The most notorious persecutor
of the early Christians was Emperor
Diocletian(r.284-305). For information about these
terrible persecutions click the following link:
Persecution of Christians
Christians were expected to take part
in rituals and sacrifices to the pagan gods and goddesses of
the Romans. Many
Christians went into hiding to avoid the order and
converting to Christianity during this period was highly
dangerous of Christian Persecution. Statues or idols of gods
and goddesses were erected at
the corners of the streets, in the market-places and over
the public fountains making it impossible for a Christian to
go out without being put to the test of offering sacrifice.
To refuse would mean torture and death under the Edict of
Diocletian and Christian Persecution.
Christian Persecution -
The Martyrs who became Saints
Many Christian Martyrs who
died during the Christian Persecution were later canonised
by the Catholic Church. The history, biography together with
descriptions of the lives and deaths of early Christians are
detailed in the following recommended website:
Deaths of Catholic Saints
Persecution of Christian
The following men and women
were tortured and put to death during the reign of the
Emperor Diocletian and his notorious Christian Persecution.
Christians were scourged till the flesh parted from the
bones, and then the wounds were rubbed with salt and
vinegar. Other Christians who were persecuted were racked
till their bones were out of joint, and others hung up by
their hands to hooks, with weights fastened to their feet.
No Roman citizen could be sentenced to crucifixion. Despite
being found guilty of the same crime, St. Paul and St. Peter
faced different fates. St. Paul was beheaded because he was
a Roman Citizen. St. Peter who was not a Roman citizen, was
crucified. A short description of the tortures suffered and forms
of execution inflicted on saints and martyrs during the Christian Persecution by the Romans
are illustrated in the following descriptions:
Christian Persecution - Saint
Her family converted to Christianity and her parents were
sentenced to death for their convictions. Dorothy was
offered leniency if she would renounce Christianity, worship
the Roman gods and take a husband. She refused to renounce
her faith and was tortured. She still would not renounce her
faith and was sentenced to death by beheading.
Elmo was tortured by having his intestines wound onto a
winch or capstan and then finally he was beheaded.
Euphemia was tortured on the wheel but still refused to
renounce her faith. She was sentenced to death in the arena
where she died of wounds inflicted by the wild animals who
Christian Persecution -
He was sentenced to death but first tortured by a variety of
cruel tortures. He was thrown into the Enns River with a
mill stone tied around his neck.
George was a Roman soldier and rose to the rank of tribune
in the Roman army. He converted to Christianity, confessed
his faith and sentenced to torture followed by death by
Hippolytus was martyred by being bound by the feet to the
tails of two wild horses and dragged to his death.
Saint Ignatius (the First Martyr at the Colosseum)
Ignatius was the Bishop of Antioch who was sentenced to
death in the Roman arena by the Emperor Trajan in 107AD. He
was torn to pieces by wild beasts at Rome.
Christian Martyrs at the Colosseum
Januarius was martyred with by first being first thrown to
wild beasts in the arena and when the animals would not
attack him he was beheaded.
Justina was a devout Christian and had taken vows of
chastity. She was ordered to go to the Roman temple to
Minerva to worship the Roman goddess and offer her virginity
as sacrifice and renounce Christianity. She refused and was
stabbed to death with a sword.
Lucy was a devout Christian and had taken vows of chastity.
Rather than accept the hand in marriage of a lover who
desired her for the sake of her beautiful eyes, she plucked
them out. According to legend her sight was restored to her
the next day. Her martyrdom, instigated by her rejected
lover, was accomplished by a dagger thrust into her neck in
Margaret was thrown into a dungeon and beheaded.
Pancras announced his Christian faith publicly. He was
arrested and then beheaded.
The story and history of Saint Pantaleon. Pantaleon was
denounced as a Christian. He was put to torture but refused
to renounce his faith. He bound to an olive tree, with a
nail driven through his body and then beheaded.
Phocas is said to have dug his own grave prior to his death
He was shot with arrows, and left for dead but he survived
and nursed back to health. He then returned to preach to
Diocletian, the Roman emperor who had him beaten to death in
Vincent was put to the torture by his flesh being lacerated
by iron forks and thrown into the sea.
Vitus was condemned to death in the arena. Legend tells that
the wild beasts and lions refused to attack Vitus and he was
killed by the terrible fate of being boiled in oil.
Christian Persecution - Saint Agnes
Agnes was only twelve years old when she was led to the
altar of Minerva at Rome and commanded to obey the laws of
Diocletian by offering incense. Her clothes were stripped
off, and she had to stand in the street before a pagan crowd
she was then beheaded
Dorothy was stretched upon the rack, then she was buffeted
in the face and her sides burned with plates of red-hot
iron. She was finally beheaded.
Eulalia was twelve years old when the bloody edicts of
Diocletian were issued. Two executioners tore her sides with
iron hooks, so as to leave the very bones bare. Next lighted
torches were applied to her breasts and sides. The fire at
length catching her hair, surrounded her head and face, and
she was stifled by the smoke and flame.
Christian Persecution - Saint Eusebius
Eusebius was beheaded on the orders of Emperor Maximian.
George was a soldier who at first obtained the favor of
Diocletian. He was subjected to a lengthened series of
torments, and finally beheaded.
After suffering many torments Pantaleon was condemned to
lose his head.
The hands of Sabinus were cut off, he was scourged, beaten
with clubs, and torn with iron nails and then beheaded.
Sebastian was an officer in the Roman army, led before
Diocletian, and, at the emperor's command, pierced with
arrows and at last beaten to death by clubs.
Christian Persecution - Saint Vincent
Vincent was stretched on the rack, his flesh was torn with
hooks and he was bound in a chair of red-hot iron; lard and
salt were rubbed into his wounds and he finally died.