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we have described in seven books the events from the time of the apostles, we
think it proper in this eighth book to record for the information of posterity a
few of the most important occurrences of our own times, which are worthy of
permanent record. Our account will begin at this point.
The Events Which Preceded the Persecution in Our Times.
It is beyond
our ability to describe in a suitable manner the extent and nature of the glory
and freedom with which the word of piety toward the God of the universe,
proclaimed to the world through Christ, was honored among all men, both Greeks
and barbarians, before the persecution in our day.
2. The favor shown
our people by the rulers might be adduced as evidence; as they committed to them
the government of provinces, and on account of the great friendship which they
entertained toward their doctrine, released them from anxiety in regard to
3. Why need I
speak of those in the royal palaces, and of the rulers over all, who allowed the
members of their households, wives and children and servants, to speak openly
before them for the Divine word and life, and suffered them almost to boast of
the freedom of their faith?
4. They indeed
esteemed them highly, and preferred them to their fellow-servants. Such an one
was that Dorotheus, the most devoted and faithful to them of all, and on this
account especially honored by them among those who held the most honorable
offices and governments.
5. With him was
the celebrated Gorgonius, and as many as had been esteemed worthy of the same
distinction on account of the word of God.
And one could see the rulers in every church accorded the greatest favor
by all officers and governors.
6. But how can any
one describe those vast assemblies, and the multitude that crowded together in
every city, and the famous gatherings in the houses of prayer; on whose account
not being satisfied with the ancient buildings they erected from the foundation
large churches in all the cities?
7. No envy
hindered the progress of these affairs which advanced gradually, and grew and
increased day by day. Nor could any evil demon slander them or hinder them
through human counsels, so long as the divine and heavenly hand watched over and
guarded his own people as worthy.
8. But when on
account of the abundant freedom, we fell into laxity and sloth, and envied and
reviled each other, and were almost, as it were, taking up arms against one
another, rulers assailing rulers with words like spears.
9. And people
forming parties against people, and monstrous hypocrisy and dissimulation rising
to the greatest height of wickedness, the divine judgment with forbearance, as
is its pleasure, while the multitudes yet continued to assemble, gently and
moderately harassed the episcopacy.
persecution began with the brethren in the army. But as if without sensibility,
we were not eager to make the Deity favorable and propitious; and some, like
atheists, thought that our affairs were unheeded and ungoverned; and thus we
added one wickedness to another.
11. And those
esteemed our shepherds, casting aside the bond of piety, were excited to
conflicts with one another, and did nothing else than heap up strife and
threats and jealousy and enmity and hatred toward each other, like tyrants
eagerly endeavoring to assert their power. Then, truly, according to the word of
12. "The Lord
in his wrath darkened the daughter of Zion, and cast down the glory of Israel
from heaven to earth, and remembered not his foot-stool in the day of his anger.
The Lord also overwhelmed all the beautiful things of Israel, and threw down all
13. And according
to what was foretold in the Psalms: "He has made void the covenant of his
servant, and profaned his sanctuary to the earth, - in the destruction of the
churches, - and has thrown down all his strongholds, and has made his fortresses
14. All that pass
by have plundered the multitude of the people; and he has become besides a
reproach to his neighbors. For he has exalted the right hand of his enemies, and
has turned back the help of his sword, and has not taken his part in the war.
15. But he has
deprived him of purification, and has cast his throne to the ground. He has
shortened the days of his time, and besides all, has poured out shame upon
The destruction of the churches.
1. All these
things were fulfilled in us, when we saw with our own eyes the houses of prayer
thrown down to the very foundations, and the Divine and Sacred Scriptures
committed to the flames in the midst of the market-places.
2. And the
shepherds of the churches basely hidden here and there, and some of them
captured ignominiously, and mocked by their enemies when also, according to
another prophetic word, "Contempt was poured out upon rulers, and he caused
them to wander in an untrodden and pathless way."
3. But it is not
our place to describe the sad misfortunes which finally came upon them, as we do
not think it proper, moreover, to record their divisions and unnatural conduct
to each other before the persecution. Wherefore we have decided to relate
nothing concerning them except the things in which we can vindicate the Divine
Hence we shall
not mention those who were shaken by the persecution, nor those who in
everything pertaining to salvation were shipwrecked, and by their own will were
sunk in the depths of the flood. But we shall introduce into this history in
general only those events which may be useful first to ourselves and afterwards
to posterity. Let us therefore proceed to describe briefly the sacred conflicts
of the witnesses of the Divine Word.
It was in the
nineteenth year of the reign of Diocletian, in the month Dystrus, called March
by the Romans, when the feast of the Savior's passion was near at hand, that
royal edicts were published everywhere, commanding that the churches be leveled
to the ground and the Scriptures be destroyed by fire.
6. And ordering
that those who held places of honor be degraded, and that the household
servants, if they persisted in the profession of Christianity, be deprived of
freedom. Such was the first edict
7. But not long
after, other decrees were issued, commanding that all the rulers of the churches
in every place be first thrown into prison, and afterwards by every artifice be
compelled to sacrifices.
· The Nature of the Conflicts Endured in the Persecution.
8. Then truly a
great many rulers of the churches eagerly endured terrible sufferings, and
furnished examples of noble conflicts. But a multitude of others, benumbed in
spirit by fear, were easily weakened at the first onset. Of the rest each one
endured different forms of torture.
9. The body of one
was scourged with rods. Another was punished with insupportable racking’s and
scrapings, in which some suffered a miserable death.
10. Others passed
through different conflicts. Thus one, while those around pressed him on by
force and dragged him to the abominable and impure sacrifices, was dismissed as
if he had sacrificed, though he had not. Another, though he had not approached
at all, nor touched any polluted thing, when others said that he had sacrificed,
went away, bearing the accusation in silence.
11. Another being
taken up half dead, was cast aside as if already dead, and again a certain one
lying upon the ground was dragged a long distance by his feet and counted among
those who had sacrificed.
12. One cried out
and with a loud voice testified his rejection of the sacrifice; another shouted
that he was a Christian, being resplendent in the confession of the saving Name.
Another protested that he had not sacrificed and never would.
13. But they were
struck in the mouth and silenced by a large band of soldiers who were drawn up
for this purpose; and they were smitten on the face and cheeks and driven away
by force; so important did the enemies of piety regard it, by any means, to seem
to have accomplished their purpose.
14. But these
things did no avail them against the holy martyrs; for an accurate description
of whom, what word of ours could suffice?
· The famous martyrs of God, who filled every place with their
memory and won various crowns in behalf of religion.
For we might
tell of many who showed admirable zeal for the religion of the God of the
universe, not only from the beginning of the general persecution, but long
before that time, while yet peace prevailed.
16. For though he
who had received power was seemingly aroused now as from a deep sleep, yet from
the time after Decius and Valerian, he had been plotting secretly and without
notice against the churches. He did not wage war against all of us at once, but
made trial at first only of those in the army.
17. For he supposed
that the others could be taken easily if he should first attack and subdue
these. Thereupon many of the soldiers were seen most cheerfully embracing
private life, so that they might not deny their piety toward the Creator of the
18. For when the
commander, whoever he was, began to persecute the soldiers, separating into
tribes and purging those who were enrolled in the army, giving them the choice
either by obeying to receive the honor which belonged to them, or on the other
hand to be deprived of it if they disobeyed the command, a great many soldiers
of Christ's kingdom, without hesitation, instantly preferred the confession of
him to the seeming glory and prosperity which they were enjoying.
19. And one and
another of them occasionally received in exchange, for their pious constancy,
not only the loss of position, but death. But as yet the instigator of this plot
proceeded with moderation, and ventured so far as blood only in some instances;
for the multitude of believers, as it is likely, made him afraid, and deterred
him from waging war at once against all.
20. But when he
made the attack more boldly, it is impossible to relate how many and what sort
of martyrs of God could be seen, among the inhabitants of all the cities and
Those in Nicomedia.
the publication of the decree against the churches in Nicomedia, a certain man,
not obscure but very highly honored with distinguished temporal dignities, moved
with zeal toward God, and incited with ardent faith, seized the edict as it was
posted openly and publicly, and tore it to pieces as a profane and impious
2. This was done
while two of the sovereigns were in the same city, - the oldest of all, and the
one who held the fourth place in the government after him. But this man, first
in that place, after distinguishing himself in such a manner suffered those
things which were likely to follow such daring, and kept his spirit cheerful and
undisturbed till death.
· Those in the palace.
3. This period
produced divine and illustrious martyrs, above all whose praises have ever been
sung and who have been celebrated for courage, whether among Greeks or
barbarians, in the person of Dorotheus and the servants that were with him in
4. Although they
received the highest honors from their masters, and were treated by them as
their own children, they esteemed reproaches and trials for religion, and the
many forms of death that were invented against them, as, in truth, greater
riches than the glory and luxury of this life.
5. We will
describe the manner in which one of them ended his life, and leave our readers
to infer from his case the sufferings of the others. A certain man was brought
forward in the above-mentioned city, before the rulers of whom we have spoken.
6. He was then
commanded to sacrifice, but as he refused, he was ordered to be stripped and
raised on high and beaten with rods over his entire body, until, being
conquered, he should, even against his will, do what was commanded.
7. But as he was
unmoved by these sufferings, and his bones were already appearing, they mixed
vinegar with salt and poured it upon the mangled parts of his body. As he
scorned these agonies, a gridiron and fire were brought forward.
8. And the
remnants of his body, like flesh intended for eating, were placed on the fire,
not at once, lest he should expire instantly, but a little at a time. And those
who placed him on the pyre were not permitted to desist until, after such
sufferings, he should assent to the things commanded.
9. But he held his
purpose firmly, and victoriously gave up his life while the tortures were still
going on. Such was the martyrdom of one of the servants of the palace, who was
indeed well worthy of his name, for he was called Peter.
10. The martyrdoms
of the rest, though they were not inferior to his, we will pass by for the sake
of brevity, recording only that Dorotheus and Gorgonius, with many others of the
royal household, after varied sufferings, ended their lives by strangling, and
bore away the trophies of God-given victory.
11. At this time Anthimus,
who then presided over the church in Nicomedia, was beheaded for his testimony
to Christ. A great multitude of martyrs were added to him, a conflagration
having broken out in those very days in the palace at Nicomedia.
12. I know not how,
which through a false suspicion was laid to our people. Entire families of the
pious in that place were put to death in masses at the royal command, some by
the sword, and others by fire.
13. It is reported
that with a certain divine and indescribable eagerness men and women rushed into
the fire. And the executioners bound a large number of others and put them on
boats and threw them into the depths of the sea.
14. And those who
had been esteemed their masters considered it necessary to dig up the bodies of
the imperial servants, who had been committed to the earth with suitable burial
and cast them into the sea, lest any, as they thought, regarding them as gods,
might worship them lying in their sepulchers.
15. Such things
occurred in Nicomedia at the beginning of the persecution. But not long after,
as persons in the country called Melitene, and others throughout Syria,
attempted to usurp the government, a royal edict directed that the rulers of the
churches everywhere should be thrown into prison and bonds.
What was to be
seen after this exceeds all description. A vast multitude were imprisoned in
every place; and the prisons everywhere, which had long before been prepared for
murderers and robbers of graves, were filled with bishops, presbyters and
deacons, readers and exorcists, so that room was no longer left in them for
those condemned for crimes.
17. And as other
decrees followed the first, directing that those in prison if they would
sacrifice should be permitted to depart in freedom, but that those who refused
should be harassed with many tortures, how could any one, again, number the
multitude of martyrs in every province, and especially of those in Africa, and
Mauritania, and Thebais, and Egypt?
18. From this last
country many went into other cities and provinces, and became illustrious
The Egyptians in
1. Those of them
that were conspicuous in Palestine we know, as also those that were at Tyre in
Phoenicia. Who that saw them was not astonished at the numberless stripes, and
at the firmness which these truly wonderful athletes of religion exhibited under
2. And at their
contest, immediately after the scourging, with bloodthirsty wild beasts, as they
were cast before leopards and different kinds of bears and wild boars and bulls
goaded with fire and red-hot iron? and at the marvelous endurance of these noble
men in the face of all sorts of wild beasts?
3. We were present
ourselves when these things occurred, and have put on record the divine power of
our martyred Savior Jesus Christ, which was present and manifested itself
mightily in the martyrs. For a long
time the man-devouring beasts did not dare to touch or draw near the bodies of
those dear to God, but rushed upon the others who from the outside irritated and
urged them on.
4. And they would
not in the least touch the holy athletes, as they stood alone and naked and
shook their hands at them to draw them toward themselves, - for they were
commanded to do this. But whenever they rushed at them, they were restrained as
if by some divine power and retreated again.
5. This continued
for a long time, and occasioned no little wonder to the spectators. And as the
first wild beast did nothing, a second and a third were let loose against one
and the same martyr, one could not but be astonished at the invincible firmness
of these holy men, and the enduring and immovable constancy of those whose
bodies were young.
6. You could have
seen a youth not twenty years of age standing unbound and stretching out his
hands in the form of a cross, with neither terrified nor trembling of mind,
engaged earnestly in prayer to God, and not in the least going back or
retreating from the place where he stood, while bears and leopards, breathing
rage and death, almost touched his flesh.
7. And yet their
mouths were restrained, I know not how, by a divine and incomprehensible power,
and they ran back again to their place. Such an one was he.
Again you might have seen others, for they were five in all, cast before
a wild bull, who tossed into the air with his horns those who approached from
the outside, and mangled them, leaving them to be token up half dead.
But when he
rushed with rage and threatening upon the holy martyrs, who were standing alone,
he was unable to come near them; but though he stamped with his feet, and pushed
in all directions with his horns, and breathed rage and threatening on account
of the irritation of the burning irons, he was, nevertheless, held back by the
sacred Providence. And as he in nowise harmed them, they let loose other wild
beasts upon them.
9. Finally, after
these terrible and various attacks upon them, they were all slain with the
sword; and instead of being buried in the earth they were committed to the waves
of the sea.
· Those in Egypt.
10. Such was the
conflict of those Egyptians who contended nobly for religion in Tyre. But we
must admire those also who suffered martyrdom in their native land; where
thousands of men, women, and children, despising the present life for the sake
of the teaching of our Savior, endured various deaths.
11. Some of them,
after scrapings and racking and severest scourging, and numberless other kinds
of tortures, terrible even to hear of, were committed to the flames; some were
drowned in the sea; some offered their heads bravely to those who cut them off;
some died under their tortures, and others perished with hunger.
12. And yet others
were crucified; some according to the method commonly employed for malefactors;
others yet more cruelly, being nailed to the cross with their heads downward,
and being kept alive until they perished on the cross with hunger.
· Those in Thebais.
It would be
impossible to describe the outrages and tortures which the martyrs in Thebais
endured. They were scraped over the entire body with shells instead of hooks
until they died.
14. Women were
bound by one foot and raised aloft in the air by machines, and with their bodies
altogether bare and uncovered, presented to all beholders this most shameful,
cruel, and inhuman spectacle.
15. Others being
bound to the branches and trunks of trees perished. For they drew the stoutest
branches together with machines, and bound the limbs of the martyrs to them; and
then, allowing the branches to assume their natural position, they tore asunder
instantly the limbs of those for whom they contrived this.
16. All these
things were done, not for a few days or a short time, but for a long series of
years. Sometimes more than ten, at other times above twenty were put to death.
Again not less than thirty, then about sixty, and yet again a hundred men with
young children and women, were slain in one day, being condemned to various and
17. We, also being
on the spot ourselves, have observed large crowds in one day; some suffering
decapitation, others torture by fire; so that the murderous sword was blunted,
and becoming weak, was broken, and the very executioners grew weary and relieved
18. And we beheld
the most wonderful ardor, and the truly divine energy and zeal of those who
believed in the Christ of God. For as soon as sentence was pronounced against
the first, one after another rushed to the judgment seat, and confessed
19. And regarding
with indifference the terrible things and the multiform tortures, they declared
themselves boldly and undauntedly for the religion of the God of the universe.
And they received the final sentence of death with joy and laughter and
cheerfulness; so that they sang and offered up hymns and thanksgivings to the
God of the universe till their very last breath.
20. These indeed
were wonderful; but yet more wonderful were those who, being distinguished for
wealth, noble birth, and honor, and for learning and philosophy, held everything
secondary to the true religion and to faith in our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ.
Such an one was
Philoromus, who held a high office under
the imperial government at Alexandria, and who administered justice every day,
attended by a military guard corresponding to his rank and Roman dignity.
22. Such also was Phileas,
bishop of the church of Thmuis, a man eminent on account of his patriotism and
the services rendered by him to his country, and also on account of his
23. These persons,
although a multitude of relatives and other friends besought them, and many in
high position, and even the judge himself entreated them, that they would have
compassion on themselves and show mercy to their children and wives, yet were
not in the least induced by these things to choose the love of life, and to
despise the ordinances of our Savior concerning confession and denial.
But with manly
and philosophic minds, or rather with pious and God-loving souls, they
persevered against all the threats and insults of the judge; and both of them
The writings of Phileas the martyr describing the occurrences at
Since we have
mentioned Phileas as having a high
reputation for secular learning, let him be his own witness in the following
extract, in which he shows us who he was, and at the same time describes more
accurately than we can the martyrdoms which occurred in his time at Alexandria:
before them all these examples and models and noble tokens which are given us in
the Divine and Sacred Scriptures, the blessed martyrs who were with us did not
hesitate, but directing the eye of the soul in sincerity toward the God over
all, and having their mind set upon death for religion, they adhered firmly to
3. For they
understood that our Lord Jesus Christ had become man on our account, that he
might cut off all sin and furnish us with the means of entrance into eternal
life. For `he counted it not a prize to be on an equality with God, but emptied
himself taking the form of a servant; and being found in fashion as a man, he
humbled himself unto death, even the death of the cross.'
4. Wherefore also
being zealous for the greater gifts, the Christ-bearing martyrs endured all
trials and all kinds of contrivances for torture; not once only, but some also a
second time. And although the guards vied with each other in threatening them in
all sorts of ways, not in words only, but in actions, they did not give up their
resolution; because `perfect love cast out fear.'
words could describe their courage and manliness under every torture? For as
liberty to abuse them was given to all that wished, some beat them with clubs,
others with rods, others with scourges, yet others with thongs, and others with
6. And the
spectacle of the outrages was varied and exhibited great malignity. For some,
with their hands bound behind them, were suspended on the stocks, and every
member stretched by certain machines.
7. Then the
torturers, as commanded, lacerated with instruments their entire bodies not only
their sides, as in the case of murderers, but also their stomachs and knees and
cheeks. Others were raised aloft, suspended from the porch by one hand, and
endured the most terrible suffering of all, through the distension of their
joints and limbs.
8. Others were
bound face to face to pillars, not resting on their feet, but with the weight of
their bodies bearing on their bonds and drawing them tightly.
And they endured this, not merely as long as the governor talked with
them or was at leisure, but through almost the entire day.
For when he
passed on to others, he left officers under his authority to watch the first,
and observe if any of them, overcome by the tortures, appeared to yield. And he
commanded to cast them into chains without mercy.
10. And afterwards
when they were at the last gasp to throw them to the ground and drag them away.
For he said that they were not to have the least concern for us, but were to
think and act as if we no longer existed, our enemies having invented this
second mode of torture in addition to the stripes.
also, after these outrages, were placed on the stocks, and had both their feet
stretched over the four holes, so that they were compelled to lie on their backs
on the stocks, being unable to keep themselves up on account of the fresh wounds
with which their entire bodies were covered as a result of the scourging.
12. Others were
thrown on the ground and lay there under the accumulated infliction of tortures,
exhibiting to the spectators a more terrible manifestation of severity, as they
bore on their bodies the marks of the various and diverse punishments which had
13. As this went
on, some died under the tortures, shaming the adversary by their constancy.
Others half dead were shut up in prison, and suffering with their agonies, they
died in a few days; but the rest, recovering under the care which they received,
gained confidence by time and their long detention in prison.
14. When therefore
they were ordered to choose whether they would be released from molestation by
touching the polluted sacrifice, and would receive from them the accursed
freedom, or refusing to sacrifice, should be condemned to death, they did not
hesitate, but went to death cheerfully.
15. For they knew
what had been declared before by the Sacred Scriptures. For it is said, `He that
sacrifices to other gods shall be utterly destroyed,' and, `Thou shalt have no
other gods before me.'"
16. Such are the
words of the truly philosophical and God-loving martyr, which, before the final
sentence, while yet in prison, he addressed to the brethren in his parish,
showing them his own circumstances, and at the same time exhorting them to hold
fast, even after his approaching death, to the religion of Christ.
But why need we
dwell upon these things, and continue to add fresh instances of the conflicts of
the divine martyrs throughout the world, especially since they were dealt with
no longer by common law, but attacked like enemies of war.
Those in Phrygia.
1. A Small town of
Phrygia, inhabited solely by Christians, was completely surrounded by soldiers
while the men were in it. Throwing fire into it, they consumed them with the
women and children while they were calling upon Christ.
2. This they did
because all the inhabitants of the city, and the curator himself, and the
governor, with all who held office, and the entire populace, confessed
themselves Christians, and would not in the least obey those who commanded them
to worship idols.
3. There was
another man of Roman dignity named Adauctus,
of a noble Italian family, who had advanced through every honor under the
emperors, so that he had blamelessly filled even the general offices of
magistrate, as they call it, and of finance minister.
4. Besides all
this he excelled in deeds of piety and in the confession of the Christ of God,
and was adorned with the diadem of martyrdom. He endured the conflict for
religion while still holding the office of finance minister.
· Many others, both men and women, who suffered in various ways.
Why need we
mention the rest by name, or number the multitude of the men, or picture the
various sufferings of the admirable martyrs of Christ?
Some of them were slain with the axe, as in Arabia. The limbs of some
were broken, as in Cappadocia.
6. Some, raised on
high by the feet, with their heads down, while a gentle fire burned beneath
them, were suffocated by the smoke which arose from the burning wood, as was
done in Mesopotamia. Others were mutilated by cutting off their noses and ears
and hands, and cutting to pieces the other members and parts of their bodies, as
7. Why need we
revive the recollection of those in Antioch who were roasted on grates, not so
as to kill them, but so as to subject them to a lingering punishment.
Or of others who preferred to thrust their right hand into the fire
rather than touch the impious sacrifice.
8. Some, shrinking
from the trial, rather than be taken and fall into the hands of their enemies,
threw themselves from lofty houses, considering death preferable to the cruelty
of the impious.
9. A certain holy
person, - in soul admirable for virtue, in body a woman, - who was illustrious
beyond all in Antioch for wealth and family and reputation, had brought up in
the principles of religion her two daughters, who were now in the freshness and
bloom of life.
10. Since great
envy was excited on their account, every means was used to find them in their
concealment; and when it was ascertained that they were away, they were summoned
deceitfully to Antioch. Thus they
were caught in the nets of the soldiers.
11. When the woman
saw herself and her daughters thus helpless, and knew the things terrible to
speak of that men would do to them, - and the most unbearable of all terrible
things, the threatened violation of their chastity, - she exhorted herself and
the maidens that they ought not to submit even to hear of this.
12. For, she said,
that to surrender their souls to the slavery of demons was worse than all deaths
and destruction; and she set before them the only deliverance from all these
things, - escape to Christ.
13. They then listened to her advice. And after arranging their garments suitably, they went aside from the middle of the road, having requested of the guards a little time for retirement, and cast themselves into a river which was flowing by. Thus they destroyed themselves.
14. But there were
two other virgins in the same city of Antioch who served God in all things, and
were true sisters, illustrious in family and distinguished in life, young and
blooming, serious in mind, pious in deportment, and admirable for zeal.
15. As if the earth
could not bear such excellence, the worshipers of demons commanded to cast them
into the sea. And this was done to them.
others endured sufferings horrible to hear. Their fingers were pierced with
sharp reeds under their nails. Melted lead, bubbling and boiling with the heat,
was poured down the backs of others, and they were roasted in the most sensitive
parts of the body.
on their bowels and privy members shameful and inhuman and unmentionable
torments, which the noble and law-observing judges, to show their severity,
devised, as more honorable manifestations of wisdom.
18. And new
tortures were continually invented, as if they were endeavoring, by surpassing
one another, to gain prizes in a contest.
19. But at the
close of these calamities, when finally they could contrive no greater
cruelties, and were weary of putting to death, and were filled and satiated with
the shedding of blood, they turned to what they considered merciful and humane
treatment, so that they seemed to be no longer devising terrible things against
20. For they said
that it was not fitting that the cities should be polluted with the blood of
their own people, or that the government of their rulers, which was kind and
mild toward all, should be defamed through excessive cruelty.
21. But that rather
the beneficence of the humane and royal authority should be extended to all, and
we should no longer be put to death. For the infliction of this punishment upon
us should be stopped in consequence of the humanity of the rulers.
22. Therefore it
was commanded that our eyes should be put out, and that we should be maimed in
one of our limbs. For such things were humane in their sight, and the lightest
of punishments for us.
23. So that now on
account of this kindly treatment accorded us by the impious, it was impossible
to tell the incalculable number of those whose right eyes had first been cut out
with the sword, and then had been cauterized with fire.
24. Or who had been
disabled in the left foot by burning the joints, and afterward condemned to the
provincial copper mines, not so much for service as for distress and hardship.
Besides all these, others encountered other trials, which it is impossible to
recount; for their manly endurance surpasses all description.
25. In these
conflicts the noble martyrs of Christ shone illustrious over the entire world,
and everywhere astonished those who beheld their manliness; and the evidences of
the truly divine and unspeakable power of our Savior were made manifest through
them. To mention each by name would be a long task, if not indeed impossible.
The bishops of the Church that evinced by their blood the
genuineness of the religion which they preached.
1. As for the
rulers of the Church that suffered martyrdom in the principal cities, the first
martyr of the kingdom of Christ whom we shall mention among the monuments of the
pious is Anthimus, bishop of the city of
Nicomedia, who was beheaded.
2. Among the
martyrs at Antioch was Lucian, a
presbyter of that parish, whose entire life was most excellent. At Nicomedia, in
the presence of the emperor, he proclaimed the heavenly kingdom of Christ, first
in an oral defense, and afterwards by deeds as well.
3. Of the martyrs
in Phénicia the most distinguished
were those devoted pastors of the spiritual flocks of Christ: Tyrannion,
bishop of the church of Tyre; Zenobius, a presbyter of the church at Sidon; and Silvanus,
bishop of the churches about Emesa.
4. The last of
these, with others, was made food for wild beasts at Emesa, and was thus
received into the ranks of martyrs. The other two glorified the word of God at
Antioch through patience unto death. The bishop was thrown into the depths of
the sea. But Zenobius, who was a very skillful physician, died through severe
tortures which were applied to his sides.
5. Of the martyrs
in Palestine, Silvanus, bishop of the
churches about Gaza, was beheaded with thirty-nine others at the copper mines of
Phaeno. There also the Egyptian bishops, Peleus and Nilus, with others, suffered
death by fire.
6. Among these we
must mention Pamphilus, a presbyter, who
was the great glory of the parish of Caesarea, and among the men of our time
most admirable. The virtue of his
manly deeds we have recorded in the proper place.
7. Of those who
suffered death illustriously at Alexandria and throughout Egypt and Thebais, Peter,
bishop of Alexandria, one of the most excellent teachers of the religion of
Christ, should first be mentioned; and of the presbyters with him Faustus,
Dius and Ammonius, perfect martyrs of Christ;
8. Also Phileas,
Hesychius, Pachymius and Theodorus,
bishops of Egyptian churches, and besides them many other distinguished persons
who are commemorated by the parishes of their country and region.
9. It is not for
us to describe the conflicts of those who suffered for the divine religion
throughout the entire world, and to relate accurately what happened to each of
them. This would be the proper work of those who were eye-witnesses of the
events. I will describe for posterity in another work those which I myself
But in the
present book I will add to what I have given the revocation issued by our
persecutors, and those events that occurred at the beginning of the persecution,
which will be most profitable to such as shall read them.
could sufficiently describe the greatness and abundance of the prosperity of the
Roman government before the war against us, while the rulers were friendly and
peaceable toward us? Then those who were highest in the government, and had held
the position ten or twenty years, passed their time in tranquil peace, in
festivals and public games and most joyful pleasures and cheer.
12. While thus
their authority was growing uninterruptedly, and increasing day by day, suddenly
they changed their peaceful attitude toward us, and began an implacable war. But
the second year of this movement was not yet past, when a revolution took place
in the entire government and overturned all things.
13. For a severe
sickness came upon the chief of those of whom we have spoken, by which his
understanding was distracted; and with him who was honored with the second rank,
he retired into private life. Scarcely had he done this when the entire empire
was divided; a thing which is not recorded as having ever occurred before.
14. Not long after,
the Emperor Constantius, who through his entire life was most kindly and
favorably disposed toward his subjects, and most friendly to the Divine Word,
ended his life in the common course of nature, and left his own son,
Constantine, as emperor and Augustus in his stead. He was the first that was
ranked by them among the gods, and received after death every honor which one
could pay to an emperor.
He was the
kindest and mildest of emperors, and the only one of those of our day that
passed all the time of his government in a manner worthy of his office.
Moreover, he conducted himself toward all most favorably and beneficently. He
took not the smallest part in the war against us, but preserved the pious that
were under him unharmed and not abused.
threw down the church buildings, nor did he devise anything else against us. The
end of his life was honorable and thrice blessed. He alone at death left his
empire happily and gloriously to his own son as his successor,-one who was in
all respects most prudent and pious.
17. His son
Constantine entered on the government at once, being proclaimed supreme emperor
and Augustus by the soldiers, and long before by God himself, the King of all.
He showed himself an emulator of his father's piety toward our doctrine. Such an
one was he.
18. But after this,
Licinius was declared emperor and Augustus by a common vote of the rulers.
These things grieved Maximinus greatly, for until that time he had been
entitled by all only Caesar. He therefore, being exceedingly imperious, seized
the dignity for himself, and became Augustus, being made such by himself.
In the mean
time he whom we have mentioned as having resumed his dignity after his
abdication, being detected in conspiring against the life of Constantine,
perished by a most shameful death. He was the first whose decrees and statues
and public monuments were destroyed because of his wickedness and impiety.
The Character of the Enemies of Religion.
son, who obtained the government at Rome, at first feigned our faith, in
complaisance and flattery toward the Roman people. On this account he commanded
his subjects to cease persecuting the Christians, pretending to religion that he
might appear merciful and mild beyond his predecessors.
2. But he did not
prove in his deeds to be such a person as was hoped, but ran into all wickedness
and abstained from no impurity or licentiousness, committing adulteries and
indulging in all kinds of corruption.
3. For having
separated wives from their lawful consorts, he abused them and sent them back
most dishonorably to their husbands. And he not only practiced this against the
obscure and unknown, but he insulted especially the most prominent and
distinguished members of the Roman senate.
4. All his
subjects, people and rulers, honored and obscure, were worn out by grievous
oppression. Neither, although they kept quiet, and bore the bitter servitude,
was there any relief from the murderous cruelty of the tyrant.
5. Once, on a
small pretense, he gave the people to be slaughtered by his guards; and a great
multitude of the Roman populace were slain in the midst of the city, with the
spears and arms, not of Scythians and barbarians, but of their own
6. It would be
impossible to recount the number of senators who were put to death for the sake
of their wealth; multitudes being slain on various pretenses.
7. To crown all
his wickedness, the tyrant resorted to magic. And in his divinations he cut open
pregnant women, and again inspected the bowels of newborn infants. He
slaughtered lions, and performed various execrable acts to invoke demons and
avert war. For his only hope was that, by these means, victory would be secured
8. It is
impossible to tell the ways in which this tyrant at Rome oppressed his subjects,
so that they were reduced to such an extreme dearth of the necessities of life
as has never been known, according to our contemporaries, either at Rome or
9. But maximinus,
the tyrant in the East, having secretly formed a friendly alliance with the
Roman tyrant as with a brother in wickedness, sought to conceal it for a long
time. But being at last detected, he suffered merited punishment.
10. It was
wonderful how akin he was in wickedness to the tyrant at Rome, or rather how far
he surpassed him in it. For the chief of sorcerers and magicians were honored by
him with the highest rank. Becoming exceedingly timid and superstitious, he
valued greatly the error of idols and demons. Indeed, without soothsayers and
oracles he did not venture to move even a finger, so to speak.
11. Therefore he
persecuted us more violently and incessantly than his predecessors. He ordered
temples to be erected in every city, and the sacred groves which had been
destroyed through lapse of time to be speedily restored.
12. He appointed
idol priests in every place and city; and he set over them in every province, as
high priest, some political official who had especially distinguished himself in
every kind of service, giving him a band of soldiers and a body-guard. And to
all jugglers, as if they were pious and beloved of the gods, he granted
governments and the greatest privileges.
13. From this time
on he distressed and harassed, not one city or country, but all the provinces
under his authority, by extreme exactions of gold and silver and goods, and most
grievous prosecutions and various fines. He took away from the wealthy the
property which they had inherited from their ancestors, and bestowed vast riches
and large sums of money on the flatterers about him.
14. And he went to
such an excess of folly and drunkenness that his mind was deranged and crazed in
his carousals; and he gave commands when intoxicated of which he repented
afterward when sober. He suffered no one to surpass him in debauchery and
profligacy, but made himself an instructor in wickedness to those about him,
both rulers and subjects.
15. He urged on the
army to live wantonly in every kind of revelry and intemperance, and encouraged
the governors and generals to abuse their subjects with rapacity and
covetousness, almost as if they were rulers with him.
16. Why need we
relate the licentious, shameless deeds of the man, or enumerate the multitude
with whom he committed adultery? For he could not pass through a city without
continually corrupting women and ravishing virgins.
17. And in this he
succeeded with all except the Christians. For as they despised death, they cared
nothing for his power. For the men endured fire and sword and crucifixion and
wild beasts and the depths of the sea, and cutting off of limbs, and burnings,
and pricking and digging out of eyes, and mutilations of the entire body, and
besides these, hunger and mines and bonds. In all they showed patience in behalf
of religion rather than transfer to idols the reverence due to God.
18. And the women
were not less manly than the men in behalf of the teaching of the Divine Word,
as they endured conflicts with the men, and bore away equal prizes of virtue.
And when they were dragged away for corrupt purposes, they surrendered their
lives to death rather than their bodies to impurity.
19. One only of
those who were seized for adulterous purposes by the tyrant, a most
distinguished and illustrious Christian woman in Alexandria, conquered the
passionate and intemperate soul of maximinus
by most heroic firmness. Honorable on account of wealth and family and
education, she esteemed all of these inferior to chastity.
20. He urged her
many times, but although she was ready to die, he could not put her to death,
for his desire was stronger than his anger.
He therefore punished her with exile, and took away all her property.
Many others, unable even to listen to the threats of violation from the heathen
rulers, endured every form of tortures, and racking’s, and deadly punishment.
21. These indeed
should be admired. But far the most admirable was that woman at Rome, who was
truly the most noble and modest of all, whom the tyrant maxentius, fully resembling maximinus
in his actions, endeavored to abuse.
22. For when she
learned that those who served the tyrant in such matters were at the house (she
also was a Christian), and that her husband, although a prefect of Rome, would
suffer them to take and lead her away, having requested a little time for
adorning her body, she entered her chamber, and being alone, stabbed herself
with a sword.
immediately, she left her corpse to those who had come for her. And by her
deeds, more powerfully than by any words, she has shown to all men now and
hereafter that the virtue which prevails among Christians is the only invincible
and indestructible possession.
24. Such was the
career of wickedness which was carried forward at one and the same time by the
two tyrants who held the East and the West. Who is there that would hesitate,
after careful examination, to pronounce the persecution against us the cause of
such evils? Especially since this extreme confusion of affairs did not cease
until the Christians had obtained liberty.
The events which happened to the heathen.
1. During the
entire ten years of the persecution, they were constantly plotting and warring
against one another. For the sea could not be navigated, nor could men sail from
any port without being exposed to all kinds of outrages; being stretched on the
rack and lacerated in their sides, that it might be ascertained through various
tortures, whether they came from the enemy; and finally being subjected to
punishment by the cross or by fire.
2. And besides
these things shields and breastplates were preparing, and darts and spears and
other warlike accoutrements were making ready, and galleys and naval armor were
collecting in every place. And no one expected anything else than to be attacked
by enemies any day. In addition to this, famine and pestilence came upon them,
in regard to which we shall relate what is necessary in the proper place.
· The change of affairs for the better.
Such was the
state of affairs during the entire persecution. But in the tenth year, through
the grace of God, it ceased altogether, having begun to decrease after the
eighth year. For when the divine and heavenly grace showed us favorable and
propitious oversight, then truly our rulers, and the very persons by whom the
war against us had been earnestly prosecuted, most remarkably changed their
minds, and issued a revocation, and quenched the great fire of persecution which
had been kindled, by merciful proclamations and ordinances concerning us.
4. But this was
not due to any human agency; nor was it the result, as one might say, of the
compassion or philanthropy of our rulers; - far from it, for daily from the
beginning until that time they were devising more and more severe measures
against us, and continually inventing outrages by a greater variety of
5. But it was
manifestly due to the oversight of Divine Providence, on the one hand becoming
reconciled to his people, and on the other, attacking him who instigated these
evils, and showing anger toward him as the author of the cruelties of the entire
6. For though it
was necessary that these things should take place, according to the divine
judgment, yet the Word said, "Woe to him through whom the offense
cometh." Therefore punishment from God came upon him, beginning with his
flesh, and proceeding to his soul.
7. For an abscess
suddenly appeared in the midst of the secret parts of his body, and from it a
deeply perforated sore, which spread irresistibly into his inmost bowels.
indescribable multitude of worms sprang from them, and a deathly odor arose, as
the entire bulk of his body had, through his gluttony, been changed, before his
sickness, into an excessive mass of soft fat, which became putrid, and thus
presented an awful and intolerable sight to those who came near.
9. Some of the
physicians, being wholly unable to endure the exceeding offensiveness of the
odor, were slain; others, as the entire mass had swollen and passed beyond hope
of restoration, and they were unable to render any help, were put to death
· The revocation of the rulers.
10. Wrestling with
so many evils, he thought of the cruelties which he had committed against the
pious. Turning therefore his thoughts toward himself, he first openly confessed
to the God of the universe, and then summoning his attendants, he commanded that
without delay they should stop the persecution of the Christians, and by law and
royal decree to urge them forward to build their churches and to perform their
customary worship, offering prayers in behalf of the emperor.
11. Immediately the
deed followed the word. The
imperial decrees were published in the cities, containing the revocation of the
acts against us in the following form:
Emperor Caesar Galerius Valerius Maximinus, Augustus, Pontifex Maximus,
conqueror of the Germans, conqueror of the Egyptians, conqueror of the Thebans,
five times conqueror of the Sarmatians, conqueror of the Persians, twice
conqueror of the Carpathians, six times conqueror of the Armenians, conqueror of
the Medes, conqueror of the Adiabeni, tribune of the people the twentieth time,
emperor the nineteenth time, consul the eighth time, father of his country,
13. "Among the
other things which we have ordained for the public advantage and profit, we
formerly wished to restore everything to conformity with the ancient laws and
public discipline of the Romans, and to provide that the Christians also, who
have forsaken the religion of their ancestors, should return to a good
14. For in some way
such arrogance had seized them and such stupidity had overtaken them, that they
did not follow the ancient institutions which possibly their own ancestors had
formerly established, but made for themselves laws according to their own
purpose, as each one desired, and observed them, and thus assembled as separate
congregations in various places.
15. When we had
issued this decree that they should return to the institutions established by
the ancients, a great many submitted under danger, but a great many being
harassed endured all kinds of death.
16. And since many
continue in the same folly, and we perceive that they neither offer to the
heavenly gods the worship which is due, nor pay regard to the God of the
Christians, in consideration of our philanthropy and our invariable custom, by
which we are wont to extend pardon to all, we have determined that we ought most
cheerfully to extend our indulgence in this matter also.
17. That they may
again be Christians, and may rebuild the convents in which they were accustomed
to assemble, on condition that nothing be done by them contrary to discipline.
In another letter we shall indicate to the magistrates what they have to
18. Wherefore, on
account of this indulgence of ours, they ought to supplicate their God for our
safety, and that of the people, and their own, that the public welfare may be
preserved in every place, and that they may live securely in their several
19. Such is the
tenor of this edict, translated, as well as possible, from the Roman tongue into
the Greek. It is time to consider what took place after these events.
That which follows is found in some copies in the eighth book.
1. The author of
the edict very shortly after this confession was released from his pains and
died. He is reported to have been the original author of the misery of the
persecution, having endeavored, long before the movement of the other emperors,
to turn from the faith the Christians in the army.
2. And first of
all those in his own house, degrading some from the military rank, and abusing
others most shamefully, and threatening still others with death, and finally
inciting his partners in the empire to the general persecution. It is not proper
to pass over the death of these emperors in silence.
3. As four of them
held the supreme authority, those who were advanced in age and honor, after the
persecution had continued not quite two years, abdicated the government, as we
have already stated, and passed the remainder of their lives in a common and
4. The end of
their lives was as follows. He who was first in honor and age perished through a
long and most grievous physical infirmity. He who held the second place ended
his life by strangling, suffering thus according to a certain demoniacal
prediction, on account of his many daring crimes.
5. Of those after
them, the last, of whom we have spoken as the originator of the entire
persecution, suffered such things as we have related. But he who preceded him,
the most merciful and kindly emperor Constantius, passed all the time of his
government in a manner worthy of his office.
6. Moreover, he
conducted himself towards all most favorably and beneficently. He took not the
smallest part in the war against us, and preserved the pious that were under him
unharmed and un-abused. Neither did he throw down the church buildings, nor
devise anything else against us.
7. The end of his
life was happy and thrice blessed. He alone at death left his empire happily and
gloriously to his own son as his successor, one who was in all respects most
prudent and pious. He entered on the government at once, being proclaimed
supreme emperor and Augustus by the soldiers; and he showed himself an emulator
of his father's piety toward our doctrine.
8. Such were the
deaths of the four of whom we have written, which took place at different times.
Of these, moreover, only the one referred to a little above by us, with those
who afterward shared in the government, finally published openly to all the
above-mentioned confession, in the written edict which he issued.
· Martyrs of Palestine.
9. The following
also we found in a certain copy in the eighth book. It was in the nineteenth year of the reign of Diocletian, in
the month Xanthicus, which is called April by the Romans, about the time of the
feast of our Savior's passion, while Flavianus was governor of the province of
Palestine, that letters were published everywhere.
10. Commanding that
the churches be leveled to the ground and the Scriptures be destroyed by fire,
and ordering that those who held places of honor be degraded, and that the
household servants, if they persisted in the profession of Christianity, be
deprived of freedom.
11. Such was the
force of the first edict against us. But not long after other letters were
issued, commanding that all the bishops of the churches everywhere be first
thrown into prison, and afterward, by every artifice, be compelled to sacrifice.
12. The first of
the martyrs of Palestine was Procopius,
who, before he had received the trial of imprisonment, immediately on his first
appearance before the governor's tribunal, having been ordered to sacrifice to
the so-called gods, declared that he knew only one to whom it was proper to
sacrifice, as he himself wills.
13. But when he was
commanded to offer libations to the four emperors, having quoted a sentence
which displeased them, he was immediately beheaded. The quotation was from the
poet: "The rule of many is not good; let there be one ruler and one
14. It was the
seventh day of the month Desius, the seventh before the ides of June, as the
Romans reckon, and the fourth day of the week, when this first example was given
at Caesura in Palestine. Afterwards, in the same city, many rulers of the
country churches readily endured terrible sufferings, and furnished to the
beholders an example of noble conflicts.
15. But others,
benumbed in spirit by terror, were easily weakened at the first onset. Of the
rest, each one endured different forms of torture, as scourgings without number,
and racking, and tearing of their sides, and insupportable fetters, by which the
hands of some were dislocated.
16. Yet they
endured what came upon them, as in accordance with the inscrutable purposes of
God. For the hands of one were seized, and he was led to the altar, while they
thrust into his right hand the polluted and abominable offering, and he was
dismissed as if he had sacrificed.
17. Another had not
even touched it, yet when others said that he had sacrificed, he went away in
silence. Another, being taken up half dead, was cast aside as if already dead,
and released from his bonds, and counted among the sacrificer's.
18. When another
cried out, and testified that he would not obey, he was struck in the mouth, and
silenced by a large band of those who were drawn up for this purpose, and driven
away by force, even though he had not sacrificed. Of such consequence did they
consider it, to seem by any means to have accomplished their purpose.
19. Therefore, of
all this number, the only ones who were honored with the crown of the holy
martyrs were Alphaeus and Zacchaeus.
After stripes and scrapings and severe bonds and additional tortures and various
20. And after
having their feet stretched for a night and day over four holes in the stocks,
on the seventeenth day of the month Dius, -that is, according to the Romans, the
fifteenth before the Kalends of December,-having confessed one only God and
Christ Jesus as king, as if they had uttered some blasphemy, they were beheaded
like the former martyr.
1. What occurred
to Romanus on the same day at Antioch, is also worthy of record. For he was a
native of Palestine, a deacon and exorcist in the parish of Caesarea; and being
present at the destruction of the churches, he beheld many men, with women and
children, going up in crowds to the idols and sacrificing. But, through his
great zeal for religion, he could not endure the sight, and rebuked them with a
2. Being arrested
for his boldness, he proved a most noble witness of the truth, if there ever was
one. For when the judge informed him that he was to die by fire, he received the
sentence with cheerful countenance and most ready mind, and was led away.
3. When he was
bound to the stake, and the wood piled up around him, as they were awaiting the
arrival of the emperor before lighting the fire, he cried, "Where is the
fire for me?" Having said
this, he was summoned again before the emperor, and subjected to the unusual
torture of having his tongue cut out.
4. But he endured
this with fortitude and showed to all by his deeds that the Divine Power is
present with those who endure any hardship whatever for the sake of religion,
lightening their sufferings and strengthening their zeal. When he learned of
this strange mode of punishment, the noble man was not terrified, but put out
his tongue readily, and offered it with the greatest alacrity to those who cut
5. After this
punishment he was thrown into prison, and suffered there for a very long time.
At last the twentieth anniversary of the emperor being near, when, according to
an established gracious custom, liberty was proclaimed everywhere to all who
were in bonds, he alone had both his feet stretched over five holes in the
stocks, and while he lay there was strangled, and was thus honored with
martyrdom, as he desired.
6. Although he was
outside of his country, yet, as he was a native of Palestine, it is proper to
count him among the Palestinian martyrs. These things occurred in this manner
during the first year, when the persecution was directed only against the rulers
of the Church.
7. In the course
of the second year, the persecution against us increased greatly. And at that
time Urbanus being governor of the province, imperial edicts were first issued
to him, commanding by a general decree that all the people should sacrifice at
once in the different cities, and offer libations to the idols.
8. In Gaza, a city
of Palestine, Timotheus endured countless
tortures, and afterwards was subjected to a slow and moderate fire. Having
given, by his patience in all his sufferings, most genuine evidence of sincerest
piety toward the Deity, he bore away the crown of the victorious athletes of
9. At the same
time Agapius and our contemporary, Thecla,
having exhibited most noble constancy, were condemned as food for the wild
beasts. But who that beheld these
things would not have admired, or if they heard of them by report, would not
have been astonished?
10. For when the
heathen everywhere were holding a festival and the customary shows, it was
noised abroad that besides the other entertainments, the public combat of those
who had lately been condemned to wild beasts would also take place.
11. As this report
increased and spread in all directions, six young men, namely, Timolaus,
a native of Pontus, Dionysius from
Tripolis in Phoenicia, Romulus, a
sub-deacon of the parish of Diospolis, Paesis and
Alexander, both Egyptians, and another Alexander
from Gaza, having first bound their own hands, went in haste to Urbanus, who was
about to open the exhibition, evidencing great zeal for martyrdom.
12. They confessed
that they were Christians, and by their ambition for all terrible things, showed
that those who glory in the religion of the God of the universe do not cower
before the attacks of wild beasts. Immediately,
after creating no ordinary astonishment in the governor and those who were with
him, they were cast into prison.
13. After a few
days two others were added to them. One of them, named Agapius,
had in former confessions endured dreadful torments of various kinds. The other,
who had supplied them with the necessaries of life, was called Dionysius.
All of these eight were beheaded on one day at Caesarea, on the twenty-fourth
day of the month Dystrus, which is the ninth before the Kalends of April.
14. Meanwhile, a
change in the emperors occurred, and the first of them all in dignity, and the
second retired into private life, and public affairs began to be troubled.
Shortly after the Roman government became divided against itself, and a
cruel war arose among them.
15. And this
division, with the troubles which grew out of it, was not settled until peace
toward us had been established throughout the entire Roman Empire.
For when this peace arose for all, as the daylight after the darkest and
most gloomy night, the public affairs of the Roman government were
re-established, and became happy and peaceful, and the ancestral good-will
toward each other was revived.
But we will
relate these things more fully at the proper time. Now let us return to the
regular course of events.
caesar having come at
that time into the government, as if to manifest to all the evidences of his
reborn enmity against God, and of his impiety, armed himself for persecution
against us more vigorously than his predecessors.
2. In consequence,
no little confusion arose among all, and they scattered here and there,
endeavoring in some way to escape the danger; and there was great commotion
everywhere. But what words would suffice for a suitable description of the
Divine love and boldness, in confessing God, of the blessed and truly innocent
3. I refer to the
martyr Apphianus, -who presented in the
sight of all, before the gates of Caesarea, a wonderful example of piety toward
the only God? He was at that time
not twenty years old. He had first spent a long time at Berytus, for the sake of
a secular Grecian education, as he belonged to a very wealthy family.
4. It is wonderful
to relate how, in such a city, he was superior to youthful passions, and clung
to virtue, uncorrupted neither by his bodily vigor nor his young companions;
living discreetly, soberly and piously, in accordance with his profession of the
Christian doctrine and the life of his teachers.
If it is
needful to mention his native country, and give honor to it as producing this
noble athlete of piety, we will do so with pleasure. The young man came from Pagae, -if any one is acquainted with
the place,-a city in Lycia of no mean importance.
6. After his
return from his course of study in Berytus, though his father held the first
place in his country, he could not bear to live with him and his relatives, as
it did not please them to live according to the rules of religion.
7. Therefore, as
if he were led by the Divine Spirit, and in accordance with a natural, or rather
an inspired and true philosophy, regarding this preferable to what is considered
the glory of life, and despising bodily comforts, he secretly left his family.
8. And because of
his faith and hope in God, paying no attention to his daily needs, he was led by
the Divine Spirit to the city of Caesarea, where was prepared for him the crown
of martyrdom for piety.
9. Abiding with us
there, and conferring with us in the Divine Scriptures diligently for a short
time, and fitting himself zealously by suitable exercises, he exhibited such an
end as would astonish any one should it be seen again.
Who, that hears of it, would not justly admire his courage, boldness,
constancy, and even more than these the daring deed itself, which evidenced a
zeal for religion and a spirit truly superhuman?
10. For in the
second attack upon us under maximinus, in the
third year of the persecution, edicts of the tyrant were issued for the first
time, commanding that the rulers of the cities should diligently and speedily
see to it that all the people offered sacrifices.
11. Throughout the
city of Caesarea, by command of the governor, the heralds were summoning men,
women, and children to the temples of the idols, and besides this, the
chiliarchs were calling out each one by name from a roll, and an immense crowd
of the wicked were rushing together from all quarters.
12. Then this youth
fearlessly, while no one was aware of his intentions, eluded both us who lived
in the house with him and the whole band of soldiers that surrounded the
governor, and rushed up to Urbanus as he was offering libations, and fearlessly
seizing him by the right hand, straightway put a stop to his sacrificing, and
skillfully and persuasively, with a certain divine inspiration, exhorted him to
abandon his delusion, because it was not well to forsake the one and only true
God, and sacrifice to idols and demons.
It is probable
that this was done by the youth through a divine power which led him forward,
and which all but cried aloud in his act, that Christians, who were truly such,
were so far from abandoning the religion of the God of the universe which they
had once espoused, that they were not only superior to threats and the
punishments which followed, but yet bolder to speak with noble and untrammeled
tongue, and, if possible, to summon even their persecutors to turn from their
ignorance and acknowledge the only true God.
14. Thereupon, he
of whom we are speaking, and that instantly, as might have been expected after
so bold a deed, was torn by the governor and those who were with him as if by
wild beasts. And having endured manfully innumerable blows over his entire body,
he was straightway cast into prison.
15. There he was
stretched by the tormentor with both his feet in the stocks for a night and a
day; and the next day he was brought before the judge. As they endeavored to
force him to surrender, he exhibited all constancy under suffering and terrible
16. His sides were
torn, not once, or twice, but many times, to the bones and the very bowels; and
he received so many blows on his face and neck that those who for a long time
had been well acquainted with him could not recognize his swollen face.
17. But as he would
not yield under this treatment, the torturers, as commanded, covered his feet
with linen cloths soaked in oil and set them on fire. No word can describe the
agonies which the blessed one endured from this. For the fire consumed his flesh
and penetrated to his bones, so that the humors of his body were melted and
oozed out and dropped down like wax.
But as he was
not subdued by this, his adversaries being defeated and unable to comprehend his
superhuman constancy, cast him again into prison. A third time he was brought
before the judge; and having witnessed the same profession, being half dead, he
was finally thrown into the depths of the sea.
19. But what
happened immediately after this will scarcely be believed by those who did not
see it. Although we realize this, yet we must record the event, of which to
speak plainly, all the inhabitants of Caesarea were witnesses. For truly there
was no age but beheld this marvelous sight.
20. For as soon as
they had cast this truly sacred and thrice-blessed youth into the
fathomless depths of the sea, an uncommon commotion and disturbance agitated the
sea and all the shore about it, so that the land and the entire city were shaken
21. And at the same
time with this wonderful and sudden perturbation, the sea threw out before the
gates of the city the body of the divine martyr, as if unable to endure it.
Such was the death of the wonderful Apphianus. It occurred on the second
day of the month Xanthicus, which is the fourth day before the Nones of April,
on the day of preparation
1. About the same
time, in the city of Tyre, a youth named Ulpianus, after dreadful tortures and
most severe scourgings, was enclosed in a raw oxhide, with a dog and with one of
those poisonous reptiles, an asp, and cast into the sea. Wherefore I think that
we may properly mention him in connection with the martyrdom of Apphianus.
afterwards, Aedesius, a brother of Apphianus, not only in God, but also in the
flesh, being a son of the same earthly father, endured sufferings like his,
after very many confessions and protracted tortures in bonds.
3. And after he
had been sentenced by the governor to the mines in Palestine, he conducted
himself through them all in a truly philosophic manner; for he was more highly
educated than his brother, and had prosecuted philosophic studies.
4. Finally in the
city of Alexandria, when he beheld the judge, who was trying the Christians,
offending beyond all bounds, now insulting holy men in various ways, and again
consigning women of greatest modesty and even religious virgins to procurers for
shameful treatment, he acted like his brother.
5. For as these
things seemed insufferable, he went forward with bold resolve, and with his
words and deeds overwhelmed the judge with shame and disgrace. After suffering
in consequence many forms of torture, he endured a death similar to his
brother's, being cast into the sea. But these things, as I have said, happened
to him in this way a little later.
6. In the fourth
year of the persecution against us, on the twelfth day before the Kalends of
December, which is the twentieth day of the month Dius, on the day before the
Sabbath, while the tyrant maximinus was present
and giving magnificent shows in honor of his birthday, the following event,
truly worthy of record, occurred in the city of Caesarea.
7. As it was an
ancient custom to furnish the spectators more splendid shows when the emperors
were present than at other times, new and foreign spectacles taking the place of
the customary amusements, such as animals brought from India or Ethiopia or
8. Or men who
could astonish the beholders with skillful bodily exercises,-it was necessary at
this time, as the emperor was giving the exhibition, to add to the shows
something more wonderful. And what should this be?
9. A witness of
our doctrine was brought into the midst and endured the contest for the true and
only religion. This was Agapius, who, as
we have stated a little above, was, with Thecla, the second to be thrown to the
wild beasts for food. He had also, three times and more, marched with
malefactors from the prison to the arena; and every time, after threats from the
judge, whether in compassion or in hope that he might change his mind, had been
reserved for other conflicts.
10. But the emperor
being present, he was brought out at this time, as if he had been appropriately
reserved for this occasion, until the very word of the Savior should be
fulfilled in him, which through divine knowledge he declared to his disciples,
that they should be brought before kings on account of their testimony unto him.
11. He was taken
into the midst of the arena with a certain malefactor who they said was charged
with the murder of his master. But this murderer of his master, when he had been
cast to the wild beasts, was deemed worthy of compassion and humanity, almost
like Barabbas in the time of our Savior.
12. And the whole
theater resounded with shouts and cries of approval, because the murderer was
humanely saved by the emperor, and deemed worthy of honor and freedom. But the
athlete of religion was first summoned by the tyrant and promised liberty if he
would deny his profession.
13. But he
testified with a loud voice that, not for any fault, but for the religion of the
Creator of the universe, he would readily and with pleasure endure whatever
might be inflicted upon him. Having said this, he joined the deed to the word,
and rushed to meet a bear which had been let loose against him, surrendering
himself most cheerfully to be devoured by him.
14. After this, as
he still breathed, he was cast into prison. And living yet one day, stones were
bound to his feet, and he was drowned in the depths of the sea. Such was the
martyrdom of Agapius.
15. Again, in
Caesarea, when the persecution had continued to the fifth year, on the second
day of the month Xanthicus, which is the fourth before the Nones of April, on
the very Lord's day of our Savior's resurrection.
a virgin from Tyre, a faithful and sedate maiden, not yet eighteen years of age,
went up to certain prisoners who were confessing the kingdom of Christ and
sitting before the judgment seat, and saluted them, and, as is probable,
besought them to remember her when they came before the Lord.
17. Thereupon, as
if she had committed a profane and impious act, the soldiers seized her and led
her to the governor. And he immediately, like a madman and a wild beast in his
anger, tortured her with dreadful and most terrible torments in her sides and
breasts, even to the very bones.
18. And as she
still breathed, and withal stood with a joyful and beaming countenance, he
ordered her thrown into the waves of the sea. Then passing from her to the other
confessors, he condemned all of them to the copper mines in Phaeno in Palestine.
19. Afterwards on
the fifth of the month Dius, on the Nones of November according to the Romans,
in the same city, Silvanus (who at that time was a presbyter and confessor, but
who shortly after was honored with the episcopate and died a martyr.
20. And those with
him, men who had shown the noblest firmness in behalf of religion, were
condemned by him to labor in the same copper mines, command being first given
that their ankles be disabled with hot irons.
21. At the same
time he delivered to the flames a man who was illustrious through numerous other
confessions. This was Domninus, who was well known to all in Palestine for his
exceeding fearlessness After this the same judge, who was a cruel contriver of
suffering, and an inventor of devices against the doctrine of Christ, planned
against the pious punishments that had never been heard of.
22. He condemned
three to single pugilistic combat. He delivered to be devoured by wild beasts
Auxentius, a grave and holy old man. Others who were in mature life he made
eunuchs, and condemned them to the same mines.
23. Yet others,
after severe tortures, he cast into prison. Among these was my dearest friend Pamphilus,
who was by reason of every virtue the most illustrious of the martyrs in our
first tested him in rhetorical philosophy and learning; and afterwards
endeavored to compel him to sacrifice.
But as he saw
that he refused and in nowise regarded his threats, being exceedingly angry, he
ordered him to be tormented with severest tortures. And when the brutal man,
after he had almost satiated himself with these tortures by continuous and
prolonged scrapings in his sides, was yet covered with shame before all, he put
him also with the confessors in prison.
25. But what
recompense for his cruelty to the saints, he who thus abused the martyrs of
Christ, shall receive from the Divine judgment, may be easily determined from
the preludes to it, in which immediately, and not long after his daring
cruelties against Pamphilus, while he yet
held the government, the Divine judgment came upon him.
26. For thus
suddenly, he who but yesterday was judging on the lofty tribunal, guarded by a
band of soldiers, and ruling over the whole nation of Palestine, the associate
and dearest friend and table companion of the tyrant himself, was stripped in
one night, and overwhelmed with disgrace and shame before those who had formerly
admired him as if he were himself an emperor; and he appeared cowardly and
unmanly, uttering womanish cries and supplications to all the people whom he had
27. And maximinus
himself, in reliance upon whose favor Urbanus
was formerly so arrogantly insolent, as if he loved him exceedingly for his
deeds against us, was set as a harsh and most severe judge in this same Caesarea
to pronounce sentence of death against him, for the great disgrace of the crimes
of which he was convicted.
28. Let us say this
in passing. A suitable time may
come when we shall have leisure to relate the end and the fate of those impious
men who especially fought against us, both of maximinus
himself and those with him.
1. Up to the sixth
year the storm had been incessantly raging against us. Before this time there
had been a very large number of confessors of religion in the so-called Porphyry
quarry in Thebais, which gets its name from the stone found there.
Of these, one hundred men, lacking
three, together with women and infants, were sent to the governor of Palestine.
2. When they
confessed the God of the universe and Christ, firmilianus,
who had been sent there as governor in the place of urbanus,
directed, in accordance with the imperial command, that they should be maimed by
burning the sinews of the ankles of their left feet, and that their right eyes
with the eyelids and pupils should first be cut out, and then destroyed by hot
irons to the very roots.
he then sent them to the mines in the province to endure hardships with severe
toil and suffering.
3. But it was not
sufficient that these only who suffered such miseries should be deprived of
their eyes, but those natives of Palestine also, who were mentioned just above
as condemned to pugilistic combat, Since they would neither receive food from
the royal storehouse nor undergo the necessary preparatory Exercises.
4. Having been
brought on this account not only before the overseers, but also before maximinus
himself, and having manifested the noblest persistence in confession by the
endurance of hunger and stripes, they received like punishment with those whom
we have mentioned, and with them other confessors in the city of Caesarea.
afterwards others who were gathered to hear the Scriptures read, were seized in
Gaza, and some endured the same sufferings in the feet and eyes; but others were
afflicted with yet greater torments and with most terrible tortures in the
6. One of these,
in body a woman, but in understanding a man, would not endure the threat of
fornication, and spoke directly against the tyrant who entrusted the government
to such cruel judges. She was first scourged and then raised aloft on the stake,
and her sides lacerated.
7. As those
appointed for this purpose applied the tortures incessantly and severely at the
command of the judge, another, with mind fixed, like the former, on virginity as
her aim,- a woman who was altogether mean in forth and contemptible in
8. But, on the
other hand, strong in soul, and endowed with an understanding superior to her
body,-being unable to bear the merciless and cruel and inhuman deeds, with a
boldness beyond that of the combatants famed among the Greeks, cried out to the
judge from the midst of the crowd: "
9. And how long
will you thus cruelly torture my sister?" But he was greatly enraged, and
ordered the woman to be immediately seized.
Thereupon she was brought forward and having called herself by the august
name of the Savior, she was first urged by words to sacrifice, and as she
refused she was dragged by force to the altar.
10. But her sister
continued to maintain her former zeal, and with intrepid and resolute foot
kicked the altar, and overturned it with the fire that was on it. Thereupon the
judge, enraged like a wild beast, inflicted on her such tortures in her sides as
he never had on any one before, striving almost to glut himself with her raw
11. But when his
madness was satiated, he bound them both together, this one and her whom she
called sister, and condemned them to death by fire. It is said that the first of
these was from the country of Gaza; the other, by name Valentina,
was of Caesarea, and was well known to many.
12. But how can I
describe as it deserves the martyrdom which followed, with which the
thrice-blessed Paul was honored. He was condemned to death at the same time with
them, under one sentence. At the time of his martyrdom, as the executioner was
about to cut off his head, he requested a brief respite.
granted, he first, in a clear and distinct voice, supplicated God in behalf of
his fellow-Christians, praying for their pardon, and that freedom might soon be
restored to them.
Then he asked
for the conversion of the Jews to God through Christ; and proceeding in order he
requested the same things for the Samaritans, and besought that those Gentiles,
who were in error and were ignorant of God, might come to a knowledge of him,
and adopt the true religion. Nor did he leave neglected the mixed multitude who
were standing around.
15. After all
these, oh! great and unspeakable forbearance! he entreated the God of the
universe for the judge who had condemned him to death, and for the highest
rulers, and also for the one who was about to behead him, in his hearing and
that of all present, beseeching that their sin toward him should not be reckoned
16. Having prayed
for these things with a loud voice, and having, as one who was dying unjustly,
moved almost all to compassion and tears, of his own accord he made himself
ready, and submitted his bare neck to the stroke of the sword, and was adorned
with divine martyrdom. This took
place on the twenty-fifth day of the month Panemus, which is the eighth before
the Kalends of August.
Such was the
end of these persons. But not long after, one hundred and thirty admirable
athletes of the confession of Christ, from the land of Egypt, endured, in Egypt
itself, at the command of maximinus the same
afflictions in their eyes and feet with the former persons, and were sent to the
above-mentioned mines in Palestine. But some of them were condemned to the mines
1. After such
noble acts of the distinguished martyrs of Christ, the flame of persecution
lessened, and was quenched, as it were by their sacred blood, and relief and
liberty were granted to those who, for Christ's sake, were laboring in the mines
of Thebais, and for a little time we were beginning to breath pure air.
2. But by some new
impulse, I know not what, he who held the power to persecute was again aroused
against the Christians. Immediately letters from maximinus
against us were published everywhere in every province. The governors and the
military prefect urged by edicts and letters and public ordinances the
magistrates and generals and notaries in all the cities to carry out the
imperial decree, which ordered;
3. That the altars
of the idols should with all speed be rebuilt; and that all men, women, and
children, even infants at the breast, should sacrifice and offer oblations; and
that with diligence and care they should cause them to taste of the execrable
offerings; and that the things for sale in the market should be polluted with
libations from the sacrifices; and that guards should be stationed before the
baths in order to defile with the abominable sacrifices those who went to wash
4. When these
orders were being carried out, our people, as was natural, were at the beginning
greatly distressed in mind; and even the unbelieving heathen blamed the severity
and the exceeding absurdity of what was done. For these things appeared to them
extreme and burdensome.
As the heaviest
storm impended over all in every quarter, the divine power of our Savior again
infused such boldness into his athletes, that without being drawn on or dragged
forward by any one, they spurned the threats.
6. Three of the
faithful joining together, rushed on the governor as he was sacrificing to the
idols, and cried out to him to cease from his delusion, there being no other God
than the Maker and Creator of the universe. When he asked who they were, they
confessed boldly that they were Christians.
Firmilianus, being greatly enraged, sentenced them to capital punishment without
inflicting tortures upon them. The name of the eldest of these was Antoninus;
of the next, Zebinas, who was a native of
Eleutheropolis; and of the third, Germanus.
This took place on the thirteenth of the month Dius, the Ides of November.
8. There was
associated with them on the same day Ennathas,
a woman from Scythopolis, who was adorned with the chaplet of virginity. She did
not indeed do as they had done, but was dragged by force and brought before the
9. She endured
scourgings and cruel insults, which maxys, a
tribune of a neighboring district, without the knowledge of the superior
authority, dared to inflict upon her. He was a man worse than his name,
sanguinary in other respects, exceedingly harsh, and altogether cruel, and
censured by all who knew him.
stripped the blessed woman of all her clothing, so that she was covered only
from her loins to her feet and the rest of her body was bare. And he led her
through the entire city of Caesarea, and regarded it as a great thing to beat
her with thongs while she was dragged through all the market-places.
11. After such
treatment she manifested the noblest constancy at the judgment seat of the
governor himself; and the judge condemned her to be burned alive. He also
carried his rage against the pious to a most inhuman length and transgressed the
laws of nature, not being ashamed even to deny burial to the lifeless bodies of
the sacred men.
12. Thus he ordered
the dead to be exposed in the open air as food for wild beasts and to be watched
carefully by night and day. For many days a large number of men attended to this
savage and barbarous decree.
13. And they looked
out from their post of observation, as if it were a matter worthy of care, to
see that the dead bodies should not be stolen. And wild beasts and dogs and
birds of prey scattered the human limbs here and there, and the whole city was
strewed with the entrails and bones of men, so that nothing had ever appeared
more dreadful and horrible, even to those who formerly hated us; though they
bewailed not so much the calamity of those against whom these things were done,
as the outrage against themselves and the common nature of man.
14. For there was
to be seen near the gates a spectacle beyond all description and tragic recital;
for not only was human flesh devoured in one place, but it was scattered in
every place; so that some said that limbs and masses of flesh and parts of
entrails were to be seen even within the gates.
15. After these
things had continued for many days, a wonderful event occurred. The air was
clear and bright and the appearance of the sky most serene. When suddenly
throughout the city from the pillars which supported the public porches many
drops fell like tears; and the market places and streets, though there was no
mist in the air, were moistened with sprinkled water, whence I know not.
immediately it was reported everywhere that the earth, unable to endure the
abomination of these things, had shed tears in a mysterious manner; and that as
a rebuke to the relentless and unfeeling nature of men, stones and lifeless wood
had wept for what had happened.
17. I know well
that this account may perhaps appear idle and fabulous to those who come after
us, but not to those to whom the truth was confirmed at the time.
18. On the
fourteenth day of the following month Appellaeus, the nineteenth before the
Kalends of January, certain persons from Egypt were again seized by those who
examined people passing the gates. They had been sent to minister to the
confessors in Cilicia.
19. They received
the same sentence as those whom they had gone to help, being mutilated in their
eyes and feet. Three of them exhibited in Ascalon, where they were imprisoned,
marvelous bravery in the endurance of various kinds of martyrdom. One of them
named Ares was condemned to the flames,
and the others, called Probus and Elias,
the eleventh day of the month Audynaeus, which is the third before the Ides of
January, in the same city of Caesarea, Peter an
ascetic, also called Apselamus, from the
village of Anea, on the borders of Eleutheropolis, like purest gold, gave noble
proof by fire of his faith in the Christ of God.
21. Though the
judge and those around him besought him many times to have compassion on
himself, and to spare his own youth and bloom, he disregarded them, preferring
hope in the God of the universe to all things, even to life itself.
22. A certain
Asclepius, supposed to be a bishop of the sect of Marcion, possessed as he
thought with zeal for religion, but "not according to knowledge,"
ended his life on one and the same funeral pyre. These things took place in this
1. It is time to
describe the great and celebrated spectacle of Pamphilus,
a man thrice dear to me, and of those who finished their course with him. They
were twelve in all; being counted worthy of apostolic grace and number.
2. Of these the
leader and the only one honored with the position of presbyter at Caesarea, was Pamphilus;
a man who through his entire life was celebrated for every virtue, for
renouncing and despising the world, for sharing his possessions with the needy,
for contempt of earthly hopes, and for philosophic deportment and exercise.
excelled all in our time in most sincere devotion to the Divine Scriptures and
indefatigable industry in whatever he undertook, and in his helpfulness to his
relatives and associates. In a
separate treatise on his life, consisting of three books, we have already
described the excellence of his virtue. Referring to this work those who delight
in such things and desire to know them, let us now consider the martyrs in
4. Second after Pamphilus,
Vales, who was honored for his venerable
gray hair, entered the contest. He was a deacon from Aelia, an old man of
gravest appearance, and versed in the Divine Scriptures, if any one ever was. He
had so laid up the memory of them in his heart that he did not need to look at
the books if he undertook to repeat any passage of Scripture.
5. The third was Paul
from the city of Jamna, who was known among them as most zealous and fervent in
spirit. Previous to his martyrdom, he had endured the conflict of confession by
cauterization. After these persons had continued in prison for two entire
years, the occasion of their martyrdom was a second arrival of Egyptian brethren
who suffered with them.
6. They had
accompanied the confessors in Cilicia to the mines there and were returning to
their homes. At the entrance of the gates of Caesarea, the guards, who were men
of barbarous character, questioned them as to who they were and whence they
came. They kept back nothing of the truth, and were seized as malefactors taken
in the very act.
7. They were five
in number. When brought before the tyrant, being very bold in his presence, they
were immediately thrown into prison. On the next day, which was the nineteenth
of the month Peritius, according to the Roman reckoning the fourteenth before
the Kalends of March, they were brought, according to command, before the judge,
with Pamphilus and his associates whom we
8. First, by all
kinds of torture, through the invention of strange and various machines, he
tested the invincible constancy of the Egyptians. Having practiced these
cruelties upon the leader of all, he asked him first who he was. He heard in
reply the name of some prophet instead of his proper name.
9. For it was
their custom, in place of the names of idols given them by their fathers, if
they had such, to take other names; so that you would hear them calling
themselves Elijah or Jeremiah or Isaiah or Samuel or Daniel, thus showing
themselves inwardly true Jews, and the genuine Israel of God, not only in deeds,
but in the names which they bore.
had heard some such name from the martyr, and did not understand the force of
the word, he asked next the name of his country.
But he gave a second answer similar to the former, saying that Jerusalem
was his country, meaning that of which Paul says, "Jerusalem which is above
is free, which is our mother," and, "Ye are come unto Mount Sion, and
unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem."
This was what
he meant; but the judge thinking only of the earth, sought diligently to
discover what that city was, and in what part of the world it was situated. And
therefore he applied tortures that the truth might be acknowledged. But the man,
with his hands twisted behind his back, and his feet crushed by strange
machines, asserted firmly that he had spoken the truth.
12. And being
questioned again repeatedly what and where the city was of which he spoke, he
said that it was the country of the pious alone, for no others should have a
place in it, and that it lay toward the far East and the rising sun.
philosophized about these things according to his own understanding, and was in
nowise turned from them by the tortures with which he was afflicted on every
side. And as if he were without flesh or body he seemed insensible of his
14. But the judge
being perplexed, was impatient, thinking that the Christians were about to
establish a city somewhere, inimical and hostile to the Romans. And he inquired
much about this, and investigated where that country toward the East was
15. But when he had
for a long time lacerated the young man with scourgings, and punished him with
all sorts of torments, he perceived that his persistence in what he had said
could not be changed, and passed against him sentence of death.
16. Such a scene
was exhibited by what was done to this man. And having inflicted similar
tortures on the others, he sent them away in the same manner.
17. Then being
wearied and perceiving that he punished the men in vain, having satiated his
desire, he proceeded against Pamphilus and his
companions. And having learned that already under former tortures
they had manifested an unchangeable zeal for the faith, he asked them if they
would now obey.
from every one of them only this one answer, as their last word of confession in
martyrdom, he inflicted on them punishment similar to the others.
19. When this had
been done, a young man, one of the household servants of Pamphilus,
who had been educated in the noble life and instruction of such a man, learning
the sentence passed upon his master, cried out from the midst of the crowd
asking that their bodies might be buried.
20. Thereupon the
judge, not a man, but a wild beast, or if
anything more savage than a wild beast, giving no consideration to the young
man's age, asked him only the same question. When he learned that he confessed
himself a Christian, as if he had been wounded by a dart, swelling with rage, he
ordered the tormentors to use their utmost power against him.
21. And when he saw
that he refused to sacrifice as commanded, he ordered them to scrape him
continually to his very bones and to the inmost recesses of his bowels, not as
if he were human flesh but as if he were stones or wood or any lifeless thing.
22. But after long
persistence he saw that this was in vain, as the man was speechless and
insensible and almost lifeless, his body being worn out by the tortures.
But being inflexibly merciless and inhuman, he ordered him to be
committed straightway, as he was, to a slow fire.
23. And before the
death of his earthly master, though he had entered later on the conflict, he
received release from the body, while those who had been zealous about the
others were yet delaying.
One should then
see Porphyry, like one who had come off
victorious in every conflict, his body covered with dust, but his countenance
cheerful, after such sufferings, with courageous and exulting mind, advancing to
25. And as if truly
filled with the Divine Spirit, covered only with his philosophic robe thrown
about him as a cloak, soberly and intelligently he directed his friends as to
what he wished, and beckoned to them, preserving still a cheerful countenance
even at the stake.
26. But when the
fire was kindled at some distance around him in a circle, having inhaled the
flame into his mouth, he continued most nobly in silence from that time till his
death, after the single word which he uttered when the flame first touched him,
and he cried out for the help of Jesus the Son of God. Such was the contest of Porphyry.
His death was reported to Pamphilus by a
He was one of
the confessors from the army. As the bearer of such a message, he was forthwith
deemed worthy of a similar lot. For as soon as he related the death of Porphyry,
and had saluted one of the martyrs with a kiss, some of the soldiers seized him
and led him to the governor.
28. And he, as if
he would hasten him on to be a companion of the former on the way to heaven,
commanded that he be put to death immediately. This man was from Cappadocia, and
belonged to the select band of soldiers, and had obtained no small honor in
those things which are esteemed among the Romans.
29. For in stature
and bodily strength, and size and vigor, he far excelled his fellow-soldiers, so
that his appearance was matter of common talk, and his whole form was admired on
account of its size and symmetrical proportions.
30. At the
beginning of the persecution he was prominent in the conflicts of confession,
through his patience under scourging. After he left the army he set himself to
imitate zealously the religious ascetics, and as if he were their father and
guardian he showed himself a bishop and patron of destitute orphans and
defenseless widows and of those who were distressed with penury or sickness.
31. It is likely
that on this account he was deemed worthy of an extraordinary call to martyrdom
by God, who rejoices in such things more than in the smoke and blood of
sacrifices. He was the tenth athlete among those whom we have mentioned as
meeting their end on one and the same day.
32. On this day, as
was fitting, the chief gate was opened, and a ready way of entrance into the
kingdom of heaven was given to the martyr Pamphilus
and to the others with him.
33. In the
footsteps of Seleucus came Theodulus,
a grave and pious old man, who belonged to the governor's household, and had
been honored by firmilianus himself more than
all the others in his house on account of his age, and because he was a father
of the third generation, and also on account of the kindness and most faithful
conscientiousness which he had manifested toward him.
34. As he pursued
the course of Seleucus when brought
before his master, the latter was more angry at him than at those who had
preceded him, and condemned him to endure the martyrdom of the Savior on the
35. As there lacked
yet one to fill up the number of the twelve martyrs of whom we have spoken, Julian
came to complete it. He had just arrived from abroad, and had not yet
entered the gate of the city, when having learned about the martyrs while still
on the way, he rushed at once, just as he was, to see them.
36. When he beheld
the tabernacles of the saints prone on the ground, being filled with joy, he
embraced and kissed them all. The
ministers of slaughter straightway seized him as he was doing this and led him
to firmilianus. Acting as was his custom, he
condemned him to a slow fire.
37. Thereupon Julian,
leaping and exulting, in a loud voice gave thanks to the Lord who had judged him
worthy of such things, and was honored with the crown of martyrdom. He was a
Cappadocian by birth, and in his manner of life he was most circumspect,
faithful and sincere, zealous in all other respects, and animated by the Holy
Spirit himself. Such was the company which was thought worthy to enter into
martyrdom with Pamphilus.
38. By the command
of the impious governor their sacred and truly holy bodies were kept as food for
the wild beasts for four days and as many nights. But since, strange to say,
through the providential care of God, nothing approached them,-neither beast of
prey, nor bird, nor dog,- they were taken up uninjured, and after suitable
preparation were buried in the customary manner.
39. When the report
of what had been done to these men was spread in all directions, Adrianus
and Eubulus, having come from the
so-called country of Manganaea to Caesarea, to see the remaining confessors,
were also asked at the gate the reason for their coming; and having acknowledged
the truth, were brought to firmilianus. But he,
as was his custom, without delay inflicted many tortures in their sides, and
condemned them to be devoured by wild beasts.
40. After two days,
on the fifth of the month Dystrus, the third before the Nones of March, which
was regarded as the birthday of the tutelary divinity of Caesarea, Adrianus
was thrown to a lion, and afterwards slain with the sword.
41. But Eubulus,
two days later, on the Nones of March, that is, on the seventh of the month
Dystrus, when the judge had earnestly entreated him to enjoy by sacrificing that
which was considered freedom among them, preferring a glorious death for
religion to transitory life, was made like the other an offering to wild beasts,
and as the last of the martyrs in Caesarea, sealed the list of athletes.
It is proper
also to relate here, how in a short time the heavenly Providence came upon the
impious rulers, together with the tyrants themselves. For that very Firmilianus,
who had thus abused the martyrs of Christ, after suffering with the others the
severest punishment, was put to death by the sword.
43. Such were the
martyrdoms which took place at Caesarea during the entire period of the
I Think it best
to pass by all the other events which occurred in the meantime: such as those
which happened to the bishops of the churches, when instead of shepherds of the
rational flocks of Christ, over which they presided in an unlawful manner, the
divine judgment, considering them worthy of such a charge, made them keepers of
camels, an irrational beast and very crooked in the structure of its body, or
condemned them to have the care of the imperial horses.
2. And I pass by
also the insults and disgraces and tortures they endured from the imperial
overseers and rulers on account of the sacred vessels and treasures of the
Church; and besides these the lust of power on the part of many, the disorderly
and unlawful ordinations, and the schisms among the confessors themselves.
3. Also the
novelties which were zealously devised against the remnants of the Church by the
new and factious members, who added innovation after innovation and forced them
in unsparingly among the calamities of the persecution, heaping misfortune upon
4. I judge it more
suitable to shun and avoid the account of these things, as I said at the
beginning. But such things as are sober and praiseworthy, according to the
sacred word,-"and if there be any virtue and praise,"
5. I consider it
most proper to tell and to record, and to present to believing hearers in the
history of the admirable martyrs. And after this I think it best to crown the
entire work with an account of the peace which has appeared unto us from heaven.
6. The seventh
year of our conflict was completed; and the hostile measures which had continued
into the eighth year were gradually and quietly becoming less severe. A large
number of confessors were collected at the copper mines in Palestine, and were
acting with considerable boldness, so far as even to build places of worship.
7. But the ruler
of the province, a cruel and wicked man, as his acts against the martyrs showed,
having come there and learned the state of affairs, communicated it to the
emperor, writing in accusation whatever he thought best.
being appointed superintendent of the mines, he divided the band of confessors
as if by a royal decree, and sent some to dwell in Cyprus and others in Lebanon,
and he scattered others in different parts of Palestine and ordered them to
labor in various works.
9. And, selecting
the four who seemed to him to be the leaders, he sent them to the commander of
the armies in that section. These were Peleus and
Nilus, Egyptian bishops, also a
presbyter, and Patermuthius, who was well
known among them all for his zeal toward all. The commander of the army demanded
of them a denial of religion, and not obtaining this, he condemned them to death
10. There were
others there who had been allotted to dwell in a separate place by themselves,-
such of the confessors as on account of age or mutilations, or for other bodily
infirmities, had been released from service.
Silvanus, a bishop from Gaza, presided over them, and set a worthy
and genuine example of Christianity.
11. This man having
from the first day of the persecution, and throughout its entire continuance,
been eminent for his confessions in all sorts of conflicts, had been kept all
that time that he might, so to speak, set the final seal upon the whole conflict
12. There were with
him many from Egypt, among whom was John,
who surpassed all in our time in the excellence of his memory. He had formerly
been deprived of his sight. Nevertheless, on account of his eminence in
confession he had with the others suffered the destruction of his foot by
13. And although
his sight had been destroyed he was subjected to the same burning with fire, the
executioners aiming after everything that was merciless and pitiless and cruel
and inhuman. Since he was such a
man, one would not be so much astonished at his habits and his philosophic life.
14. Nor would he
seem so wonderful for them, as for the strength of his memory. For he had
written whole books of the Divine Scriptures, "not in tables of stone"
as the divine apostle says, neither on skins of animals, nor on paper which
moths and time destroy.
"in fleshy tables of the heart," in a transparent soul and most pure
eye of the mind, so that whenever he wished he could repeat, as if from a
treasury of words, any portion of the Scripture, whether in the law, or the
prophets, or the historical books, or the gospels, or the writings of the
16. I confess that
I was astonished when I first saw the man as he was standing in the midst of a
large congregation and repeating portions of the Divine Scripture. While I only
heard his voice, I thought that, according to the custom in the meetings, he was
17. But when I came
near and perceived what he was doing, and observed all the others standing
around him with sound eyes while he was using only the eyes of his mind, and yet
was speaking naturally like some prophet, and far excelling those who were sound
in body, it was impossible for me not to glorify God and wonder.
18. And I seemed to
see in these deeds evident and strong confirmation of the fact that true manhood
consists not in excellence of bodily appearance, but in the soul and
understanding alone. For he, with his body mutilated, manifested the superior
excellence of the power that was within him.
19. But as to those
whom we have mentioned as abiding in a separate place, and attending to their
customary duties in fasting and prayer and other exercises, God himself saw fit
to give them a salutary issue by extending his right hand in answer to them.
20. The bitter foe,
as they were armed against him zealously through their prayers to God, could no
longer endure them, and determined to slay and destroy them from off the earth
because they troubled him.
21. And God
permitted him to accomplish this, that he might not be restrained from the
wickedness he desired, and that at the same time they might receive the prizes
of their manifold conflicts. Therefore at the command of the most accursed maximinus,
forty, lacking one, were beheaded in one day.
martyrdoms were accomplished in Palestine during eight complete years; and of
this description was the persecution in our time. Beginning with the demolition
of the churches, it increased greatly as the rulers rose up from time to time
23. In these
assaults the multiform and various conflicts of those who wrestled in behalf of
religion produced an innumerable multitude of martyrs in every province,-in the
regions extending from Libya and throughout all Egypt, and Syria, and from the
East round about to the district of Illyricum.
24. But the
countries beyond these, all Italy and Sicily and Gaul, and the regions toward
the setting sun, in Spain, Mauritania, and Africa, suffered the war of
persecution during less than two years, and were deemed worthy of a speedier
divine visitation and peace; the heavenly Providence sparing the singleness of
purpose and faith of those men.
For what had
never before been recorded in the annals of the Roman government, first took
place in our day, contrary to all expectation; for during the persecution in our
time the empire was divided into two parts. The brethren dwelling in the part of
which we have just spoken enjoyed peace; but those in the other part endured
trials without number.
But when the
divine grace kindly and compassionately manifested its care for us too, then
truly our rulers also, those very ones through whom the wars against us had been
formerly carried on, changed their minds in a most wonderful manner, and
published a recantation; and by favorable edicts and mild decrees concerning us,
extinguished the conflagration against us.
recantation also must be recorded. ---
End of the book of Eusebius Pamphili concerning those who suffered
martyrdom in Palestine.