Septimus Severus

Septimus Severus was the Roman Emperor from 198-211 and the author of the fifth persecution. Severus, having been recovered from a severe fit of sickness by a Christian, became a great favorer of the Christians in general; but the prejudice and fury of the ignorant multitude prevailing, obsolete laws were put in execution against the Christians. The progress of Christians alarmed the pagans and this hatred took on a new virulence, Severus was the first to publish a decree dealing with the problem of persecution. Severus published an edict designed to restrain the progress of Christianity; but his laws expired along with the emperors authority, and after this accidental tempest, the Christians enjoyed a calm of years.

Though persecuting malice raged, yet the gospel shone with resplendent brightness. Firm as an impregnable rock, Christianity withstood the attacks of its boisterous enemies with success. Tertullian stated at the time that if the Christians had collectively withdrawn themselves from the Roman territories, the empire would have been greatly depopulated.

Victor, the Bishop of Rome was martyred in 201. Leonidus, the father of the celebrated Origen was beheaded for being a Christian. Many of Origen's hearers likewise suffered martyrdom and many were beheaded. Rhais had boiled pitch poured upon her head. Potainiena, sister of Rhais met the same fate but converted her jailer. Martyred during this persecution was also Sts. Perpetua and Felicity, whose poignant "Passion" is one of the gems of early Christian literature.
[01, 18, 26]

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