Ancient Roman historians (non-Christian) relate the first wholesale massacres of Christians by the Roman government as follows: In the year 64, much of the city of Rome burned. It was widely speculated that Emperor Nero had ordered the fire in order that he might rebuild to his fancy. In order to divert suspicion from himself, Nero accused the Christians of setting the fires, and had many of them put to death in various cruel ways: eaten in the arena by wild beasts, covered with pitch and burned as torches to light the Emperor's nightly revels, and so on. The persecution appears to have been confined to Rome.
The First Martyrs of Rome - 30 June
O Almighty God, by whose grace and power thy holy martyrs at Rome in the days of the Emperor Nero triumphed over suffering and were faithful even unto death: Grant us, who now remember them with thanksgiving, to be so faithful in our witness to thee in this world, that we may receive with them the crown of life; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with thee and the Holy Ghost liveth and reigneth, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
The Lesson - Wisdom 3:1–8
The Gospel - St. Luke 21:9–19
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