Post #6.6, Thursday, March 12, 2020

Art Note: This paper-cut-collage w/ink was inspired by a photo of an ancient bas-relief retrieved from Wikipedia, (and licensed for common use)  File: Nowruz Zoroastrian.jpg.  The English translation explaining – “the lion-bull combat in Persepolis” – has been variously interpreted, including as the symbol of the Nowruz (the Persian New Year’s Day) – the day of  spring equinox power — eternally fighting bull (earth) and a lion (sun) are equal.

Historical setting: 562 C.E. Gaul

         I’ve had this lingering question all these years. I ask George, “When I first learned of these persecutions I didn’t hear what happened after the deaths. I know that two other Christians visited the nine monks on the night before the executions and they were surprised to find the monks had been tortured. They brought comfort. I‘m sure they also witnessed the executions. But I wondered if there was any record of what happened next to those two?”

         “You mean St. Jonas and St. Barachius?”

         “You call them ‘saints.’ Were they martyred also?”

         “Of course you fool. How could you know only part of the story?

Two days later they were also tortured and executed.”

         “Oh no, I feared that. They were true martyrs while the others were just a happenstance of the politics of the day. Jonas and Barachius came to the jail because they were acting on their Christian duty to share God’s love.”

         “How can you say the first nine didn’t die for their Christian duty? And what of the thousands more Christians persecuted by the Persians?”

         “There were so many?”

         “The named saints were only the first. Obviously they were martyred for Christ not for any kind of politics.”

         “So George, I imagine for all you know of this you would also know the date of this execution.”

         “Of course, it were March 27, 326 A.D.”

         “You are very knowledgeable, young George.”

         “Yes, I am. And that were the same year as the Creed be born in the same council that declared Arius a heretic.”

         “Indeed Brother George. The sameness of that year is the matter of importance in knowing the reason they were not martyrs for Christ but simply victims of earthly power plays. I’ve long pondered this, and there was nothing holy in these deaths. It happened when Shapur II, the Persian emperor heard of Constantine’s declaration to make Rome Christian. He believed a Christian Rome was a trick by Rome to takeover the Persian territories. So he broke the long tolerance the Zoroastrians had for Christians. The executions were a political move against Rome. Would you also not say this was strangely ironic? The reason these Christian refugees fled into Syria was because they shared the same enemy with the Persians — Rome. They weren’t killed because they professed Christianity but because Christianity became Roman. T’was a very strange paradox don’t you think? They shared a peaceful fear of the same enemy until it became one of them. How does that make them saints?”

         “Of Course, Heretic Lazarus, this is not about earthly politics. They clearly died as Christian martyrs. They died for their faith.”

         “No. Actually, George, they died for Rome.”

 (Continued Tuesday, March 17, 2020, a brief thought of St. Patrick)

Published by J.K. Marlin

Retired church playwright learning new art forms-- fiction writing, in historical context and now blogging these stories. The Lazarus Pages have a recurring character -- best friend of Jesus -- repeatedly waking to life in various periods of church history and spirituality.

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