Largest massacre of Christians in the early history

20000 passion-bearers of the Lord who suffered by fire

January 10, 2022

20000 passion bearers

This was perhaps the largest massacre of Christians in early history. It happened in the fourth century AD during the reign of the Roman emperors Diocletian and Maximian. Emperor Maximian was upset about the rapid of Christianity across the empire, and the penetration of Christians into the ruling circle and the Court. To stem these developments, the Roman emperors passed laws that ordered all Christians to offer sacrifice to Pagan gods or face retribution. They also promulgated legislation that ordered the confiscation of church literature, destruction of the Christian churches and withdrawal of citizenship rights from the followers of Christ.

The flourishing Christian community of Nicomedia was the heaviest hit. As reported by the church historian Eusebius, all its members were put to death under the terms of this decree – some were beheaded, others burned to death. The mass destruction of Nicomedia's Christians by fire happened on the eve of the Nativity. Angered by the successes of the Bishop and Nicomedia Cyril, who had achieved thousands of conversions, he ordered the church to be rounded up during the festive liturgy where all the faithful were attending. He gave everyone the choice: leave the church, worship the idols and walk free, or stay at the church and be burned to death.

He delivered this message through a priest of the church named Glycerins. He responded that no Christian would ever renounce the Lord, even if they would have to suffer torture for it. Maximian ordered him to be taken out of the church put to trial and burned to death. As Glycerins was dying at the stake raising prayers to the Lord, Maximian ordered to start the fire at the church of Nicomedia. The faithful who managed to escape death in the fire were tortured and executed in other ways.

Along with the 20,000 martyrs who burned inside the church of Nicomedia, the Orthodox venerate the memory of the other martyrs who met their death on orders from the Maximian and Diocletian - Indus, Gorgonius, and Peter thrown into the sea, Glycerius the Presbyter and Mardonius, burned at the stake, Dorotheus the Prefect and Zeno, who died of the sword, Mygdonius, buried alive, and Domna, a former Pagan Magi who believed in Christ, was beheaded and thrown into a fire.

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