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Presentation on theme: "PERSECUTION in the EARLY CHURCH PERSECUTION in the EARLY CHURCH."— Presentation transcript:


2 “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church” Tertullian

3 -Christians accused of cannibalism, perversion, and incest -Christians used as scapegoats for every misfortune -Christians arrested, harassed, and persecuted Shortly After the Death of Christ

4 The Apostles Simon Peter: crucified up-side down Andrew: crucified—St. Andrew’s Cross James the Greater: beheaded John: boiled in oil then imprisoned on the island of Patmos Phillip: crucified Bartholomew/Nathanael: beaten and crucified Matthew/Levi: mortally wounded with a sword Thomas: stabbed with a spear James the Lesser: thrown from the Temple pinnacle then beaten with a fuller's club Simon the Zealot: crucified Jude/Judas/Thaddeus: crucified Judas Iscariot: suicide by hanging Matthias (replaced Judas Iscariot): stoned then beheaded

5 Early Christian Martyrs Ignatius of Antioch Martyred in 107 in the arena Roman Authorities hoped to make an example of him and thus discourage Christianity from spreading. Instead, he met with and encouraged Christians who flocked to meet him all along his route, and he wrote letters to the churches. Bishop of Antioch

6 Perpetua, her slave Felicity, and three men were arrested for converting to Christianity. Perpetua and Felicity (d. 202) Amphitheater in Carthage Scourged Attacked by wild animals Then put to the sword

7 Sts. Sergius and Bacchus were the leaders of a group of Roman soldiers under Emperor Diocletian. When it became known that they were Christians, they were tortured and killed.

8 The Roman Coliseum


10 Caesar Nero Emperor: 54-68 First emperor to persecute Christians Blamed the Christians for the fire in Rome in 64 "Mockery of every sort accompanied their deaths. Covered with the skins of beasts, they were torn by dogs and perished, or were nailed to crosses, or were doomed to the flames and burnt, to serve as a nightly illumination, when daylight had expired." -Tacitus

11 Caesar Decius Emperor: 249-251 Empire-wide & systematic persecution Required libelli (certificates) Apostasy or martyrdom Martyred Christians were known as Confessors

12 Libelli & Confessors The libelli were documents notarized by Roman authorities to certify that someone had offered sacrifice to the gods. In times of persecution these documents were accepted as proof that someone was not a Christian. Confessors were Christians who confessed their faith. They were imprisoned for their faith, where other Christians flocked for strength and guidance. Many Christians even sought them for forgiveness of their sins, which became controversial in the Church.

13 Caesar Decius Emperor: 249-251 “They seized first an old man and commanded him to utter impious words. They beat him with clubs, tore his face and eyes with sharp sticks, and dragged him out of the city to stone him. Then they carried to their temple a faithful woman. As she turned away in detestation, they bound her feet and dragged her through the city over the stone-paved streets, dashed her against the millstones, scourged her, and stoned her. Then they rushed to the homes of the pious to steal and plunder. Then they seized the most admirable virgin and broke out her teeth. They threatened to burn her alive if she would not utter impious cries. She leaped eagerly into the fire. There was no street, nor public road, nor lane open to us, by night or day; for always and everywhere, all of them cried out that if any one would not repeat their impious words, he should immediately be dragged away and burned.”

14 ½ of his congregation missing Council in 254 in North Africa Great penance for apostates Certificates are no good Novatism schism Cyprian of Carthage (d. 258) “No salvation outside the Church.”

15 In 303 AD: 4 Edicts: Destroy Churches & Scriptures Imprison clergy All clergy must sacrifice to gods All Christians must sacrifice to gods Caesar Diocletian Emperor: 284-305

16 Atheism Causes of doom Cannibalism Infanticide Incest Orgies False Accusations

17 Catacombs of Rome Used for burial and memorial services of Christian martyrs. In 380, the practice of catacomb burial declined. In the 6th century, catacombs were used only for martyrs’ memorial services. By the 10th century catacombs were abandoned, and holy relics were transferred to above-ground basilicas. They remained forgotten until they were accidentally rediscovered in 1578.

18 Burial niches were carved into walls: 16-24” high and 47-59” long




22 Some bodies were placed in chambers in stone sarcophagi.

23 The Edict of Galerius in 311 “Let Christians have the right to exist again, and to set up their places of worship, provided always that they do not offend against public order.”

24 The Edict of Milan in 313 Constantine (d. 338) Battle of Saxa Rubra (The Chi Ro sign) Baptized a Christian in 337 Religious liberty for Christians

25 Emperor Theodosius (d. 395) In 380 he proclaimed himself (and the Roman Empire) a Christian of the Nicene Creed in 391, pagan temples were closed and pagan worship forbidden

26 Modern Persecution Religious persecution continues around the world. Many argue that today’s persecution is worse as it is more wide- spread and results in more martyrs. Start at 3:42

27 Pope John Paul II wrote in his 1994 apostolic letter Tertio Millennio Adveniente (The Coming Third Millennium), "The Church has once again become a Church of martyrs." Christians today are the most persecuted religious group in the world. Torture, enslavement, rape, imprisonment, killings... even crucifixions are among the atrocities perpetrated upon believers around the world. Around the World

28 Modern Persecution An estimated 200 million Christians worldwide suffer interrogation, arrest and even death for their faith in Christ. 160,000 people die every year as a result of violence directed against Christianity. In the 20th century, more Catholics lost their lives as martyrs than in any previous century in the history of the Church.

29 Modern Martyrs St. Maximilian Kolbe, a Polish Franciscan priest who gave up his life for that of a fellow prisoner in Auschwitz in 1942. St. Edith Stein, a convert from Judaism to Catholicism who died at the hands of the Nazis in Auschwitz in 1942.

30 Father Jerzy Popiełuszko He was a Roman Catholic priest from Poland, associated with the Solidarity union. He was murdered by three agents of the Polish communist internal intelligence agency. Modern Martyrs

31 The Archbishop of San Salvador was a champion of the poor who was assassinated while celebrating Mass in 1980. Archbishop Oscar Romero

32 Born in southern Sudan, Josephine was kidnapped at the age of seven, sold into slavery and given the name Bakhita, which means fortunate. Her body was mutilated by those who enslaved her, but they could not touch her inner spirit. She was later baptized and became a Canossian sister. Modern Martyrs St. Josephine Bakhita

33 Modern Martyrs

34 What about us today, here?


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