within the century after 
his death, from the traditions of those who had wit^ 
nessed the events, and was read aloud in the churches 
of Africa in the time of St. Augustine on St Vincents 

A French scholar has well remarked that if Spain 
had a Lawrence in Vincent, she had also an Agnes 
in EulaUa. Our knowledge of her history is derived 
from Prudenttus, who devoted a long poem to the 

According to him, EulaUa was of a good family at 
Emerita, now Merida, on the Guadiana. Like Agnes, 
she had reached the age of twelve years ; like Agnes, 
she had formed her resolution to be the bride of none 
other but her Saviour. When the persecution swept 
over Lusitania, her parents, like those of Agnes, fearing 
the possible effects upon her enthusiastic temper, put 
her in safe keeping in the country. Like Agnes, she 

^ Ruinart, 323 ; Pnidentius, vepl 2rt0. v. 


unbolted the door one night while the household was 
asleep, and ran away to the town. 

When the morning came, she took her stand at the 
tribunal where Datian, if it was he, sat surrounded by 
his lictors with their formidable fasces. She boldly 
declared herself a Christian, and took the judge and 
his superiors to task for declaring war upon the faith. 
As usual, the judge began by attempting to make the 
girl think how young she was, and how life with all its 
attractive prospects was just opening before her. Then 
he sought to frighten her with threats of torture, sword, 
wild beasts, and fire. If he did not actually use the 
words which the poet puts in his mouth, they no doubt 
represent the argument which he would use : " What 
trouble will it cost you to escape all this ? If you will 
be so good as to touch a grain of salt, a pinch of incense, 
with the tips of your fingers, away goes the punish- 
ment." Unless the bad taste of the poet belies the 
behaviour of the young saint, the only answer which 
Eulalia gave was to spit in the judge's face, and, with a 
cry of detestation, to dash to the ground the images 
that stood on the little altar of the court, and to trample 
upon the incense. 

The executioners began to ply their tools upon her. 
Eulalia read the meaning of the marks which they made 
upon her sides — " Lord, they are writing that Thou art 
mine 1 " They went on to put the torch to her sides, 
to her veil of flowing hair, to her face. She had doubt- 
less heard how other martyrs had drawn death to them 
at the stake, for when the flame came near her lips, she 
opened her mouth and sucked it in and died. Pruden- 
tins describes how her soul took its flight in the shape 
of a snow-white dove.. It was the loth of December 
when she died ; and as her body lay under the open 


sky, a heavy fall of snow covered the town and the 
market place, and covered the girl with a soft clean 
pall, so that she needed no shroud from human 

A noble church in the time of Prudentius stood 
over the burying-place of Eulalia, rich with Spanish 
and foreign marbles, with gilding and with mosaics. 
He calls upon those of Eulalia's time of life to join him 
in doing her honour on her festival. "Gather purple 
violets and blood-red crocus : they are to be had, for 
winter here is mild, and the thawing ice unbinds the 
fields to fill your baskets with flowers. Girls and boys, 
bring presents of them, and foliage around them, while 
I in the middle weave my garland of verses — poor, 
fading garland, but still holiday-like." ^ 

^ Prudentius, vepl Sre^. iii. 

2 B 



The enthusiastic temperament of the people of North 
Africa was the very stuff of which martyrs are made. 
The number of deaths in that region for the name of 
Christ was greater than in any other, considering that 
the persecution of Diocletian in the western world 
lasted a shorter time than in the eastern; and the 
records of the people's faith and courage are hardly 
less stirring than in the days of Perpetua or of Cyprian. 
When the emperor Maximian went into that part 
of the empire, in the year 297, to subdue an insurrec- 
tion of those who were known as the Five Tribes, there 
was a Christian named Typasius living near the town 
of Sitifi. He had served honourably in the army, and 
when his time of active service was over, lived a life of 
retirement, but liable to be called upon to serve again 
in an emergency as a " veteran," or a kind of reservist. 
The emergency had now arisen, and Typasius was 
summoned once more to the standard. Before the 
fighting began, Maximian wished to encourage his 
troops by giving them a present all round. Typasius, 
when his turn came, respectfully refused to take the 
gold piece from the emperor's hand, and begged to be 
discharged for the service of Christ. This was six years 
before the penal enactments against Christianity were 
issued, and Maximian for some reason gave him his 

discharge. It was afterwards believed that the reason 



was that he had prophesied victories for the emperorSi 
and that the prophecy came true. 

Typasius went home rejoicing to think that he had 
done with military life, and built himself a hermit's cell 
upon his own property, and lived in it. After five or 
six years the edict of persecution came to Africa, and at 
the same time the reserve was again called out. The 
agents whose business it was to find them out came to 
Typasius in his cell, and made him come with them, in 
spite of his protests, to the officer commanding the dis- 
trict, carrying with them also the belt, the shield, and 
the lances, which Typasius kept hung on the wall. 

When Claudius, the dux^ or general in command, 
saw him, he asked why they had brought him ^' in that 
mourning garb." They told him the man's history, and 
added that he had refused to take service again, saying 
that he was a Christian and that he could not perform 
the required sacrifice. Claudius began to examine him. 
" What is your name and occupation ? " " Typasius ; 
I am a veteran. Once I served the world, but now 
I serve Christ only." " Why do you wear black ? " 
" This is not black ; it is white. Christians put on 
sackcloth in order to gain forgiveness of sins ; for it is 
written, ' Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be 
comforted.' " " Have done with that nonsense ; obey 
the commands of the emperors, and come back to the 
victorious standards." ^' No one returns to battle after 
victory. I have overcome the world, and have enlisted 
among the servants of Christ. I am Christ's soldier and 
Christ's servant, and if you choose to be hard on me, 
for Christ's sake I can bear it." " You know that de- 
serters are liable to be made to fight the wild beasts ? " 
"I am not a deserter. All my fellow-citizens know 
that I served without ever being reproved. I received 


my honourable discharge from the emperor Maximian, 
with his good wishes." " You are not set free from the 
emperor's laws. He can alter them as he pleases. He 
gave you your honourable discharge, you tell me ; now, 
with the sanction of the oracle, he orders you, like the 
rest of the veterans, to return to the service." " I am 
Christ's soldier ; I cannot be yours." " Sacrifice to the 
gods." " I offer to Christ the sacrifice of praiise ; His 
praise shall ever be in my mouth. I do not worship 
images of stone and wood." " You must be desperate 
to despise the orders of both our emperors. Do as they 
have bidden, and come back to the service, or your 
death will serve as a warning to other deserters." *' I 
have already told you, I am Christ's soldier ; I cannot 
return to the life of the world." *' Not another word. 
Put the belt on him, and the weapons in his hand." 

The man was put under arrest, and for some time 
was compelled to follow Claudius about from station to 
station. The general was evidently inclined to take 
little notice of his religious scruples, and to lay stress 
only upon his military misconduct. But Typasius' 
fellow-soldiers, instigated by the two subordinate officers 
who had dragged him out of his cell, were not so com- 
plaisant. One day when Claudius came on parade he 
found quite an uproar among the men. They were all 
offering incense, and Typasius had refused. Claudius 
could not resist the pressure brought to bear upon him. 
He sent for Typasius, and commanded him to sacrifice 
on pain of losing his life. He refused. He said that 
Christ was his life, and to die was his gain. Claudius 
at length gave sentence upon him, reading it as usual 
from what he had written. The word Christian did 
not occur in the sentence. '^ I have long borne with 
Typasius the veteran, in hopes that he would return to 


the service and offer sacrifice to the gods of Rome. 
When he persistently refused, I laid aside the strictness 
of a judge and exhorted him not to destroy himself. 
But forasmuch as he has stuck to that superstitious 
perversity, and has despised the commands of our 
Augusti, it is my pleasure that he should be punished 
with the sword, that by his death all may learn to obey 
the decrees of the emperors." Typasius lifted his eyes 
to heaven and said, " I thank Thee, O Lord Jesus Christ, 
who hast vouchsafed to deliver me. Thy servant, from 
this world." 

The soldiers led him out of the city — apparently it 
was Tigava in Mauretania — and beheaded him. He 
was buried where he fell. His comrades paid him the 
honour of placing his shield upon the tomb ; and the 
document which relates the story — a document only 
lately recovered from oblivion — ^3ays how Christian 
visitors used to break little fragments from the shield, 
and take them away to work cures upon the sick.^ 

Another soldier suffered a like death at Caesarea, 
the capital of the same province. His name was 
Fabius. He was the standard-bearer of the cohort 
which formed the governor's guard. On the arrival 
of the great persecuting edict — probably that of 304 — 
the governor went in solemn procession to sacrifice. 
His lictors went before him, and he was attended by 
the whole council of the province. Criers summoned 
the people to the function. When Fabius was bidden 
to carry the standard in the procession, he refused. 
He said he was a Christian. The refusal was reported 
to the governor. The governor pretended that it was 
an unpremeditated act, which he would not punish at 
once, and put the young man under arrest for some 

^ AnaleetaBMix. Ii6. 


days. On his next appearance before the governor, 
Fabius was questioned once again, and gave the same 
constant reply. The governor made short work with 
him. He was beheaded. But the governor was 
anxious not ** to provide the Christians with a martyr/' 
and, after the remains had been guarded night and day 
for some time, he had them sewn up in two separate 
bags and thrown into the sea* The relics came ashore 
at Cartenna, forty or fifty miles to the west of Caesarea, 
and there were bitter contentions afterwards between 
the Christians of the two places, whether the martyr's 
head and body belonged by rights to the city where he 
was killed or to the city to which Providence had 
allowed his relics to be wafted.^ 

The Christian women and girls of North Africa 
were not behind the men in constancy and courage. 
Anulinus, the proconsul of Africa, came one day to 
the city of Thuburbo and despatched two officers to 
summon to his presence all the Christians of the place 
to do sacrifice on an imperial estate which lay near at 
hand. It was nine o'clock in the morning when he 
took his seat, with a large crowd assembled before him. 
" Are you Christians ? " he asked them. They replied 
that they were. ''Maximian and Galerius,'' he said, 
'' the religious and august emperors, have done me the 
honour of writing to me to say that all Christians are 
to come and sacrifice, and that those who decline and 
disobey the order are to be punished with various 
pains and tortures." A panic seized the unhappy 
crowd. Husbands who might have been willing to 
endure something themselves could not bear the 
thought of what might be done to their wives. 
Priests, deacons, persons in lesser orders, gave way. 

^ AMoleeta BM ix. 123. 


Even the young men and the virgins had no heart to 
stand out. All bowed down and worshipped the 

One unfortunate womany who had committed the 
unchristian act, added to it an even baser sin of 
treachery. "We have all come to adore the gods," 
she cried, " but there are two girls here who have not 
obeyed the imperial order, and refuse to sacrifice." 
"Tell me their names," said the proconsul. The 
woman answered, "They are called Maxima and 

The two girls were found, and brought before 
Anulinus. The dialogue which passed between them 
and their judge can hardly have been altogether as 
it is represented in the newly discovered Acts of 
these saints ; but some of the questions and answers 
are well given. "What authority do you possess," 
he inquired, "that you should despise the religious 
and august emperors ?" " The authority of the Christian 
faith," Maxima answered, "to which I belong." It 
came out on inquiry that Maxima was fourteen years 
of age. " You will reach the end of your years to-day," 
he answered, "if you do not sacrifice to the gods." 
" Sacrifice to them yourself," answered the fiery young 
African, "for you are like them." "The sentence is 
ready to fall," he said. " That is exactly what I wish 
and desire," she replied. "Then prepare your mind 
for it," he said. "It is better for me to receive sentence 
from you," the girl said, " than to despise the one true 
God." " Why are you so desperate ? " said the pro- 
consul ; " will you sacrifice or not ? " "I persevere in 
my God," she answered ; " I will not worship the gods 
of others." "I shall bear with you," answered the 
patient Anulinus, " until you find your reason." " My 


reason is with me/' retorted the girl, " for the Lord also 
strengthens me against you, so that you will prove 
weak and I the stronger." 

Perhaps the judge did not quite understand what 
Maxima meant by saying that the Lord was strengthen- 
ing her. He asked her whom she had with her. She 
replied that she had her sister Donatilla. It is not 
certain whether she was only a sister in the faith, or 
whether she was a still younger girl of the same family. 
It was now Donatilla's turn to be questioned. Her 
answers were of the same character as those of 
Maxima ; and indeed it must be acknowledged that 
if they were as related in the Acts the judge might 
have been excused if he had lost his temper with the 
girls. But he did not. He delayed judgment, and 
ordered them to be conducted to the town, only 
forbidding food or water to be given them. 

They were on their way into Thuburbo, when a 
young friend of theirs, named Secunda, joined them. 
She was but twelve years old. Like Agnes and Eulalia, 
she had already received many proposals of marriage, 
but had set her heart upon remaining a virgin all her 
days. Secunda was in a balcony of the house of her 
wealthy parents when she saw Maxima and Donatilla 
being led along the road. She sprang down to them 
from the balcony, and entreated them not to go without 
her. They urged her to go back. *'You are your 
father's only daughter," they said ; " who is there for 
you to leave him to ? " '* God will requite you for it," 
answered the eager girl, " if you go without me." *' I 
must tell you," Maxima said, ''that our sentence is 
made out. What can you suffer? The flesh is 
weak." Secunda answered that she was not afraid 
of an earthly sentence ; she desired to find her 


spiritual Bridegroom, ''who consoles and strengthens 
even the least." " Come, then, girl," said Donatilla : 
" the day of our passion is close at hand, and the angel 
of blessing comes, to meet us." So they went on, and 
the sun set. 

On the 28th of August, Anulinus had them up 
again, and asked if they would sacrifice. " We 
sacrifice our lives," they answered, "to Him to whom 
we have promised them." Once more Anulinus 
deferred sentence. On the 29th, at six in the 
morning, he delivered them over to be whipped. 
Maxima told him that it was no great punishment to 
have the flesh beaten, when the spirit is saved and 
the soul is redeemed and comforted. Then the poor 
girls, with their bruised backs, were put to lie on broken 
potsherds and glass. They told Anulinus that they had 
a great Physician who healed their wounds, and that 
while he, their judge, was being brought low, they 
were exalted in glory. They were placed on the hobby- 
horse. " It is the judgment of God," they said, " that 
men should sufiFer for their Lord." When it seemed 
as if they must be exhausted with their torture, and 
their throats parched, Anulinus ordered a cordial to be 
given them to revive them. "You are foolish," they 
said to him ; " have we not our God, the Most High, 
for our refreshment ? " The proconsul ordered hot 
coals to be strewn over their hair and their heads. " It 
is true," they said, " which is written in the law, ' We 
went through fire and water, and came through into a 
place of refreshment.' " 

At last he ordered them to the amphitheatre. It 
was a joyful sound to them. "Now our hour is 
coming," they said ; " give what sentence you will." 
The proconsul confessed that he was tired, and would 


be ghud to be rid of them. ''Tired,** cried the 
tindaunted girls, '* with one hour of it 1 You have only 
just come, and are you tired?" The proconsul gave 
word for a hungry bear to be let loose upon them. 
" Do as you are bidden/' said Donatilla to the keeper ; 
'^do not fear." <'In the name of our Lord Jesus 
Christ we shall conquer you to-day," they cried to 
Anulinus. The bear, as so often happened, only 
growled and licked Maxima's feet. Then Anulinus 
read the final judgment off his tablet: ''We order 
Maxima, Donatilla, and Secunda to be punished with 
the sword.'* They answered, " Thanks be to God," and 
suffered without further delay. Their bodies were 
buried within the precincts of the amphitheatre itself.^ 

Some four months after, the proconsul Anulinus took 
his seat at Theveste. "Crispina of Thagara, who has 
despised the law of our sovereign lords," was announced 
by the official of the court. She was, so St. Augustine 
says, a woman of wealth and position. Anulinus asked 
her if she was acquainted with "the sacred order." 
" I do not know," she answered, •* what that order is." 
He told her that she must sacrifice to all the state gods 
on behalf of the emperors. " I have never sacrificed," 
Crispina replied, " nor do I sacrifice, except to the one 
God and to our Lord Jesus Christ His Son, who was 
born, and suffered." " Cut short your superstition," said 
the proconsul, " and bow your head to the sacred rites 
of the gods of Rome." " I pay reverence every day to 
my own God," was the answer ; " beside Him I know 
no other." "You are stubborn and contumacious. 
You will not like it when you begin to feel the force of 
the laws." " I will gladly suffer whatever befalls me 
for the faith which I hold." " It is your foolishness 

^ AtuUecta Boll. ix. no. 


that you will not part with superstition and worship the 
sacred divinities." *' I worship every day, but I wor- 
ship the living and true God^ who is my own Lord, 
beside whom I know no other." " I will show you the 
sacred commandment which you are to obey." '' I 
will obey the commandment, but the commandment 
of my Lord Jesus Christ." '* I shall direct your head 
to be cut off, if you do not comply with the orders of 
our lords the emperors. You will be obliged to submit 
and to obey them ; all Africa has sacrificed, and you 
do not question it." "No good come to them for 
trying to make me sacrifice to devils instead of the one 
God who made heaven and earth, and all things that 
are in them." "Then do you not accept these gods? 
You will be compelled to pay homage to them, that you 
may live and prove yourself loyal." " It is no loyalty 
when people are oppressed and compelled against their 
will." " Nay, I wish that you would show your loyalty 
now by bending your head and offering incense in the 
sacred temples to the gods of Rome." " I have never 
done it since I was born, and know nothing about it ; 
nor will I do it as long as I live." " Nay, do it, if you 
would not feel the severity of the laws." " I am not 
afraid of what you say. That is nothing. But if I 
should consent to be sacrilegious, the God who is in 
heaven will destroy me then and there, that I shall not 
be found in that day that is to come." "There will 
be no sacrilege in your obeying the sacred decrees." 
" Let the gods that have not made heaven and earth 
perish 1 I sacrifice to the eternal God, which endureth 
for ever and ever, who is the true God and to be feared ; 
who made the sea, and the green herbs, and the dry 
land. What can men, who are His creatures, do to 
me ? " " Follow the religion of Rome. Our lords, the 


invincible Caesars, observe it, and so do I." " I 
have told you again and again, that I am prepared to 
endure any tortures that you like to inflict upon me, 
rather than have my soul polluted with idols, which are 
but stones, and the work of men's hands." " You are 
uttering blasphemy. You are taking a line which is 
not for your good." 

Anulinus ceased to argue. He spoke to the official 
whose business it was, and bade him disfigure her by 
shaving her head all over with a razor. It was what 
Lysias in Cilicia did to the martyr Theonilla* But the 
affront had no effect upon the brave woman. ''Let 
the gods themselves speak," she cried, ** and I will be- 
lieve in them." When asked if she had no thought of 
her own salvation, she answered that if she did not 
care to be saved, she would never have stood at the 
proconsul's bar. ''Do you wish for long life," said 
Anulinus, " or do you wish to expire in torments, like 
your fellows ? " " If I wished to die," she retorted, " and 
to deliver my soul to destruction and eternal fire, I 
would give up my will to your devils." " I must have 
your head cut off," said Anulinus, "if you contemp- 
tuously refuse to worship the venerable gods." "I 
thank my God," she answered, "if I may attain that. 
I desire earnestly to lose my head for the sake of 
my God ; for I do not sacrifice to vain idols, that are 
dumb and deaf." " And you really mean to persist in 
that foolish resolution," said the proconsul. Crispina 
answered, " My God, which is and which endureth for 
ever, ordained that I should be born. He gave me 
salvation by the saving water of baptism. He is with 
me, to help me, and to strengthen His handmaid not to 
commit sacrilege." 

Then Anulinus the proconsul said, "Why should 


we put up with the impious Crispina any longer? 
Read over the report of the examination from the 
minute-book." The report was read over. Then 
the proconsul delivered the judgment which he had 
written in his note-book : " Crispina, who persists in an 
unworthy superstition, has refused to sacrifice to our 
gods. In accordance with the heavenly commands 
of the imperial law, I order her to be punished with 
the sword." Crispina's answer was, " I bless God, who 
has thus vouchsafed to deliver me from your hands." 
It was the fifth of December. She made the sign of 
the cross upon her forehead, stretched out her neck to 
the sword, and died.^ 

A batch of twenty martyrs perished together at 
Hippo, of which the great Augustine was afterwards 
bishop. The bishop of the see, Fidentius, was himself 
one of them. Two others were women called Valeriana 
and Victoria. The names of the rest are no longer 
known on earth. Over some of them there was the 
scene, as touching as it was common, of unbelieving 
parents endeavouring to restrain their Christian children. 
" Do not mourn," said the young martyrs j " do not 
mourn for our joys. If you do not wish those whom 
you have nourished and brought up to go to hell, you 
should imitate us and not hinder us." The usual per- 
suasions were resorted to by "the persecutor," — ^pro- 
bably the proconsul Anulinus, " Sacrifice to the gods," 
he said. '* We will not do it," was the answer, *' because 
we have an eternal God in heaven, to whom we always 
sacrifice. To devils we will not offer." " Why," urged 
the judge, " do you go against the sacred command- 
ment ? " " Because," they replied, " our heavenly Master 
says to us in the Gospel, ' Whosoever shall forsake father 

^ Franchi de' Cavalieri in Studie Testis vol. ix. p. 32; Ruinart, p. 395. 


and mother and wife and children, and all that he hath, 
for My name's sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and 
shall inherit eternal life/ " " Then you will not obey 
the commands of the emperors ? " said the magistrate. 
They answered /' No/' He asked them the same curious 
question which was put to Maxima at the beginning 
of her examination : " What authority can you have 
for it ? You see that you are liable to punishment." 
The martyrs answered, " We bear the authority of the 
eternal King ; therefore we pay no regard to the 
authority of mortal man/' ^ 

The most interesting documents relating to the 
persecution in North Africa belong to a somewhat 
earlier phase of the struggle, and are connected with 
the prohibition of Christian assemblies, and with the 
demand for the surrender of the Scriptures. Out of 
this last point arose one of the fiercest contentions 
that has ever been waged between one Christian faction 
and another. The fanatical party who are known to 
history as the Donatists maintained that on no account 
whatever was it lawful to hold communion with persons 
who had been guilty of surrendering, or even of seeming 
to surrender, any portion of the sacred writings. Others 
took a more moderate view. Mensurius^ the Bishop of 
Carthage, thought himself justified in leaving a number 
of heretical books in his church and in the library 
attached to it. The officials asked no questions. They 
burned the heretical books and gave no further trouble. 
It was in vain that some persons, who were better 
informed, waited upon Anulinus and told him that the 
books which had been destroyed were not the books 
which were wanted. Anulinus sent them away to mind 
their own business. 

^ Augustiue, Semi&n cccxxvi. ; Ruinart, p. 495. 


A letter of Mensurius to Secundus of Tigisis, the 
chief bishop of Numidia^ shows how entirely he shared 
the feelings of his great predecessor, Cyprian, with 
regard to those who went out of their way to defy the 
persecutors. He forbade the church to pay honoiu* to 
men who offered themselves unsought to the govern- 
ment agents, and who volunteered the information that 
they possessed Scriptures and would never surrender 
them. He said that some of those who acted in this 
manner were persons of criminal lives ; some were in 
debt to the public funds, '' who took occasion by the 
persecution to rid themselves of a life so biurdened 
with debt ; or who thought that they could thus redeem 
their character, and cleanse themselves of their mis- 
deeds ; or who even looked to get money, and to enjoy 
luxuries in prison, from the reverential kindness of 
Christians." This kindness of Christians for the con- 
fessors became a source of irritation to the official world, 
and therefore of danger to the Church* Caecilian, 
the head deacon of Carthage, undertook, under his 
bishop's sanction, to regulate the performance of these 
charitable acts, to the great displeasure of the fanatics. 
They affirmed that he posted at the prison gates men 
armed with whips and thongs of leather, to drive away 
people who brought food and drink for the martyrs. 
Within lay the famishing Christians, while outside, the 
food that was intended for them was scattered to the 
dogs, and the fathers and mothers of the su£Ferers filled 
the air with their lamentations.^ Secundus wrote to 
remonstrate with Mensurius for his policy. He de- 
scribed the sufferings which the Numidian Christians 
chose rather to bear than to betray the Scriptures. He 
boasted that when the chief magistrate and senate of 

^ Dupin's OptahiSy p. 156. 


his own city sent a centurion and a constable to his 
house to ask for the word of God, to burn it, he 
answered them, 'M am a Christian and a bishop, not a 
traditor" — ^that was the name given to those who de- 
livered up the sacred things, — and that when they begged 
him to give them any useless and tattered scraps of 
writing, he had refused, after the example of Eleazar in 
the Book of Maccabees, who would not even pretend 
to eat the swine's flesh, lest his example should mislead 
others. Both men of his own party and Catholics also 
wondered how after such a bold answer Secundus 
escaped without hurt.^ 

We owe to the Donatist controversy the preserva- 
tion of two official documents which show vividly the 
way in which the agents of the government went to 
work to find Bibles, and the way in which the Christians 
met them. 

At Cirta, now Constantine, Felix, the curator or 
chief magistrate of the city, who was at the same time 
Jtatnen, or priest of the emperor-worship, " came to the 
house where the Christians used to meet," and said to 
Paul, the bishop, '' Bring out the Scriptures of the law, 
and anything else that you have here, in obedience to 
the command." The poor-spirited bishop answered, 
** The Scriptures are in the hands of the readers ; but 
we will give you what we have here." *' Show me the 
readers," said the curator, "or else send to them." 
" You know them all," was the answer. The curator 
denied it. " The public qfficium knows them," said the 
bishop, " that is to say Edusius and Junius, the short- 
hand writers." Felix said, "Let the matter of the 
readers stand over, as the officium will point them out. 
Produce what you have on the spot." The order was 

^ Augustine, Brnf. CoUaHonis e, Donat. d. Ill, c. xiii, n. 25. 


obeyed. The bishop sat in his throne, with three 
presbyters beside him ; two deacons, four subdeacons, 
eight or more fossores or diggers, stood by ; a secretary 
made an inventory, while the contents of the treasury 
were brought out. There were two golden and six 
silver chalices, six silver cruets or pitchers, a silver 
pipkin, seven silver lamps, two taper-stands, seven short 
lamp-stands of brass, with their lamps, eleven other 
lamp-holders of brass with their chains, eighty-two 
women's tunics, thirty-eight veils, sixteen men's tunics, 
thirteen pairs of men's shoes and forty-seven pairs of 
women's, nineteen country smocks. When these had 
been counted out, the curator again told the diggers 
to produce what they had. They replied that they had 
produced everything. '' Your answer is entered on the 
minutes," said Felix. 

When they came to the library, the book-shelves, 
or cupboards, were empty ; but Silvanus, the tradtior^ 
who, strangely enough, became afterwards the Donatist 
bishop of the place, produced a silver coffer and a 
silver lamp, which he said that he had found behind 
a great jar. The secretary remarked to him, ''You 
would have been a dead man if you had not found 
those." "Look carefully," said the curator, "to see 
that there is nothing else left." "There is nothing," 
said the traditor ; " we have fetched everything out." 

They opened the triclinium^ or hall for social gather- 
ings, attached to the church. There they found four 
casks and six great jars. Then Felix repeated his de- 
mand for the Scriptures. A man called Catullinus 
thereupon produced one immense codex. " Why have 
you only given me one ? " the curator asked him and 
his fellows ; " produce the Scriptures in your posses- 
sion." They replied that they were subdeacons ; it was 

2 c 


not their place to keep the books ; that office belonged 
to the readers. Felix bade them show him the readers. 
They answered, ^*We do not know where they are." 
" If you do not know where they are/' said Felix, " tell 
me their names." But the poor creatures were not so 
far gone as that. ** We are not traitors," they replied ; 
^* here we are ; -put us to death." Felix ordered tbem 
to be apprehended. 

A move was then made to the house of one of the 
readers, called Eugenius. Eugenius produced lour 
books. Felix bade Silvanus and Carosus show him 
the rest of the readers ; but they referred him once 
more to his own officials, who had a list of them. The 
house of Felix, a worker in mosaic, was next visited. 
He produced five books. Victorinus produced eight ; 
Projectus produced five big and two little ones. Victor, 
a schoolmaster, offered two books and four qmnimes — 
whatever that may mean. " You have more," said Felix ; 
''fetch them out." ^'If I had had more," answered 
the obsequious reader, " I would have given them to 
you." When they reached the house of Eutychius, 
Eutychius said that he had no books. The curator 
made no search^ but only said, ''Your statement is 
entered in the minutes." Coddeo's house was the last 
on the list. Coddeo did not appear, but his wife pro- 
duced six books. " Look and see if you have no more," 
said Felix ; " fetch them out." The woman said that 
there were no more. The curator turned to a public 
servant and said« " Go in and see whether she has no 
more." He went in, and after searching said that be 
could find no more. Telling three of the men that he 
should hold them accountable if anything had been left 
undone, the magistrate went his way.^ 

^ G4sAi a^Zifwphilum, in Von Gebhardt's Ausgmfahiie M&rtyr€raetm, 
p. 189, or in Dupin*s Optatus, 


The other document gives us some notion of ibc 
difficulties which hindered the execution of the edicts, 
especially in the smaller towns, where every one was 
intimately known to all his neighbours. 

Felix, the bishop of a place called Autumni, who 
consecrated Caecilian of Carthage to be bishop after 
the death of Mensurius, was accused by the Donatists 
of being a tradUor. He was away from home when 
the search for the books took place, and they said 
that he had left instructions with a man called Galatius 
to deliver up the books. The magistrates of Autumni 
at the moment were a certain Alfius Caecilianus and 
his colleague Augentius. Alfius was related to the 
bishop, whom he addresses as his parens^ a word of 
wide meaning, like the French parent. Eleven years 
later, when Alfius was an old man, he was called upon 
to give an account, in a court of law, of what took 
place under his magistracy. This is what he said : — 

'' I had gone to Zama with Saturninus to get some 
linen under-garments, and when we came back the 
Christians themselves sent to me in my official resi- 
dence, to ask, ' Has the sacred decree yet reached 
you ? ' I said, ' No ; but I have already seen copies 
of it, and at Zama and at Furni I saw basilicas (or 
churches) destroyed and Scriptures burnt. So produce 
any Scriptures that you have, that the sacred order 
may be obeyed.' Then they sent to the house of tiie 
bishop, Felix, to take away the Scriptures out of it, 
that they might be burnt in accordance with the 
sacred decree. So Galatius went with us to the place 
where they had been accustomed to have their prayers. 
We took out of it the bishop's chair and some letters of 
greeting, and burnt them all outside the doors, accord- 
ing to the sacred decree. And when we sent to the 


house of Felix, the bishop, the public officials brought 
back word that he was away." 

It may illustrate the manners of the time, that the 
Donatists, somewhat later, persuaded Augentius, the 
colleague of Alfius, by means of his Donatist clerk, to 
endeavour to extract a more damaging admission from 
Alfius. " My colleague said to me, * Felix, our bishop, 
has sent this man to ask you to make him out a paper. 
Some valuable books were lent to him, and he does 
not wish to return them. Will you kindly write to him 
that they were burnt in the year of your magistracy ? ' 
And I said, ' Is that the Christian faith ? ' " ^ 

Another African bishop of the name of Felix 
showed a bolder front, and so did his subordinate 
clergy. His see was probably a town called Tibiuca, 
not far from Carthage, though the name is variously 
given. The edict was posted there on the 5th of June. 
The curator summoned "the elders of the people" 
to his quarters. It so happened that Felix had gone 
into Carthage that day. A priest called Aper, and 
two readers, Cyrus and Vitalis, were presented. The 
curator asked them if they had any sacred books. 
They said that they had. " Give them to be burnt with 
fire," said the magistrate. "Our bishop has them 
with him," was the reply. " Where is he ? " asked the 
curator. Aper said that he did not know. They were 
accordingly put under surveillance till they could be 
sent to the proconsul Anulinus. 

Next day the bishop came home. The curator 
sent an official to fetch him. " Bishop Felix," he said 
respectfully, "give me any books or parchments that 
you possess." "I have some," he answered firmly, 

^ Acta Purgationis Felicist in Von Gebhardt's Ausgfwdhlte MartyreratUn^ 
p. 205, or in Dupin's Optatus. 


*'but I will not give them." "What the emperors 
have commanded/' the curator said, ''must come be- 
fore what you say. Give me the books, to be burnt 
with fire." The bishop answered, " I would rather be 
burnt with fire myself than have the sacred Scriptures 
burnt. It is good to obey God rather than men." 
The curator could only repeat his saying, that the 
emperor's command must come before what the bishop 
chose to say. "The commandment of the Lord," 
answered Felix, " comes before the commandments of 
men." The magistrate gave him three days to reflect. 
On the third day he asked him the upshot of his 
reflexions. "What I said before," Felix answered, 
" I say again now, and I shall say the same before the 
proconsul." "You shall go to the proconsul, then," 
said the curator, " and shall there give your account." 

The bishop was placed under the charge of a 
member of the local senate. On June 24 he was taken 
in chains to Carthage, and there thrown into prison. 
Next morning, very early, he was brought to the bar 
of the proconsul. Anulinus asked him why he had not 
given up his " useless books." Perhaps he intended to 
give the bishop a hint how to escape from the situa- 
tion. But Felix was too straightforward to resort to 
any subterfuge. He replied to Anulinus, as he had 
done to the local magistrate at Tibiuca, " I have books ; 
but I will not give them." Anulinus put him into the 
lowest part of the prison for another sixteen days, and 
then had him out at ten o'clock at night to ask him the 
same question. The bishop's "pious obstinacy," as 
Gibbon calls it, only returned the same answer, " I do 
not intend to give them." There was only one end to 
such determination. " Slay Felix with the sword," said 
Anulinus. Felix cried aloud, "Thanks be to Thee, 


O Lord, who hast vouchsafed to deliver me." At the 
place of execution, he lifted his eyes to heaven, and 
said, " Thanks be to Thee, O God. I have lived fifty- 
six years in this world. I have kept my virginity. I 
have preserved the Gospels. I have preached faith and 
truth. O Lord God of heaven and earth, O Jesus 
Christ, I bow my neck as an offering to Thee, who 
abidest for ever, to whom be glory and majesty, for 
ever and even Amen/' ^ 

If there is a note of straightforward obstinacy in 
the Acts of Felix, there is a ring of battle in those of 
the nine and forty martyrs of Abitina. Edited by a 
Donatist hand, they lose nothing of the warrior spirit 
which filled the martyrs themselves. 

" When the trumpet of war was sounded," we are 
told, '* the glorious martyrs in the city of Abitina set up 
the standard of the Lord in the house of Octavius Felix. 
There they were duly celebrating the Dommicum^* — 
that is, the Lord's service, the Eucharist — " when they 
were seized by the magistrates of the city and by the 
commandant of the district in person." The leader of 
the party was unhappily not the Bishop of Abitina, for 
that prelate had betrayed his trust at the beginning 
of the persecution, and had forfeited the allegiance of 
his flock. The heavens, so it was said, had on that 
occasion fought for the Scriptures ; for when the 
bishop gave them up to be burnt, a furious storm of 
rain and hail came down and put out the fire. The 
faithful were chiefly kept together by the earnestness 
of a layman called Dativus, who was a decurion, or 
member of the important senate of Carthage, and by 
the priest Saturninus and his family. 

The forty-nine were first examined in the forum of 

^ Ruinart, p. 313 ; cp. AtuiUcta Boil, xvi. p. 28. 


Abkina by the cnrator, and joyfully confessed their 
faith ; but the curator was not competent to go further 
with them, and despatched them to Carthage, to the 
proconsul. Rejoicing to feel the chains upon their 
wristS; which were to them the earnest of better things 
to come, they sang all the way to the capital. There, 
on the 12th of February 304, they were presented to 
Anulinus, and the clerks of the court reported that 
they were charged with having held an assembly and 
celebrated the DomimcutHf contrary to the imperial 

Anulinus began with Dativus. Dativus had answered 
the usual questions about his position and the like, and 
had confessed that he was a Christian and had taken 
part in the service, and was already stretched upon the 
hobby-horse to make him say who it was that had got 
up the gathering, when another . of the party, called 
Thelica, stood out and cried, '^ We are Christians ; it 
was we who came together." Thelica succeeded in 
turning the severity of the law to himself. He was 
placed on the instrument, and the torture began. Out 
of the midst of his tortures Thelica kept crying, 
" Thanks be to God ! for Thy name's sake, O Christ 
the Son of God, deliver Thy servants." The purpose of 
Anulinus with him, as with Dativus, was to extract from 
him the name of the ringleader. At last, when the 
pain became intolerable, the man shouted, ** It was the 
priest Saturninus," and then added, '' and all of us." He 
would not admit that any one of the number, not even 
the priest, had been more zealous and brave than the 
rest. But he had given a name ; and when the pro- 
consul asked which Saturninus was, Thelica pointed 
him out Every utterance of the tortured man was 
entered in the official acts. ''You are doing wrong, 


unhappy men," he cried ; " you are fighting against God. 
O God most high, consent not to their sin. You are 
sinning, unhappy men ; you are striving against God." 
Then, perhaps addressing the Christians, he cried, 
"Keep the commandments of the most high God;" 
then again, " You are doing wrong, unhappy men ; 
you are tearing in pieces the innocent. We are not 
murderers; we have done no crime. O God, have 
mercy. I thank Thee, O Lord. Grant me to bear 
suflFering for Thy name. Deliver Thy servants out of 
the captivity of this world. I thank Thee. I cannot 
thank Thee enough." When his sides were streaming 
with blood, he heard the voice of Anulinus saying 
to him, "You shall begin to feel what you have to 
undergo." " To glory ! " shouted the martyr ; " I thank 
the God of kingdoms. The eternal kingdom appeareth I 
the incorruptible kingdom 1 O Lord Jesus Christ, we 
are Christians ; we serve Thee. Thou art our hope ; 
Thou art the Christian's hope. O God most holy, 
O God most high, O God almighty. We give Thee 
thanks for Thy name, O Lord God Almighty." 
Thelica's bodily strength was exhausted ; but when the 
proconsul said to him, " You would have done better 
to keep the commandments of the emperors and 
Caesars," he replied with unabated spirit, " I care for 
nothing but the law of God which I have learned. 
That is what I keep ; for that I will die ; in that I shall 
be perfected, and there is none beside it." At last 
Anulinus gave the word to stop, and Thelica was taken 
back to prison. 

Dativus all this while was suspended on his hobby- 
horse. Attention returned to him after the removal of 
Thelica. Again and again he repeated that he was a 
Christian, and had joined in the gathering. Then the 


brother of one of the female prisoners stepped forth 
with a grave accusation. He was a barrister; and, 
though he afterwards adopted his sister's religion, he 
was at that time a heathen. Dativus, he said, though 
not a friend of the family, had come to the house while 
the girl's father was away from Carthage, and while he 
himself was engaged in his studies, and had prevailed 
upon his sister Victoria and two other girls to run away 
with him to Abitina. But Victoria would not listen to 
her brother's insinuations. *' With a Christian's freedom 
of speech," she burst forth and told the proconsul that 
no one had persuaded her to go to Abitina ; that she 
had not gone there with Dativus ; she could prove it by 
witnesses in the town. *' I did all this of my own free 
will and choice," she said ; ** and I was at the gathering, 
and celebrated the Dotnimcum with the brethren, because 
I am a Christian." Dativus, amidst his tortures, 
answered the charge with the dignity of a senator. His 
one cry was, "O Lord Christ, let me not be con- 

The proconsul bade the executioners to stop 
examining him on that point. Another accuser who 
attempted to take away his character was soon silenced. 
But after a while they began to ply Dativus again with 
the question, who had brought about the gathering for 
divine service. He answered that there was more than 
one person. When the torture began again, he repeated 
his former prayer, that he might not be confounded, and 
then he said, " What have I done ? Saturninus is our 
priest." It was the second time that the priest had 
been mentioned, and the proconsul now turned to 
Saturninus, and said, ** You acted against the command 
of the emperors and Caesars in bringing all these people 
together." The priest replied, '*We had no hesitation 


about celebrating the Domimcum.*' '' Why so ? " asked 
Anulinus. ^^ Because the Domimetmi cannot possibly 
be dropped," was the reply. Directly it was uttered, 
Saturninus was hoisted to the horse which Thelica had 
left, opposite to that of Dativus. The torturers were 
still at work upon Dativus ; but he seemed to be 
'' rather a spectator of his own tortures than a sufferer." 
At intervals he ejaculated, ''Help me, O Christ, I 
beseech Thee. Have pity. Save my soul. Keep my 
spnrit, that I may not be confounded. I beseech Thee, 
O Christy grant me the power to endure." The pro- 
consul observed to him, " Belonging to this famous city, 
you ought rather to have drawn other people to a good 
mind instead of transgressing the commandment of the 
emperors and Caesars." But Dativus only exclaimed 
more loudly than before, '' I am a Christian ; " and at 
length Anulinus cried ** Hold," and Dativus was taken 
to the prison. 

The horse upon which Saturninus was slung was 
still wet with the blood of Thelica. The proconsul 
asked him whether it was he who had gathered his 
fellow Christians together. ** Yes," he said at first ; and 
then modestly disclaimed the special honour, by adding, 
'M was present at the service." A reader named 
Emeritus sprang forward and took up the challenge. 
** I am responsible," he cried ; '' the services have been 
held at my house." But Anulinus refused to follow up 
the confession at once. He went on with the priest 
''Why did you transgress the commandment, Satur- 
ninus ? " he saidr Sa(turninus replied as before, " The 
Domtnicum cannot be dropped. So the law orders." 
Anulinus expostulated ; " Still, you ought not to have 
disregarded the prohibition ; you ought to observe it, 
and not engage in things that are contrary to the 


emperors' command." The words were gentle enough, 
but they were the prelude to a fearful mangling of the 
elderly man's body. Saturninus cried out, " I beseech 
Thee, ' O Christ, hear me ; I thank Thee, O God ; " 
then, whether in prayer to God or in defiance to man, 
" Cause me to be beheaded ; " and again, '* I beseech 
Thee, O Christ, have mercy. O Son of God, succour 
me." Once more the proconsul asked him, '* Why did 
you transgress the commandment ? " The priesf s only 
answer was, ''So the law orders. So the law teaches." 
'' Hold," said Anulinus, and sent him to prison, under 
the sentence which he had desired. 

Anulinus was now able to attend to Emeritus. 
When he was fastened up, Anulinus said to him, '' Were 
the meetings held in your house, in contravention of 
the emperors' commands ? " " Yes," he answered, *' we 
have had the Dominicum in my house." *' Why did you 
let them come in ? " asked the proconsul. '^ Because 
they are my brothers," was the reply, "and I could 
not forbid them." " But you ought to have forbidden 
them," Anulinus said. '^ It was impossible," answered 
Emeritus ; " for we cannot do without the Dominicum.*^ 
Then the torture began. A fresh executioner took the 
place of the former, who was tired, and dealt vigorous 
strokes. Emeritus cried, *' I beseech Thee, O Christ, 
help me. You are transgressing the commandment of 
God, you unhappy people." '' You ought not to have 
received them," persisted Anulinus. " I could not help 
receiving my brothers," again replied the martyr. " The 
order of the emperors and Caesars comes first," Anulinus 
said. "God," replied Emeritus, "is greater than the 
emperors. I beseech Thee, O Christ : I offer Thee 
praise, O Christ. O Lord, grant me endurance." The 
proconsul suddenly asked him, " Have you any Scrip- 


tures in your house?" **I have some," Emeritus 
replied, " but I have them in my heart." " Have you 
any in your house, or not ? " said Anulinus. " I have 
them in my heart," the reader replied ; " Christ, I 
beseech Thee. Praise to Thee. Deliver me, O Christ. 
I suffer in Thy name. It is a short suffering, a willing 
suffering, O Christ. Lord, let me not be confounded." 
*^ Hold," said Anulinus to the executioner ; then making 
a note of the confession of Emeritus in his note-book, 
along with the rest, he said, ''You shall all pay the 
penalty you have deserved, according to your own 

The proconsul was heartily tired of his business, 
though he had not half finished it. The reader Felix, 
son of the priest Saturninus, was next put forward. 
Anulinus, addressing all the prisoners together, said, '' I 
trust that you will take the line of obedience to the 
commandment, that you may live." A shout went up 
from the whole band, " We are Christians. We cannot 
but keep the holy law of the Lord, even to the shedding 
of our blood." To the question whether he had 
attended the service, or whether he had any Scriptures, 
Felix only answered that he was a Christian. " I did 
not ask whether you are a Christian," said Anulinus, 
''but whether you took part in the gathering, and 
whether you have any Scriptures." "O foolish 
question," cries the ancient editor of the Acts ; " as if a 
man could be a Christian without the Dontmicutn / As 
there can be no Dotninicum without Christians, so there 
can be no Christian without the DominicHm." The 
reply of Felix embraced both parts of the proconsul's 
question. " We had a glorious gathering ; we have 
always come together for the Dominicum, to read the 
Scriptures of the Lord." The brave reader was so 


severely thrashed with sticks that he died of it ; and so 
did another of the number who bore the same common 

Another reader, AmpeUus, answered in the words 
of Emeritus ; '' I took part in the service with the 
brethren, and celebrated the Dontmicunt ; and I have the 
Scriptures of the Lord with me, but written in my 
heart. Christ, I offer Thee praise. Hear me, O 
Christ." With nothing worse than a few blows about 
the neck, he went back to prison '^ as if to the tabernacle 
of the Lord." Rogatian confessed his faith, and was 
sent to prison unhurt; Quintus and Maximian, after 
being belaboured with sticks. A third and more 
youthful Felix was beaten in like manner, crying 
loudly that the Dominicum is the hope and salvation 
of Christians. To the proconsul's question he answered, 
*' Yes, I celebrated the Daminicutn devoutly ; I took part 
in the service with the brethren, for I am a Christian." 

"And were you also present, Saturninus?" said 
the proconsul to the next man, who was a son of the 
priest, and, like his brother Felix, a reader. " I am a 
Christian," was his answer. " I do not ask you that," 
said Anulinus, "but whether you did the DominicuntJ^ 
" I did," said Saturninus, " because Christ is our 
Saviour." Thereupon the young man was fastened 
upon the same hobby-horse from which his father had 
been taken down. When he was stretched ready for 
the torture, Anulinus said to him, "What do you 
propose, Saturninus ? You see where you are ? Have 
you any Scriptures?" He answered, "I am a 
Christian." "I ask you," said Anulinus, "whether 
you were at the meeting, and whether you have the 
Scriptures." " I am a Christian," he replied ; " there 
is no name besides Christ's that we ought to keep holy." 


"Since you persist in your obstinacy," said the pro- 
consul, " you must be tortured. Tell me whether you 
have any Scriptures." Then turning to the officers, he 
said, " Torture him«" The claw, from which his father's 
blood had not been wiped, tore open the young man's 
sides, and at last he cried out, like others before him, 
that he had the Scriptures of the Lord, but in a place 
from which no violence could tear them, — in his heart. 
" I beseech Thee, O Christ, grant me power to endure," 
he prayed ; " my hope is in Thee." " Why did 
you transgress the commandment?" asked Anulinus. 
'' Because I am a Christian," the young man answered. 
He was soon sent to rejoin his father in prison. 

It was growing late in the day, and Anulinus was 
anxious to get on. Addressing the large band of 
Christians who were still to be dealt with, he said, 
^ You have seen what those who persisted have borne, 
and what those who still persist will have to bear. 
Therefore let any one of you who wishes to obtain 
pardon, and to be saved, speak out." ^'We are 
Christians," was the unanimous answer ; and they 
were all sent back to prison under sentence of death. 

To two of them, however, was granted the honour 
of being separately questioned. One was the maiden 
Victoria, who had consecrated her virginity to Christ. 
The proconsul asked what her intentions were. She 
answered firmly, " I am a Christian." Her brother 
Fortunatian, who acted as her advocate, affirmed that 
she had been driven out of her mind with subtle argu- 
ments, but Victoria answered, « This is my mind ; I 
have never changed it." The proconsul was anxious 
to spare her. "Will you go with your brother For- 
tunatian ? " he inquired. '* No," the maiden answered ; 
^* I am a Christian, and my brethren are those who 


keep the commandments of God." Anulinus en- 
deavoured to persuade her. "Think what is for your 
good," he said ; " you see your brother is desirous to 
provide for your safety." " I have told you my mind," 
Victoria said ; " I have never changed it, and I was 
at the service and celebrated the Dominicum with the 
brethren, for I am a Christian." 

The last of the nine and forty was a little boy 
called Hilarian. He was the youngest child of the 
brave priest Saturninus. He had seen his father and 
one brother tortured, another brother beaten almost 
to death, and a maiden sister, whose name was Mary, 
sent to prison to await martyrdom. The humane 
Anulinus thought to relieve the boy of responsibility 
for his action. '* Did you follow your father or your 
brothers?" he asked. But the boy saw through the 
artifice, and would neither incriminate them nor lose 
his own glory. He answered, " I am a Christian. It 
was of my own freewill and choice that I took part in 
the service with my father and with the brethren." 
Anulinus attempted to frighten him with ugly threats 
of injury without martyrdom. " I shall cut off your 
hair," he said, ''and your nose, and your ears, and 
then let you go." Hilarian answered boldly, "Do 
whatever you please, for I am a Christian." The 
proconsul contended no further, but ordered him to 
prison along with the rest, under condemnation of 
death. The court rang with the boy's answer, 
"Thanks be to God."^ 

^ Ruinart, p. 338. 


Abitina, martyrs of, 406 

Achatius, 146 

iCdesius, 292 

iEmilian, 187 

Agape, 341 

Agapius, martyr in Numidia, 184, 

Agapius (2), martyrs of Palestine, 

288 foU. 
Agathonice, 63 
Agnes, 369 
Agricola, 374 
Alban, 377 
Alcibiades, 57 
Alexander, Bishop of Jerusalem, 

Alexander (2), martyrs at Lyons, 

Alphaeus, 286 

Ammonarium, 112 

Andrew, martyr at Troas, 138 

Andronicus, 259 

Anthimus, 232 

ApoUonia, 109 

Apollonius, 70 

Apphian, 290 

Asdepiades, 124, 127, 128, 131 

Asterius, 252 

Attains, 44, 50, 52 

Babylas, 119 
Basilides, 86 
Besas, 112 
Biblias, 46 
Blandina, 44, 50, 53 

Caecilia, 64 

Caiiistus, ^^ 


Carpus, 60 

Cassian, martyr at Imola, 375 

Cassian, martyr at Tangier, 210 

Castulus, 367 

Celerinus, 153 

Chaeremon, 114 

Chione, 342 

Claudius, martyr at Aegae, 252 

Claudius, martyr in Pannonia, 

Clement of Alexandria, 83 
Clement of Rome, 8 
Commodus, Emperor, ^^ 
Conon, 144 

Constantius, Emperor, 376 
Crispina, 394 

Cyprian^ 152 foil., 179, 182, 187 
Cyriac (Cyric), child'martyr, 256 
Cyril, Bishop of Antiodi, 283, 

356, 358 
Cyril, boy martyr, 198 

Dasius, 347 

Dativus, 406, 407, 408 foil. 

Decius, Emperor, 108, 150, 151, 

153, 154, 160 
Denys (Dionysius) of Alexandria, 

108, 114 
Didymus, 330 
Diocletian, Emperor, 205, 220^ 

223. 355i 363. 366 
Diognetus, epistle to, 31 
Dionysia, martyr at Alexandria, 

Dionysia, martyr at Troas, 137, 

Dioscorus, boy confessor, 112 
Domitian, Emperor, 5, 11 

3 D 


Domnina, 254 
Domninus, 294 
Donatilla, 391 
Donatus, 224 

Emeritus, 410 folL 

Encratis, 379 

Etinatha (2), martyrs in Pales- 
tine, 302 

Epipodius, 57 

Eugenius, 245 

Eulalia, 383 

Euphemia, 228 

Euplus (Euplius), 372 

Eusebius, the historian, 285, 291, 
292, 295, 296, 305, 308 

Eustratius, 244 

Eutychia, 342 

Fabian, 151, 152 
Fabius, 389 

Felicity, 88, 92, 99, loi, 103 
Felix (3) of Abitina, 412, 413 
Felix of Autumni, 403 
Felix of Tibiuca, 404 
Flavian, 178 
Flavius, Clemens, 1 1 
Fructuosus, 195 

Galerius, Emperor, 220, 221, 

223, 224, 283 
Genesius, 364 

Gregory the Wonderworicer, 119 
Guddene, 105 

Hadrian, Emperor, 41, 67 
Hadrian, martyr at Nicomedia, 

Hermes, 334 
Hiero, 243 
Hilarian, boy martyr, 415 

Ignatius, 17 foil., 20 
Irenseus of Lyons, 29 
Irenseus of Sirmium, 349 
Irene, 342 


Jacob, sign of, 176 
James, the Lord's brother, 3 foil. 
James, the son of Zebedee, 3 
James, martyr in Numidia, 184 
John, the Apostle^ 12, 20, 39 
John, martyr in Palestine, 308 
Judas, grandsons of, 5 
Julian, martyr at Aegae, 257 
Julian, martyr at Alexandria^ 1 1 1 
Julian, martyr at Caesarea, 301 
Julitta, martyr in Cappadocia, 

Julitta, martyr in Cilicia, 256 
Julius, 216 
Justin, 33 foil. 

Lawrence, 193 
Leo, 200 

Leonides, fsLther of Origen, 83 
Lucian, 230 

Lucius, martyr at Carthage, 179 
Lucius, martyr at Rome, 30 
Lyons and Vienne, martyrs of, 39 

Malchus, 198 

Mappalicus, 159 

Marcellinus and Peter, 368 

Marcellus, 209 

Marcian, 211 

Marcus and Marcellian, 368 

Marcus Aurelius, Emperor, 33, 51 

Mardarius, 245 

Marian, 184 

Marinus, 203 

Maturus, 44, 49 

Maura, 323 

Maxima, 391 

Maximilian, 206 

Maximin II., Emperor, 230^ 289, 

Maximus, martyr at Ephesus, 

Mensurius, 398, 399 

Montanus, 177 foil. 

Moses, martyr at Rome, 153 



Natalia, 225 
Neaichus, 120 
Neon, 252 

Nero, persecution of^ 7 
Nestor, 141 
Nicander, 211 
Nicephoms, 201 
Nicomachus, apostate, 137 

Orestes, 246 
Origen, 84, 107, 118 

Pamphilus, 291, 295, 296, 297, 

Paphnutius, 315 
Papylus, 60 
Paul, the Apostle, 8, 1 1 
Paul (2), martyrs at Caesarea, 298, 

Paul, martyr at Troas, 138 

Perpetua, 88 foil. 

Peter, the Apostle, 8, 10; his 

wife, 9 
Peter Absalom, 306 
Peter, Bishop of Alexandria, 310 
Peter, martyr at Lampsacus, 136 
Peter, martyr at Nicomedia, 221 
Phileas, 316 
Philip of Heradea, 332 
Philoromus^ 323 
Pilate, Acts of, 231, 238, 279 
Pionius, 123 

Plato referred to, 73, 320 
Pliny, 13 foil. 
Plutarch, martyr at Alexandria, 

PoUio, 352 
Polycarp, 20, 124 
Polyeuctus, 120 
Ponticus, boy martyr, 53 
Porphyry, martyr at Caesarea, 

Potamiaena, 85 
Pothinus, 39, 47 
Priscus, 198 
Probus, 259 

Procopios, 285 

Rolemy, martyr at Rome, 50 


Quinta, 109 
Quirinus, 358 

Respicius, 139 
Revocatus, 88, 92, 102 
Romanus, 283 

Sabina, 124, 126, 127, 131 

Sanctus, 44, 45, 49 

Satuminus (2) of Abitina, 406 

foil., 409 foil., 413 
Satuminus of Carthage, 88, 102 
Satuminus of Toulouse, 155 
Saturus, 90, 92, 97, loi, 102 foil. 
Scillitan Martyrs, the, 68 
Sebastia, the martyrs of, 247 
Sebastian, 365 
Secunda, 392 
Seleucus, 300 
Serenus. (See Syneros) 
Severas, Emperor, 78, 82 
Severas, martyr at Heraclea, 338 
Silvanus of Gaza, 293, 308 
Silvanus, traditarj 401 
Sirmium, the stonemasons of, 

Socrates, referred to, 72, 74, 130, 

Sophronia, 371 
Soteris, 370 
Speratus, 68 
Successus, 1651 183 
Symeon, 6 
Symphorian, martyr at Autun, 

Symphorian, martyr in Pannonia, 

Syneros (SerenusX 353 

Tarachus, 259 
Tarsicius, 195 
Tertullian, 79, 87, 105 



Thecia, martyr at Caesarea^ 288 

Thelica, 407 

Theodora, 328 

Theodore, the Tiro, 233 

Theodosia, 293 

Theodotus, 235 

Theodulus, martyr at Caesarea, 

Theodulus, martyr at Thessa- 

lonica, 341 
Theonilla, 255 
Tiburtius (2), martyrs at Rome, 

Timothy, martyr at Caesarea, 

Timothy, martyr in Egypt, 323 
Trajan, Emperor, 6, 13 foil. 

Trypho, 139 
Typasius, 386 

Valens, 298 

Valentina, 302 

Valerian, Emperor, 161, 166, 204 

Valerian, martyr at Rome, 64 

Vettius Epagathus, 41 

Victor, martyr at Carthage, 176 

Victoria, 409, 414 

Vincent, 380 

Vitalis, 374 

Xystus (Sixtus), 166, 192 

Zacchaeus, 286 
Zoe, 366 


Agape (love-feast), i6, i8, loi, 

Allegorical answers of the 

martyrs, 38, 145, 297 
Amen, significant use of, 27, 91, 


Amusement, martyrdoms turned 
into an, 7, 9 

Apologists, the, 34^65, 71 foil., 79 

Apostasies, 14, 22, 42, 83, no, 
129, 132, 137, 152, 155, 169, 
202, 235, 251, 283, 390; re- 
covery of apostates, 46, 48, 51, 
159 ; treatment of them, 56, 152, 
177, 180, 310 

Asceticism, 57, 285, 291 

Asiarchs, 26 

Baptism, equivalents for, 85, 121, 
173 ; parodied on the stage, 364 

Beasts, wild, refuse to attack, 19, 
22, 50^ 102, 394 

Beauty an element in idolatry, 

231, 336 
Birthdays of martyrs, 29, 124, 

160, 352, 367, 383 
Buildings, destruction of church, 
220, 283, 332, 335, 376, 403 

Calumnies against the Chris- 
tians, II, 13, 16, 41, 43 foil., 
68, 69, 72, 80 

Certificates of sacrifice, 117, 155, 

Child martyrs and confessors, 53, 
112, 198,252, 256,294, 327,415 

Christ, parallels of His passion 
sought after, 23, 102, 134, 184, 

276, 349 

Christian, the name itself punish- 
able, II, 13, 30, 31,80 

''Christian, I am a," 25, 37, 
44, 45, 60, 62, 69, 80, 89, 92, 

93, 126, 127, 130, 131, i35> 137, 
138, 161, 196, 203, 206, 207, 
211, 213, 216, 246, 256, 259, 
261, 262, 292, 328, 354, 372, 
373, 377, 407, 409, 410, 412, 

Christian life, 15, 31, 73, 81 

Citizenship, Roman, 14, 50, 51, 

Confiscation of the goods of 

Christians, 66, 84, 166, 314 
Conscience, liberty of^ loi, 105, 

Courage, effect of Christian, 33, 

35, 224 
Cursing Christ, 14, 15, 25, 130, 

Custodia libera^ 88, 168, 173, 337, 

339, 382, 404, 405 

Deaconesses, 16 

Deaths by popular violence, 5, 

109 foil., 138, 155, 195,376 
Dreams. {See Visions) 

Eucharist, the, 15, 18, 21, 35, 

157, 160, 165, 188, 195, 235, 

247, 368, 406, 407 foil., 412 




Fasts observed, 197 

Flight in persecution, 22, 83, 107, 
114, 116, 119, 157, 167, 256, 
284, 312, 314, 315, 344, 345, 

35^, 353> 359> 377 
Forgiveness of injuries, 3, 203 

Fortune (genius) of the city, the, 

307, 335 ; o^ the emperor, 24, 
25, 68, 132 

God, inquiries after the Chris- 
tian's, 47, 52, 65, 130, 146, 274, 

Heaven open to niartyrs at once, 

70, 175, 188; but see 38, 73» 

Hell fire, fear of, 25, 46, 126, 

152, 265, 336, 344, 358 ; prayers 
for those in, 93 foil. 
Heretical martyrs, 128, 134, 198, 

Informers, 17, 67, 75, 78, 162, 

Intolerance, saintly, 12, 21 

Jacob, the sign of, 176 

Jews take part against the 
Christians, 26, 28, 32, 77, 124, 
125, 129, 145, 303, 335 ; kindly 
disposed towards them, 375 

Kiss of peace, 3, 98, 104, 181, 
i83» 219, 300, 391 

Lying sometimes thought justifi- 
able, 257 

Magic, Christians suspected of 
practising, 100, 149, 273, 356, 

357, 367 
Magistrates dislike persecution, 

13, 75, 213, 214, 394, 412, 

Marriage of the saints, 10 

Martyrdom, definition o^ 55 ; 
eagerness for, 19, 135, 175, 181, 
188, 189, 193, 199, 213, 218, 
220, 288, 293, 301, 316, 328, 

369, 372, 381, 384, 391, 392, 
407 ; not to be rashly sought, 
22, 162, 167, 198, 310, 312, 399 
Martyrs not worshipped, 28 ; re- 
liance upon their powers with 
God, 179, 184, 197, 202, 216, 

Mines, condemnation to the, 

77, 107, 158, 162, 164, 223, 292, 

293, 294, 307 folL, 356 
Modesty, care for, 85, 103, 255, 
285, 370 

Oaths, Christian view of, 70, 86, 

Odour of sanctity, 28, 48; cp. 99 

Paradise, 176 

Philosophy, Christian, 34, 70 folL, 

230, 319 ^o\l 
Pictures in churches, 228, 375 
Pope (Papa), the word, 99, 169, 

Prison, horrors of the, 46, 89, 153, 
159, i$o, 174, 175, 188, 310, 
381 ; visitation of sufferers in, 
89, 128, 160, 174, 177, 196, 288, 

Prophecy, the gift of, 17, 1 52 

Relics, care for, 29, 39, 54, 171, 
192, 222, 228, 236, 272, 274, 
281, 302, 341, 382, 389, 390 
Resurrection, the first, 134 
Rome, greatness of the Church 
at, 151 

Sacrifice, the Christian, 27, 65, 
71, 74, 81, 92, 135, 136, 193, 
239, 252, 260, 267, 300, 319, 
349, 35o> 360, 374» 388, 393f 
394, 395» 397, 406 



Saints, communion of, 136 
Scriptures, attack upon the, 69^ 

220, 323, 333 foil, 341, 343, 

372, 381, 398, 399, 400 foil., 

403, 404 foil., 406, 412 
iShoes, taking off a bishop's, 26, 

Slaves, evidence of, 6, 43, 75 
Social persecution, 40 
Soldiers, Christians refuse to serve 

as, 79, 206, 209, 387 
Stoic courage and Christian, 33 
Suicide to escape outrage, 284, 

285, 371 

Testaments of martyrs, 247 
Traditor^ 400 foil. 
Treasures of the Church sur- 
rendered, 194, 333 foil., 401 

Visions and dreams, 23, 86, 87^ 
90, 94, 95, 97, 120, 160, 163, 
174, 175, 176, 177, 182, 183, 185, 
186, 188, 190, 191, 200, 326, 340 

Voices from heaven, 24, 29, 190 

Wives tempting husbands to 
forsake their £aith, 122, 215, 
324, 349 ; encouraging them to 
endure, 212, 225 


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