PERPETUA c.202 AD
A beloved African sister of wealthy and noble birth, highly educated and honorably married, was taken captive by persecutors of the faith. Only twenty-two years old and with babe at her breast, she was begged by her aged and pagan father to deny Christ because of the shame that she was bringing upon the family.
What a scene it was! Before the court and a great assembled multitude, he threw himself at her feet, pleading with her tenderly, weeping and kissing her hands. â€œMy daughter,â€? he appealed, â€œpity my grey hairs, pity your father, if I am still worthy to be called your father. Do not expose me to such shame before men! Look upon your child – your son – who, if you die, cannot survive without you!â€?
Imagine the pull upon this daughterâ€™s heart: the threats of merciless Rome, the honor and loving tears of her elderly father, the cries of her infant son. How they all pressed to the depths of her young soul! â€œOffer sacrifice for the welfare of the Emperor!â€? demanded the governor.
And thus she stood before her judges, the assembled crowd, her pathetic father, the admiring hosts of heaven, and the hateful legions of hell. But firmly and calmly like Abraham, whose eye was not upon his son but upon the God of resurrection, she said, â€œThat I cannot do. I am a Christian.â€?
Her condemnation was sealed by that simple statement and so was led to the stadium before the bloodthirsty throng. Yet even this did not silence Psalms of praise to God from pouring through her pure lips before them all. Only the tossing and goring upon the horns of the wild bull put an end to her song here below. But she continues singing above, having entered into the joy of her Lord where she was received with, â€œWell done, good and faithful servant.â€?
Stop and think: How does honoring Christ relate to honoring parents, family, and the government? [Mt.10:34-39]. What would you have told Perpetua to do?
CASSIAN c.302 AD
A teacher of children by profession, his judges pronounced this sentence upon him because he was a Christian. â€œLet the schoolteacher be pricked, cut, and stabbed to death by his own scholars [students] with pens, knives and other sharp instruments such as they use in school.â€?
Thereupon he was stripped naked with hands bound behind him while the children fell upon him with stones, boards, and sharp tools. After unspeakable torment, his body could endure no more of their torture and so departed this life into that painless eternal rest above.
EULALIA c.302 AD
Not more than twelve or thirteen years old, this lovely girl was filled with fervent devotion to our Lord Jesus Christ. Boldly she appeared before the judge and all the officials saying, â€œAre you not ashamed to cast your own souls and those of others at once into eternal judgment by denying the only true God, the Father of us all, and the Creator of all things?
â€œO you wretched men! Do you seek the Christians, that you may put them to death? Behold, here am I, an adversary of your satanical sacrifices! I confess with heart and mouth God alone; but Isis, Apollo, and Venus are vain idols!â€?
Whereupon the judge, filled with rage, called for the executioner with this charge, â€œStrip her and inflict various punishments upon her so that she may feel the wrath of the gods of her fathers and learn thereby that it will be hard for her to despise the command of our Princeâ€? [i.e. the Emperor].
After further threats of unspeakable torments, she was urged with these soft words, â€œDaughter, you can escape all these tortures with little trouble if you will only take a few grains of salt and incense on the tips of your fingers, and sacrifice it.â€?
Without a word she replied by pushing far away from her the wretched images, altar, and sacrificial book, sending all scattering to the floor. Instantly two executioners tore open her sides down to the ribs with sharp hooks so that her young blood flowed freely down her sides.
Eulalia, counting the gashes on her body exclaimed, â€œBehold, Lord Jesus Christ! Thy name is being written on my body; what great delight it affords me to read these letters, because they are signs of Thy victory! Behold, my purple blood confesses Thy holy name.â€?
This she proclaimed without shame, fear, or self-pity, but even rejoiced to suffer such for her Lord. Provoked by such â€œstubbornness,â€? the merciless pagans applied burning torches to her open wounds and, catching her hair on fire, she was consumed in its smoke and flame.
JUSTUS c.303 AD
A father and his two sons, while journeying along the road, had been accused to the soldiers of Diocletian by evil informers. Justus, the youngest son, learned of their evil intent and quickly rushed to warn his father and brother to hide in a nearby cave while he kept a watch out for the Emperorâ€™s horsemen.
Upon their approach, he went forth and replied to their questions about his identity and the location of his companions in this way, â€œI am called Justus, and I freely confess that I am also a Christian. But since I regard you as persecutors of the Christians, it is not lawful for me to betray my companions.â€?
To this, they drew their swords and threatened to slay him on the spot if he did not betray his fellows and lead them to their place of hiding. Justus replied, â€œTruly, I shall consider myself happy, if I may be permitted to suffer all manner of punishment, yes, death itself, for the name of Christ; for I am ready to lose my soul in this world that I may keep it unto life eternal.â€?
Having said so, the sword flashed in fury and struck off his head and he entered into that life that he had so faithfully testified to and longed for.