Zoe is Cruelly Put to Death for Refusing to Worship Mars
Rome Under Diocletian
Diocletian became emperor in the year 284. He at first showed favor to the Christians, but when he appointed Maximian, a fellow-soldier, to rule jointly with him, a dreadful persecution was begun.
Felician and Primus, two brothers, were seized by an order from the imperial court: owning themselves Christians, they were scourged, tortured, and finally beheaded.
Marcus and Marcellianus were twins, natives of Rome, and of noble descent. Their parents were heathens, but the tutors to whom the education of the children was entrusted, brought them up as Christians. Being arrested on account of their faith, they were tortured, and then sentenced to be beheaded. A delay of a month was obtained by their friends, during which their father, mother, and other near relatives, attempted to bring them back to heathenism, but in vain. At last their constancy converted even those who would have persuaded them, and their parents and whole family became converts to a faith they had just before condemned.
When the month had passed, Tranquillinus, the father of the two young men, was sent for by the prefect, to give him an account of his endeavors. He then confessed that so far from having persuaded his sons to forsake the faith, he had become a Christian himself. He then stood silent till the judge had recovered from his surprise. Resuming his discourse, he used such powerful arguments that he made a convert of the magistrate also, who soon after sold his estate, resigned his command, and spent the remainder of his days in pious retirement.
The judge who succeeded the above-mentioned convert had nothing of the disposition of his predecessor. He was a cruel and bloody-minded and, who seized every Christian he could lay his hands on. Some were martyred by being tied to posts, and having their hands and feet pierced with nails; after remaining in this dreadful condition for a day and night, their sufferings were ended by lances being thrust through their bodies.
Zeo, the wife of the jailer who had charge of these martyrs, being greatly interested in their conversation, expressed a desire to become a Christian. As she was speechless with palsy, she could only express herself by signs. They gave her instructions in the faith, and told her to pray in her heart to God to cure her of her disease. She did so, and was at length relieved. Her paralytic disorder by degrees left her, and her speech returned again. This strengthened her faith, and she was confirmed as a Christian. Her husband, finding his wife had been made well, became a convert himself. These conversions made a great talk, and the two were arrested and brought before the judge for trail.
Zeo was commanded to sacrifice to Mars, and upon refusing, she was hanged upon a tree, and a fire of straw lighted under her. When her charred and lifeless body was taken down, it was thrown into a river, and sunk to the bottom by being tied to a great stone.
Tibertius, a native of Rome, was of a family of rank and distinction. It is related by one historian, that being accused as a Christian, he was commanded either to sacrifice to idols, or to walk upon burning coals. He chose the latter, and passed over them without damage. Fabian then passed sentence upon him that he should be beheaded; this was done, and his body was afterward buried by some Christian friends.
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