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

AFTER the flame of persecution had relaxed its violence amid such heroic achievements of the noble martyrs of Christ, and had been almost extinguished with the blood of holy men, and now some relief and liberty had been granted to those condemned to labour in the mines for Christ’s sake, and we began to breathe an air somewhat purer, I know not how, he that had received the power to persecute, was again roused by a new impulse against the Christians. Immediately, therefore, edicts were issued against us from Maximinus, every where in the provinces. Governors and the prætorian prefect, in proclamations and edicts, and public ordinances, urged the magistrates and generals, and notaries in every city, to execute the imperial mandate, which ordained, that with all speed the decayed temples of the idols should be rebuilt, and that, all people, men, women, domestics, and even infants at the breast, should sacrifice and make libations, and that they should be diligently made to taste of the execrable sacrifices, that the things for sale in the markets should be defiled with the libations of victims, and that before the baths, guards should be stationed, who should pollute those that had been cleansed in them, with their execrable sacrifices. These things being thus performed, and our brethren, as was natural, being from the beginning most concerned, and the heathen themselves, censuring the severity and absurdity of the measure, as superfluous at best, for these measures appeared overbearing and oppressive even to them, and as there was a mighty storm gathering every where upon them; again the divine power of our Saviour infused such courage and confidence into his wrestlers, that without being drawn or even impelled by any one, they voluntarily trampled upon the threats of such opponents. Three, therefore, of the believers joining together, rushed upon the governor, offering sacrifice, and called upon him to desist from his error, for there was no other God but the Supreme Creator and maker of the universe. Then being asked who they were, they boldly confessed they were Christians. On this, Firmilianus, in a rage, and without inflicting tortures, condemned them to capital punishment. Of these, one named Antoninus was a presbyter, another named Zebina, was a native of Eleutheropolis, the third was named Germanus. They were executed on the thirteenth of the month Dius, on the ides of November. On the same day Ennathas, a woman of Scythopolis, ennobled also by the virgin’s fillet, was added as an associate to them. She had not, indeed, done what the former had, but was dragged by force, and brought before the judge; she was scourged, and endured dreadful abuses which were heaped upon her by Maxys, the tribune of the neighbouring district, and that without authority from a higher power, a man who was by no means as his name, a sanguinary character, exceedingly harsh and inflexible, and in his whole manner so really fierce and violent that he was in bad repute with all that knew him. This man, having stripped the blessed virgin of all her clothes, so as to leave only her body covered from her loins to her feet, the rest being bare, led her about the whole city of Cæsarea, considering it a great feat that he caused her to be driven about the markets and beaten with thongs of hide. After all these cruelties, which she bore with the greatest firmness, she exhibited the same most cheerful alacrity, before the tribunal of the judge himself, when she was there condemned to the flames. Whilst aiming his cruelty and madness against the worshippers of the true God, he also went beyond all the dictates of nature, not even ashamed to deny the lifeless bodies of these holy men a burial. Night and day he ordered the dead bodies to be carefully watched, as they lay exposed in the open air, the food of beasts, and there was no small number of men present several days, of such as attended to this savage and barbarous decree, and some, indeed, were looking out from their posts of observation, as if it were something worthy of their zeal to see that the dead bodies should not be stolen. But wild beasts, and dogs, and carnivorous birds of prey, scattered the human limbs here and there in all directions, and the whole city around was spread with the entrails and bones of men, so that nothing appeared more dreadful or horrific, even to those who before had been most hostile to us; they did not indeed so much lament the calamity of those against whom these things were done, as the nuisance against themselves, and the abuse heaped upon our common nature.

For at the very gates of the city there was an exhibition presented dreadful beyond all description and tragic recital, human flesh devoured not in one place only, but scattered over every place; for it was said that limbs and masses of flesh, and parts of entrails, were to be seen even within the gates. Which things continuing to occur for many days, strange event, like the following, took place. The air happened to be clear and bright, and the aspect of the whole heavens was most serene. Then, suddenly, from the greater part of the columns that supported the public porticoes, issued drops like tears, and the market places and streets, though there was no moisture from the air, I know not whence it came, were sprinkled with water, and became wet: so that it was immediately spread abroad among all, that in an unaccountable manner the earth wept, not being able to endure the extreme impiety of these deeds, and to address a reproof to men of a relentless and callous nature, the very stones and senseless matter could bewail these facts. I well know that this account may, perhaps, appear an idle tale and fable to posterity, but it was not so to those who had its truth confirmed by their presence at the time.








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