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To Domitius and Didymus
(Eus., H. E. vii. 11)
(Part of an Easter Letter)

(1) It is superfluous to mention by name the many members of our body, who are unknown to you: but you should know that men and women, young and old, soldiers114114The difficulties of soldiers becoming and remaining Christians were peculiarly great under the early Emperors. and civilians, every class and age, some by the scourge and fire and some by the sword have conquered in the fight and carried off their crowns, while with some even a very long period did not prove sufficient to show them acceptable to the Lord (as martyrs), as in fact seems to be the case even now with me.115115That is, some had not yet been called upon to be actual martyrs, Dionysius among them who was still in exile. Wherefore I have been put off until a time which He Himself knows to be the right one by Him who saith: “In a time acceptable I heard thee, and in the day of salvation I succoured thee.”116116Is. xlix. 8. For since you inquire and wish to be informed how we fare, by all means hear our experiences: how that when we were being led away prisoners by a centurion and duumviri117117These were the same civil officials as those mentioned in Acts vi. 20 at Philippi, with their servants, there called lictors (ῥαβδοῦχοι): the soldiers belonged to the centurion, of course. with their soldiers and servants, viz. myself and Gaius, Faustus, Peter and Paul, certain of the inhabitants of the Mareotis came upon us, and with violence dragged us off against our will and in spite of our protests.118118This has already been described on p. 44. And now I with Gaius and Peter only, deprived of the company of the other 64 brethren,119119Including Timotheus who had been the means of his escape. am shut in a desolate and dreary part of Libya, three days’ journey from Parætonium.120120A town on the coast 150 miles west of Alexandria.

And further on he says—

(2) In the city there have concealed themselves, secretly looking after the brethren, from among the presbyters Maximus,121121He and the three deacons have already been mentioned on p. 46. They must have left Dionysius when he went into exile and returned to Alexandria. Dioscorus, Demetrius and Lucius (for Faustinus and Aquila, who were better known in the world, are wandering in other parts of Egypt), and of the deacons Faustus, Eusebius and Chæremon, who survived those who perished in the pestilence.122122“In the island,” according to Rufinus’s version, but it is not clear what island he means: the pestilence is probably one of those frequent epidemics which devastated North Africa and other districts of the empire. Eusebius was he whom from the beginning God strengthened and inspired to perform many services for the confessors in prison with all energy, and to carry out at no small risk the last offices for the perfect123123The epithet “perfect,” though applied to believers generally in the New Testament (Matt. v. 28, etc.), was later specially used of martyrs. and blessed martyrs in decking out their bodies (for burial). For up till now the Prefect does not cease from cruelly slaying some of those who are brought before him, as I have already said, and from tearing others in pieces with instruments of torture, while he crushes the spirits of others again with chains and imprisonment, forbidding any to visit them and making search lest any should be found doing so. Nevertheless, God gives them some respite from their miseries through the zeal and steadfast efforts of the brethren.


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