Church Moves Ahead
G’day and welcome to Partakers and our series Church Moves Ahead, where we look together at the history of the early church, and in particular its persecution. We are taking brief excerpts from an ancient book, Foxes Book of Martyrs. This excerpt is from Chapter 2 - The Ten Primitive Persecutions - The Seventh Persecution, Under Decius, A.D. 249.
In the year of our Lord 251, the emperor Decius having erected a pagan temple at Ephesus, commanded all who were in that city to sacrifice to the idols. This order was nobly refused by seven of his own soldiers: Maxi-mia-nus, Martianus, Joannes, Malchus, Dionysius, Seraion, and Constantinus. The emperor wishing to win these soldiers to renounce their faith by his entreaties and lenity gave them a considerable respite until he returned from an expedition.
During the emperor's absence, they escaped, and hid themselves in a cavern; which the emperor being informed of at his return, the mouth of the cave was closed up, and they all perished with hunger. Theodora, a beautiful young lady of Antioch, on refusing to sacrifice to the Roman idols, was condemned to the stews, that her virtue might be sacrificed to the brutality of lust.
Didymus, a Christian, disguised himself in the habit of a Roman soldier, went to the house, informed Theodora who he was, and advised her to make her escape in his clothes. This being effected, and a man found in the brothel instead of a beautiful lady, Didymus was taken before the president, to whom confessing the truth, and owning that he was a Christian the sentence of death was immediately pronounced against him. Theodora, hearing that her deliverer was likely to suffer, came to the judge, threw herself at his feet, and begged that the sentence might fall on her as the guilty person; but, deaf to the cries of the innocent, and insensible to the calls of justice, the inflexible judge condemned both; when they were executed accordingly, being first beheaded, and their bodies afterward burnt.