Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Midweek Meditation: First Ten Primitive Persecutions (Foxes Book of Martyrs)

Here is a list of the first ten primitive persecutions from Nero to Diocletian.

AD 67
Set fire to the city of Rome, and subsequently pinned the blame on Christians. Executed the Christians by feeding them to wild animals and burning their bodies.
AD 81
Framed Christians for nearly everything. Put every Christian to the test, that if they confessed they are Christians, they would be executed. Even those who refused to answer the oath were put to death. Thousands died.
AD 108
Persecutions become a daily thing where thousands were killed daily. Methods include being speared to death; burned at the stake; Fed to lions; shredded to death; etc.
AD 162
Marcus Aurelius Antoninus
The cruelties used in this persecution were such that many of the spectators shuddered with horror at the sight, and were astonished at the intrepidity of the sufferers. Some of the martyrs were obliged to pass, with their already wounded feet, over thorns, nails, sharp shells, etc. upon their points, others were scourged until their sinews and veins lay bare, and after suffering the most excruciating tortures that could be devised, they were destroyed by the most terrible deaths.
AD 192
Famous martyrs include Victor, Bishop of Rome; Serenus; Felicitas; Perpetua; Speratus; Calistus. A Cecilia married a gentleman named Valerian who was converted. After Valerian was beheaded, Cecilia was stripped naked in a scalding bath, boiled for a time before being beheaded in AD 222.
AD 235
Martyred: Pontianus, Anteros, Pammachius, Quiritus, Simplicus, many Roman senators, Calepodius, Martina, Hippolitus, etc.
AD 249
Despite the persecutions, Christianity continued to grow, at the expense of the heathen temples. So desperate were the powers who tried to stem the tide that they even tried to credit anyone who can kill Christians. The worst was the island of Crete where the place was deemed “streamed with pious blood.”
AD 257
Innumerable deaths.
AD 274
Felix, Agapetus, Marcus, Marcellianus, are some of the most notable martyrs. (Read ** for a remarkable record of what happened to an entire legion of soldiers who were all Christians.)
AD 303
Books were burned; Churches were torched; and the total destruction of anything linked to Christianity….until Constantine’s conversion.

You can download the Foxes Book of Martyrs for free here or here.

**"In the year of Christ 286, a most remarkable affair occurred; a legion of soldiers, consisting of six thousand six hundred and sixty-six men, contained none but Christians. This legion was called the Theban Legion, because the men had been raised in Thebias: they were quartered in the east until the emperor Maximian ordered them to march to Gaul, to assist him against the rebels of Burgundy. They passed the Alps into Gaul, under the command of Mauritius, Candidus, and Exupernis, their worthy commanders, and at length joined the emperor. Maximian, about this time, ordered a general sacrifice, at which the whole army was to assist; and likewise he commanded that they should take the oath of allegiance and swear, at the same time, to assist in the extirpation of Christianity in Gaul. Alarmed at these orders, each individual of the Theban Legion absolutely refused either to sacrifice or take the oaths prescribed. This so greatly enraged Maximian, that he ordered the legion to be decimated, that is, every tenth man to be selected from the rest, and put to the sword. This bloody order having been put in execution, those who remained alive were still inflexible, when a second decimation took place, and every tenth man of those living was put to death. This second severity made no more impression than the first had done; the soldiers preserved their fortitude and their principles, but by the advice of their officers they drew up a loyal remonstrance to the emperor. This, it might have been presumed, would have softened the emperor, but it had a contrary effect: for, enraged at their perseverance and unanimity, he commanded that the whole legion should be put to death, which was accordingly executed by the other troops, who cut them to pieces with their swords, September 22, 286."

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