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A History Of The Church In Seven Books by Socrates

BUT I must here mention a circumstance that occurred at Edessa in Mesopotamia. There is in that city a magnificent church dedicated to St. Thomas the Apostle, wherein on account of the sanctity of the place, religious assemblies are incessantly held. The emperor Valens wished to inspect this edifice; when having learnt that all who usually congregated there were opposed to the heresy which he favoured, he is said to have struck the præfect with his own hand, because he had neglected to expel them thence. The præfect after submitting to this ignominy, was most unwillingly constrained to subserve the emperor’s indignation against them; nevertheless to prevent the slaughter of so great a number of persons, he privately warned them against resorting thither. But his admonitions and menaces were alike unheeded; for on the following day they all crowded to the church. And when the præfect was going towards it with a large military force in order to satisfy the emperor’s rage, a poor woman leading her own little child by the hand hurried hastily by on her way to the church, breaking through the ranks of the soldiery. The præfect irritated at this, ordered her to be brought to him, and thus addressed her: “Wretched woman! whither are you running in so disorderly a manner?” She replied, “To the same place that others are hastening.” “Have you not heard,” said he, “that the præfect is about to put to death all that shall be found there?” “Yes,” said the woman, “and therefore I hasten that I may be found there.” “And whither are you dragging that little child?” said the præfect: the woman answered, “That he also may be vouchsafed the honour of martyrdom.” The præfect on hearing these things, conjecturing that a similar resolution actuated the others who were assembled there, immediately went back to the emperor, and informed him that all were ready to die in behalf of their own faith. He added that it would be preposterous to destroy so many persons at one time, and thus succeeded in restraining the emperor’s wrath. In this way were the Edessenes preserved from being massacred by order of their sovereign.








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