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A History Of The Church In Nine Books by Sozomen

THE emperor went to Antioch, and ejected from the churches of that city and of the neighbouring towns all those who adhered to the Nicene doctrines: moreover, he persecuted them with extreme cruelty, putting many of them to death in various ways, and causing others to be drowned in the River Orontes. Having heard that there was a magnificent church at Edessa, named after the Apostle Thomas, he went to see it. On approaching the edifice, he saw the members of the Catholic Church assembled for worship without the walls of the city; for they had been deprived of their churches. It is said that the emperor was so indignant with the prefect for permitting these assemblies, that he struck him. Modestus (for this was the name of the prefect), although he was himself a heretic, secretly warned the people of Edessa not to meet for prayer on the same spot the next day; for he had received orders from the emperor to punish all who resorted thither: but the people, totally disregarding the threat, assembled, with more than their customary zeal, at the usual place of meeting. Modestus, on being apprised of their proceedings, was undecided as to what measures ought to be adopted, and repaired to the place where they had assembled. A woman, leading a child by the hand, forced her way through the ranks of the army, as if bent upon some affair of importance. Modestus remarked her conduct, ordered her to be stopped, and summoned her into his presence, to inquire the cause of her anxiety. She replied, that she was hastening to the spot where the members of the Catholic Church were assembled. “Know you not,” replied Modestus, “that the prefect is on his way thither, for the purpose of condemning to death all who are found on the spot?” “I have heard so,” replied she, “and this is the very reason of my haste; for I am fearful of arriving too late, and thus losing the honour of martyrdom.” The governor having asked her why she took her child with her, she replied, “In order that he may share in the sufferings of the others, and participate in the same reward.” Modestus, struck with astonishment at the courage of this woman, went to the emperor, and, acquainting him with what had occurred, persuaded him to renounce a design which was neither beneficial nor creditable. Thus was the Christian faith confessed by the whole city of Edessa.








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