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Chapter XXXIII.

Well, the end of the persecutions was reached eighty-eight years ago, at which date the emperors began to be Christians. For Constantine then obtained the sovereignty, and he was the first Christian of all the Roman rulers. At that time, it is true, Licinius, who was a rival of Constantine for the empire, had commanded his soldiers to sacrifice, and was expelling from the service those who refused to do so. But that is not reckoned among the persecutions; it was an affair of too little moment to be able to inflict any wound upon the churches. From that time, we have continued to enjoy tranquillity; nor do I believe that there will be any further persecutions, except that which Antichrist will carry on just before the end of the world. For it has been proclaimed in divine words, that the world was to be visited by ten afflictions;359359    “decem plagis.” and since nine of these have already been endured, the one which remains must be 113the last. During this period of time, it is marvelous how the Christian religion has prevailed. For Jerusalem which had presented a horrible mass of ruins was then adorned with most numerous and magnificent churches. And Helena, the mother of the emperor Constantine (who reigned along with her son as Augusta), having a strong desire to behold Jerusalem, cast down the idols and the temples which were found there; and in course of time, through the exercise of her royal powers, she erected churches360360    “basilicas”: edifices, which, in size and grandeur, had some resemblance to a royal palace. on the site of the Lord’s passion, resurrection, and ascension. It is a remarkable fact that the spot on which the divine footprints had last been left when the Lord was carried up in a cloud to heaven, could not be joined by a pavement with the remaining part of the street. For the earth, unaccustomed to mere human contact, rejected all the appliances laid upon it, and often threw back the blocks of marble in the faces of those who were seeking to place them. Moreover, it is an enduring proof of the soil of that place having been trodden by God, that the footprints are still to be seen; and although the faith of those who daily flock to that place, leads them to vie with each other in seeking to carry away what had been trodden by the feet of the Lord, yet the sand of the place suffers no injury; and the earth still preserves the same appearance which it presented of old, as if it had been sealed by the footprints impressed upon it.


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