in the third century
Emperor Valerian tortured and punished the Christians during the days of the early Church. He had allowed a Roman officer to put St. Cyprian to death in September 258.
The Roman officer himself died soon after and the new official, Solon, was nearly killed by some rebels. He suspected that they tried to kill him in revenge for the death of St. Cyprian and arrested eight innocent people.
They were all Christians; mostly deacons, priests and bishops. Each of them had been a devoted follower of St. Cyprian. These Christians were taken down into dark dungeons where they found others whom they knew.
These deep dungeons were dirty and damp and the high walls surrounded the group. They realized that they would soon be put to death. The Christians were kept many months in the prison.
They were made to work during the day and were often kept without food and water for no reason. The cruel treatment, made these Christians grow close together and they helped one another bear their sufferings. The ordinary people protected the bishops, priests and deacons at whom the emperor's cruelty was specially aimed at.
When the Christians were finally called to the place of execution, each was allowed to speak. Montanus, who was tall and strong, spoke bravely to the entire Christian crowd. He told them to be true to Jesus and to die rather than give up the faith.
Lucius, who was small and in poor health, walked quietly to the place where he was to die. He was weak from the hard months in prison. In fact, he had to lean on two friends who helped him to the place where the executioner waited. The people who watched asked him to remember them when he went to heaven.
As each of the Christians were beheaded one after another, the Christians who watched became braver and stronger. They wept for those who suffered such injustice. But they were also filled with joy when they realized that these martyrs would bless them from heaven.
Montanus, Lucius and their companions willingly died for their faith in Jesus in 259.
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