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:
Lives and Deaths of Catholic Saints
Persecution of Christian Martyrs
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 Dorothy
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 attacked her.
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 beheading.
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 AD 303.
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 by beheading.
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 Rome.
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.