Pictorial Half Hours with the Saints – The 40 Martyrs of Rome

main article for The 40 Martyred Soldiers of RomeDeath Rather than Sin

The emperors Valerian and Gallianus raised against the Church a persecution so violent that the Christians for a time deemed that the reign of Antichrist had come. The persecution began in the year 259, and lasted three years and a half; it is reckoned as the eighth general persecution. The number of persons of every age and condition who preferred death to apostasy cannot be computed: the East, the West, Africa, and the world at large, were deluged with Christian blood; there were isolated slaughterings, as well as general massacres. The Martyrology mentions, on the 13th of January, the forty soldiers who suffered death on the same day, in these terms: “At Rome, the triumph of the forty blessed soldiers who deserved to bear off the crown of martyrdom for their profession of faith, in the Lavinian Way, under the reign of Gallianus.”

Moral Reflection

The abject spirits that have apostatized in order to save their lives are sighing away in utter darkness. The generous Christian souls that preferred death are dwelling with God in His glory, “For he that will save his life shall lose it, and he that shall lose his life for my sake, shall find it” saith Jesus Christ. – Matthew 16:25

– from Pictorial Half Hours with the Saints, by Father Auguste Fran├žois Lecanu, 1865