The Tortures and Torments
of the Christian Martyrs
De SS. Martyrum
(a Modern Edition)
Of yet other Instruments and Methods of Torture for Afflicting
Christian Martyrs such as:
Cutting out the
Lopping off Hands
Pulling out the
Exposing to Wild
this chapter we will consider still further methods of torture under
which the Catholic Martyrs suffered, beginning with the deliberate amputation
of women's breasts. This cruelty is found again and again in the
Acts of many female martyrs we find it, for example, in the
Acts of St. Euphemia, of Saints Dorothy, Thecla, and Erasma, three
sisters, of twelve Holy Matrons whose names are now forgotten, of St.
Agatha and others, and lastly of St. Helconis, whose sufferings are
recorded in the Greek Menology on May 28th, in these words:
"The anniversary of the Blessed
Martyr Helconis. She lived under the Emperor Gordian, and came from
the city Thessalia. Arrested and brought before Perennius, the Governor
of Corinth, she refused to sacrifice to idols, but preaching Christ
and none other, she was first bound by the feet to an ox yoke, and
laid in molten lead and boiling pitch, but escaped unharmed. She
was then shaven and her whole body drenched in fire. Remaining unharmed
once again, she went into the temple of idols, and by her prayers
threw down to the earth the images of Pallas, Jupiter, and Aesculapius.
But when Justinus succeeded Perennius as Proconsul, her bosoms were
cut off, and being brought before the new Governor, she was cast
into a furnace of blazing fire, but the flames did not so much as
touch her, although they burned up and consumed many of the soldiers.
Afterward she was stretched out on a brass bedstead heated red-hot,
but suddenly a company of Angels stood round her, and saved the
holy martyr from all harm. Next she was exposed to wild beasts,
which, while they did her no harm, yet slew several of their keepers.
Finally the Governor pronounced sentence, which she most gratefully
received; and so she was beheaded and took her departure to heaven."
We now proceed to the other methods
of torture mentioned at the beginning of this chapter those, specifically,
through which the martyrs' teeth were pulled out, or their tongues cut
off, or their hands or feet, or both, amputated, or lastly their legs
Of Martyrs whose Teeth were pulled out
This form of torture, which needs,
no further explanation, is found in the Acts of the Holy Saints
and Virgins, Apollonia, Anastasia, and Febronia.
Of Martyrs whose Tongue was Cut Out
Christians who were subjected
to this kind of punishment are named in the Acts of many Martyrs
of either sex as of Saints Terentianus, Florentius, and Hilary, and
Saints Basilissa, Anastasia, and Agathoclia. The last named is commemorated
in the Menology on October 1st:
"Anniversary of the Blessed
Martyr Agathoclia, a slavewoman. She was the servant of ... a certain
[pagan mistress] Paulina who seeing that Agathoclia was a Christian
and feared God, she was for ever striking her on the head with sharp
stones, and forced her to walk forth barefoot to gather sticks in
winter and frost, and for those entire eight years strove to persuade
Agathoclia to adore idols. But this she utterly refused to do; so
she was scourged, her tongue cut out, and she cast into prison and
there starved. Finally fire was poured down her throat, and she
exchanged this life for a better one."
The other two martyrs, Saints
Basilissa and Anastasia, are commemorated on April 15th as follows:
"Anniversary of Saints Basilissa
and Anastasia. These were natives of Rome, the capital, ladies distinguished
by birth and wealth, and disciples of the Holy Apostles, and when
these latter [the Apostles] were crowned with martyrdom, they had
their holy relics collected and moved by night. For this they were
denounced to the Emperor Nero, and were accordingly thrown into
prison, and presently, when they remained steadfast in their profession
of Christ, were brought forth again, and hung up, then after breasts,
hands, feet, and tongues had been cut away, were finally beheaded."
Of Martyrs Whose Hands and Feet were Lopped Off or their
These three methods of torture
employed upon Christians are witnessed to in the Acts of St.
Quirinus and thirty-seven other martyrs, of Saints Severus and Memnon,
of St. Charitina, virgin and martyr, of St. Galatio and his wife, St.
Hadrian and his companions, and of of forty Roman soldiers whose holy
martyrdom is recorded in the Martyrology on March 9th.
Of the Different Ways in which the Blessed Martyrs Teeth
were Pulled Out and their Tongues and Breasts Cut Way
By the operation of the divine
power and goodness it sometimes came about that the martyrs, after their
tongue was cut out, yet uttered speech and spoke eloquently. This is
attested to in various Acts of the Blessed Martyrs; in those
cited above and in the records of the martyrdom of St. Anastasia. As
a rule the Holy Martyrs had tongues and breasts cut away, and teeth
pulled out, after they had first been bound to stakes set upright in
the ground. We learn this from the Acts of St. Febronia, virgin
and martyr, also mentioned earlier.
How the Blessed Martyrs had their Feet Cut Off and their
The Christian martyrs' hands and
feet were amputated (as we find in the Acts of St. Febronia,
of St. Oceanus and his companions) in the following way: first, the
limb to be removed was placed on a block of timber or a stand of wood;
then the executioner would lift up his arm holding the axe, and bringing
this down with a crash, would strike away and lop off the part to be
Leg-breaking was effected as follows: an anvil was prepared together
with an iron bar; then the Christians condemned to death for their fidelity
to Christ, were ordered to put their shins upon the anvil, which the
inhuman executioner then smashed with heavy blows of the iron crowbar.
This is all described in the History of the martyrdom of St.
Hadrian, mentioned above.
This punishment, as likewise that of breaking of the loins, is
spoken of among ancient writers, such as Plautus
in his Poenulus, where he says:
Ex syncrasto scrurifragium
("The wretch was a mere aggregation of mangled humanity before,
and now he had his legs broken into the bargain").
Also by Apuleius in his Golden
"Then the noble wife, praying
to avert this dreadful doom and thinking with horror of his legs
being broken, hides away her husband, who is shuddering and deathly
pale with terror."
The False Opinion held by Some Concerning the Punishment
Some hold that the penalty of
leg-breaking was identical with that of breaking the legs of a criminal
after he was nailed to the cross. This, however, is mistaken,
for the practice of breaking the legs of persons crucified so that
they may die the more quickly, was in use only among the Jews, and was
not a practice followed by the Gentiles. The latter simply left the
bodies of crucified criminals hanging on the cross until they rotted
away. This is implied by Plautus, who in his Miles Gloriosus
has a slave say:
Noli minitari; scio crucem
futuram mihi; sepulcrum
("Don't keep on threatening; I know well enough the cross will
be my tomb at last")
And by Horace in his Epistles:
Non hominem occidi; non pasces in cruce corvos
("I have not killed a man; you shall not feed the crows with
my flesh on the cross").
From this it is clear that the
Gentiles did not, like the Jews, remove from the gallows the bodies
of those they had crucified, but rather left them there to rot.
We now move on to discuss the remaining forms of torture first those
wherein sharp-pointed reeds were stuck under the finger-nails, between
these and the flesh of the fingers, or the martyrs flayed alive, or
impaled on a sharpened stake.
These tortures are described in several accounts of the deaths of the
Saints most notably in that of St. Bartholomew the Apostle, as well
as of St. Glyceria, a Roman virgin and martyr, of Saints Gregory the
Armenian, Galatio, Boniface, Benjamin the Deacon, and many others.
Of Martyrs Pierced with Spits
Moreover the Blessed Christian
Martyrs were not only impaled with a sharpened stake, as just described,
but were sometimes transfixed with iron spits. This is stated distinctly
both in the History of the Martyrdom of St. Quirinus, and especially
by Sozomen, in his Ecclesiastical History:
"At Gaza the populace, under
the Emperor Julian the Apostate, virulently persecuted Eusebius,
Nestabus, and Zeno, who were Christians. They were arrested when
hiding in their houses, thrown into jail and beaten with scourges.
Soon all the people began to gather at the theatre and cried out
angrily against them, declaring that they had profaned their holy
images and had earlier conspired to destroy and insult the
religion of the Heathen. So by dint of shouting and mutually exciting
one another, they were lashed up into passionate anger and the fierce
desire to shed blood.
Thus egging each other on,
as is the way of the people when once roused into turbulence, they
rushed to the prison, and hauling them forth, dragged them along,
face down, face up, as it might happen. Presently dashing them on
the ground, and beating them with sticks and stones and whatever
weapons chance put in their hands, they cruelly put them to death.
I have heard, too, that the women, coming out of the weaving sheds,
stabbed them with their pointed spindles, and the cooks in the market-place
snatched caldrons of boiling water from their fires and dashed the
contents over them, while others pierced them with their spits.
Then when they had mangled their bodies and so broken their heads
that the brains poured out on the ground, they convey them to a
spot outside the city where dead carrion was wont to be thrown away."
More than enough has now been
said of the impaling of the martyrs with sharpened stakes, transfixing
them with spits, and similar horrors.
We must now address to finish the list of tortures enumerated at the
beginning of Chapter 9 the ways in which the Martyrs were flayed alive,
and then concerning the Catholic sufferers of our own day, under whose
fingernails needles are stuck by their Heretic persecutors.
Martyrs, in full possession of their consciousness and all their senses,
often had the skin of their whole body flayed off, or sometimes that
of some part only: the back, the face, or head to which lighted coals
were then sometimes applied.
Now concerning the torture of Catholic believers by Heretics by means
of needles driven under the finger-nails, the author of the Anglican
Controversy, thus writes of the case of Alexander Briant:
"When Briant had spent two
days in the Tower, he was summoned before them by the Governor of
the Fortress and Doctors Hammond and Norton, who cross-examined
him in their customary fashion, proposing an oath to him to compel
him to answer all the charges brought against him. And when he would
not reveal those who supported him, or where he had performed the
Mass, or whose confessions he had heard, they ordered needles to
be stuck under his finger-nails. Despite this cruelty, he cheerfully
repeated the Psalm, Miserere mei, Deus (Have mercy upon me,
O God), and earnestly asked God to pardon his tormentors."
But to proceed now to yet other
methods of torture, by which, as we have said already, martyrs were
thrown down headlong from high places. That they were so treated, is
amply attested to in many of the Acts of martyrs, as, for instance,
we find in the Acts of St. Clement of Ancyra and of St. Felicitas
and her sons. Tacitus, the Historian, writes how one Lucius Pithuanius,
a magician, was cast down from the Tarpeian rock, while Apuleius, in
the Discourse by which he defends himself against the charge of sorcery,
"A wondrous fabrication, a
cunning falsehood deserving of the jail and the dungeon."
Now the Dungeon and the Tarpeian
Rock were both of them names of the place [the Capitoline Hill] at Rome
from which criminals were hurled down a steep cliff to their death.
Since it is plain that magicians or sorcerers were thrown down from
this cliff, there is little doubt that Christians also believed to
be sorcerers by the Heathen were subjected to the same form of punishment,
and so won for themselves the blessed crown of martyrdom.
Of Martyrs Who were
Torn in Different Ways or Exposed to Wild Beasts of Different Kinds
Witness to this form of torture
and execution of Christ's most blessed martyrs is extensively provided
in the Histories of many Saints, as for instance in those of
Saints Philemon and Apollonius, St. Thyrsus and his companions, St.
Mark the Evangelist (Roman Martyrology, on April 25th), and St.
Onesiphorus, a disciple of the Holy Apostles, St. Martiana, virgin and
martyr, and an host of Saints and Martyrs who won their crown under
the Emperor Nero.
The Manner in which
the Martyrs were Dragged Around and Torn
Sometimes Martyrs were dragged
over rough and stony places, or ground sown with brambles and thistles,
tied to the necks or tails of wild horses by ropes looped and fastened
round their ankles. In our own day, Catholics were pitifully dragged
through cities by the Heretics, as we find in the Theatre of Heretic
Cruelties, Sanders' Anglican Schism, and in the work already
cited On the Anglican Persecution. In the Theatre of Cruelties,
for example, you will read how a venerable Catholic widow, sixty years
of age, at the city of Embrun, was, because of her Faith, bound by the
hair of her head to a log of wood, and cruelly dragged through the streets.
Of Martyrs Condemned to the Wild Beasts
Furthermore, it was customary
in antiquity to condemn criminals and later, Christians to
the wild beasts. This punishment is mentioned by Asinius Pollio, Aulus
Gellius, Apuleius, Athenreus, and Josephus, as well as in many other
Acts of the B1essed Martyrs. It is also described in Suetonius'
Life of Domitian, where he explains that the martyrs were exposed,
not only to lions, but sometimes to dogs as well, although lions were
more commonly used. We learn of this not only from the story of Androcles
related by Aelian, and the History of the Holy Martyr, St. Ignatius,
as it occurs in Eusebius' Ecclesiastical History and in St. Jerome,
but also from the common cry that the Roman population used to raise
against the Christians. Tertullian again and again affirms how the Roman
mob was forever crying,
"The Christians to the lions,
the Christians to the lions!" "If the Tiber," he writes, "overflows
the walls, if the Nile does not overflow the fields, if the sky
has stood still, or the earth trembled, if famine or pestilence
has befallen, instantly is the cry raised, 'The Christians to the
lions!' " And in another place: "For fear there be none left to
shout, 'The Christians to the wild beasts!' "
That Christians were often cast
to these kinds of animals as well as to others to be devoured and torn
in pieces is shown in their own Histories, and not only by Tertullian.
This is not surprising, for we find in Roman law that this punishment
was deemed proper for slaves. Since it was usually inflicted only upon
slaves and those esteemed less than slaves, it would then be considered
a suitable punishment for Christ's faithful servants who were deemed
no better than slaves, and worse still among the Heathen. It is,
then, no cause for wonder if they were frequently found exposed to beasts.
As we have seen in virtually every other form of torture that we have
examined thus far, this being exposed to wild beasts was not always
accomplished in one and the same way. Sometimes the martyrs were stripped
naked and shut up in the midst of theatres or other places where they
were imprisoned; sometimes were they bound to stakes, wrapped in nets,
or clothed in the skins of beasts, and so given to the lions; sometimes
their feet were fixed in hollowed stones by means of molten lead, and
they were enclosed in a confined space and delivered over to be savaged
by dogs. We find the following in the Acts of the Holy Martyr,
"Angered by these words, the
most wicked Emperor commanded him to be shut up in prison, and a
great stone with a hole through it to be brought, into which his
feet were fixed with molten lead. Red-hot awls were then stuck lengthwise
into his fingers under the nails, and for six days he was allowed
neither food nor drink. What is more, twelve very savage dogs were
imprisoned along with him, maddened with hunger and thirst, to the
end that they might tear him in pieces and a little further on,
"Oh! wondrous goodness of God, Oh! fatherly love of Jesus Christ
for His own! Behold! An Angel gave him aid, and the dogs grew gentle,
so that they touched not so much as a hair of his head nor a thread
of his clothing ..."
Eusebius, also speaking of Christians
exposed to wild beasts, tells us:
"The day for fighting with
the beasts having been expressly fixed for the torture of those
of our Faith, Maturus, Sanctus, Blandina, and Attalus, were led
out to the wild beasts, that they might afford the Heathen a public
and open spectacle full of inhumanity and cruelty. Then Maturus
and Sanctus were again exposed to every sort of torture in the amphitheatre
... and these holy men endured the savage tearing of beasts, and
every other form of torment. ... But Blandina, bound aloft to a
beam of wood, was offered a prey to the beasts that rushed in. Being
so seen suspended as on a cross, and praying fervently, she instilled
great zeal and alacrity in the minds of her fellow-sufferers; for
in their martyred sister, thus hanging on the cross before them,
they seemed in a way to see Christ Himself, which was crucified
for us, with their bodily eyes. ... However, when not one of the
wild beasts would so much as touch her flesh, she was soon taken
down from the beam, and thrust back again into prison."
Further down in the same chapter
Eusebius continues, writing of the martyr, St. Alexander, a physician:
"The mob now began to cry
out against Alexander. When the Governor cross-questioned him, asking
him who he was, he answered, 'I am a Christian.' Upon hearing this,
the Governor was provoked and condemned him to the beasts. So the
next day Alexander joined the same band for fighting the beast with
Attalus for the Governor, to please the people, condemned Attalus
a second time to this punishment."
And a little further on again,
"Last of all, Saint Blandina,
although a noble and well-born matron, after encouraging her children
to their own martyrdom and sending them forward victoriously to
Christ the King, now herself ran the same race of torments, going
gladly to rejoin them, and exulting with a great joy in her own
death, she was hastening not as though to be cruelly cast forth
to the beasts, but as one happily invited to the marriage feast
of the bridegroom. So after scourging and mangling by beasts and
roasting in a frying-pan, she was finally rolled in a net and exposed
to be tossed by bulls. After she had been mangled and thrown about
for a long time by these animals, but had no feeling whatever of
the tortures so far applied to her, partly because of the hope by
which she trusted in God's promises, and partly through the conversations
she held between herself and Christ, she was eventually slain by
a sword-cut in the throat."
To quote Eusebius once more:
"... some won glory in Palestine
by their patient endurance of torments, and others acquired great
renown at Tyre in Phoenicia. And who has not marveled above measure
at these men, upon beholding the countless scourgings they endured,
their fighting with wild beasts, and their endurance against the
attacks of leopards, huge bears, savage boars, and bulls roused
to madness by fire and steel, and the wondrous fortitude of these
noble-hearted martyrs against the assault of each and every beast?
... we were present ourselves, and noted how the divine power of
our Savior, Jesus Christ Himself, to whom they were giving noble
witness in their tortures, gave a very present help at that time
to His martyrs and manifestly showed itself to them.
"For a long time those ravening beasts did not dare touch the bodies
of the Saints or so much as approach them, even as they were ready
to rush upon the unbelievers, who, standing outside the barriers,
one here and another there, incited and provoked them to attack
the victims. And although the blessed soldiers of God stood there
naked in the midst, and provoked the animals with gestures, trying
to bring them to assail them (for they had been expressly commanded
to do so), yet they were the only ones the creatures would not touch.
Indeed, several times when they rushed out upon them, they were
repelled, as though by some heavenly power or influence, and leapt
back again quicker than they had come. And when this was seen to
happen over and over again, it caused no little wonder among the
heathen who saw it, so much so that when one beast made a vain attack,
they would loose a second, and then a third, at one and the same
"At the same time, the spectator would be lost in wonder and astonishment
to see not only the manly and intrepid temper of these Holy Men,
but no less the firm and inflexible constancy exhibited by those
of quite tender years. For you would behold a mere stripling not
twenty years old yet, constrained by no bonds, standing firm, his
arms extended on each side to form a cross, and with gallant and
lofty determination pouring forth prayers to God, his attention
never wavering, not moving a whit to one side or the other from
the spot where he stood while bears and leopards were breathing
rage and death upon him, and actually trying to tear his flesh with
their teeth. But their mouths, by some divine and mysterious power,
were stopped, I know not how, and the creatures hastily fled back
again of their own accord."
One last quotation from Eusebius
on this subject, who speaks repeatedly of Christ's faithful servants
being exposed to wild beasts;
"Others again you might see
for there were five of them in all offered to the horns of a
huge wild bull. This monster tossed in the air several of the unbelievers
who came near, and mangled them miserably, leaving them half dead
to be dragged away by the hands of their companions; but to the
holy martyrs, although the bull strove to rush at them, burning
with rage and fury, yet it could not so much as come near them.
And although it sprang back and forth with rushing feet and waving
horns, and goaded on with the application of branding irons, breathed
terror and destruction against them, yet was it held back and forced
to withdraw by some interposition of the divine will, until at last,
seeing it could do them no harm, other beasts were loosed against
them instead. At long last, after many different attacks and assaults
of these animals, the martyrs were slain with a sword and committed
to the waves of the sea by way of burial."
Apart from Christian witnesses,
Cornelius Tacitus, the Roman Historian and writer on morals, is also
very clear that the martyrs, clad in the hides of beasts, were delivered
by the Heathen to be torn by dogs, for he states in the Annals:
"So to stifle this rumor (that
he [Nero] had set Rome on fire himself), he brought to trial and
subjected to the most exquisite torments those whom the common folk,
to express their contempt and hatred of them, called Christians.
The originator of this title was one Christ, who, under the Emperor
Tiberius, was punished by the Procurator Pontius Pilate. The mischievous
superstition was suppressed for the time being, but presently broke
out again, not only throughout Judea, the original seat of the evil,
but even in the Capital itself, to which everything abominable and
disgraceful collects from every quarter, and multiplies.
Accordingly, those who confessed
themselves Christians were first arrested, and at their denunciation
a vast multitude of others; these were proved guilty not so much
of having actually set fire to the city as of general malevolence
to mankind at large. Moreover mockery was added to the death penalty
in their case; clad in the skins of beasts, they were exposed to
be torn to death by dogs, or were nailed to crosses, or were set
up to be burned, and after daylight failed, used as torches to give
See likewise the Roman Martyrology
on June 24th, where an almost identical account is given of these Saints'
deaths, and which speaks generally of many Christians who won the crown
of martyrdom under Nero.
We read, moreover, in Eusebius' Ecclesiastical History as well
as in the Acts of different Blessed Martyrs and especially
in those of Pope Marcellus how Bishops of the Church, under
the Emperor Maxentius, were, for their greater degradation, assigned
to look after beasts of burden. So in the History of Marcellus,
Bishop of Rome, we find:
"He was imprisoned and attacked
because he was for setting the Church in order, and was arrested
by Maxentius, who demanded him to deny that he was a Bishop and
to demean himself by making sacrifice to demons. But consistently
despising and deriding Maxentius' orders, he was condemned to the
stable-yard, that is the stalls or stable of the beasts of burden;
in other words to feed (as Eusebius explains in another passage)
the Emperor's horses and camels, which were used for the public
service in carrying loads."
In Theodoretus' Ecclesiastical
History we read of the Persian martyr, St. Hormisdas:
"There was a certain Hormisdas,
of the first nobility among the Persians, sprung of the race of
the Achaemenidae, and whose father had been Governor of a Province.
Learning that this man was a Christian, Goraranes, son of Isdigerdis,
King of the Persians, ordered him to be summoned before him and
to abjure God his Savior. But Hormisdas cried, 'What you command,
O, King, is neither just nor expedient, for whosoever has learned
readily to despise God, Who is the ruler of all men, and to deny
Him, will be so much the more ready to despise his King, since the
latter is but a man and a participator in human weakness.
But the King of Persia, which
should have admired his wise speech, robbed God's noble champion
of his wealth and honors, and ordered him to strip off all his garments
except only a breech-cloth, and lead the camels that were in his
army. After many days had past, the King, looking down from his
raised seat, and seeing that excellent nobleman scorched by the
sun's rays and all covered with dust, called to mind his former
rank and splendor, and ordered Hormisdas to be brought to him, and
a linen shift to be thrown about him. Then, presuming a change of
mind through the hardships he endured, or in light of the kindness
now shown him, he appealed to him, saying, 'Come, now, put away
your obstinacy, and deny the carpenter's son.' But Hormisdas, fired
with divine zeal, tore the shift in two and, tossing it in the King's
face, rebuked him, saying, 'If you think I shall desert my faith
for this thing's sake, take back your gift and your impious thought
with it. ..."
A punishment of the same kind
is recorded by Victor, in his work on The Vandal Persecution,
in which, speaking of Armagastus, a most noble martyr of Christ, he
"Then Theodoric condemned
him to exile in the Province of Byzacium, and there to be employed
in digging of ditches. Afterward, as if to further disgrace and
dishonor him, he ordered him to work as a cow-tender not far from
Carthage, where all men might see him."
Of Christian Martyrs given to be Nibbled Upon by Mice
or to be Trodden Underfoot by Horses
Christians were also given to
mice by Goraranes, the most cruel of the Persian Kings, as Theodoretus
relates in his History:
"Moreover they dig pits, put
them (the Christians) very carefully into them, and poured upon
them a vast number of shrew-mice. Finally, after binding their hands
and feet to hinder them from driving off the little creatures, they
offered them as food to the mice, which under the stress of hunger
gradually ate away the flesh of the imprisoned saints, thus torturing
them horribly day after day. ..."
Similar, but more cruel still,
was a form of torture by which the Heretics of our own time (1591)
as described in the Theatre of Heretic Cruelties tormented
recalcitrant Catholics in an effort to make them abjure their Faith.
Laying them on their backs and binding them securely, they placed on
their bare stomachs inverted basins with live rodents trapped inside
them and proceeded to light a fire over the basins, so that
the rodents, attempting to escape the heat, gnawed through their bellies
and buried themselves in their inwards. Other Catholics of our present
time like the Christians who suffered under Nero have been
sewn up in the hides of beasts and exposed to the bites of mad dogs
at the orders of Elizabeth, Queen of England, because they refused fulfill
her wicked commands that they renounce the true Catholic Faith.
Some of the early Christian martyrs, especially the Bishops, were often
thrown to the ground by the orders of impious persecutors, to be trampled
and mangled by horses. Victor speaks of this in his Vandal Persecution:
"After these cruel edicts
so full of noxious poison, he ordered all the Bishops, who had been
assembled at Carthage, and whose churches, houses and belongings
whatsoever had been plundered, to be driven forth out of the city
walls, with not so much as an animal or a slave, or a single change
of clothing being left them, and further ordered that anyone who
offered any of them hospitality or gave them food, or should even
attempt to do so out of pity, would be burnt up with fire, he and
his house with him.
But the expelled Bishops act
very wisely; for they adopted the state of mendicants and did not
quit the city at all, knowing full well that if they did withdraw,
they would only be recalled again and forcibly brought back
and moreover that their enemies would lie, as they had lied before,
and declare they had run away because they were afraid to face the
persecution, and last but not least that, if they did so return,
they would find no place of refuge open to them, their Churches,
their houses and their goods having been seized.
"So as they were lying groaning round about the circuit of the walls
and exposed to the weather, it came about that the King went forth
to the baths. They all then crowded eagerly around him, saying,
'Why are we so afflicted? For what faults unwittingly committed
do we suffer this treatment? If we were called together to hold
a disputation, why have we been plundered? Why are we driven out,
and put off? Why, deprived of our Churches and our houses, are we
made to bear hunger and nakedness, and left wallowing in the mire?'
But looking at them with lowering eyes, even before he had heard
their appeal, he ordered horses with riders on their backs to be
driven over them, that they would not merely be bruised and hurt
by this violence, but actually killed. And indeed many were trodden
to death, especially the older and weaker among their number."
Imitating these examples, the
Heretics of our own day and in the same way treated a certain friar,
John, a venerable member of the Order of St. Francis, and lately appointed
Bishop of Daventry. After savagely wounding him and punishing and insulting
him in many other ways, they simply had him trod under foot, and left
him lying in the streets like a foul and abject corpse. We read of the
same being done under the Emperor Diocletian to three Blessed Saints
of Christ, Maxima, Secunda and Donatilla, virgins and martyrs.
The remainder of the many tortures
enumerated at the beginning of Chapter IX will be found in the following