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

WHEN the storm had incessantly raged against us till the sixth year, there had been before this a vast number of confessors of true religion in what is called the Porphyry quarry, from the name of the stone which is found in Thebais. Of these, one hundred, wanting three, men, women, and young infants, were sent to the governor of Palestine, who, for confessing the supreme God and Christ, had the ancles and sinews of their left legs seared off with a red hot iron. Besides this they had their right eyes first cut out, together with the lids and pupils, and then seared with red hot iron, so as to destroy the eye to the very roots. All this was done by the order of Firmilianus, who was sent thither as successor to Urbanus, and acted in obedience to the imperial command. After this he committed them to the mines in Palestine, to drag out a miserable existence in constant toil and oppressive labour.

Nor was it enough, that those who endured such miseries were deprived of their eyes, but those natives of Palestine, also, whom we have already mentioned as condemned to pugilistic combats, as they neither would suffer themselves to be supported from the imperial treasury, nor undergo the exercises preparatory to the combat, hence they were now brought, not only before the governors, but before Maximinus himself, where, displaying the noblest firmness in their confessions, by enduring hunger and stripes, they suffered finally the same that the former did, beside other confessors from the same city. Immediately after these, others were seized, who had assembled in the city of Gaza to hear the holy Scriptures read, some of whom suffered the same mutilations in their eyes and feet; others were obliged to endure still greater sufferings, by having their sides furrowed and scraped in the most dreadful manner. Of these, one who was a female in sex, but a man in firmness, not enduring the threat of violation, and having used a certain expression against the tyrant, for committing the government to such cruel judges, she was first scourged, then raised on high on the rack, and lacerated and galled in the sides. But notwithstanding those who were appointed incessantly and vehemently applied the tortures according to the orders of the judge, another woman, who, like the former, had contemplated a life of perpetual virginity, though ordinary in bodily form, and common in appearance, yet possessing a mind otherwise firm, and an understanding superior to her sex, was unable to bear the merciless, cruel, and inhuman scene before her, and with a courage exceeding all the farfamed combatants among the Greeks for their liberty. she exclaimed against the judge, from the midst of the crowd, “And how long, then, will you thus cruelly torture my sister?” He, the more bitterly incensed by this, ordered the woman immediately to be seized. She was then dragged into the midst, and after she had called herself by the august name of our Saviour, attempts were first made to bring her over to sacrifice by persuasion. But when she refused, she was dragged to the altar by force. Her sister remaining the same, and still adhering to her purpose, with a resolute, intrepid step, kicked the altar, and overturned all on it, together with the fire. Upon this, the judge, exasperated, like a savage beast, applied tortures beyond all that he had done before, all but glutting himself with her very flesh, by the wounds and lacerations of her body. But when his madness was gratified to satiety, he bound her and the former, whom she called sister, together, and condemned them to the flames. The former of these was said to be of Gaza, but the other, Valentina by name, was a native of Cæsarea, and well known to many. But how could I sufficiently describe the martyrdom that followed this, and with which the most blessed Paulus was crowned, who, indeed, was condemned at the same time with these, under one and the same sentence of death? About the time of his execution, he requested of the executioner, who was on the point of cutting off his head, to allow him a short space of time, which being granted, with a loud and clear voice, he first interceded with God in his prayers, imploring pardon for his fellow-christians, and earnestly entreating that peace and liberty might be soon granted them. Then he prayed for the conversion of the Jews to God through Christ. Then he proceeded, in order, imploring the same things for the Samaritans, and those Gentiles who were in error and ignorance of God, that they might come to his knowledge, and be led to adopt the true religion, not omitting, or neglecting, to include the mixed multitude that stood around. After all these, oh, the great and inexpressible forbearance! he prayed for the judge that condemned him to death, for the imperial rulers themselves, and for him, too, that was about to sever his head from his body, in the hearing of him and all present, supplicating the supreme God, not to impute to them their sin against him.

Praying thus, with a loud voice, and moving almost all to compassion and tears, as one unjustly slain, yet composing himself, and submitting his bare neck to the stroke of the sword, he was crowned with a divine martyrdom on the twenty-fifth of the month Penemus, which would be the eighth of the calends of August. Such was the end of these. And after the lapse of no long time, one hundred and thirty other noble wrestlers of the Christian faith, undergoing the same mutilations of eyes and feet with the former in Egypt, by the order of Maximinus were condemned and sent away, some to the mines in Palestine, others to those in Cilicia.








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