And the many dreadful Persecutions against the Church of CHRIST in all Parts of the World, by


From the earliest ages of the church to the present period.

Including the Life, Sufferings, and Martyrdom of Our Blessed Lord and Saviour JESUS CHRIST;

With the Martyrdom of the APOSTLES, EVANGELISTS, and other PRIMITIVE CHRISTIANS.

Including most Things worthy of Notice in


But likewise the Essence of other Works on that Subject that have appeared since that Publication.







1793 Edition



Including The Ten Great Persecutions under the Roman Emperors.

The Persecutions in Persia, under Sapores: and the Persecutions under the Arian Vandals.

The Martyrdoms of the Roman Missionaries in China: The Persecutions in the East Indies: The Barbarities exercised by the Spaniards in America: And the Cruelties practised on the Christians of Abyssinia and Georgia.

The Persecutions exercised by the Papacy in various Parts of Europe, viz.

The horrid Persecutions under the Papacy; particularly the Martyrdoms of the Waldenses and Albigenses in France; the Persecutions in Germany and Poland; and the Cruelties exercised in Bohemia and Lusatia.  The shocking Barbarities practised by the Inquisitions of Spain, Portugal, &c. and the Martyrdoms in Italy.  The Popish Persecutions of the Protestants during the Massacre of Paris.

Likewise the English Martyrdoms; particularly those in the Times of Henry VIII. and Queen Mary, wherein are represented the Tortures, &c. exercised by the papists against the Protestants in the Reign of that tyrannical King and cruel Queen.

The Persecutions in Holland, Flanders, Scotland &c.

The dreadful Massacre in Ireland when Forty Thousand Persons were cruelly put to Death at one Time.  The late Persecutions in France against the Calas Family, &c.

WITH A SKETCH OF THE MARTYRDOM of the FAITHFUL and VIRTUOUS in the first Ages of the World;

The Persecutions of the MACCABEES by the Greeks; of the HEBREWS by the Egyptians; and of the CHILDREN of ISRAEL by the Philistines, and other barbarous Nations.


Accounts of several singular JUDGMENTS against PERSECUTORS, a great Variety of Original ANECDOTES, and many Curious Observations.



Calculated to promote the PROTESTANT RELIGION, and expel SUPERSTITION.



Digital Versions

Restored, Corrected and Reset


Central Highlands Congregation of God

26th April, 2023

Revised 25 June


Published by

Central Highlands Christian Publications

PO Box 236 Creswick Vic 3363  Australia


Digital Edition Foreword

Though it is 230 years since the edition this work is based on was printed, it remains valuable for God’s children to understand the price that was paid to preserve God’s Word for them, and the price that many who clung to Jesus and the Bible as their true source of understanding paid for their faith.  It is also a unique record of Christian history which has largely been erased from secular sources.  The original Title claimed this was “The New and Complete Book of Martyrs” but as it was clearly not complete, nor could it be, that part of the Title has been removed.  Today the enemies of Christ are often far more subtle, and therefore perhaps even more dangerous.  And Christians are suffering and being martyred in many countries even today.  We too need to hold fast to Christ, and follow His Instructions to the end of our days.  May the examples given in this work strengthen your faith, especially if you find yourself threatened with such viciousness in the coming Great Tribulation.

The s’s that were printed as f’s have been modernised, as have some of the punctuation and spelling, making it easier to read.






The History of Martyrdom, from the Creation to the End of the Ten Great Persecutions under the Roman Emperors.


Of the Persecutions in the first Ages of the World.


The Life of Our Blessed Lord and Saviour JESUS CHRIST; with his Dreadful Sufferings, and Cruel Martyrdom.


Of the Lives, Sufferings, and Martyrdom of the Apostles, Evangelists, &c.


The First Persecutions which began in the Year of Our Lord 67, under the Reign of Nero, Emperor of Rome.


The Second Primitive Persecution, under the Emperor Domitian.


The Third Primitive Persecution under the Roman Emperors.


The Fourth Primitive Persecution under the Roman Emperors, Commenced A.D. 162.


The Fifth General Persecution, under the Roman Emperors.


The Sixth General Persecution, under the Roman Emperors.


The Seventh General Persecution under the Roman Emperors.


The Eighth General Persecution, under the Roman Emperors.


The Ninth General Persecution, under the Roman Emperors.


The Tenth General Persecution under the Roman Emperors, commonly called the Era of the Martyrs.


The Persecutions of the Christians in Persia under Sapores; the Persecutions under the Arian Christians; those under Julian the Apostate, the Goths, Vandals, &c.


The Persecutions Against the Christians in Persia.


The Persecutions under the Arians.


The Persecution under Julian the Apostate.


The Persecutions of the Christians by the Goths, &c.


The Persecutions of the Christians under the Arian Vandals.


A Miscellaneous Account of Martyrs, or the Persecutions of the Church, in various Parts of the World, from the Fifth to the Eleventh Century.


From the Middle of the Fifth, to the Conclusion of the Seventh Century.


Persecutions from the Early Part of the Eighth; to near the Conclusion of the Tenth Century.


Persecutions in the Eleventh Century.


Of the Persecutions in FRANCE


The Persecutions of the Waldenses.


The Persecutions of the Albigenses.


Of the Persecutions in France, Previous to and During the Civil Wars of that Nation.


The Life of that Celebrated Protestant Princess Joan Queen of Navarre, who was Poisoned a Short Time before the Massacre of Paris.


The Life of Gasper de Coligni, Admiral of France, who was Murdered in the Massacre in Paris.


The Massacre of Paris.


The Siege of Sancerre.


The Sieges of Rochelle, &c.


An Account of the Martyrdom of John Calas.


History of the Persecutions in SPAIN and PORTUGAL.


An Account of the Rise, Progress, &c. of the INQUISITION.

First Time of Torturing.

Second Time of Torturing.

Third Time of Torturing.


Instances of the Barbarities exercised by the INQUISITIONS of SPAIN and PORTUGAL, on Various Persons, from the most genuine Histories and Records.



The Life of Dr. ÆGIDIO.

The Life of Dr. CONSTANTINE.




Account of the Life and Sufferings of Mr. WILLIAM LITHGOW, a Native of Scotland.


The Trial and Cruel Sufferings of Mr. ISAAC MARTIN.


Some Private Enormities of the INQUISITION laid open, by a very Singular Occurrence.


Of the Persecutions in ITALY.


Of the First Persecutions Under the Papacy in Italy.


Of the Persecutions in Calabria.


Of the First Persecutions in the Vallies of Piedmont.


Of the Persecutions in Venice.


Of Several Remarkable Individuals, who were Martyred in Different Parts of Italy, on Account of their Religion.


The Persecutions of the Marquisate of Saluces.


The Persecutions in the Valtoline.


Of the Persecutions in the Vallies of Piedmont, in the Seventeenth Century.


Farther Persecutions in the Vallies of Piedmont, in the Seventeenth Century.


Sequel of the Persecutions in the Vallies of Piedmont, in the Seventeenth Century.


A Narrative of the Piedmontese War.


Continuation of the Piedmontese War.


Sequel of the Piedmontese War.


Of the Intercessors to the Duke of Savoy, which Occasioned the Suspension of the Piedmontese War.


Of the Renewal of the Persecutions Against the Protestants of the Vallies of Piedmont, in the Years 1686 and 1687.


Account of the Persecutions of Michael de Molinos, a Native of Spain.


Of the Persecutions in BOHEMIA, GERMANY, &c.


Of the Persecutions in BOHEMIA Under the Papacy.


Continuation of the Persecutions in Bohemia.


Persecutions in Bohemia in the Seventeenth Century, with the Siege of Prague.


Persecutions in Bohemia after the Institution of the High Court of Reformers.


Of the Articles Proposed to the Protestant Congregations in Prague, the Capital of Bohemia, and the Succeeding Persecutions.


Of the General Confiscation of the Protestants Effects in Bohemia, and the Various Subsequent Oppressions.


General Persecutions in Germany.


Continuation of General Persecutions in Germany.


Account of the Lives, Sufferings and Martyrdoms of JOHN HUSS and JEROM of PRAGUE; who were both Burnt to Death at Constance in Germany, for Maintaining the Doctrines of WICKLIFFE, the English Reformist.


History of the Persecutions in the LOW COUNTRIES.


Of the Persecutions in the NETHERLANDS, while they were under the Dominion of the Emperor of Germany.


Continuation of the Persecutions in the Netherlands, while they were under the Dominion of the Emperor of Germany.


Persecutions in the Netherlands, under the Duke of Alva.


The Life of WILLIAM NASSAU, Prince of Orange, a Most Celebrated Champion of, and Martyr to, the Protestant Religion; and the First Founder of the Commonwealth of the United Provinces.


Persecutions in LITHUANIA, POLAND, HUNGARY, &c.


Persecutions in LITHUANIA.


Persecutions in POLAND, Including a History of the Destruction of the City of Leśna.


Narrative of the Delegates from the Inhabitants of the City of Leśna, which was Published in England during the Protectorship of Oliver Cromwell.


The Life of GUSTAVUS ERICSON, king of Sweden, Including an Account of the Reformation of Religion in SWEDEN, and Several Martyrdoms which happened in that Country.


Of the Persecutions in GREAT-BRITAIN and IRELAND.


From the Introduction of Christianity Down to the Norman Conquest.


From the Norman Conquest down to the Reign of Henry IV., including John Wickcliffe and the Lollards.


Of the Persecution in England, from the Accession of Henry IV. to the Reign of Henry VIII.


Containing an Account of those Martyrs who Suffered during the Reign of Henry VIII. including Tindal.


Of the Persecutions in ENGLAND during the Reign of Queen MARY.


Of the First Year of her Reign.


Containing an Account of the Martyrs who Suffered in the Second Year of Queen Mary’s Reign.


Account of the Sufferings of Bishop HOOPER.


Account of the Sufferings and Martyrdom of Dr. ROWLAND TAYLOR.


Containing an Account of various Persons who Suffered Martyrdom for the Truth of the Gospel, in Different Parts of England, from the Persecution of Rowland Taylor, to that of Archbishop Cranmer.


Account of the Life, Sufferings, and Martyrdom of THOMAS CRANMER, the first Protestant Archbishop of Canterbury.


Account of the Persecutions and Martyrdoms of various Persons of both Sexes, who suffered in England for professing the Truth of the Gospel; from the Death of Archbishop Cranmer, to the end of Queen Mary’s Reign.


Containing an Account of an Attempt made by the Spaniards in the Year 1588, to invade England and destroy all the Protestants by their Invincible Armada.


Account of a horrid Conspiracy formed by the papists for destroying James I. the Royal Family, and both Houses of Parliament; known as the Gunpowder Plot.


Containing an Account of a horrid Plot, concerted by the Papists, for destroying the City of London by Fire, in the Reign of King Charles II.


Containing an Account of the Life and Death of Sir Edmundbury Godfrey, assassinated concerning the Popish Plot against King Charles II. Also an Account of the Meal-Tub Plot.


Account of a horrid Conspiracy formed by the papists against the Life of King William III. which is distinguished as the Assassination Plot.


Of the Persecutions against the Protestants in SCOTLAND.


The State of Religion, and Power of the Clergy, in Scotland, previous to the Reformation.


The life of Mr. John Knox, the Scottish Reformer.


Containing an Account of those who suffered Martyrdom in Scotland for professing the Truth of the Gospel, during the Reign of Henry VIII. previous to the Death of George Wischart.


The Life, Sufferings, and Death of Mr. GEORGE WISHART, or WISCHART, who was burnt in Scotland for professing the Truth of the Gospel.


Account of the Persecutions in Scotland after the Death of Mr. George Wishart, with the circumstances that happily produced a Reformation in that Country.


Of the Persecutions in IRELAND.


Containing an Account of the rise of the Protestant Religion in Ireland; with the Circumstances that occurred in consequence thereof.


Of the Persecutions against the Protestants in Ireland distinguished by the Name of The Irish Massacre.


Containing an Account of the Martyrdoms in the Island of GUERNSEY, and the dreadful Persecutions of the Protestants who were condemned to the Gallies, in the Reign of the French King Louis XIV.


Of the Persecutions of the Protestants in the Island of Guernsey.


Account of the Sufferings of the French Protestants, condemned to the Gallies for persevering in their Religion.


Containing an Account of the Persecutions against the Roman catholics in CHINA and JAPAN; the Persecutions in the EAST INDIES; and the Cruelties practised in the Inquisition at GOA.


Of the Roman catholic Church in China, and the various Persecutions in that Country.


Account of the Persecutions in Japan.


Account of the Inquisition at Goa, with the Particulars of the Persecutions and Sufferings of Mr. Johnson.


Containing an Account of the Persecutions against the Christians in ABYSSINIA, or ETHIOPIA.


Containing Accounts of the Persecutions against the Christians in TURKEY, GEORGIA, and MINGRELIA.


Account of the Persecutions of the Turks against the Christians in various Parts.


Of the Persecutions and Oppressions in GEORGIA and MINGRELIA.


Persecutions in the States of BARBARY.


Containing an Account of the SPANISH Cruelties and Persecutions in AMERICA.


Various Conclusions

Examples of the just Judgments of GOD on Persecutors, &c.

A short Display of some of the Errors of the Romish Church, with a few of their dreadful Tenets, Maxims, &c.

Of Reading the Scriptures.

Of Traditions.


Auricular Confession.

Priests Not Allowed to Marry.


Prayers and Services to be said in Latin.

Pardons and Indulgencies.

Adoring Images, &c.

Worshipping Saints, Angels, and Relics.

Infallibility of the Pope

Infant Baptism

Church Hierarchy

Strange and inhuman Maxims held by the Papists.




God’s Name

Young Earth

Eternal Death

Our Triune God

Seventh-Day Sabbath

Jehovah’s Annual Holy Days




THE History of the Sufferings of the Martyrs may be considered, by every candid Person, as a strong presumptive evidence for the truth of the Christian Religion: for, whatever a few enthusiasts might have done to establish a sect, it is highly improbable that so many thousands, of both sexes, of all ranks and professions, rich and poor, learned and simple, should, at such distant times and places, have conspired, as it were, against their own lives, to establish a faith of whose truth they were not fully convinced.

THE greatest enemies to Christianity cannot deny but that there have been hundreds, I might say thousands, among the sufferers for the truth of Christ’s doctrine, who were very competent judges of the degree of evidence offered in support of it, and sufficiently independent to be uninfluenced either by rewards or threats.  Many of them were also sufficiently learned to enquire into the stability of the scripture proofs brought to prove Jesus to be actually the expected Saviour of Mankind, which entirely sets aside the adversary’s plea against some few, that they were ignorant, weak people, who took their faith upon the credit of others.  We know, on the contrary, and shall see proved, in the following History, that men of the strongest sense, and brightest parts, were converts to Christianity; and having once believed from conviction, arising from a fair examination of its internal and external evidence were too honest and impartial to deny what they had openly professed to believe.

EVERY one who is acquainted with the history of St. Paul, must know from his writings that he was a very learned man, and from his whole conduct, both before and after his conversion, that he possessed a truly brave and independent spirit, far above any connivance at the establishment of a sect; so far from it that he confesses, in his speech before Felix, that, as he had always acted from principle as a Jew, so he should now, upon better information, act as impartially in regard to Christianity: and if we follow him through all his dangers and difficulties, we shall see none of the fool-hardiness of the enthusiast, but every mark of the most noble fortitude, invincible resolution, and settled love of truth.

THERE is a wide difference between an intemperate, misguided zeal, which rushes into perils without sufficient reason, and that calm and steady courage which meets danger with temperance, when unavoidable.  Our Saviour himself gave an example of this prudential conduct, by oftentimes retiring from imminent danger: and he gave it as a charge to his first followers, “When they persecute you in one city, flee to another.”  So that those brave men, who sealed the testimony of the Gospel with their blood, if they followed their Blessed Master’s advice, cannot be ranked with the hot-headed zealot who bled for the Mahometan faith.  Besides, it is the cause, in fact, which makes the holy martyr: and whoever will candidly consider the heavenly doctrines of Christianity, in respect to the present life, and the glorious rewards it promises in the future state, will acknowledge that the truth of such tenets, and the prospect of such rewards, are deserving of our attention and pursuit, even at the utmost hazard and peril of our lives.

THOSE who lived nearest the times when Christ established his Religion upon earth, must undoubtedly have had the advantage in point of external evidence, in regard to the miracles, and other remarkable circumstances, related concerning him; and as St. Polycarp actually conversed with St. John, it is no wonder if his conviction amounted almost to demonstration; and his disciples could scarcely be less strongly influenced; so that the courage of the earliest Martyrs may perhaps be accounted for from their seeing, as it were, “The heavens open, and Jesus (their Master) standing at the right hand of God,” to reward their constancy.  But when we read of the patient sufferings of those of latter times, attested by evidences which we cannot dispute, we must certainly believe that they were assisted, at the times of their martyrdom, with the inward presence and support of their Lord.  It was the express promise of Christ, that he would “be with his Disciples unto the end of the world;” and surely at no season could this Divine assistance be more necessary than at such trying moments.

IN the present happy establishment of Christianity, thanks be to God, we have none of those fiery trials to undergo for the cause of our Blessed Master, which afflicted the first Christians; yet still, the truly good and zealous followers of Christ suffer a kind of martyrdom through life, from the enticements of bad example, the scoffs and opposition of unbelievers, and the daily affronts offered to religion by the general conduct of the world.  Those are thorns and briars in that blessed way which was intended to be the path of pleasantness and peace: and never was there.  more occasion for Christians to rouse themselves in defence of their faith and hopes, than in the present age.  To this end, every publication which tends to promote virtue and decry vice, ought to meet with the warmest encouragement, as a proper balance to that load of trash and infidelity which the liberty of the press, and the indulgence of a free country, unfortunately suffers to escape correction.  The Gospel makes no distinction of persons; the meanest man on earth is concerned in the accomplishment of its blessed promises, and is therefore bound in honour and conscience, to receive it with candour, and defend it with a becoming spirit; especially when every half-learned witling is uttering his stale jokes against it, and pretending to discover fallacies in the Christian evidence, which escaped the penetrating eyes of Newton, Locke, Addison, Barrow, &c. and many other celebrated characters equally remarkable for discernment, learning, and piety.

IT is no wonder that the first Christians highly esteemed the memories of those distinguished brethren who nobly stood their ground, and bid defiance to racks and flames, in the defence and profession of the truth.  It was a confirmation of their own hopes, and the strongest encouragement to follow their example.  Upon this account they gave them the name of Martyrs, or Witnesses to the Gospel, and believed (for which, indeed, they have authority from scripture) that they should immediately enter into the presence of Christ, and partake of an instant passport to everlasting blessedness.  To keep up the remembrance of their virtues, they set apart those days, whereon they suffered, to religious exercises and godly meetings of the brethren; and though these innocent memorials were afterwards improperly raised to adoration by the errors of the Roman Catholic Church, yet certainly, in their first institution, they tended to promote an emulation in the breasts of Christians, and a gratitude to their Saviour, for the wonderful strength and assistance afforded to their departed brethren in their sufferings.  This is the use we may still make of the following Publication.  We see what good men can perform through faith and strength in the Lord; and we see their wisdom in preferring a glorious eternity, to a short, chequered, and uncertain life.  We see that it is not impossible even to tender women and children to glorify God by their deaths.  Surely we may in this, our day, glorify him by our good lives; especially as goodness will not now, as formerly, provoke danger, but ensure our happiness.

THE progress of Popery has so greatly encreased that there is an absolute necessity for using every effort to suppress such dangerous and contagious principles, and to exert ourselves, and carry into execution every means that can be concerted for promoting the cause of Protestantism; which endeavours form the design of the following sheets.

FROM the tenets of the Holy Martyrs we may acquire the principles of the Christian religion, from their morals we may learn how to live, from their fortitude, how to suffer, and from their deaths how to die.

READER!  Whosoever thou art, take example, in thy station of life, from the integrity and resolution of these thy departed brethren in Christ; and if thy heart and good sense approve their noble conduct, be ready in whatever sense your Lord requires a sacrifice, to go and do likewise.

I HAVE observed, in the former part of this Address, the necessity of such a Publication as this at the present time; to which may be added, that preceding works on the subject are incomplete for several reasons, but more especially because most of them relate only to particular countries, or particular periods.  Such as are of a general nature are confused in the method, and inelegant in the manner; and none bring down the Martyrology to the present time.

IN this Work I have treated the Persecutions of the glorious Martyrs from the first ages of the world to the present period: their sufferings I have described with accuracy; the narratives I have related with simplicity and candour; a tedious prolixity I have carefully avoided; and I have endeavoured to enforce the power of precept by the beauties of diction.



A.D. 1765





The History of Martyrdom, from the Creation to the End of the Ten Great Persecutions under the Roman Emperors.


Of the Persecutions in the first Ages of the World.


AMONG PRIMITIVE PERSECUTIONS, of an individual nature, we may reckon that of ABEL, who was persecuted and slain by his brother CAIN; the persecution of the righteous NOAH, by the accursed HAM, his son; the persecution of LOT, at SODOM; and that of JOSEPH by his brethren.

In these early ages, the first general persecutions may be deemed that of the children of Israel by Pharaoh.  This tyrant not only afflicted both sexes, of all ages, by means of the most cruel task-masters, but even ordered the new-born male infants of the Hebrew women to be murdered.  He was, however, punished for his persecutions: first, by ten dreadful plagues; and afterwards by being swallowed up in the Red Sea, with all his host.

The children of Israel, after being freed from bondage, were successively persecuted by the Philistines, Ammonites, Egyptians, Ethiopians, Arabians, and Assyrians; and many of the prophets, and chosen of God, were persecuted by several of the kings of Judah and Israel.

The three righteous children were thrown into the fiery furnace by Nebuchadnezzar; Daniel was cast into the lions den by order of Darius; and Mordecai was persecuted by the malicious Haman: but these were all respectively saved by the Almighty, and their persecutors punished for their perfidy.

The Jews were persecuted by the neighbouring idolaters during the time of their building and fortifying Jerusalem, till that great work was finished by the care of Nehemiah: but, after its completion, they were frequently disturbed by the Persians, and the successors of Alexander the Great, though that monarch himself had granted the most unlimited favours.

But a little more than a century and a half before the birth of Christ, Antiochus seized upon and sacked, the city of Jerusalem; plundered the temple; and murdered many of the Jews who refused to conform to his idolatry, by scourging, strangling, crucifying, and stifling them, and by closing up the mouths of the caves to which they fled for shelter.

Antiochus and his idolatrous tormentors were, however, at length, bravely opposed by Matthias, a priest, and his valiant sons, the principal of whom was Judas Maccabeus.  This able commander, Judas, with his brave brothers, inspired the dispirited Jews with new courage, defeated the generals of Antiochus, freed their country from bondage, and afterwards turned their arms against the Edomites and Ammonites, over whom they were equally successful.

At length Antiochus died a terrible death, his flesh having been for some time before quite putrid, and producing maggots; so that he became loathsome to himself, and nauseous to all about him.  His successors, however, continued their enmity to the Jews; but they were opposed, with various success, by the Maccabees.

The Jews now entered into a treaty offensive and defensive with the Romans; but soon after lost their worthy champion Judas Maccabeus, who was slain in a bloody battle fought with the Greeks, under the command of their general Bacchides.

Antiochus Epiphanes now reigning in Syria, and having some success against the Jews, went to Jerusalem, where he ordered Eleazar, the priest, to be put to death in the most cruel manner, for refusing to eat swine’s flesh.  Then seizing on a family of Maccabees, consisting of a matron, named Salamona, and her seven sons, he carried them all to Antioch.  Here he would fain have persuaded them to embrace his idolatry, which they nobly and unanimously refused, he ordered them all to be put to death.

Maccabeus, the eldest, was accordingly stripped, stretched on the rack, and severely beaten.  He was next fastened to a wheel, and weights hung to his feet till his sinews cracked.  Afterwards his tormentors threw him into a fire till he was dreadfully scorched; then they drew him out, cut out his tongue, and put him into a frying-pan, with a slow fire under it, till he died.  As long as he had life, and power of expression, under these exquisite torments, he fervently called upon God, and exhorted his brothers to a similar perseverance.

After the second son had his hands fastened with chains, with which he was hung up, his skin was flayed off from the crown of his head to his knees.  He was then cast to a leopard, but the beast refusing to touch him, he was suffered to languish till he expired with the excruciating pain, and loss of blood.

Machir, the third son, was bound to a globe till his bones were all dislocated; his head and face were then flayed, his tongue cut out, and being cast into a pan he was fried to death.

Judas, the fourth son, after having his tongue cut out, was beaten with ropes, and then racked upon a wheel.

Achas, the fifth son, was pounded in a large brazen mortar.

Areth, the sixth son, was fastened to a pillar with his head downwards, slowly roasted by a fire kindled at some distance; his tongue was then cut out, and he was lastly fried in a pan.

Jacob, the seventh and youngest son, had his arms cut off, his tongue plucked out, and was then fried to death.

They all bore their fate with the same intrepidity as their elder brother, and called upon the Almighty to receive them into heaven.

Salamona, the mother, after having in a manner died seven deaths in beholding the martyrdom of her children, was, by the tyrant’s order, stripped naked, severely scourged, her breasts cut off, and her body fried till she expired.

The tyrant, who inflicted these cruelties, was afterwards struck with madness; and then his flesh became corrupted, and his bowels mortified, which put an end to his wicked life.


Thus the afflicted innocent expire,

Calm in their suff’rings, chearful in the fire;

Expecting, for a momentary pain,

Eternal joys, and everlasting gain:

While the tyrannic and the wicked find

A tortur’d body, and tormented mind;

and when their vile atrocious lives, they close,

A hell of horrors, and eternal woes.




The Life of Our Blessed Lord and Saviour JESUS CHRIST; with his Dreadful Sufferings, and Cruel Martyrdom.


HAVING briefly brought down accounts of the earliest persecutions, from the remotest periods to the time of Our Saviour’s birth, we shall now enter into the most important point of human and divine history.  But it is necessary, ere we engage in delineating the birth, actions, sufferings, and death of the REDEEMER OF THE WORLD, to mention some circumstances, which are either introductory to our subject, or should be preliminary to it, in order not to break in upon the uniformity of the narrative.

Herod the Great being informed that a King of the Jews should be born in Bethlehem, sent a number of troops to destroy all the children, under two years of age, in that place, and throughout the neighbouring area.  By this cruel order he hoped to destroy the child Jesus; but in this he was not only disappointed, but punished with such a spirit of lunacy that he slew his own wife, children, relations, friends, &c.  He was afterwards visited by the most grievous maladies, particularly an inward burning, slow but unremitting; an uncommon appetite, continually craving, but ever unsatisfied; a cramp that racked him with pain; a flux that reduced him to weakness; worms that bred in him and gnawed him; vermin that engendered about him and devoured him; a general putrefaction that consumed him; and in fine, all those complicated disorders which could possibly render him hateful to himself, and odious to others.  His torments at length became so intolerable, that not having either the comforts of religion, or the support of a good conscience, to sustain his sinking spirits, he attempted to lay violent hands upon himself.  Being prevented in this attempt by those about him, he at last sunk under the oppression of his afflictions, and expired in the most miserable manner.

Herod the Less, having married the daughter of the king of Arabia, repudiated her, and espoused Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife: for which marriage, full of incest and adultery, John the Baptist boldly and severely reproved him.  This freedom greatly incensed Herodias: for we are informed by St. Matthew, in the XIVth chapter of his gospel, that when Herod’s birth-day was kept, the daughter of Herodias danced before them, and pleased Herod; whereupon he promised, with an oath, to give her whatsoever she would ask.  And she being before instructed by her mother, said, Give me here John Baptist’s head in a charger.  And the king was sorry; nevertheless, for the oath’s sake, and them which sat with him at meat, he commanded it to be given her.  And he sent and beheaded John in the prison.  And his head was brought in a charger, and given to the damsel: and she brought it to her mother.  The authors of this cruelty were, however, all severely punished: for the daughter of Herodias, being afterwards dancing upon the ice, it broke, and she falling in had her head severed from her body by its again closing; and Herod, with the incestuous adulteress Herodias, falling under the displeasure of the Roman emperor, were banished, and died miserably in exile.  As this martyr’s nativity happened on the 24th of June, the church celebrates his memory on that day.*

But to proceed to the history of Our Blessed Redeemer: In the reign of Herod the Great, already mentioned, the angel Gabriel was sent, by the Almighty, to a holy Virgin called Mary.  This maiden was betrothed to a carpenter, named Joseph, who resided at Nazareth, a city of Galilee; but the consummation had not then taken place: for it was the custom of the eastern nations to contract persons of each sex from their childhood, though the cohabitation was not permitted till after marriage in their years of maturity.

The angel informed Mary how highly she was favoured of God, and that she would conceive a son by the Holy Spirit, which happened accordingly: for travelling to Bethlehem, to pay the capitation-tax then levied, the town was so crowded that they could only get lodgings in a stable, where the Holy Virgin brought forth Our Blessed Redeemer, which was announced to the world by a star and an angel.  The wise men of the east saw the first, and the shepherds the latter.  After Jesus had been circumcised, he was presented in the temple by the holy Virgin; upon which occasion Simeon broke out into the celebrated words mentioned in the Liturgy; Lord, now let thy servant depart in peace according to thy word, for mine eyes have seen thy salvation.  Luke ii. 29, 30.

Jesus, in his youth, disputed with the most learned doctors in the temple; and after was baptized, at the river Jordan, by John, when the Holy Ghost descended upon him in the form of a dove; and a voice was heard audibly to pronounce these words; This is my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased.

Christ afterwards fasted forty days and nights in the wilderness, when he was tempted by the Devil, but resisted all his allurements.  He then performed his first miracle at Cana, in Galilee.  He likewise conversed with the good Samaritan; and restored to life a nobleman’s dead child.  Travelling through Galilee, he restored sight to the blind, cured the lame, the lepers, &c.

Among other benevolent actions, at the pool of Bethseda, he cured a paralytic man who had been lame thirty-eight years, bidding him take up his bed and walk: and he afterwards cured a man whose right hand was shrunk up and withered.

Having chosen his twelve apostles, he preached the celebrated sermon upon the Mount; after which he performed several miracles, particularly the feeding of the multitude, and the walking on the surface of the water.

At the time of the Passover Jesus supped with his disciples and informed them that one of them would betray him, and another deny him, and preached his farewell sermon.  Soon after, a multitude of armed men surrounded him, and Judas kissed him, in order to point him out to the soldiers, who did not know him personally.  In the scuffle, occasioned by the apprehending of Jesus, Peter cut off the ear of Malchus, the servant of the high-priest, for which Jesus reproved him, and healed the wound by touching it.  Peter and John followed Jesus to the house of Annas, who refusing to judge him, sent him bound to Caiaphas, where Peter denied Christ, as the latter had predicted; but, on Christ’s reminding him of his perfidy, Peter went out and wept bitterly.

When the council assembled in the morning, the Jews mocked Jesus, and the elders suborned false witnesses against him; the principal accusation against him being that he had said, I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and within three days I will build another made without hands; Mark xiv. 58.  Caiaphas then asked him if he was Christ, the son of God, or not.  Being answered in the affirmative, he was accused of blasphemy, and condemned to death by Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor, who, though conscious of his innocence, yielded to the solicitation of the Jews, and condemned him to be crucified.

Prior to the crucifixion, the Roman soldiers, by way of derision, cloathed Christ in a regal robe, put a crown of thorns upon his head, and a reed for a sceptre, in his hand They then mocked him with ironical compliments, spit in his face, slapped his cheeks, and taking the reed out of his hand they struck him with it upon the head.  Pilate would fain have released him; but the general cry was, Crucify him, Crucify him; which occasioned the governor to call for a basin of water, and having washed his hands, he declared himself innocent of the blood of Christ, whom he justly termed a just person.  The Jews, however, said let his blood be upon us, and our children; which wish has manifestly taken place, as they have never since been a collected people.

In leading Christ to the place of crucifixion, they obliged him to bear the cross, which he being unable to sustain, they compelled one Simon, a native of Cyrenia, to carry the cross the rest of the way.  Mount Calvary was the place of execution, where after arriving, the soldiers offered him a mixture of gall and vinegar to drink, which he refused.  Having stripped him, they nailed him to the cross, and crucified him between two malefactors.  After being fastened to the cross, he uttered this benevolent prayer for his enemies: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”  The soldiers who crucified him, being four in number, now divided his garments between them: but his coat being without seam, they cast lots for it.  While Christ remained in the agonies of death, the Jews mocked him, and said, “If thou art the son of God come down from the cross.”  The chief priests and scribes also reviled him and said, he saved others, but cannot save himself.”  Indeed, one of the malefactors, who was crucified with him, cried out, and said, “If you are the Messiah, save yourself and us.”  but the other malefactor, having the greatest reliance upon Jesus, exclaimed, “Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.”  To which Christ replied, “Thou shall be with me in Paradise.

While Christ was upon the cross, the earth was covered with darkness, and the stars appeared at noon-day, which struck even the Jews with terror.  In the midst of his tortures, Christ cried out, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”  and then expressed a desire to drink, when one of the soldiers gave him, upon the point of a reed, a sponge, dipped in vinegar, which, however, Jesus refused.  About three o’clock in the afternoon he gave up his spirit; and at the same time a violent earthquake happened, when the rocks were rent, the mountains trembled, and the graves gave up their dead.  These were the signal prodigies that attended the death of Christ, and such was the mortal end of the Redeemer of Mankind.


[CHCoG: But he could not be held by death, and was resurrected to everlasting life three days later in a wonderfully transformed body.  Luke xxiv.  Contrary to the Roman Catholic myth, Jesus was actually crucified on the Wednesday, buried at dusk that day and rose from the grave at dusk on the Saturday, thus precisely fulfilling the sign of three days and three nights in the heart of the earth as prophesied in Matthew 20:17-19 and Mark 10:34.  This is explained in God’s Calendar and the Sign of Jonah.]




Of the Lives, Sufferings, and Martyrdom of the Apostles, Evangelists, &c.


I.  ST. STEPHEN, the proto, or first, martyr, was elected with six others as a deacon, out of the Lord’s seventy disciples.  Stephen was an able and successful preacher.  The principal persons belonging to five Jewish synagogues entered into many altercations with him; but he, by the soundness of his doctrine, and the strength of his arguments, overcame them all, which so much irritated them that they suborned false witnesses to accuse him of blaspheming God and Moses.  Being carried before the council, he made a noble defence; but that so much exasperated his judges that they resolved to condemn him.  At this instant Stephen saw a vision from Heaven of Jesus, in his glorified state, sitting at the right hand of God.  This vision so greatly rejoiced him, that he exclaimed in raptures, “Behold! I see the Heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.” [Acts 7:56]  They then condemned him, and having dragged him out of the city, stoned him to death.  On the spot where he was martyred, Eudocia, the empress of the emperor Theodosius, erected a superb church; and the memory of him is annually celebrated on the 26th day of December.

The death of Stephen was succeeded by a severe persecution in Jerusalem, in which 2000 Christians, with Nicar, the deacon, were martyred; and many others obliged to leave the place.


II.  ST. JAMES THE GREAT, a Galilean, was the son of Zebedee, a fisherman, the elder brother of St. John, and a relation to Christ himself; for his mother, Salome, was cousin-german to the Virgin Mary.  Being one day with his father, fishing in the sea of Galilee, he and his brother John were called by Our Saviour to become his disciples.  They chearfully obeyed the mandate, and leaving their father, followed Jesus.  It is to be observed that Christ placed a greater confidence in them than any other of the apostles, Peter excepted.

Christ called these brothers Boanerges, or the Sons of Thunder, on account of their fiery spirits and impetuous tempers.

Herod Agrippa, being made governor of Judaea by the emperor Caligula, raised a persecution against the Christians, and particularly singled out James as an object of revenge.  James, being condemned to death, shewed such an intrepidity of spirit, and constancy of mind, that his very accuser was struck with admiration, and became a convert to Christianity.  This transition so enraged the people in power that they likewise condemned him to death; when James the apostle, and his penitent accuser, were both beheaded on the same day, and with the same sword.  These events took place in the year of Christ 44; and the 25th of July was fixed by the church, for the commemoration of this saint’s martyrdom.

Much about the same period, Timon and Parmenas, two of the seven deacons, suffered martyrdom; the former at Corinth, and the latter at Philippi, in Macedonia.


III.  ST. PHILIP.  This apostle and martyr was born at Bethsaida, in Galilee, and was the first called by the name of Disciple.  He was honoured with several important commissions by Christ, and being deputed to preach in Upper Asia, laboured very diligently in his apostleship.  He then travelled into Phrygia, and arriving at Heliopolis, was greatly grieved to find the inhabitants so sunk in idolatry as to worship a large serpent.  St. Philip, however, converted many of them to Christianity, and even procured the death of the serpent.  This so enraged the magistrates that they committed him to prison, had him severely scourged, and afterwards crucified.  His friend, St. Bartholomew, found an opportunity of taking down the body, and burying it; for which, however, he was very near suffering the same fate.  His martyrdom happened eight years after that of St. James the Great, A.D. 52; and his name, together with that of St. James the Less, is commemorated on the 1st of May.


IV.  ST. MATTHEW.  This evangelist, apostle, and martyr, was born at Nazareth, in Galilee, but resided chiefly at Capernaum, on account of his business, which was that of a toll-gatherer, to collect tribute of such as had occasion to pass the Sea of Galilee.  On being called as a disciple, he immediately complied, and left everything to follow Christ.  After the ascension of his master, he continued preaching the gospel in Judaea about nine years.  Designing to leave Judaea, in order to go and preach among the Gentiles, he wrote his gospel in Hebrew,* for the use of the Jewish converts; but it was afterwards translated into Greek by St. James the Less.  Going to Ethiopia, he ordained preachers, settled churches, and made many converts.  He then proceeded to Parthia, where he had the same success; but returning to Ethiopia, he was slain by a halbert in the city of Nadabar, about the year of Christ 60; and his festival is kept by the church, on the 21st day of September.  He was remarkably inoffensive in his conduct, and temperate in his mode of living.  Hence we may say,


Well might this great apostle mend the age,

Whose life was but a comment on his page.


V.  ST. MARK.  This evangelist and martyr was born of Jewish parents, of the tribe of Levi.  It is imagined that he was converted to Christianity by St. Peter, whom he served as an amanuensis, and whom he attended in all his travels.  Being entreated by the converts at Rome to commit to writing the admirable discourses they had heard from St. Peter and himself, this request he complied with, and composed his gospel accordingly, in the Greek language.  He then went to Egypt, and constituted a bishopric at Alexandria.  Afterwards he proceeded to Libya, where he made many converts.  Returning to Alexandria, some of the Egyptians, exasperated at his success, determined on his death.  To accomplish this they tied his feet, dragged him through the streets, and left him to remain, bruised as he was, in a dungeon all night, and the next day burnt his body.  This happened on the 25th of April, on which day the church commemorates his martyrdom.  His bones were carefully gathered up by the Christians, decently interred, and afterwards removed to Venice, where he is considered as the titular saint, and patron of the state.


VI.  ST. JAMES THE LESS.  This apostle and martyr was called so to distinguish him from St. James the Great.  He was the son, by a first wife, of Joseph,* the reputed father of Christ.  He was, after the Lord’s ascension, elected bishop of Jerusalem.  He wrote his general epistle to all Christians, and converts where-ever, to suppress a dangerous error then propagating, viz. “That a faith in Christ was alone sufficient for salvation, without good works.”  The Jews being, at this time, greatly enraged that St. Paul had escaped their fury, by appealing to Rome, determined to wreak their vengeance on James, who was now ninety-four years of age.  They accordingly threw him down, beat, bruised, and stoned him; and then dashed out his brains with a club, such as was used by fullers in dressing cloths.  His festival, together with that of St. Philip, is kept on the 1st of May.


VII.  ST. MATTHIAS.  This apostle and martyr was called to the apostleship after the death of Christ, to supply the vacant place of Judas, who had betrayed his master, and was likewise one of the seventy disciples.  He was martyred at Jerusalem, being first stoned, and then beheaded: and the 24th of February is observed for the celebration of his festival.


VIII.  ST. ANDREW.  This apostle and martyr was the brother of St. Peter, and preached the gospel to many Asiatic nations.  Arriving at Edessa, the governor of the country, named Egeas, threatened him very hard for preaching against the idols there worshipped.  St. Andrew, persisting in the propagation of his doctrines, was ordered to be crucified on a cross, two ends of which were transversely fixed in the ground.  He boldly told his accusers that he would not have preached the glory of the cross, had he feared to die on it.  And again, when they came to crucify him, he said, that he coveted the cross, and longed to embrace it.  He was fastened to the cross, not with nails, but cords, that his death might be more lingering.  In this situation he continued two days, preaching the greatest part of the time to the people and expired on the 30th of November, which is commemorated as his festival.


IX.  ST. PETER.  This great apostle and martyr was born at Bethsaida, in Galilee, being the son of Jonah, a fisherman, which employment St. Peter himself followed.  He was persuaded, by his brother, to turn Christian, when Christ gave him the name of Cephas, implying, in the Syriac language, a rock.  He was called at the same time as his brother to be an apostle, gave uncommon proofs of his zeal for the service of Christ, and often appeared as the principal speaker among the apostles.  He had, however, the weakness to deny his master, after his apprehension, though he defended him at the time; but the sincerity of his repentance made an atonement for the atrociousness of his crime.

The Jews, after the death of Christ, still continued to persecute the Christians, and even went so far as to order several of the apostles, among whom was Peter, to be scourged.  This punishment they bore with the greatest fortitude, and rejoiced that they were thought worthy to suffer for the sake of Christ.

Herod Agrippa, having caused St. James the Great to be put to death, and finding that it pleased the Jews, resolved, in order to ingratiate himself further with the people, that Peter should fall the next sacrifice to his malice.  He was accordingly apprehended, and thrown into prison; but an angel of the Lord released him, which so enraged Herod, that he ordered the sentinels, who guarded the dungeon in which he had been confined, to be put to death.  St. Peter, after various other miracles, retired to Rome, where he defeated all the artifices, and confounded the magic, of Simon, the magician, a great favourite of the emperor Nero.  He likewise converted to Christianity one of the concubines of that monarch, which so exasperated the tyrant, that he ordered both St. Peter and St. Paul to be apprehended.  During the time of their confinement, they converted two of the captains of the guard, and forty-seven other persons, to Christianity.  Having been nine months in prison, Peter was brought out from thence for execution, when, after being severely scourged, he was crucified, with his head downwards, which position, however, was at his own request.  His festival is observed on June 29th, on which day he, as well as St. Paul, suffered.  His body being taken down, embalmed, and buried in the Vatican, a church was afterwards erected on the spot; but this being destroyed by the emperor Heliogaibalus, the body was removed, till the twentieth bishop of Rome, called Cornelius, conveyed it again to the Vatican.*  Afterwards Constantine the Great erected one of the most stately churches in the world over the place.  Before we quit this article, it is requisite to observe that, previous to the death of St. Peter, his wife suffered martyrdom for the faith of Christ, and was exhorted, when going to be put to death, to remember the Lord Jesus.


X.  ST. PAUL, the apostle and martyr, was a Jew of the tribe of Benjamin, born at Tarsus, in Cilicia.  He was at first a great enemy to and persecutor of the Christians; but, after his miraculous conversion, he became a strenuous preacher of Christ’s gospel.  At Iconium, St. Paul and St. Barnabas were near being stoned to death by the enraged Jews, wherefore they fled to Lyconia.  At Lystra, St. Paul was stoned, dragged out of the city, and left for dead.  He, however, happily revived, and escaped to Derbe.  At Philippi, Paul and Silas were imprisoned and whipped; and both were again persecuted at Thessalonica.  Being afterwards taken at Jerusalem, he was sent to Cæsarea, but appealed to Caesar at Rome.  Here he continued prisoner at large for two years.  Being released, he visited the churches of Greece and Rome, and preached in France and Spain.  Returning to Rome, he was again apprehended, and by the order of Nero, martyred by being beheaded.  Two days are dedicated to the commemoration of this apostle; the one for his conversion, the other for his martyrdom; the first being on the 25th of January, and the latter on the 29th of June.


XI.  ST. JUDE, the apostle and martyr, the brother of James, was commonly called Thaddaeus.  Being sent to Edessa, he wrought many miracles, and made many converts, which stirring up the resentment of people in power, he was crucified, A.D. 72; and the 28th of October is, by the church, dedicated to his memory.


XII.  ST. BARTHOLOMEW preached in several countries, performed many miracles, and healed various diseases.  He translated St. Matthew’s gospel into the Indian language, and propagated it into that country; but at length the idolators, growing impatient with his doctrines, severely beat, crucified, and flayed him, and then cut off his head.  The anniversary of his martyrdom is on the 24th of August.


XIII.  ST. THOMAS, as he was called in Syriac, but Didymus in Greek, was an apostle and martyr.  He preached in Parthia and India, where, displeasing the Pagan priests, he was martyred by being thrust through with a spear.  His death is commemorated on the 21st of December.


XIV.  ST. LUKE, the evangelist and martyr, was the author of a most excellent gospel.  He travelled with St. Paul to Rome, and preached to diverse barbarous nations, till the priests in Greece hanged him on an olive-tree.  The anniversary of his martyrdom is on the 18th of October.


XV.  ST. SIMON, the apostle and martyr, was distinguished by the name of Zelotes, from his zeal.  He preached with great success in Mauritania, and other parts of Africa, and even in Britain, where, though he made many converts, he was crucified by the then barbarous inhabitants of this island in A.D. 74; and the church, joining him with St. Jude, commemorates his festival on the 28th day of October.


XVI.  ST. JOHN.  This saint was at once a prophet, apostle, divine, evangelist; and martyr.  He is called the Beloved Disciple, and was brother to James the Great.  He was previously a disciple of John the Baptist, and afterwards not only one of the twelve apostles, but one of the three to whom Christ communicated the most secret passages of his life.  The churches in Asia founded by St. John were Smyrna, Pergamus, Sardis, Philadelphia, Laodicea and Thyatyra, to whom he directs his book of Revelations.  Being at Ephesus, he was ordered, by the emperor Domitian, to be sent bound to Rome, where he was condemned to be cast into a cauldron of boiling oil.  But here a miracle appeared in his favour; the oil did him no injury; and Domitian, therefore, not being able to put him to death, banished him to Patmos to work at the mines.  He was, however, recalled by Nerva, who succeeded Domitian after his decease, but was deemed a martyr on account of having undergone the mode of an execution, though it did not take effect.  He wrote his epistles, gospel, and revelations, all in a different style; but they are all equally admired.  He was the only apostle who escaped a violent death; lived the longest of any one of them, being near 100 years of age at the time of his death; and the church commemorates the 27th day of December to his memory.


XVII.  ST. BARNABAS was a native of Cyprus, but of Jewish parents.  The time of his death is uncertain, but supposed to be about the year of Christ 73; and his festival is kept on the 11th of June.





The First Persecutions which began in the Year of Our Lord 67, under the Reign of Nero, Emperor of Rome.


IN the primitive ages of the church, the first persecution was begun by that cruel tyrant Nero, the sixth emperor of Rome.  This monarch reigned for the space of five years, with tolerable credit to himself, but then gave way to the greatest extravagancy of temper, and to the most atrocious barbarities.  Among other diabolical whims, he took it into his head to order that the city of Rome should be set on fire, which was done by his officers, guards and servants accordingly.  While the imperial city was in flames, he went up to the tower of Macenas, played upon his harp, sung the song of the burning of Troy, and openly declared, “that he wished the ruin of all things before his death.”  Among the noble buildings burnt was the Circus, or place appropriated to horse-races: it was half a mile in length; of an oval form, with rows of seats rising above each other, and capable of receiving with ease, upwards of 100,000 spectators.  Besides this noble pile, many other palaces and houses were consumed; and several thousand perished in the flames, were smothered with the smoak, or buried beneath the ruins.

This dreadful conflagration continued nine days; when Nero, finding that his conduct was greatly blamed, and a severe odium cast upon him, determined to lay the whole upon the Christians, at once to excuse himself, and have an opportunity of glutting his sight with new cruelties.  This was the occasion of the first persecution; and the barbarities exercised upon the Christians were such as even excited the commiseration of the Romans themselves.  Nero even refined upon cruelty, and contrived all manner of punishments for the Christians that his most infernal imagination could design.



The Burning of the City of Rome

By order of the Emperor Nero, who saw the Conflagration from the top of the Tower of Macœnas, & played on his harp while the city was in flames, after which he laid the blame upon the Christians, which caused the first General Persecution.


In particular, he had some sewed up in the skins of wild beasts, and then worried by dogs till they expired; and others dressed in shirts made stiff with wax, fixed to axle-trees, and set on fire in his gardens, in order to illuminate them.  This persecution was general throughout the whole of the Roman empire; but it rather encreased than diminished the spirit of Christianity.  In the course of it, St. Paul and St. Peter were martyred, (as we have already mentioned in our account of The Lives, Sufferings, and Martyrdom of the Apostles, Evangelists, &c. in the foregoing Chapter); and besides many others, whose names have not been transmitted to posterity, were some of their converts and followers, the circumstances concerning the principal of whom we shall here relate.


ERASTUS, the chamberlain of Corinth, was converted by St. Paul, and determined to follow the fortune of that apostle.  For this reason he resigned his office, and accompanied St. Paul in his voyages and travels, till the latter left him in Macedonia, where he was first made bishop of that province by the Christians; and afterwards suffered martyrdom, being tortured to death by the Pagans at Philippi.

ARISTARCHUS, the Macedonian, was born in Thessalonica, and being converted by St. Paul, became his constant companion.

He was with that apostle at Ephesus, during a commotion raised in that city by Demetrius, the silversmith.  They both received several insults upon the occasion from the populace, which they bore with a true Christian patience, giving good advice in return for ill usage, and not in the least resenting any indignity put upon them.

From Ephesus, Aristarchus accompanied St. Paul into Greece, where they were very successful in propagating the gospel, and bringing over many from ignorance to a saving knowledge, and from Pagan darkness to the glorious light of Christianity.

Leaving Greece, they traversed a great part of Asia, and made a considerable stay in Judaea, where they were so successful in making converts in those parts that idolatry seemed to fly before them, and truth to diffuse its rays wherever they came.  Aristarchus afterwards went with St. Paul to Rome, where he suffered the same fate as the apostle; for being seized as a Christian, he was beheaded by the command of Nero.

TROPHIMUS, an Ephesian by birth, and a Gentile by religion, was converted by St. Paul to the Christian faith.

After his conversion, he accompanied his master in his voyages and travels; and upon his account the Jews raised a great disturbance in’ the temple at Jerusalem, the last time St. Paul was in that city.  They proceeded so far in their malice against the apostle that they attempted to murder him for having introduced a Greek into the temple; for Trophimus, being a Greek, was looked upon by the Jews with detestation, Lysias, the captain of the guard, however, interposed his authority, and by force rescued St. Paul from the hands of the Jews.

On quitting Jerusalem, Trophimus followed his master to Rome, and did him every essential service in his power.  He then attended him to Spain, and passing through Gaul, the apostle made him bishop of that province, and left him behind in the city of Arles.

About a twelve-month after he paid a visit to St. Paul in Asia, and went with him, for the last time, to Rome, where he was witness to the martyrdom of his master, which was but the forerunner of his own; for being soon after seized on account of his faith, he was beheaded by the emperor Nero’s express orders.


JOSEPH, commonly called BARSABAS, was a primitive disciple, and is usually deemed one of the seventy.  He was, in some degree, related to our Blessed Redeemer, and became a candidate, together with Matthias, to fill the vacant place of Judas Iscariot, the traitor.

The gospel and ecclesiastical writers make very little other mention of him; but Papias informs us that he was once compelled to drink poison, which did not do him the least injury, agreeable to the promise of the Lord to those who believe in him.

During his life he was a zealous preacher of the gospel; and having received many insults from the Jews, at length received the crown of martyrdom, being murdered by the Pagans in Judaea.


ANANIUS, bishop of Damascus, is celebrated in the Sacred Writings for being the person used to cure St. Paul of the blindness with which he was struck by the amazing brightness which happened at his conversion.  He was one of the Seventy, and martyred in the city of Damascus.  After his death a Christian church was built over the place of his burial, which is now converted into a Turkish mosque.




The Second Primitive Persecution, under the Emperor Domitian.


THE emperor Domitian, being naturally inclined to cruelty, first slew his brother, and then raised the second persecution against the Christians.  His rage was such that he even put to death many of the Roman senators; some through malice, and others to confiscate their estates.  He then commanded all the lineage of David to be put to death.  Two Christians were brought before the emperor and accused of being of the tribe of Judah, and line of David; but from their answers, he despised them as idiots, and dismissed them accordingly.  He, however, for his lenity here, was determined to be more secure upon other occasions; for he took away the substance of many Christians, banished others, and put several to death.

Among the numerous martyrs that suffered during this persecution was SIMEON, bishop of Jerusalem, who was crucified; and St. JOHN,* who was boiled in oil, and afterwards banished to Patmos.  Flavia, the daughter of a Roman senator, was likewise banished to Pontus; and a law was made, “that no Christian, once brought before the tribunal, should be exempted from punishment without renouncing his religion.”

A variety of fabricated tales were, during this reign, composed in order to injure the Christians.  Among other falsehoods, they were accused of indecent nightly meetings, of a rebellious turbulent spirit, of being pernicious to the Roman empire, of murdering their children, and even of being cannibals.  Such was the infatuation of the Pagans that if famine, pestilence, or earthquakes afflicted any of the Roman provinces, it was laid upon the Christians.  These persecutions among the Christians encreased the number of informers; and many, for the sake of gain, swore, away the lives of the innocent.

Another hardship was that when any Christians were brought before the magistrates, a test oath was proposed, when, if they refused to take it, death was pronounced against them; and if they confessed themselves Christians, the sentence was the same.  The various kinds of punishments, and inflicted cruelties were, during this persecution:

Imprisonment, Racking, Searing, Broiling, Burning, Scourging, Stoning, Strangling, Hanging and Worrying.

Some, indeed, were torn piecemeal with red hot pincers; and others were thrown upon the horns of wild bulls.  After having suffered these cruelties, the friends of the deceased Christians were refused the privilege of burying their poor remains.

The following were the most remarkable among the numerous martyrs who suffered during this persecution:


DIONYSIUS, the Areopagite, was an Atheman by birth, and educated in all the useful and ornamental literature of Greece.  He then travelled to Egypt to study astronomy, and made very particular observations on the great and supernatural eclipse which happened at the time of Our Saviour’s crucifixion.

On his return to Athens he was highly honoured by the people, and at length promoted to the dignity of senator of that celebrated city.  Becoming a convert to the gospel, he changed from the worthy Pagan magistrate to the pious Christian pastor: for even while involved in the darkness of idolatry, he was as just as the gross errors of Paganism would permit.


His words were bonds; his oaths were oracles;

His love sincere; his thoughts benevolent;

His tears pure messengers lent from his heart;

His heart as far from fraud as heav’n from earth.


It is easy to be imagined that a soul, which could appear with some lustre while loaded with original sin, and tainted with superstition, must, when illuminated with the light of the gospel, shine with the most splendid brilliancy.

The sanctity of his conversation, and purity of his manners, recommended him so strongly to the Christians in general, that he was appointed bishop of Athens.  He discharged his duty with the utmost diligence till the second year of this persecution, viz. A.D. 96, when he was apprehended, and received the crown of martyrdom by being beheaded.


NICOMEDES, a Christian of some distinction at Rome, during the rage of Domitian’s persecution, did all he could to serve the afflicted; comforting the poor, visiting those confined, exhorting the wavering, and confirming the faithful.  For those and other pious actions he was seized as a Christian, and being sentenced, was scourged to death.


PROTASUS and GERVASIUS were martyred at Milan; but the particular circumstances of their deaths are not recorded.


TIMOTHY, the celebrated disciple of St. Paul, and bishop of Ephesus, was born at Lystra, in the province of Lycaonia, his father being a Gentile, and his mother a Jewess.  But both his parents and his grandmother embraced Christianity, by which means young Timothy was taught the precepts of the gospel from his infancy.

St. Paul, coming to Lycaonia, ordained Timothy, and then made him the companion of his pious labours.  It appears that while he attended the apostle, his zeal could be only equalled by his fidelity; for St. Paul mentions him with peculiar respect; and declares that he could find none so truly united to him, both in heart and mind, as Timothy.  Indeed, the apostle, upon various occasions, speaks of him in the most affectionate terms, which is a sufficient proof of his great merit, and evinces that he was a devoted and diligent servant of Christ.

Timothy attended St. Paul to Macedonia, and there, with the apostle and Silas, he laboured with assiduity in the propagation of the gospel.  When St. Paul went to Achaia, Timothy was left behind to strengthen the faith of those already converted, or to induce others to quit the darkness of ignorance for the light of gospel knowledge.

At length St. Paul sent for Timothy to Athens, and then dispatched him to Thessalonica, to strengthen the suffering Christians there against the terrors of the persecution which then raged.

When Timothy arrived at the place of his destination, he did all that a zealous Christian could for the service of his Redeemer, Having performed his mission, he returned to Athens, and there assisted St. Paul and Silas in composing the two epistles to the Thessalonians.  He then accompanied St. Paul to Corinth, Jerusalem and Ephesus.

After performing several other commissions for St. Paul, and attending him upon various other journeys, the apostle constituted him bishop of Ephesus, though he was only thirty years of age; and in two admirable epistles gave him proper instructions for his conduct in so important a charge.

Timothy was so very temperate in his living that St. Paul blames him for being too abstemious, and recommends to him the moderate use of wine to recruit his strength and spirits.

St. Paul sent to Timothy while he was in his last confinement at Rome to come to him; and after that great apostle’s martyrdom, he returned to Ephesus, where he zealously governed the church till A.D. 97.  At this period the Pagans were about to celebrate a feast called Catagogion, the principal ceremonies of which were that the people should carry batons in their hands, go masked, and bear about the streets the images of their gods.

Timothy, meeting the procession, severely reproved them for their ridiculous idolatry, which so exasperated the people that they fell upon him with their clubs, and beat him in so dreadful a manner, that he expired of the bruises two days after.





The Third Primitive Persecution under the Roman Emperors.


NERVA succeeding Domitian, gave a respite to the Christians; but reigning only thirteen months, his successor, Trajan, in the 10th year of his reign, and in A.D. 108, began the third persecution against the Christians.  While the persecution raged, Plinius Secundus, a heathen philosopher, wrote to the emperor in favour of the Christians; to whose epistle Trajan returned this indecisive answer; “The Christians ought not to be sought after; but when brought before the magistracy, they should be punished.”

This absurd reply made Tertullian exclaim in the following words, “O, confused sentence!  he would not have them sought for as innocent, and yet would have them punished as guilty.”  The emperor’s incoherent answer, however, occasioned the persecution in some measure to abate, as his officers were uncertain, if they carried it on with severity, how he might chuse to wrest his own meaning.  Trajan, however, soon after wrote to Jerusalem, and gave orders to his officers to exterminate the flock of David; in consequence of which, all that could be found of that race were put to death.


SYMPHOROSA, a widow, and her seven sons, were commanded by the emperor to sacrifice to the heathen deities.  Unanimously refusing to comply with such an impious request, the emperor, in a rage, told her that, for her obstinacy, herself, and her sons, should be slain, to appease the wrath of his offended deities: to which she answered that if he murdered her and her children, theidols he adored would only be held in the greater detestation.

The emperor, being greatly exasperated at this, ordered her to be carried to the temple of Hercules, where she was scourged, and hung up, for some time, by the hair of her head; then being taken down, a large stone was fastened to her neck, and she was thrown into the river, where she expired.  With respect to the sons, they were fastened to seven poles, and being drawn up by pulleys, their limbs were dislocated.  These tortures not affecting their resolution, they were thus martyred; CRESCENTIUS, the eldest, was stabbed in the throat; JULIAN, the second, in the breast; NEMESIUS, the third, in the heart; PRIMITIUS, the fourth, in the navel; JUSTICE, the fifth, in the back; STACTEUS, the sixth, in the side; and EUGENIUS, the youngest, was sawed asunder.


PHOCAS, bishop of Pontus, refusing to sacrifice to Neptune, was, by the immediate order of Trajan, cast first into a hot lime-kiln, and being drawn from thence, was thrown into a scalding bath till he expired.

Trajan likewise commanded the martyrdom of IGNATIUS, bishop of Antioch.  This holy man was the person whom, when an infant, Christ took into his arms, and shewed to his disciples, as one that would be a pattern of humility and innocence.  He received the gospel afterwards from St. John the Evangelist, and was exceedingly zealous in his mission.  He boldly vindicated the faith of Christ before the emperor, for which, being cast into prison, he was tormented in a most cruel manner; for, after being dreadfully scourged, he was compelled to hold fire in his hands; and at the same time, papers dipped in oil were put to his sides, and set on light.  His flesh was then torn with red hot pincers; and at last he was dispatched by being torn to pieces by wild beasts.

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 Hermes, with their families; Zenon, a Roman nobleman, and about ten thousand other Christians.