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An Ecclesiastical History To The 20th Year Of The Reign Of Constantine by Eusebius

WE are already acquainted with those of them that shone conspicuous in Palestine, and know also those in Tyre and Phœnice; and at the sight of whom, who would not himself be struck with astonishment at the numberless blows inflicted, and the perseverance of those truly admirable wrestlers for the true religion? Who can behold, without amazement, all this: their conflicts, after scourging, with bloody beasts of prey, when they were cast as food to leopards and bears, wild boars and bulls, goaded with fire, and branded with glowing iron against them? And in each of these who can fail to admire the wonderful patience of these noble martyrs? At these scenes we have been present ourselves, when we also observed the divine power of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ himself present, and effectually displayed in them; when, for a long time, the devouring wild beasts would not dare either to touch or to approach the bodies of these pious men, but directed their violence against others that were any where stimulating them from without. They would not touch the holy wrestlers standing naked and striking at them with their hands, as they were commanded, in order to irritate the beasts against them. Sometimes, indeed, they would rush upon them, but as if repulsed by some divine power, again retreated.

This continuing for a long time, created no little wonder to the spectators; so that now again, on account of the failure in the first instance, they were obliged to let loose the beast a second and a third time upon one and the same martyr. One could not help being astonished at the intrepid perseverance of these holy men, and the firm and invincible mind of those, also, whose bodies were but young and tender. For you could have seen a youth of scarcely twenty years, standing unbound, with his arms extended, like a cross, with an intrepid and fearless earnestness, intensely engaged in prayer to God, neither removing nor declining from the spot where he stood, whilst bears and leopards breathed rage and death, and almost touched his very flesh, and yet, I know not how, by a divine and inscrutable power, they had their mouths in a manner bridled, and again retreated in haste. And such was he of whom we now speak.

Again, you might have seen others, for they were five in all, cast before a wild bull, who indeed seized others, that approached from without, with his horns, and tossed them in the air, leaving them to be taken up half dead, but only rushing upon the saints with rage and menaces; for the beast was not able even to approach them, but beating the earth with his feet, and pushing with his horns hither and thither, and from the irritation excited by the brands of glowing iron, he breathed madness and death, yet was drawn back again by a divine interposition. So that as he did not even injure them in the least, they let loose other beasts upon them. At length, however, after these various and terrible assaults, all of them were despatched with the sword, and instead of an interment and sepulchre, they were committed to the waves of the sea.








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