CH101 - The Fourth CenturyThe Church Established, 303 - 400 A.D.
Persecution under Diocletian
Such was the conflict of those Egyptians who contended nobly for religion in Tyre. But we must admire those also who suffered martyrdom in their native land; where thousands of men, women, and children, despising the present life for the sake of the teaching of our Saviour, endured various deaths...numberless other kinds of tortures, terrible even to hear of, were committed to the flames; some were drowned in the sea; some offered their heads bravely to those who cut them off; some died under their tortures, and others perished with hunger. And yet others were crucified; some according to the method commonly employed for malefactors; others yet more cruelly, being nailed to the cross with their heads downward, and being kept alive until they perished on the cross with hunger.
It would be impossible to describe the outrages and tortures which the martyrs in Thebais endured....Others being bound to the branches and trunks of trees perished. For they drew the stoutest branches together with machines, and bound the limbs of the martyrs to them; and then, allowing the branches to assume their natural position, they tore asunder instantly the limbs of those for whom they contrived this.
All these things were done, not for a few days or a short time, but for a long series of years. Sometimes more than ten, at other times above twenty were put to death...and yet again a hundred men with young children and women, were slain in one day, being condemned to various and diverse torments.
We, also being on the spot ourselves, have observed large crowds in one day; some suffering decapitation, others torture by fire; so that the murderous sword was blunted, and becoming weak, was broken, and the very executioners grew weary and relieved each other. HE VIII.8-9
After giving some further descriptions of torture, Eusebius then goes on to say that even some of the Romans were put off by the hideous nature of the torments, and thus
Therefore it was commanded that our eyes should be put out, and that we should be maimed in one of our limbs. For such things were humane in their sight, and the lightest of punishments for us. So that now on account of this kindly treatment accorded us by the impious, it was impossible to tell the incalculable number of those whose right eyes had first been cut out with the sword, and then had been cauterized with fire; or who had been disabled in the left foot by burning the joints, and afterward condemned to the provincial copper mines, not so much for service as for distress and hardship. Besides all these, others encountered other trials, which it is impossible to recount; for their manly endurance surpasses all description.
In these conflicts the noble martyrs of Christ shone illustrious over the entire world...and the evidences of the truly divine and unspeakable power of our Saviour were made manifest through them. To mention each by name would be a long task, if not indeed impossible. HE VIII.12.10-11
This translation of Eusebius can be found on the New Advent web site.
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Diocles and the persecution of Diocletian
Lactantius and persecution of Christians
Christians in the Roman Army - Military
Persecution of the Roman Empire
Constantius and Constantine
Constantine and Christian Faith
Constantine and the Sun God
Arius - Arianism the Trinity
Origenist Controversy and the Trinity
Nicea - A Council or a Treaty
Nicean Council and Homoousias
Council of Nicea and the Trinity
Nicean Creed and the Trinity