Blood of Martyrs - Seed of the Church.
Although a major period of Church history, the true story of the age of martyrdom is not well known. Revisionist historians dismiss as myth the persecution of the early Church, while many faithful Christians see the age as one of constant and systematic persecution lasting three centuries throughout the entire Roman Empire. Neither version bears much scrutiny, and both cloud our understanding of the life of the early Church and her relationship with Rome.
In The Age of Martyrs, Christopher Check, drawing on the work of serious historians including Marta Sordi and Msgr. Giuseppe Ricciotti, takes up the topic of this important era, showing how the pagan response to the early Christians was shaped by Roman law, which was, in the main, favorable to widespread religious tolerance.
He then explains how the laws outlawing Christianity came into effect and how they were enforced with varying degrees of severity depending upon the reigning emperor, and gives accounts of some of the more brutal persecutions of that age. He traces the development of the best way to understand the period: not as the replacement of pagan Rome with Christian Rome, but the convergence of the two.
Considering the truth that “the blood of martyrs is the seed of the Faith,” Check shows how the persecutions were finally brought to an end and what lessons we can derive from them. He concludes with a reflection on the martyrs themselves, suggesting some truths to keep in mind if we really want to enter into the spirit with which they all lived and in which they all gave their lives for Jesus Christ and His holy Church.