Book 1, Chapter 5, 296 AD to 410 AD – Christianity in Britain
In the early part of the fourth century, a fierce persecution broke out against the Christians, at the instigation of the emperor Diocletian, under the pretext of avenging disasters which had attended the Roman arms in distant provinces, and of appeasing the national deities. This was a part of the baptism of blood and of fire through which the early Christian church had to pass, and the records of which contain innumerable instances of heroic endurance and stedfastness, on the part not only of strong men, but also of high-born ladies and gentle children. The catacombs at Rome attest to this day the constancy, the simple faith, and the bright hopes of these early martyrs, whose deeds shed a halo of glory around their names which will never fade away.
It was natural that the monkish chroniclers of British history should desire for the land of their birth or adoption, a share in the renown of such heroic sufferings in the cause of Christianity; and nearly all ecclesiastical historians have included Britain in the scope of this Diocletian persecution. The town of St. Alban’s (the Verulamium of the Romans) is so called after an alleged proto-martyr whom tradition declares to have been put to death in A.D. 304, for being a Christian, and the names of several others have been handed down as sharing in the honour of martyrdom. It is also said that in the council of Arles, held A.D. 314, there were present three British Bishops, of York, London, and Lincoln, from which it is inferred that the island was filled with bishops, clergy, and churches, and that paganism had been practically abolished.
Chapter 5, Christianity in Britain
The Diocletian Persecution
Chapter 5, Decline of the Roman Power
Chapter 5, The Romans Leave Britain
Categories: Book 1