List of Christians martyred during the reign of Diocletian

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Saint George before Diocletian, in a 14th-century mural in Ubisi

The reign of the emperor Diocletian (284−305) marked the final widespread persecution of Christians in the Roman Empire. The most intense period of violence came after Diocletian issued an edict in 303 more strictly enforcing adherence to the traditional religious practices of Rome in conjunction with Imperial cult. Modern historians estimate that during this period, known as the Diocletianic or Great Persecution and extending several years beyond the reign of Diocletian, as many as 3,000−3,500 Christians were executed under the authority of Imperial edicts.[1]

The church historian Eusebius, a Bishop of Caesarea who lived through both the "Little Peace" of the Church and the Great Persecution, is a major source for identifying Christian martyrs in this period. Martyr narratives flourished later as a genre of Christian literature, but are not contemporary with the persecutions and are often of dubious historicity. This article lists both historical and legendary figures traditionally identified as martyrs during the reign of Diocletian.

Martyrs of Palestine[edit]

Icon of Saint Timolaus and Companions

The names of the following martyrs are recorded by Eusebius in his work The Martyrs of Palestine:

Martyrs of Nicomedia[edit]

In his Church History, Eusebius discusses the martyrdoms at Nicomedia, naming two:

Attested in early sources[edit]

Saint Sebastian and Madonna with Saints (1525) by Il Sodoma

Largely or wholly legendary[edit]

The Flagellation of Erasmus of Formiae, from the crypt of Santa Maria in Via Lata (ca. 750)
Eulalia of Mérida with the martyr's palm (Master of Meßkirch, 1535–40)

Citations[edit]

  1. ^ Frend, Martyrdom and Persecution, 393–94; Liebeschuetz, 251–52.

References[edit]

  • Frend, William H.C. Martyrdom and persecution in the early church: a study of a conflict from the Maccabees to Donatus. New York University Press, 1967. Reissued in 2008 by James Clarke Company, U.K. ISBN 0-227-17229-9
  • Liebeschuetz, J. H. W. G. Continuity and Change in Roman Religion. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1979. ISBN 0-19-814822-4