Persecution of the Christians - Part 1

A Summary from Foxe’s Book of Martyr’s

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We offer this short (388 word) summary of the incidents during this period of Christian persecution by the Roman Emperors which began in 303 A.D.. The actual events are documented on page 18 of the PDF Book on this site. (The link will take you to page one. Just type in the number 18 and you will be there.)


During this period, of 303 A.D. the numbers of Christians was growing rapidly and many of them were increasingly living lives of luxury. Through jealousy and bigoted hatred, the pagans convinced the emperor to begin a campaign to eradicate all Christians and the Christian faith.

On the day the campaign began town officials and assistants entered the Christian church through force and burned all of the sacred books and finally demolished the building. The emperor soon issued an edict commanding all Christian churches and books be burned and all Christians to be outlaws.

Martyrdom was swift to the Christian who not only tore down the posted edict but spoke out on the injustice of the emperor. He was tortured and burned alive for his stance.

One of the officials in the palace quietly ordered it be set on fire so the Christians would be blamed. This would also give an excuse for more severe punishment and penalties the pagans reasoned. Quickly all Christians were then apprehended and put into prison. Their age or sex did not matter, all were treated equally harsh as the martyrdoms began in earnest.

The pagans set many houses on fire and whole Christian families perished in the flames being burned alive. Others were tied together, with stones tied about their necks and were driven into the sea where they were drowned.

These persecutions lasted ten years and untold numbers of Christians were martyred in various ways including racks, scourges, swords, daggers, crosses, poison, and famine. On top of this many inventions were made just for the purpose of making the Christians suffer as painful a death as possible.

Finally tired of the slaughter, many governors convinced the imperial court of the impropriety of such actions. However the pagan hatred of the Christians had not abated and so they did everything possible to make the lives of Christians as miserable as possible. They cut off their ears split their noses, put out their right eyes, and crippled many by dislocating their limbs. Further torture and misery was inflicted with red hot irons that marked them in conspicuous places. tiny cross
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