P. J. Twisck, in his Chronicle, gives as the beginning of the fourth persecution, the year A. D. 162; the writers of the Introduction to the Martyrs' Mirror of the Defenseless Christian, fix the beginning in the year 164 (page 37, col. 2); J. Gysius, in Hist. Mart., fol. 16, col. 2, places it in the year 168, and A. Mellinus makes no mention at all as to the exact time of that persecution. However, all these writers abound with accounts of the inhuman tortures, which the faithful martyrs had to suffer at that time.*
We, in order to pursue a middle course between the abovementioned writers, have noted the year 166 as the beginning of said persecution. However, there is but little difference between the above writers; for it is probable, that the decrees for the persecution of the Christians were first issued about the year 162; that about the year 164 they were carried into effect; and that about the year 168 they exhibited their full force, insomuch that the persecution was then at the height of its fierceness. However, we shall proceed to see, how atrociously the pious witnesses of Jesus Christ were then treated.
Everywhere, in all the cities, writes P. J. Twisck, the imperial edicts and decrees against the Christians were posted up; by reason of which the magistrates and officers proceeded very cruelly against them, persecuting them even unto death, with great atrocity and fury. For, no mode of torture, punishment, or death, however great, severe, and unmerciful, could be devised, produced, or planned, by these wicked men, these tyrants, and instruments of the devil, but what it was thought, that the Christians, as accursed, as enemies of the Kingdom, and as the cause of all misfortune, deserved a thousand times more. To be publicly mocked, eternally imprisoned, exiled, scourged, stoned, strangled, hanged, beheaded, and burned, was deemed far too little.
They began, at this time, to ply the poor people with red hot plates until they were dead; to tear the flesh from their bones with red hot tongues; to place them upon iron stools over a slow fire; to
All this was accompanied with still another cruelty. The bodies of the slain were thrown before the dogs, and guards placed beside them, to prevent the Christians from taking away and burying these bodies. In short, the misery was so great, that at Lyons alone Bishop Irenus with nineteen thousand of his sheep were cruelly butchered. Thus far P. J. Twisck, in his Chronicle, 2d book, for the year 162, page 43, col. 2, from Chron. Mich. Sac. fol. 103. Chron. Sebast. Fra. Also, T yd. Thresor P. Mernla.
Justinus was called a son of Priscus Bacchus, and was born of Greek parents, at Neapolis in Palestine.
In its proper place we have spoken of the views of Justinus concerning baptism on faith, and have shown that he was sound and correct in them. Now, however, it is proper for us to speak of his spiritual birth, of his heavenly fatherland, and how conclusively he showed that he was a child of God, and a citizen of the heavenly city, filled with all good things; which appeared not only in the beginning and progress of his faith, but especially in the end, when he testified to its power with his death, and sealed it with his blood.
In the daps of his youth he was instructed in the Platonic philosophy, in which he acquitted himself so meritoriously, that he received the name Philosopher, yea, he had been led to believe, that his learning would soon enable him to see God, which was the ultimate object of the Platonic philosophy. But it happened one day, as he was going toward the sea, in order to meditate in solitude upon what he had learned, that (as he himself has confessed) there followed him a very grave and gentle old man, who, having entered in a discourse with him, respecting the Platonic philosophy, taught him, in what true philosophy and happiness consisted, namely in the saving knowledge of the only, eternal, and alone immortal God.
Now, when Justinus inquired for the teachers from whom he might learn this divine philosophy, the old man referred him to the writings of the prophets, who did not write according to the argumentation of human reason, but, as certain and infallible witnesses, left behind what they had seen and heard of the words of truth, and the wonderful signs and works of God among His people; and that all their prophecies concerning the promised Messiah and Son of God, were fulfilled in the advent of Jesus Christ, who was born in the reign of Emperor Augustus. He therefore admonished him, to pray to God, that He would enlighten his
heart to this saving doctrine, through Jesus Christ, without whom it would not be possible for him to attain to this saving knowledge., "This and many more such discourses [writes Justinus] this old man had with me, showing me also, how I should further increase, and how I might obtain the things necessary to salvation. Then he went away, and I saw him no more. Immediately a burning desire was kindled in my heart, and a love for the Scriptures of the prophets and those men who had been dear friends of Christ, namely the apostles. Then only I became a true philosopher."
As to how and by whom, beside the instruction of the .aforesaid old man, he was first instructed and baptized, or from what cause he left his native land, and came from Syria, Palestine, or Samaria, to Rome, of this we find no account.
He afterwards had a disputation with Tryphon, a Jew. Of this he himself has written an account, in which may be seen his correct views in regard to different matters of faith, especially to baptism. Of this we have spoken in another place.
But finally, having entered into a controversy with Crescens, a Cynic philosopher, and having vanquished and confounded him, by the power of divine arguments, his uncertain life began to draw to a close, and his certain death to approach. For, by reason of this, this Cynic (that is, canine) philosopher, conceived such a deadly hatred for Justinus, that he swore to avenge it with his death; and from that time on did not cease to lay snares for him, and accuse him as a Christian, until he had quenched his thirst for blood with the blood of Justinus. This, Tatianus, the disciple of Justinus, gives to understand in his oration against the Greeks, in language not at all obscure, namely, that the above mentioned Crescens did not only seek the life of Justinus, but also that of himself. Moreover, Photius states that he tasted a joyful and worthy death, by the hands of Crescens Cynicus, the person whom we have just mentioned.
Touching the manner of his death: When Justinus had been apprehended, on the accusation of Crescens, and boldly refused to abandon his faith, or sacrifice to the gods, he was sentenced to death by Rusticus, the President, and, after having been scourged, he was beheaded with the ax, about A. D. 168, in the time of the reign of the Emperors Marcus Aurelius and Lucius Virus, and of the President Rusticus, as is annotated from Epiphanius. Cor, pare Abr. Mell. 1st book of the Hist. der, fol. 37, c. 1. 1-4, and fol. 38, col. 1-4, from Just. Apol. 2, pro. Christi., concerning his descent and name; Dialog. cum Tryphone Jod. Photius in Biblioth, and Jos. Scal. animad. Chron. Euseb., concerning his life and conversion; Iren., lib. 1, in Bibliotheca de Vita Justini Chron. Eus. A. D. 154, touching his end and death; Epiph. Hares. 26 and 46 touching the t' ne when this occurred. Also J. Gysii in Hist. M rt., fol. 16, col. 3, 4. Also, P. J. Twisck, Chron. 2d book, for the year 154, page 42, col. 2, from Johan. Barl., fol. 7. Grond. bew, letter A.
We read in the Revelation of John, that the Lord commanded His servant John, that he should write a few things to the angel (that is, the bishop or teacher) of the church at Smyrna, for the admonition of the teacher as well as for the service of the church, saying, "Unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write: These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive; I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty
. Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death and I will give thee a crown of life" (Rev. 2:8-10). These words of the Lord Jesus indicate that the believers at Smyrna, and their teacher, were in tribulation and poverty, and that still more suffering was appoaching them; whereupon he exhorted them to constancy, and promised to give them the crown of life.
As regards the teacher of this church, most of the ancient writers call him Polycarp, and say, that he was a disciple of the apostle John, inasmuch as he had heard John preach the Word of God, and had associated with those who had known the Lord Jesus Christ personally, and had had intercourse with him; and that John had appointed him bishop or overseer of the church at Smyrna.
Touching the sufferings which the Lord said would befall him and the church of which he was teacher, this began some time afterwards; in such manner that this good shepherd preceded, and many of the sheep of his flock faithfully followed him. However, we intend to speak here only of the shepherd, Polycarp.
It is stated, that three days before he was apprehended and sentenced to death, he was suddenly overcome by sleep, in the midst of his prayer, and while dreaming, had a vision, in which he saw the pillow on which he lay with his head, suddenly taking fire and was consumed. Instantly awakened thereby, he concluded that he was to be burnt for the name of Christ.
When those who sought to apprehend him, had approached very close, his friends endeavored to conceal him, and, therefore, brought him to another country-seat, where he was nevertheless shortly afterwards discovered by his persecutors. For they had seized two lads, whom they, by scourging them, compelled to say where Polycarp was; and although, from the chamber in which he was, he might easily have made his escape into another house near by, he would not do it, but said"The will of the Lord be done." He therefore de-
scended the stairs, to meet his persecutors, whom he received so kindly, that those who had not known him before, regretfully said,"What need had we to make so great haste, to apprehend such an old man."
Polycarp immediately had a table spread for his captors, .and affectionately urged them to eat; begging of them to allow him an hour's time in which to pray undisturbedly in quiet, while they were eat-
ing; which they granted him. When he had finished his prayer, and the hour was up, in which he had reflected upon his life, and commended the church of which he was teacher, unto God and his Saviour, the bailiffs placed him upon an ass, and led him to the city, on the Sabbath of the great feast.
Nicetes and his son Herod, called the prince of peace, rode out to meet him, took him from the ass, and made him sit with them in their carriage, seeking in this manner to induce him to apostatize from Christ, saying, "What matters it for you to say, Lord Emperor, and to offer sacrifice or incense before him, to save your life." At first, Polycarp made no reply at all, but when they persisted in asking him, and demanded an answer, he finally said, "I shall never do what you request and counsel me to do." When they saw that he was immovable in his faith, they commenced to revile him, and, at the same time, thrust him out of the carriage, so that in falling he severely injured his leg. He never showed, however, that he had been inured by the fall, but, as soon as he had risen, willingly surrendered himself again into the hands of the bailiffs, to be led further to the place of execution, walking as rapidly as though nothing hindered him.
As soon as Polycarp had entered the circus or amphitheatre, where he was to be executed, a voice came to him from heaven, saying,"Be strong, O Polycarp! and valiant in thy confession, and in the suffering which awaits thee." No person saw the one from whom this voice proceeded, but many of the Christians that stood around heard it; however, on account of the great commotion, the greater part of the people could not hear it. It nevertheless tended to strengthen Polycarp and those who had heard it.
The Stadtholder admonished him to have .compassion for his great age, and, by swearing by the Emperor's fortune, to deny Christ. Thereupon Polycarp gave the following candid reply,"I have now served my Lord Christ Jesus eighty-six years, and He has never done me any harm. How can I deny my King, who hath hitherto preserved me from all evil, and so faithfully redeemed me?"
Thereupon the Stadtholder threatened to have him torn by wild beasts, if he would not desist from his purpose, saying, "I have the beasts ready, before whom I shall cast thee, unless thou become converted betimes." Polycarp answered unterrified, "Let them come, for my purpose is un changeable. We cannot be converted or perverted from good to evil by affliction; but it would be better, if they (the evildoers) who persist in their wickedness would become converted to that which is good." The Stadtholder replied, "If thou art not yet sorry, and despisest the wild beasts, I shall have thee burned with fire." Once more Polycarp answered, saying, "Thou threatenest me with a fire, which will perhaps burn for an hour, and then soon go out; but thou knowest -not the fire of the future judgment of God, which is prepared and reserved for the everlasting punishment and torment of the ungodly. But why delayest thou? Bring on the beasts, or the fire, or whatever thou mayest choose: thou shalt not, by either of them, move me to deny Christ, my Lord and Saviour."
Finally, when the people demanded his death, he was delivered by the Stadtholder to be burned. Instantly there was brought together a great heap of wood, fagots, and shavings. When Polycarp saw this, he undressed himself, and took off his shoes, in order to be laid on the wood without any clothes. This being done, the executioners were about to lay their hands on him, to nail him on the wood; but he said, "Let it be so; He that hath given me strength to endure the pain of the fire, will also strengthen me to remain still in the fire, though you nail me not to the firewood. They, accordingly, did not fasten him with nails, but simply with a rope, tied his hands behind his back. Thus, prepared for a burnt offering, and placed upon the wood like a sacrificial lamb, he prayed to God, saying,"O Father of Thy beloved and blessed Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have received the saving knowledge of Thy holy name; God of angels and powers, and of all creatures, but especially of all the righteous who live in Thy sight, I thank Thee that Thou didst call me to this day and hour, and hast counted me worthy; that I may have my part and place among the number of the holy martyrs, and in the cup of the suffering of Christ, so I suffer with Him, and thus partake of His pains. I pray Thee, O Lord, that Thou wouldst this day receive me, as a fat offer ing among the number of Thy holy martyrs, ever as Thou alone, O God of truth, who canst not lie didst prepare me thereto, and didst make it known unto me, yea, hast now ultimately fulfilled it Therefore I thank and praise Thee, above other men, and honour Thy holy name, through Jesus Christ, Thy well-beloved Son, the eternal Higl Priest, unto whom, with Thee and the Holy Ghost be the glory, now and forever. Amen."
As soon as he had uttered the last word of hi: prayer (the word"Amen"), the executioners ig nited the wood upon which he was placed; an( when the flames circled high above the body o Polycarp, it was found, to the astonishment o everyone that the fire injured him but little, or no at all. The executioner was therefore commander to pierce him with a sword, which was instantly
done, so that the blood, either through the heat of the fire, or from some other reason, issued so copiously from the wound that the fire was almost extinguished thereby; and thus this faithful witness of Jesus Christ, having died both by fire and the sword, entered into the rest of the saints, about A. D. 168. Compare Euseb., 4th book, 15 chap., printed A. D. 1588, page 66-70 with Aby. Mell., 1st book of the Hist., fol. 40, 41, col. 1-4, from Iren., lib. 3, cap. 3. Hares. Hieron. Catal. in Polycarp, Euseb., lib. 4, cap. 13, and lib. 5, cap. 19. Also, loh. Gysii Hist. Mart. for the year 168, fol. 17, col. 2. Also, P. I. Twisck, Chron. 2d book, A. D. 168, page 45, col. 2.
In the letter which the Holy Ghost directed John to write to the angel of the church at Smyrna, which we mentioned'above, it is indicated, that not only the teacher, who is called an angel, namely Polycarp, but also some of the church, would have to suffer for the name of Jesus Christ. We read, "Behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried" (Rev. 2,:10). This was also fulfilled in truth. For it is stated, that not only Polycarp, the leader of the church at Smyrna, but with him also twelve members of the church, who had come from Philadelphia, were put to death for the same reason and in the same manner.
The words of Eusebius concerning these martyrs from Philadelphia, taken from the Smyrna letter, are, according to A. Mellinus, as follows, "These ,are the particulars of the martyrdom of Polycarp, who had come from Philadelphia to Smyrna, together with twelve others, who willingly suffered death in the same manner with him; whose names are not mentioned, that of Polycarp alone being given, because, not only among the Christians, but even among the Jews and the heathen, he was famous far and wide for his extraordinary godliness. These testimonies are finished and sealed with the precious blood of the Christians. At the time of the fourth persecution; under the Emperors Marcus Aurelius and Lucius Virus, about in the seventeenth year of their reign, coinciding with the 168th year of our Saviour."
This is what we have found concerning these twelve pious witnesses of Jesus. Christ, who, as the twelve celestial signs; shone forth in faith as well as in virtue, but especially in steadfastness; wherefore the Lord, who is a rewarder unto His faithful servants, will hereafter crown and reward them' with the unfading crown of glory. See, concerning this, Abr. Mell. 1st book of the Hist., fol. 42, col. 2, from Euseb., lib. 4.
It is recorded that about the same time that the aforementioned Christians were martyred, several other pious persons suffered death for the name of Jesus Christ, and the confession of the Son of God; among whom are mentioned by name, three very eminent persons, namely, Carpus, Papylus, and a woman called Agathonica, together with many other women; who were all crowned with the crown of the holy martyrs at Pergamos, in Asia Minor, for the saving confession of the true faith. Euseb., 4th book, cap. 15, fol. 70, col. 2. A. Mell., 1st book, fol. 42, col. 1, 2.
In P. T. Twisck's Chronicle is found the following account for the year A. D. 170: Germanicus, with other dear friends of God, had to suffer severe persecution and torture for the name of Christ, and was finally, cast before the wild beasts, and thus willingly ended his life." 2d book, van den undergang, page 46, col. 1, from Euseb., lib. 4.
Concerning the cause of his conversion, suffering and death, other authors write thus, "When the bystanders (while the Christians were being miserably put to death) beheld with their eyes, that the flesh of the martyrs of Christ, by many scourgings and stripes, was lacerated and torn loose even to the inmost veins and deepest sinews, so that their entrails and the most secret parts could be seen moving; and that the torturers then strewed potsherds, sea-shells, and even caltrops on the ground, over which they rolled, dragged; and on which they pressed the Christians thus. tormented, with their naked bodies; and that at last, when they, on account of the previous torments, could scarcely live or draw breath any longer, they cast them before the wild beasts, to be devoured by them; I 'say, when the spectators of.these tragedies saw, how inhumanly these people were treated, and, on the other hand, how patiently the suffering Christians endured the tortures, they were greatly amazed, yea terrified., "Among these was the aforementioned Germanicus, who, being strengthened through the grace of God," so powerfully overcame the natural and innate weakness of the mind, which so much dreads the bodily death, that, on account of his singular steadfastness, he could well be considered one of the most eminent martyrs. For, when the Stadtholder sought to persuade him, and to move him, and to move him by soft words, to spare the bloom of his youth, and to have mercy upon himself, he despised his counsel, and, for the sake of the Lord Jesus Christ did not count his youthful life precious."
"After that, it is stated by the ancient writers, how the wild beasts were let out to him, and how greatly he desired to be devoured by them, that he might be delivered from this body of sin and death; so that both Jews and heathen who stood by, were exceedingly astonished at him. Thus this pious witness of the Son of God departed this life with an immovable heart, and became united with Christ, his blood-bridegroom and Saviour." Compare Abr. Mell., 1st book, of the Hist., fol. 39, col. 1, 2, with Joh. Gysii Hist., fol. 16, col. 4, and fol. 17, col. 1, from Euseb., lib. 4.
When the persecution of the Christians on the River Rhone, at Lyons and Vienne, in France, did not cease, but increased the longer the more, so that those who confessed the name of Christ, were forbidden, first their houses, then their bath-rooms, and afterwards all public places, so that they could stay neither in the house, nor in the city, nor without, which was a cause of much suffering to them, it happened, that, some of the brethren of the church of God there, having been apprehended and brought before the President for examination, a certain brother, called Vetius, and surnamed Pagathus, young in years, but old and strong in the faith, went boldly before the judge, and made himself known as a defender of the apprehended Christians, whose cause he undertook to vindicate. The judge, when he had heard his defense, refused it, and asked him, whether he also was a Christian, or believer in Christ, upon which he candidly confessed that he was. Immediately he was enrolled among the Christian martyrs, and was called the Advocate of the Christians.
He was so pious .and virtuous in his life that Eusebius Pamphilius calls him, "Filled with ardent and divine love of the Spirit; yea, testifies, that he had a perfect love to God, and was upright towards all men; and that his life, though he was a youth, was so tried and acceptable, that he excelled many old persons, since he lived justly and unblamably, being ever ready to minister to the servants of God."
It is finally stated that he followed the holy teacher Zacharia, who had shown perfect love towards the holy martyrs, and assisted and supported them; .and also, that, according to the example of Jesus, his Saviour; he laid down his life for his sheep and friends; that is, gave his life for the truth, from love to the church of God, and to be a pattern of constancy to them. Compare Euseb., 5th book, cap. 1, fol. 80, eol. 1, 2, with Abr. Mell., 1st book, fol. 43, col. 1, 2, on the title Vetius. Also, Joh. Gys., fol. 17, col. 3, though he differs with the others in regard to the time.
At the time ,that this awful pressure of conscience continued under the Emperors Marcus Aurelius and Lucius Verus, ceasing not until those who endeavored to live a Christian life according to their faith, had ended their lives under many torments, it came to pass that a certain pious Christian, called Attalus, who had been apprehended for the name of Jesus, his Saviour, was most inhumanly tortured, to the extent even, that he was placed over the fire in an iron chair, and roasted. When he was asked, what name the God of the Christians had, he answered, "Where there are many gods, they are distinguished by names; but where there is but one God, no name is necessary." He was finally brought into the amphitheatre, to be devoured by the wild beasts. But when these, either providentially, or because they were already sated, did not touch him, neither with their claws, nor with their teeth, he, together with other pious martyrs, was stabbed through the throat. Some write that he was then beheaded. Compare loh. Gys., fol. 17, col. 4, and fol., 18, col. 1, with P. J. Twisck, Chron. 2d book, for the year 172, page 46, col. 1, from Hist. Andr. fol. 19. Also, Introduction to, etc., fol. 38, col. 1, taken from Euseb., lib. 5, cap. 2 and 3.
The ancient writers mention also a certain pious man, called Alexander, a physician, and native of Phrygia, who was put to death on the same day and place when and where the abovementioned Attalus laid down his life. Concerning the cause of his imprisonment and death, it is stated, that, when At talus and other Christians were being examined, this Alexander of Phrygia stood near the judgment seat, and considerably strengthened and encouraged, by motions and signs, the Christians who were making their defense and confession before the judge, to the end that they should continue steadfast in the truth once received: When the people that stood around, murmured on this account, he was apprehended, and, being interrogated in regard to his views, he answered, "I am a Christian," and made the same confession that Attalus and the others who had been apprehended and were standing before the tribunal, had made. He was therefore immediately sentenced to the amphitheatre,-there, together with others, to be forthwith torn or devoured by the beasts. Thither he was then taken. but the execution was deferred until the following day. The next day he was brought forth, to fight with the beasts; however, he was first exceedingly tortured with all sorts of
executioner's instruments. In this he bore himself with such fortitude, that he was not once heard to sigh, or to utter the least word of complaint; yea, he was not seen to manifest a single sign of distress or pain; only that he spoke to God in his heart. Finally, instead of fighting with the wild beasts, he was executed with the sword, and thus sealed with his blood the truth of the Son of God, which he had maintained. Compare with the authors who have been adduced above in regard to the death of Attalus, Abr. Mellin., 1st book, f ot. 43, cot. 4, and fol. 44, cot. 1.
It is manifest from the ancient writers, that in and about the time that Attalus was slain, various other martyrs were likewise put to death for the sake of Jesus Christ, almost in the same manner, or, at least, with equally great torments. Some of these martyrs are not mentioned, while others are, namely, Maturus, Sanctus, Blandina, and a youth of fifteen years, from Pontus. Touching the circumstances of their suffering and death, we find that, in substance, it occurred, in the following manner
First, three of the aforementioned persons, namely, Maturus, Sanctus, and Blandina, were exceedingly and dreadfully tormented, especially Blandina, for whom the others stood in great fear, that, not being able to endure the pain, she might be in danger of denying Christ. But she was so steadfast in all her sufferings that the hands of the executioners grew tired before her heart would faint. It is a cause of great astonishment, what Eusebius Pamphilius has written concerning her, namely, that the executioners began early in the morning, and continued tormenting her all day until evening, so that they were much surprised, how it could be possible that life was not yet extinct in her. However, he explains this by saying that as often ,as she repeated her confession, crying, "I am a Christian," her heart was stengthened, so that shef was again enabled to endure the pain.
Sanctus, who was a deacon, or one who ministered to the poor, was tormented with red-hot plates of copper, which were applied to his belly. Being questioned, in the meantime, in regard to his name, parentage, and native country, he named neither of these, but simply said, "I am a Christian; that is my name, my parentage, and my country; indeed, I am altogether nothing else than a Christian." This inflamed the tyrants with unspeakable rage against him, and they continued to torment him on his whole body, to such an extent, that it was but one wound. But he remained fearless and undaunted; for the heat of the fire was tempered by the heavenly consolations of Jesus Christ, which he experienced in his soul.
Maturus was treated almost in the same manner, and remained equally steadfast. Having been thus dreadfully tormented, the aforementioned three persons were again cast into prison. Then they were again taken from the prison, and tormented once more; first Blandina, and then Maturus and Sanctus. The mode of torture was, according to Eusebius, by many stripes; but Abr. Mellinus states,"That they were scourged a second or third time, with all kinds of rods, as well as beaten with sticks, cudgels, and three-cornered and barbed splinters; and also, pinched, cut, carved and torn, with all sorts of hooks, cutting-knives, claws, pincers, and iron combs." Finally, when many thousands had collected about the amphitheatre, Maturus and Sanctus were placed, in the same manner as the aforementioned Attalus, on iron chairs, under which a great fire was kindled, so that their flesh, lacerated by many stripes, was forthwith consumed by virtue of the fire; however, when the enemies of the truth saw that their spirit was immovable, they beheaded both of them.
Of Blandina it is stated that she was stretched out cross-wise, and tied to a stake, to be cast as food before the wild beasts; however, she was taken away again, and led into prison. But afterwards, on the last day of the games, she was again brought forth, together with a youth from Pontus (whom we have mentioned above), and who, by the command of the judge, had witnessed the suffering and death of the preceding martyrs, that it might strike terror into his heart. Being placed in the middle of the place of execution, before the judge, they were commanded to swear by the gods, which they refused to do, reproving at the same time, the idolatry of the heathen. At this the heathen were much incensed, and again tormented them greatly, yea, so much so, that the youth, unable to endure it, gave up the ghost. Blandina rejoiced so greatly in the steadfastness of the departed youth, whom she had adopted as her son, as well as in the death of her faithful friends, who had already gone through the conflict, that, being beaten by the tyrants, she leaped for joy. Touching her death, it is stated, that she was roasted upon a gridiron, and afterwards wound in a net, thrown before bulls, which tossed her many a time high up with their horns, and then let her fall down again. She, however, not being dead yet, the judge commanded that her throat be cut, which was done; though others say that she was thrust through with a sword. Thus did this pious martyress, and the other three martyrs of Jesus end their lives, and are now awaiting the blessed reward which the Lord will give on the great day of recompense to all those who have suffered and fought even unto death, for His name's sake. Compare Euseb., lib. 5, cap. 1-3, edit. Dord., 1588, fol. 81-86 with Abr. Mell., 1st book, fol. 43, cot. 2-4, about Blandina and Ponticus; also, fol. 44, cot. 1, 2, about Sanctus and Maturus. Also, Introduction, etc., fol. 38, cot, 1, 2. Also, J. Gys., 1657, fol. 17, cot. 3, 4.
In Eusebius' Church History, as well as in several other ancient writers, mention is made of a certain old man, of more than ninety years, called Photinus, a teacher of the church at Lyons, in France. It is stated of him, that on account of his great age he could not walk, but, having such a burning desire to die for the name of Christ, he, as A. Mellinus has recorded, had himself carried before the judgment seat, in order to be sentenced to death with the other martyrs. When he was brought to the tribunal by the soldiers, the magistracy of the city of Lyons, and the whole multitude of the people followed him, and began to cry out, that he was a Christian, together with much calumniating and abusive language. Eusebius says, that, as this old man stood before the judge at the tribunal, the common people began to cry"This is Christ Himself."
When the judge thereupon asked him, who the God of the Christians was, he answered with remarkable candor, "If thou art worthy of it, thou shalt know." This displeased the judge so greatly, that he commanded that this pious witness of Jesus should be struck in his face with fists. Upon this, he was most unmercifully pushed, kicked, pulled, and knocked by the by-standers, and thrown at with whatever they could get hold of, without regard to the feebleness of his age; yea, they considered those accomplices with him, who did not show enough diligence in assaulting and every way abusing this aged man.
Photinus, having been thus maltreated, yea, nearly beaten to death, so that life seemed almost extinct, was taken from the tribunal back into prison, where, after two days of great misery, having commended his soul into the hands of God, he died, and thus attained to a blessed end. Compare Euseb., 5th book, 2d chapter, fol. 83, col. 1, 2 with Joh. Gys., fol. 17, col. 1, on the name Photinus. Also, A. Mell., 1st book, fol. 46, col. 2, from various other authors. Also, Introduction, fol. 38, col. 1, erroneously called Photimus.
In the letter of the church at Lyons and Vienne, there is mentioned, among various pious martyrs who suffered for the name of Jesus Christ, Alcibiades, of whom it is stated that he held a very retired and austere life, his diet consisting of nothing but salt, bread and water. This manner of life he also wished to continue in prison, but being instructed by the pious man Attalus, that thereby he would leave to his brethren and fellow-martyrs a.seeming reproach for luxuriousness of life, if they would not do likewise, he thenceforth partook also of other food, with thankfulness. However, this did not last long, since he was soon deprived, not only of food, but of life itself; for in the aforementioned letter he is called a martyr, which was generally understood to mean one of those who suffered a violent death for the name of Jesus, the Son of God, and had valiantly passed through the conflict. Compare Euseb., 5th book, cap. 3, with Abr. Mell., 1st book, fol. 49, col. 3, 4.
In the seventeenth year of the Emperor Marcus Aurelius, there were slain, among other pious martyrs at Lyons in France, Epipodius, a citizen of Lyons, and Alexander, a Greek by birth; whose imprisonment, suffering, and death occurred in this wise: When the heathen thought that the Christian name was entirely extirpated at Lyons and Vienne, and that no person who confessed it was remaining, these two, as the remainder of the Christians there, were betrayed, accused, and, three days afterwards, placed before the tribunal of the Governor. There they were interrogated in regard to their name and confession of faith, to which questions they candidly replied. Their answers enraged the judge beyond measure, and he commanded that Epipodius, who was the principal speaker, should be smitten on the cheek, which was done in such a manner that be bled from his nose and mouth. But this made this champion of Christ, though he was still young, only the bolder and firmer, and he said, "I confess that Christ, with the Father and the Holy Ghost, is the only true God; and I deem it right, that I should pour out my soul (that is, my life) for Him who is my Creator and Redeemer; for thus, my life will not be taken from me, but changed into a better one. Besides, it matters but little, how and in what manner this weak body is released and separated from the soul, only so that the soul be returned to God, its Creator."
When Epipodius had, in steadfastness, finished this confession, he was suspended, at the command of the judge, on a stake, on both sides of which the executioners stood, drawing deep gashes with cutting hooks or claws into his sides. In the meantime the raging multitude cried, that he should be stoned to death, or torn limb from limb; for the judge was much too slow in pronouncing his sentence of death. Then the judge had him brought out with great haste, and beheaded, and thus this pious witness of the Son of God attained to a blessed end.
Alexander, the above mentioned Greek, was brought out of prison, two days after the death of his beloved brother Epipodius, and placed be
fore the tribunal, where he defended himself most cheerfully, manifesting, at the same time, his great desire to be counted among the number of his slain brethren and sisters. The judge immediately commanded that Alexander should be stripped, and beaten by three executioners, with sticks, cudgels, etc.; but in all these torments he steadfastly called upon God for help and succor. In short, the sentence of death was pronounced upon him, namely, that he should die on the cross. The executioners then tied him on the cross; but having previously been wounded, by many stripes, to such a degree that his bones or bare ribs were visible, as well as the vital parts of his viscera, namely, the lungs, the liver, the heart, etc., which could be observed moving, he gave up the ghost, before the executioners could inflict further tortures upon him; and thus, in steadfastness he died a blessed death. When this had taken place, he was buried with his friend Epipodius, who had been beheaded, on the 24th of April 179. Abr. Mell., 1st book, fol. 48, col. 1-4. ex act. Proconsular. Homil. Eucherii Episc. Lugd. sub nomine Eus., Emisseni de Blandina and ahis Ado hienn., Mart. 22 April.
Leonides, Plutarchus, and others, who had attained to the Christian faith, were now visited with many torments, and put to death for the name of Christ. P. J. Twisck, Chron. 2d book, for the year 180, pig. 47, col. 1.
This persecution caused an unexpected and terrible pestilence, which devastated countries and inhabitants, especially Italy, so that the Christians were forgotten; for there were villages that had been ravaged to such an extent, that they became entirely depopulated, and lay there waste and without inhabitants. Keyser's Chronijk, van Christi Geboorte tot op Carolus V., printed A. D. 1563, fol. 17, col. 1, for the year of the beginning of this persecution, 164.
Likewise, that besides the preceding martyrs whom we have mentioned by name, there were also put to death, during the preceding persecutions, the two pious men Sagaris and Thraseas, together with other believing Christians, is shown from Eusebius Pamphilius, by A: Mellinus, in the first book o f his history, fol. 42, col. 2.