Sunday, September 22, 2013

Sunday Martyr Moment: Year of Six Emperors

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

The Sixth Persecution, Under Emperor Clodius Puipienus Maximus, A.D. 164-238

Maximus was a despot who ordered all Christians hunted down and killed. So many were killed that at times they buried them fifty and sixty together in large pits.

Among those killed were Pontianus, bishop of Rome, who was exiled to Sardinia for preaching against idolatry and was killed there. His successor, Anteros, was also martyred after only 40 days in office, for offending the government by compiling a history of the martyrs.

A Romans senator Pammachius, and family, and 42 other Christians were beheaded on the same day and their heads displayed on city gates.

A Christian minister, Calepodius, was dragged through the streets of Rome and then thrown into the Tiber River with a millstone around his neck. A refined and beautiful young virgin named Martina was beheaded. Hippolitus, a Christian minister, was tied to wild horses and dragged along the ground until he died.

Maximus died in 238 AD and was this was the year they call "The Year of Six Emperors". Maximus was succeeded by Gordian, who was then succeeded by Philip. During the latter two reigns, the Church was free form persecution for a period of 6-10 years. In AD 249 however, a violent persecution in Alexandria was instigated by a pagan priest without the emperor's knowledge. This was partly by his jealousy concerning the amazing increase of Christianity; for the heathen temples began to be forsaken, and the Christian churches thronged.

During that persecution, an elderly Christian named Metrus was beaten with clubs, pricked with needles and stoned to death for refusing to worship idols. A Christian women, Quinta, was scourged, dragged over flint stones by her feet, and stoned to death. A 70-year-old woman, Appolonia who confessed that she was a Christian, was fastened to a stake to be burned. After the fire was set she begged to be set free, which the mob did, thinking she was going to recant Christ. To their amazement however, she hurled herself back into the flames and died.

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"If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you." (John 15:18-19)

They hate Jesus so much that even a Christian compiling a history of the martyrs incited them to kill the man compiling a history of the martyrs. Keep this in mind.

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