a priest's musings on the journey

Friday, June 01, 2007

St Blandina and the Martyr's of Lyon

Grant, O Lord, that we who keep the feast of the holy martyrs Blandina and her companions may be rooted and grounded in love of you, and may endure the sufferings of this life for the glory that shall be revealed in us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

The memory of Blandina, a slave, has been preserved in a letter from the survivors of the persecution of the Church at Lyons (Lugdunum) to the Church in Asia Minor, which Eusebius recorded in his history. The letter reports that the official persecutions began with a popular boycott that prevented Christians from entering enter private houses, baths, and markets. Many Christian masters were accused to the officials by their slaves who thereby hoped to escape suspicion themselves.

Through Blandina, ". . . Christ showed that those who in the eyes of men appear cheap, ugly and contemptible, are treated by God with great honor because of their love for Him, which displays itself in power and now mere outward boasting. For while we were all of us trembling and her earthly mistress . . . was in torment lest Blandina, so frail in body, should not be strong enough to acknowledge her faith frankly, the child was filled with such strength that the torturers, who followed one another in relays and tormented her from morning to night with every kind of torture, acknowledged that they were beaten and had nothing more that they could do to her." She repeatedly said, while being tortured, "I am a Christian, and nothing vile is done amongst us." She said this because they were accused of incest and cannibalism (a literal interpretation of Christians' consuming the Body and Blood of Christ).

Blandina's steadfast faith inspired Sanctus, a quite recent convert, and strengthened him.

After a time the Emperor said the apostates should be released; the obstinate executed. Blandina was taken to the amphitheater and "fastened to a stake as though to a cross; she prayed aloud, giving much courage to the others, who beheld with their very eyes, by means of this their sister, Him who had been crucified for them!"

The wild beasts would not touch Blandina, so they put her back in prison. On the last day, she and Ponticus--a 15 year old, were brought out (after having watched the others being tortured daily). Ponticus died first. She was then scourged, burned, tied up in a net and thrown to a savage bull to be tossed and finally she was killed. After the bodies rotted for a week, they were cremated, and the ashes thrown into the Rhone. This occurred under the reign of Marcus Aurelius.
:: posted by Padre Rob+, 10:38 PM


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