The whole fury of crowd, governor and soldiers fell with crushing force on Sanctus, the deacon from Vienne; on Muturus, very recently baptise, but heroic in facing his ordeal; on Attalus, who had always been a pillar and support of the church in his native Pergamum; and on Blandina, through who Christ proved that things which men regard as mean, unlovely and contemptible, are by God deemed worthy of great glory, because of her love for Him, shown in power and not vaunted in appearance. We were all afraid, and Blandina’s earthly mistress (herself facing the ordeal of martyrdom) was in agony in case she should be unable to make a bold confession of Christ due to her bodily weakness; but Blandina filled with such power, that those who took it in turns to subject her to every kind of torture from morning to night were exhausted by their efforts, and confessed themselves beaten – they could think of nothing else to do. They were amazed that she was still breathing, for her whole boy was mangled, and her wounds gaped; they declared that torment of any one kind was enough to part soul and body, let alone a succession of torments of such extreme severity. But the blessed woman, wrestling magnificently, grew in strength as she proclaimed her faith, and found refreshment, rest and indifference to her sufferings in uttering the words, ‘I am a Christian. We o nothing to be ashamed of…’Blandina was hung on a post and exposed as food for the wild beasts which had been let loose in the arena. She looked as if she was hanging in form of a cross, and through her ardent prayers she aroused great enthusiasm in the other martyrs who were undergoing their ordeal. In their agony, they seemed to see in their sister the One Who was crucified for them, that He might convince those who believe in Him that anyone who has suffered for the glory of Christ has fellowship for ever with the living God. As none of the wild beasts had touched Blandina, they took her down from the post and returned her to prison, keeping her for a second ordeal…On the last day of the sports they brought Blandina again, an with her Ponticus a boy of about 15. Day after day the authorities had taken them in to watch the others being punished, and tried to make them swear by the pagan idols. When they stood firm and treated these efforts with contempt, the mob was infuriate with them. The boy’s tender age called forth no pity, the woman’s tender sex called forth no respect. They were subjected to every horror and every punishment in turn. The mob tried again and again to make them swear by the gods, but in vain. Ponticus was encouraged by his sister in Christ, so that the pagans saw she was urging him on and stiffening his resistance, and he bravely endured every punishment till he have back the spirit to God. Last of all, like a noble mother who had encouraged her children and sent them ahead to her triumph to the King, blessed Blandina herself passé through all the ordeals of her children and hastened to rejoin them, rejoicing and exulting in her departure as if she had been invited to her wedding supper rather than thrown to wild beasts. After whipping her, giving her to the beasts, and burning her with hot irons, the authorities finally dipped her into a basket and threw her to a bull. The beast gorged her again and again, but she was now indifferent to all that happened to her, because of her hope, her firm grip on all that her faith meant, and her communion with Christ. Then she too was sacrificed. The pagans themselves admitted that they never know a woman suffer so much for so long.
An eye witness account of the persecution in Lyons and Vienne of the terrible execution of the Christian slave girl Blandina (AD177) during the reign of Stoic emperor Marcus Aurelius (AD161-80). The account is taken from 2000 Years of Christ's Power (Part One) by N.R. Needham.
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