Sunday, August 4, 2013

Sunday Martyr Moment: Alexander of Rome, Zenon, Faustines & Jovita

Foxe's Book of Martyrs. According to this summary from Christian Book Summaries,

Writing in the mid-1500s, John Foxe was living in the midst of intense religious persecution at the hands of the dominant Roman Catholic Church. In graphic detail, he offers accounts of Christians being martyred for their belief in Jesus Christ, describing how God gave them extraordinary courage and stamina to endure unthinkable torture.

From the same link, the book's purpose was fourfold:
  • Showcase the courage of true believers who have willingly taken a stand for Jesus Christ throughout the ages, even if it meant death,
  • Demonstrate the grace of God in the lives of those martyred for their faith,
  • Expose the ruthlessness of religious and political leaders as they sought to suppress those with differing beliefs,
  • Celebrate the courage of those who risked their lives to translate the Bible into the common language of the people.
Text from Foxe's Book of Martyrs:

Trajan being succeeded by Adrian, the latter continued this third persecution with as much severity as his predecessor. About this time Alexander, bishop of Rome, with his two deacons, were martyred; as were Quirinus and Hernes, with their families;

Zenon, a Roman nobleman, and about ten thousand other Christians.

In Mount Ararat many were crucified, crowned with thorns, and spears run into their sides, in imitation of Christ's passion. Eustachius, a brave and successful Roman commander, was by the emperor ordered to join in an idolatrous sacrifice to celebrate some of his own victories; but his faith (being a Christian in his heart) was so much greater than his vanity, that he nobly refused it. Enraged at the denial, the ungrateful emperor forgot the service of this skillful commander, and ordered him and his whole family to be martyred.
Today: Deadly attacks force Christians
to flee villages in Nigeria’s Middle Belt (source)

At the martyrdom of Faustines and Jovita, brothers and citizens of Brescia, their torments were so many, and their patience so great, that Calocerius, a pagan, beholding them, was struck with admiration, and exclaimed in a kind of ecstasy, "Great is the God of the Christians!" for which he was apprehended, and suffered a similar fate.

Many other similar cruelties and rigors were exercised against the Christians, until Quadratus, bishop of Athens, made a learned apology in their favor before the emperor, who happened to be there and Aristides, a philosopher of the same city, wrote an elegant epistle, which caused Adrian to relax in his severities, and relent in their favor. Adrian died in 138 AD and was succeeded by Antoninus Pius. Emperor Pius was one of the most amiable monarchs that ever reigned, and stopped all persecutions against the Christians.
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Christian Martyrs in the Colosseum by Konstantin Flavitsky

Faustines and Jovita were patient under persecution, glorifying God. The Gentiles watch us and they notice. The observer Quadratus was struck with the faith of the two brothers under torture, and thus he knew that the brothers were men of God and their faith came from God. How hollow faith in Zeus must have seemed in comparison!

No matter what kind of trial we are under, we should always be kind and patient. Many of our brethren are undergoing persecution in parts of the world. 45 Christians were killed in bombings at churches in Kano city, Nigeria. In Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood is taking their anger out on Christians.

"A Pakistani teen who provoked an international outcry when she was falsely accused of burning Islam’s holy book is finally out of danger and settling into a new life in Canada. But while Rimsha Masih and her family have been granted asylum and were quietly relocated to southern Ontario, life for much of the Christian community they left behind in Islamabad remains bleak."

The Name Of Jesus Has Become A Dirty Word In Politically Correct America
"In the United States today, there are very few words that provoke as much outrage as the name of Jesus.  It is being banned from graduation ceremonies, chaplains all over America are being forbidden from using His name in their prayers, and many school officials all over the nation have become absolutely fanatical about eliminating every trace of Christian expression from their schools. One elementary school in North Carolina even ordered a little six-year-old girl to remove the word “God” from a poem that she had written to honor her grandfathers."

O, Lord, please give strength and supernatural faith to those who are living in such deadly situations. Let the glory of the Lord shine out from them in the face of their persecutors. For those of us in places where we are not hunted to death (yet) such as Canada or the US, let us who are maligned or mocked also show grace to those who spit on the name of Jesus. Give us supernatural kindness so that like Calocerius, a pagan, beholding us, would be struck with admiration, and exclaim, "Great is the God of the Christians!"

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