Being Christian under the Emperors

An historical journey through the persecution of Christians under the Emperors.

Fr John M. Cunningham, O.P.

Tiberius (AD 14-37)

Crucifixion of Jesus, just outside of Jerursalem (Mark 15 & par.)
Deacon Stephen stoned to death by a mob in Jerusalem (Acts 7:51-60)

Claudius (41-54)

Apostle James, son of Zebedee, beheaded in Palestine by King Herod Agrippa I (Acts 12:1-2)

Nero (54-68)

James the Just (the “brother of the Lord”) stoned in Jerusalem
Christians blamed for the burning of Rome; some Christians burned at the stake or killed by wild animals
Apostle Peter crucified just outside of Rome (cf. John 21:18-19)
Apostle Paul beheaded just outside of Rome (cf. 2 Tim 4:6-8)

Domitian (81-96)

John (author of Book of Revelation) exiled on the island of Patmos (near Ephesus)

Trajan (98-117)

Bishop Ignatius of Antioch (Syria) condemned to fight wild beasts in Rome

Antoninus Pius (138-161)

Bishop Polycarp of Smyrna (Asia Minor) martyred

Marcus Aurelius (161-180)

Christian Martyrs of Lyons & Vienne (southern France)
ca. 165: Justin Martyr, beheaded in Rome

Commodus (180-192)

The Passion of the Scillitan Martyrs

Septimius Severus (193-211)

Edict makes it illegal to convert to Christianity; persecution esp. in North Africa
Perpetua & Felicity martyred in Carthage (North Africa) .

Trajanus Decius (249-251)

Major Empire-Wide Persecution; Christians required to participate in Emperor Worship
Bishop Fabian of Rome martyred; Bishop Cyprian of Carthage exiled; Origen of Alexandria tortured to death

Valerian (253-260)

Bishop Cyprian of Carthage martyred

Diocletian (284-305)& Maximian (286-305)

Major Empire-Wide Persecution begins ca. 303; confiscation of Christian churches and books; arrest, torture, and execution of many Christian leaders

Licinius (311-323)

311: Edict of Galerius: decrees toleration for Christians, allowing them to worship openly

Constantine (307-337)

313: Edict of Constantine (Edict of Milan): decrees toleration for all religions, including Christianity; ends persecutions

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