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Thomas , called Didymus, preached the Gospel in Parthia and India, where exciting the rage of the pagan priests, he was martyred by being thrust through with a spear. Luke was the author of the Gospel under his name.

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  • Stephen in the Bible Was the First Christian Martyr!

He traveled with Paul through various countries and is supposed to have been hanged on an olive tree by idolatrous priests in Greece. Barnabas , of Cyprus, was killed without many known facts in about 73 A. Simon , surnamed Zelotes, preached the Gospel in Mauritania, Africa, and even in Britain, where he was crucified in about 74 A.

John , the "beloved disciple," was the brother of James. From Ephesus he was ordered to Rome, where it is affirmed he was cast into a cauldron of boiling oil. He escaped by miracle, without injury. Domitian afterwards banished him to the Isle of Patmos, where he wrote the Book of Revelation.

List of Christian martyrs - Wikipedia

He was the only apostle who escaped a violent death. Even as its early leaders died horrible deaths, Christianity flourished throughout the Roman Empire. How can this historical record of martyrdom be viewed as anything but dramatic evidence for the absolute truth of the Christian faith — a faith, unlike any other, founded on historical events and eye-witness testimony. Learn More Now! Yes, I want to follow Jesus. I am a follower of Jesus.

I still have questions. What do you think? God , the Father, sent His only Son to satisfy that judgment for those who believe in Him. Jesus , the creator and eternal Son of God, who lived a sinless life, loves us so much that He died for our sins, taking the punishment that we deserve, was buried , and rose from the dead according to the Bible. If you truly believe and trust this in your heart, receiving Jesus alone as your Savior, declaring, " Jesus is Lord ," you will be saved from judgment and spend eternity with God in heaven.

What is your response? Play Audio - Christian Persecution. Read More. Who suffered from early Christian persecution? How did John Huss suffer persecution?

How did John Wycliffe suffer persecution? Is there modern day Christian persecution? How do you avoid persecution in the United States? Consider this first-hand story of religious harassment, as told by a teenager: What is the biblical response to religious persecution? How did William Tyndale suffer persecution? Learn More! Or Philosophically?


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Peter also clearly alludes to the proscription of Christians , as Christians , at the time it was written I, St. Peter, iv, Domitian also, is known to have punished with death Christian members of his own family on the charge of atheism Suetonius, "Domitianus", xv. While it is therefore probable that the formula: "Let there be no Christians " Christiani non sint dates from the second half of the first century, yet the earliest clear enactment on the subject of Christianity is that of Trajan in his famous letter to the younger Pliny, his legate in Bithynia.

Pliny had been sent from Rome by the emperor to restore order in the Province of Bithynia-Pontus. Among the difficulties he encountered in the execution of his commission one of the most serious concerned the Christians. The extraordinarily large number of Christians he found within his jurisdiction greatly surprised him: the contagion of their "Superstition", he reported to Trajan , affected not only the cities but even the villages and country districts of the province Pliny, Ep. One consequence of the general defection from the state religion was of an economic order: so many people had become Christians that purchasers were no longer found for the victims that once in great numbers were offered to the gods.

Complaints were laid before the legate relative to this state of affairs, with the result that some Christians were arrested and brought before Pliny for examination. The suspects were interrogated as to their tenets and those of them who persisted in declining repeated invitations to recant were executed. Some of the prisoners , however, after first affirming that they were Christians , afterwards, when threatened with punishment, qualified their first admission by saying that at one time they had been adherents of the proscribed body but were so no longer.

Others again denied that they were or ever had been Christians. Having never before had to deal with questions concerning Christians Pliny applied to the emperor for instructions on three points regarding which he did not see his way clearly: first, whether the age of the accused should be taken into consideration in meting out punishment; secondly, whether Christians who renounced their belief should be pardoned; and thirdly, whether the mere profession of Christianity should be regarded as a crime, and punishable as such, independent of the fact of the innocence or guilt of the accused of the crimes ordinarily associated with such profession.

To these inquiries Trajan replied in a rescript which was destined to have the force of law throughout the second century in relation to Christianity. After approving what his representative had already done, the emperor directed that in future the rule to be observed in dealing with Christians should be the following: no steps were to be taken by magistrates to ascertain who were or who were not Christians , but at the same time, if any person was denounced, and admitted that he was a Christian , he was to be punished — evidently with death.

Anonymous denunciations were not to be acted upon, and on the other hand, those who repented of being Christians and offered sacrifice to the gods, were to be pardoned. Thus, from the year , the date of this document, perhaps even from the reign of Nero , a Christian was ipso facto an outlaw. That the followers of Christ were known to the highest authorities of the State to be innocent of the numerous crimes and misdemeanors attributed to them by popular calumny , is evident from Pliny's testimony to this effect, as well as from Trajan's order: conquirendi non sunt.

And that the emperor did not regard Christians as a menace to the State is apparent from the general tenor of his instructions. Their only crime was that they were Christians , adherents of an illegal religion. Under this regime of proscription the Church existed from the year to the reign of Septimius Severus The position of the faithful was always one of grave danger, being as they were at the mercy of every malicious person who might, without a moment's warning, cite them before the nearest tribunal.

It is true indeed, that the delator was an unpopular person in the Roman Empire, and, besides, in accusing a Christian he ran the risk of incurring severe punishment if unable to make good his charge against his intended victim. In spite of the danger, however, instances are known, in the persecution era, of Christian victims of delation.

The prescriptions of Trajan on the subject of Christianity were modified by Septimius Severus by the addition of a clause forbidding any person to become a Christian.

Christian Martyrs

The existing law of Trajan against Christians in general was not, indeed, repealed by Severus, though for the moment it was evidently the intention of the emperor that it should remain a dead letter. The object aimed at by the new enactment was, not to disturb those already Christians , but to check the growth of the Church by preventing conversions. Some illustrious convert martyrs, the most famous being Sts. Perpetua and Felicitas, were added to the roll of champions of religious freedom by this prohibition, but it effected nothing of consequence in regard to its primary purpose.

The persecution came to an end in the second year of the reign of Caracalla From this date to the reign of Decius the Christians enjoyed comparative peace with the exception of the short period when Maximinus the Thracian occupied the throne.

20 Christian Women Who Died as Martyrs

The elevation of Decius to the purple began a new era in the relations between Christianity and the Roman State. This emperor, though a native of Illyria , was nevertheless profoundly imbued with the spirit of Roman conservatism. He ascended the throne with the firm intention of restoring the prestige which the empire was fast losing, and he seems to have been convinced that the chief difficulty in the way of effecting his purpose was the existence of Christianity.

The consequence was that in the year he issued an edict, the tenor of which is known only from the documents relating to its enforcement, prescribing that all Christians of the empire should on a certain day offer sacrifice to the gods. This new law was quite a different matter from the existing legislation against Christianity. Proscribed though they were legally, Christians had hitherto enjoyed comparative security under a regime which clearly laid down the principle that they were not to be sought after officially by the civil authorities.

The edict of Decius was exactly the opposite of this: the magistrates were now constituted religious inquisitors, whose duty it was to punish Christians who refused to apostatize. The emperor's aim, in a word, was to annihilate Christianity by compelling every Christian in the empire to renounce his faith. The first effect of the new legislation seemed favourable to the wishes of its author.

During the long interval of peace since the reign of Septimius Severus — nearly forty years — a considerable amount of laxity had crept into the Church's discipline, one consequence of which was, that on the publication of the edict of persecution , multitudes of Christians besieged the magistrates everywhere in their eagerness to comply with its demands. Many other nominal Christians procured by bribery certificates stating that they had complied with the law , while still others apostatized under torture.

Yet after this first throng of weaklings had put themselves outside the pale of Christianity there still remained, in every part of the empire, numerous Christians worthy of their religion, who endured all manner of torture, and death itself, for their convictions. The persecution lasted about eighteen months, and wrought incalculable harm. Before the Church had time to repair the damage thus caused, a new conflict with the State was inaugurated by an edict of Valerian published in Christians were also forbidden, under pain of death, to resort to their cemeteries.

The results of this first edict were of so little moment that the following year, , a new edict appeared requiring the clergy to offer sacrifice under penalty of death. Christian senators, knights , and even the ladies of their families , were also affected by an order to offer sacrifice under penalty of confiscation of their goods and reduction to plebeian rank.

And in the event of these severe measures proving ineffective the law prescribed further punishment: execution for the men, for the women exile. Christian slaves and freedmen of the emperor's household also were punished by confiscation of their possessions and reduction to the lowest ranks of slavery. Cyprian of Carthage. Of its further effects little is known, for want of documents, but it seems safe to surmise that, besides adding many new martyrs to the Church's roll, it must have caused enormous suffering to the Christian nobility.

The persecution came to an end with the capture of Valerian by the Persians ; his successor, Gallienus , revoked the edict and restored to the bishops the cemeteries and meeting places. From this date to the last persecution inaugurated by Diocletian the Church , save for a short period in the reign of Aurelian , remained in the same legal situation as in the second century. The first edict of Diocletian was promulgated at Nicomedia in the year , and was of the following tenor: Christian assemblies were forbidden; churches and sacred books were ordered to be destroyed, and all Christians were commanded to abjure their religion forthwith.

The penalties for failure to comply with these demands were degradation and civil death for the higher classes, reduction to slavery for freemen of the humbler sort, and for slaves incapacity to receive the gift of freedom. Later in the same year a new edict ordered the imprisonment of ecclesiastics of all grades, from bishops to exorcists. A third edict imposed the death-penalty for refusal to abjure , and granted freedom to those who would offer sacrifice; while a fourth enactment, published in , commanded everybody without exception to offer sacrifice publicly.

This was the last and most determined effort of the Roman State to destroy Christianity.

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It gave to the Church countless martyrs, and ended in her triumph in the reign of Constantine. Number of the martyrs Of the years from the first persecution under Nero 64 to the year , when Constantine established lasting peace, it is calculated that the Christians suffered persecution about years and enjoyed a certain degree of toleration about years. Yet it must be borne in mind that even in the years of comparative tranquillity Christians were at all times at the mercy of every person ill-disposed towards them or their religion in the empire.

Whether or not delation of Christians occurred frequently during the era of persecution is not known, but taking into consideration the irrational hatred of the pagan population for Christians , it may safely be surmised that not a few Christians suffered martyrdom through betrayal. An example of the kind related by St.

Justin Martyr shows how swift and terrible were the consequences of delation. A woman who had been converted to Christianity was accused by her husband before a magistrate of being a Christian. Through influence the accused was granted the favour of a brief respite to settle her worldly affairs, after which she was to appear in court and put forward her defence.

In the court, at the time this sentence was pronounced, were two persons who protested against the iniquity of inflicting capital punishment for the mere fact of professing Christianity. The magistrate in reply asked if they also were Christians , and on their answering in the affirmative both were ordered to be executed.