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Boston Catholic Journal - Critical Catholic Commentary in the Twilight of Reason



The Tortures and Torments

of the Christian Martyrs


De SS. Martyrum Cruciatibus

(a Modern Edition)

Chapter X


Of yet other Instruments and Methods of Torture for Afflicting Christian Martyrs — such as:

  • Amputating Women’s Bosoms

  • Cutting out the Tongue

  • Lopping off Hands and Feet

  • Pulling out the Teeth

  • Flaying Alive

  • Transfixing

  • Exposing to Wild Beasts

In 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 broken.

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 Legs Broken

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 Legs Broken

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 dismembered.

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 fecit
("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 Ass:

"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 of Leg-Breaking

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, says:

"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, St. Benignus:

"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 martyr.

"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 light.”

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 tells us:

"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 chapter.



Chapters:  1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 - 8 - 9 - 10 - 11 - 12


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A Primer for

A Primer for Catholic Symbolism

Catholic Symbolism

Listen to
this Catholic Spiritual Classic:

The Practice of the Presence of God - an audio Presentation

The Practice
of the
of God

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Novena to
St Jude

 Novena to St Jude Printable 4-fold with one piece of paper

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of paper, 4-fold, free

With Mary in the Rose Garden

With Mary Immaculate, Mother of God in the Rose Garden
Reflections on the Rosary
with a Poor Clare Nun and
Saint Padre Pio

Pope Saint Pius X
Pray for us

Pope Saint Pius X pray for us

“I shall spare myself neither
care nor labor nor vigils for
the salvation of souls”