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Rome and the Christians. Nero’s Persecutions. Nero’s Persecutions.

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Rome and the Christians

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Nero’s Persecutions

Besides being put to death [the Christians] were made to serve as objects of amusement; they were clad in the hides of beast and torn to death by dogs; others were crucified, others set on fire to serve to illuminate the night when daylight failed.

Nero had thrown open his grounds for the display, and was putting on a show in the circus, where he drove about in his chariot. All this gave rise to a feeling of pity, even toward men whose guilt merited the most exemplary punishment; for it was felt that they were being destroyed not for the public good but to satisfy the cruelty of an individual.

Publius Cornelius Tacitus

Roman Historian

(AD 56 – 117)


Martyrdoms of

Perpetua & Felicity


Age of Confrontation








Edict of Decius (250 AD)

  • All citizens must sacrifice to the emperor in the presence of a Roman official and receive a certificate as proof...
  • Called a “libellus”…only 44 survive
  • This is one in Greek to a woman and her daughter from a village in Egypt


“Great Persecution”


Edict of Milan

  • 313 AD
  • Agreed by Constantine and Licinius (co-emperor)
  • Gave Christians and “others” the right to worship freely
  • Mandated the return of property that had been previously confiscated