[This lamentable time commenced with the Tenth General Persecution, instituted by Diocletian, and prosecuted by Maximian, his associate; which caused a very severe, and distressing state of affairs, with respect to the violence as well as the long 'duration of the persecution.
In order to proceed systematically, we have presented separately each year with its respective martyrs. In the first year of this persecution Anthimus and many others at Nicomedia; Phileas, Cassianus; Eulalia and Eucratis, aged virgins, laid down their lives for the evangelical truth.
In the second year, Euplius, Pancratius, a youth of fourteen years; Justus; Felix of Thibaris; the two brothers, Primus and Felicianus, suffered martyrdom.
In the third year: Apphianus, Ulpianus, Aedesius, Agathopius and Theodulus; Julitta of Iconia; forty youths, laid down their lives.
In the fourth year Sylvanus, Januarius, Sosius, Proculus, Pelagia, Theonas, Cyrenia, and Juliana, were martyred.
In the fifth year Theodosia, a virgin of Tyre, Pamphilius, a friend of Eusebius, at Caesarea, were put to death.
In the sixth year Ennathas, a virgin from the city of Scythopolis; Catharina, of Alexandria, suffered death.
In the seventh year Ares, Promus, and Elias, at Askalon; Peter Abselamus; the three sisters, Biblis, Aquilina, and Fortunata, poured out their blood.
In the eighth year two sisters from Antioch; Irene, with her two sisters, Peter Nilus and P. Mythius; forty who were beheaded; Martionilla, Euphratesia, seven brothers and others were compelled to die.
In the ninth year Lucian, elder at Antioch, Peter, Faustus, Didius, and Ammonius, Anysia, a girl of Thessalonica, and Demetrius, suffered death.
In the tenth year Eugenius Auxentius, Maodatius, and many others were put to death.
Then follow two other persecutions, one under Lucinius, the other under Julian, which are called the eleventh and the twelfth persecutions.
Under Lucinius suffered Basileus, Ammon; the two brothers, Donatian and Rogatian, of whom the one was baptized, and the other not.
Under Julian were slain John and Paul, who opposed war; and some were killed under the Emperor Valens.
After these details we conclude the account of this century.] A. D. 301.-"At this time," writes P. J. Twisck,"the persecution was very severe; for when the Emperor, namely, Diocletian would divert himself in the theater, the whole multitude of the people called to him ten times, that the Christians should not be tolerated, and twelve times, that they should be exterminated." Chron., 4th book, ¢. 85, col. 1, from Merul., fol. 237. Leonh. lib. 1.
In the preceding century, in the year 284, we mentioned, in connection with the beginning of the reign of Diocletian, the first bloody edict, issued by this Emperor against the pious and steadfast Christians, upon which followed the death of some of them, as may be seen in the cases of Claudius, Asterius, Neon, Zenobius, and the pious Christian women, Nuina, Theonilla, Zenobia, sister of the afore-mentioned Zenobius, etc., most of whom died at Tarsus, in Cilicia, the birthplace of the apostle Paul, for the testimony of Jesus, their Saviour. This continued from the aforesaid year until the close of that century, as we have related in the proper place.
But in the same place we have also made mention of a second edict by the same Emperor, which, about nineteen years afterwards, was followed by the most violent persecution of the Christians. Of this we promised to speak more fully, and now purpose to do so, having come to the very time in which commenced this, the severest and most grievous persecution, which is called the tenth.
Various eminent writers have made mention of this awful and lamentable deed of the Emperor Diocletian, and they cannot sufficiently wonder at two things: In the first place, that any one who is at all a human being could commit such great cruelties on his fellow men, as Diocletian inflicted upon the Christians. In the second place, that the Christians, frail men as they were, could endure all this, and not only this, but that many of them, from love to Jesus Christ, and because of the certain hope of their reward, manifested great joy in their sufferings. We shall first speak of the former, and then of the latter as follows.
These two Emperors (namely, Diocletian and Maximian) jointly governed the empire, in harmony and constancy, and remained undivided. However, when they had reigned about ten years, they took counsel together, and resolved to ex
terminate the Christians, because the discord of religion caused great dissensions, both in the households and in the Roman Empire., "The apostate Christians played the part of instigators and firebrands in the rising of this persecution, holding out to the Emperors the hope, that the Christians could be exterminated. The persecution which ensued thereupon, is considered the most grievous."
Then he writes, "But the enemies of the truth took the occasion to incite the Emperor Diocletian against the Christians, from a certain conflagration in the city of Nicomedia-at that time the place where the Emperors were wont to reside-by which the palace of the Emperor was totally destroyed. With this calamity they charged the Christians. The Emperor, enraged beyond measure on this account, easily believed the slanderers, thinking he had sufficient reason for it. He accordingly, in the nineteenth year of his reign, which coincides with A. D. 302, issued a public decree (as was done in the days of Antiochus), that everyone, in every place, should sacrifice to the gods of the Emperors; and that he who should refuse to do so, should be punished with death; also, that the churches or meeting places, and the books of the Christians should be utterly destroyed. Yea, there was scarcely a large city in the empire, in which not daily a hundred Christians, or thereabouts, were slain. It is also recorded that in one month seventeen thousand Christians were put to death in different parts of the empire, so that the blood which was shed colored red many rivers. Some were hanged, others beheaded, some burned, and some sunk by whole shiploads in the depths of the sea."
As touching the fearful tortures inflicted, he then writes thus, "These tyrants had some of them dragged through the streets, tied to the tails of horses, and after they were mangled and bruised, they had them put back into prison, and placed upon beds of potsherds, so that rest might be more excruciating for them than actual torment. Sometimes they bent down with great force the branches of trees, and tied one leg to one branch, and the other to another, and then let the branches spring back into their natural position, so that their limbs were shockingly rent in pieces. They cut off the cars, noses, lips, hands, and the toes of many, leaving them only the eyes, to inflict still more pain upon them. They sharpened wooden pegs, which they inserted between the flesh and the nails; and had lead or tin melted, and poured as hot as possible over their bare backs." Chron., 3d book, p. 78, col. 1, 2, and page 79, col. 1, froth Euseb., lib. 8, cap. 2, 3, 16, 17, 18. Fasc. Temp., fol. 96. Chron. Mich., fol. 196. Chron. Carionis, fol. 248, 249. Chron. Seb. Fr., fol. 19. Paid. Mertd., fol. 232, 238, 239. Pieter Messiw, fol. 148. Chron. Leonh., lib. 1. Hist. Andra, fol. 175, 176. Jan Crcsp., fol. 66, 67, 68, 70. A. Schri., lib. 13, fol. 349. 350. Hist. D. Matth. Jud., lib. 4, cap. 3.
In A. D. 302, commenced the tenth persecution of the Christions, namely, in the 19th year of the reign of Emperor Diocletian; for although it had been smouldering previously already, it was in this year, that through the edicts, it was caused to break forth in flames. It was so great as to exceed, not only in cruelty, but also in duration, all the former ones, for under the tyrannous Emperors, Diocletian, Maximian, Maxentius, and Maximin, it lasted twelve years, and this principally in the east., "Eusebius, who lived to see this persecution, gives a full description of it. How awful it was, we may read in his church history, book 8. He writes that the cause of it was the great liberty enjoyed by the Christians, who had attained to great distinction. Thus it occurred, says the author of the Introduction, that Diocletian first issued decrees commanding that all the churches or meeting places of the Christians should be demolished, and the Holy Scriptures burned. Then another decree followed, to the effect, that the leaders, that is, the teachers and ministers of the churches, should be compelled to sacrifice to the gods, or be put to death. Then the tormenting and putting to death was extended also over the common people of the Christians.* Some were torn with sharp irons, others lacerated with hooks, some burned with red-hot plates; some were compelled to sacrifice, and even though they did not sacrifice, it was nevertheless proclaimed that they had sacrificed, " Introduction, fol. 42, col. 1, 2, from Baronius, in Chron., A. D. 302, num. 1.
He writes, "In A. D. 302, in the 19th year of his reign, the Emperor Diocletian instituted a great and unmerciful persecution against the Christians, which is called the Tenth Persecution. Of this persecution, Salpitius Severus, speaks thus: 'About fifty years after Valerian, under the reign of Diocletian and Maximian, there arose the most bitter persecution, which for ten consecutive years ravaged God's people. At this time the whole world was stained with the holy blood of the martyrs; for men hastened emulously to these glorious and famous contests, that is, to martyrdom, for the name of the Lord; and to obtain, through a worthy and honorable death, the honor which belongs to a martyr was then sought with more eagerness, than at the present time, through a false ambition,
men seek after a bishopric. Never was the world so greatly depopulated as through this persecution, and never were greater triumphs gained by us, than when by these ten years of slaughter we could not be conquered.'" Salpit. Sever. Hist. Sacr., "In this persecution, Diocletian also employed his associate, Maximian Herculeus, a man hard, cruel, faithless, and licentious by nature, who in all things obeyed Diocletian's behests. In this persecution Diocletian raged against those in the East, and Maximian against those in the West."
The same author then mentions different causes for this persecution, one of which he describes in the following manner, "The Emperor Diocletian, determined to restore the Roman Empire to its ancient flourishing condition, and being desirous therefore, to re-establish all the customs which seemed to be trampled upon, endeavored also to prevent and abolish the difference which he found to exist in the matter of worship, seeking first of all to exterminate the Christian religion as one which cursed and rejected all idolatry. There were very many philosophers and sophists who instigated the Emperor to this, and confirmed him in his purpose. By violent and satiric writings they incited the Emperor and all the princes and judges, ridiculed the Christian religion and charged it with being an innovation, falsehood, and wicked superstition. On the other hand, they extolled the heathen religion as the most ancient, together with the worship of the gods, who as they said, ruled the world by their power and majesty., "Among these instigators, besides Apollinius, were Porphyry, a philosopher, who from a Jew had become a Christian, and from a Christian an apostate; and Hierocles, a man of great popularity. Against Porphyry wrote, Methodius, bishop of Tyre, Eusebius, and Apollinaris; and against Hierocles wrote this same Eusebius. Lactantius wrote against both, and all others of the same stamp.
Touching the torments, he writes among other things the following, "It would take too long to recount in writing, all the different manners in which, through the instigation of the devil, the Christians were put to death at this particular time. Beating, scourging, and lacerating the skin with all manner of sharp instruments, were simply preparatories for severer torments that brought on death. Over some, molten lead was poured; some were roasted before glowing coals, with longcontinued torments (as we have shown in another place); others had the fingers of both hands pierced with sharp awls and needles, which were inserted between the flesh and the nails; of others we read that after having been beaten on the bare body for a long time with thin rods and leaden plates, they were cast as food before bears, lions, leopards, and other beasts." A little further on he says, "Some were suffocated with smoke of a slow fire of moistened combustibles; others, whose noses, ears, and hands had been cut off, were suf fered to roam in misery about the country, as a terror to other, unknown Christians."
As touching the places where these cruelities were inflicted upon the defenseless and innocent Christians, the afore-mentioned author writes, "This persecution extended over the whole world -Asia, Africa, Europe, and all the islands, especially Cecilia, Lesbos, and Sonnus."
Then, after having related the destruction of several cities, he says, "Many other cities had to taste in their whole body the bitter cup of this persecution; especially, Thebes and Antino, in Egypt; Nicopolis, in Thracia; Aquileia, in Italy, where all the Christian believers were slain; Florence, Bergamo, Verona, Naples, Beneventum, and Venusia; in Gallia, Marseilles and Treves, where Rictionarus proceeded with such violence and cruelty, in this matter, that the blood which was shed, colored many rivers; in Germany, the city of Augusta, and even Spain, Britannia, Rhetia, and other provinces were not exempt." loh. Gys. Hist., fol. 22, col. 2-4, and fol. 23, col. 1, 2, from Euseb., lib. 7. Oros., lib. 7, cap. 26, 27. Nic., lib. 7. Idem, lib. 7. Multis. cap. Vinc., in SQeculo, lib. 12. Sabell. Ennead, lib. 7 and 8.
Before we proceed to give a special account of the martyrs who were put to death in this persecution, we deem it necessary to call the attention of the reader to the following points: 1. That after A. D. 300, that is, in the beginning of this century, many errors began to arise among some of those who were called Christians, especially among those who belonged under the Roman dominion. Yea, they went so far as to resort to carnal weapons (which, however, had already previously been done by some); through which the defenseless and meek lambs of Christ suffered not a little distress, fear, and sorrow.
2. That, besides the martyrs of the true faith, some of the aforesaid class suffered themselves to be killed for their opinions; whereby the death and the glorious martyrdom of the true Christian believers were not a little obscured.
3. That, in order to distinguish these from the former, we have exerted our utmost diligence, so that as far as we know, there are not found among the martyrs of whom we have given, or may yet give, an account, any who can be shown to have been guilty of gross errors, much less of the shedding of blood. At least we have not been able to detect it in any of them, and hence in accordance with the spirit of love, we must judge and believe the best of them.
As this persecution under Diocletian and Maximian was not only very severe, but also of long duration, we have deemed it well to present its years separately in consecutive order, and to show what the pious martyrs suffered in each year, steadfastly confessing with their blood the truth of God.
The sword of Diocletian had now been drawn from its sheath, and there remained nothing but the shedding of blood, and murdering and burning in manifold ways, all directed against the innocent and defenseless lambs.of Christ; of which we shall directly give some examples.
Among the first martyrs of the Tenth Persecution is counted Anthimus, who was bishop of the church of Christ at Nicomedia. It is stated .that he was beheaded in that city for the testimony of Jesus Christ; as also a great number of that church, all of whom obtained with him, in great steadfastness, 1st book, fol. 100, col. 1. Acta per Metaphr., 27 the crown of martyrdom. See Abr. Mell. Hist., April. Niceph. Hist., lib. 7, cap. 6. Also, Acta super Euphrasiam. P. J. Tzvisck, for the year 204, in Chr., lib. 4.
He writes, "At this time there was also beheaded, after a glorious confession, Anthimus, bishop of Nicomedia, together with a great number of the faithful. Nicephorus writes that he was first most cruelly beaten; that they then bored his heels through with burning pins, threw him on potsherds, put red-hot slippers on his feet, tore the skin and flesh from his body, burned him with torches, stoned him, and finally beheaded him." The same way trod Tyrannion, bishop of the church of Tyre, Zenobius of Sidon, Sylvanus of Gaza, and Pamphilius, concerning whom Eusebius wrote a special book." Joh. Gys., fol. 23, col. 3, from Euseb., lib. 8, cap. 6. Cyprian., lib. 7, cap. 6.
It is related that after the death of the aforementioned martyrs, Phileas, Bishop of the Church of Thumis, in Egypt, was sentenced to death, and beheaded, by virtue of the edict of the Emperor, on account of his faith in Jesus Christ, and because he would not give honor to the gods, nor sacrifice to them. Jerome has written of him that after he became bishop, he wrote a very excellent book in praise of the martyrs. In Catalogo.
The author of the Introduction, has left on record these words concerning him, "Phileas, Bishop at Thumis, who was entreated by the judge to have regard for his wife and children, remaining steadfast, nevertheless, was beheaded." Introduction, fol. 43, col. 1, compared with Mellinus, 1st book, fol. 101, from Euseb.
Note.-The first part of the letter of bishop Phileas is translated thus by Eusebius in his"Church History, 8th book, 10th chapter."
Phileas writes, "The holy martyrs who fought with us, have left us good examples. Being taught out of the divine Scriptures; they fixed the eyes of their hearts on God, and voluntarily, without the least fear, apprehended death for the sake of the truth. For they constantly bore in mind that our Lord Jesus Christ became man for our sakes; and that He has taught us, to fight against sin even unto death. For, being equal with God, He thought it not robbery, but made Himself of no 'reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant. And being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself unto death, even the death of the cross. The holy martyrs followed His example, enduring all pain and torment, that they might not stain the conscience of their faith; for the perfect love which was in them cast out all fear. It is impossible for me to describe the power, patience, and steadfastness of the martyrs, yea, it is scarcely credible except for those who have seen it with their own eyes; for they were exposed, and every one was at liberty to inflict upon them whatever contumely or torment he pleased, and if any invented a new mode of torture, he was permitted to torment them with it himself."
Thus far tusebius' translation; what now follows, is thus related by Mellinus, from the above letter of Phileas., "As every heathen had been given full power over the Christians, to inflict upon them all manner of vexation, mockery, and ignominy, yea, to put them to death in every way; they beat some with sticks, others with rods, scourges, whips, thongs, ropes, or whatever they could the most readily lay hold of; which spectacle was changed now and then by new kinds of torture and beating which the Christians had to undergo. Some of them had their hands tied behind their backs, and were suspended from a gibbet, and then all their members were stretched apart by executioner's instruments. They were then, through the command of the magistrate, scourged with iron rods on the whole body, not only on their sides, as was customary to do with murderers, but even on the belly, the shins,
buttocks, and some on all the most sensitive parts of the body. Others were suspended by one hand to the ceiling of a gallery, and thus stretched limb from limb, which exceeds every other torture. Others were tied back to back to pillars or columns, but so that their feet did not touch the ground; and the more the executioners or their assistants tightened the ropes, the more were the martyrs tormented by the weight of their own bodies. And this cruel torment lasted not only while the President was engaged in examining them, but he often let them hang a whole day in this torment. While the President or criminal judge would go from one to the other to examine them on the rack, he had his servants closely observe the first ones, to see whether any of them, overcome by the intensity of the torments, were ready to yield. He also commanded his executioners that they should tighten the ropes on them the longer the more. But if they should see that the martyrs were almost ready to die, then they should take them down, and drag them over the ground, over stones, shells, potsherds, and caltrops. For they had no other consideration for the Christians, than how they might subject them, if it were possible, to a thousand deaths-just as though they were not human beings., "Over and above all the tortures mentioned, the enemies of Christ invented still another mode of torment for his anointed, or holy martyrs; for after they had tormented them, they placed some with their feet in the block, and violently stretched apart their legs, as far as they possibly could, even to the fourth hole, and there fastened them, so that the bodies of the martyrs must of necessity lie backwards over the block, yea, that they, on account of their many wounds, could neither move nor stir. Others, who had been taken down from the racks or torture-stakes, were thrown half dead upon the bare ground, which was far more horrible to behold than when they were still being tormented. Of these some died under the executioner's hands, while they were being tormented; others, in whom life was not yet extinct, were thrown half dead back into prison, and in a few days perished of pain; others, again, who triumphed over their long imprisonment, were healed and restored. These became much stronger in the faith than they had been before, and when it was left to the free choice of each of them, either to touch the shameful heathen sacrifices, and thereby be delivered from all trouble, yea, from death itself, and be invested with the former freedom; or to refuse to sacrifice, and receive sentence of death, they without the least deliberation chose the latter, and boldly went unto death, knowing full well, that it is written in the Word of God: 'He that sacrificeth unto strange gods shall be cut off from the people.' Again 'Thou shalt have no other gods before me."'
Thus far the words of the martyr Phileas, which he wrote in a letter to the brethren of the church of Thumis, of which he was pastor, while he was still in prison, and before he had received his sentence of death; by which letter he wished to inform his church of his condition in prison, as well as to admonish them in the true godliness in Christ, and that they should steadfastly continue therein after his death, which was soon to follow. Compare Eusebius, concerning the death of Phileas, with A. Mellinus, 1st book, fol. 101, col. 2, 3.
It is stated that in this persecution Cassian, Bishop of the church at Brescia, in Italy, being compelled to flee on account of the violent persecution, settled in the city of Forum Cornelii (at present called Imola), where he established a school for children. However, the persecution, which also there broke forth, did not spare him; for shortly afterwards he was denounced as a Christian, and apprehended. When the judges asked him what profession or trade he had, he replied that he was a schoolteacher, and taught children to read and write. He was also examined concerning his faith, and as he would not abandon it, or sacrifice to the gods, the judges sentenced him to a very unusual death, for this was his sentence, "Let the scourger, that is, the schoolteacher, be pricked, cut, and stabbed to death by his own scholars, with styles, awls, pens, penknives, and other sharp instruments such as children make use of in school."
Thereupon Cassian was stripped naked; his hands were tied behind his back, and he was thus delivered unto his scholars, to be maltreated by them in the aforesaid manner. Some of these then stoned him, some beat him with school-boards and wax-tablets, others stabbed him with styles, pens, penknives, and other sharp school utensils, till, after unspeakable torments, death ensued, and he having commended his soul unto God was thus released from this vale of sorrows. Compare A. Mell., lst book, fol. 104, col. 3, 4, with J. Gys., fol. 24, col. 1, ex Prudent., in Hymno; Steph. Hym., 9. Petr. de Nat., lib. 7.
At this time there was a Christian maiden, called Eulalia, not more than twelve or thirteen years old, who was filled with such a desire and ardor of the spirit, to die for the name of Christ, that her parents had to take her out of the city of Merida, to some distant country seat, and closely confine her there. But this place could not extinguish the fire of her spirit, or long confine her body; for, having escaped on a certain night, she
went very early the following day before the tribunal, and with a loud voice said to the judge and the whole magistracy, "Are you not ashamed to cast your own souls and those of others at once into eternal perdition by denying the only true God, the Father of us all, and the Creator of all things? O ye wretched men! do you seek the Christians, that you may put them to death? Behold, here am I, an adversary of your satanical sacrifices. I confess with heart and mouth God alone; but Isis, Apollo, and Venus are vain idols."
The judge before whose tribunal Eulalia spoke thus boldly, was filled with rage, and called the executioner, commanding him to take her away speedily, strip her, and inflict various punishments on her; so that she, said he, may feel the gods of our fathers, through the punishment, and may learn that it will be hard for her, to despise the command of our Prince (that is, of Maximian).
But before he allowed matters to proceed so far, he addressed her with these soft words-, "How gladly would I spare thee! O that thou mightest renounce before thy death thy perverse views of the Christian religion? Reflect once, what great joy awaits thee, which thou mayest expect in the honorable state of matrimony. Behold, all thy friends weep for thee, and thy sorrow-striken, well-born kindred sigh aver thee, that thou art to die in the tender bloom of thy young life. See, the servants stand ready to torture thee to death with all sorts of torments; for thou shaft either be beheaded with the sword, or torn by the wild beasts, or singed with torches, which will cause thee to howl and wail, because thou wilt not be able to endure the pain; or, lastly be burned with fire. Thou canst escape all these tortures with little trouble, if thou wilt only take a few grains of salt and incense on the tips of thy fingers, and sacrifice it. Daughter, consent to this, and thou shaft thereby escape all these severe punishments."
This faithful martyr did not think it worth the trouble to reply either to the entreating or the threatening words of the judge, but, to say it briefly, pushed far away from her and upset* the images, the altar, censor, sacrificial book, etc.
Instantly two executioners came forward, who tore her tender limbs, and with cutting hooks or claws cut open her sides to the very ribs.
Eulalia, counting and recounting the gashes on her body, said, "Behold, Lord Jesus Christ! Thy name is being written on my body; what great delight it affords me to read these letters, because they are signs of Thy victory! Behold, my purple blood confesses Thy holy name."
This she spoke with an undaunted and happy countenance, evincing not the least sign of distress, though the blood flowed like a fountain from her body. After she had been pierced through to her ribs with pincers, they applied burning lamps and torches to the wounds in her sides, and to her abdomen. Finally the hair of her head was ignited by flames, and taking it in her mouth, she was suffocated by it. This was the end of this heroine; young in years, but old in Christ, who loved the doctrine of her Saviour more than her own life. A. Mell., 1st book, fol. 105, col. 4, and fol. 106, col. 1, 2, compared with 1. Gys., fol. 23, col. 3, ex Prudent. Steph. Hym. 3.
This happened in Lusitania, at Emerita, now called Merida or Medina del Rio Sacco, in the uttermost or lowest part of Spain, under the Emperor Maximian and the Proconsul Dacian, as may clearly be seen in ancient writers, and also in the afore-mentioned authors.
After the death of Eulalia an account is given (from Prudentius) of another Christian maiden, called Eucratis, who by her steadfastness in suffering, and the violence with which she took the kingdom of heaven, put to shame the spirit of this world, at Caesar Augusta. The ancients tell us in what manner this heroine of Jesus Christ was martyred, namely, that she was not only tormented on her sides with rods and other iron instruments, but that her breasts were cut off, so that her liver could be seen; hence, having been put back into prison, she very miserably died (yet with a glad hope), in consequence of the putrefaction of: the wounds, which she had received for the name of Jesus Christ. See Mell. as cited above, from Steph. Hym. 4. Flos. Sanct. His(. Mart. Rom., 16 April.