Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Bloody Martyrdoms in Lyons

by Steve Ray on March 21, 2007

IreneeChurch sm.jpgWe finished getting all our work done in Lyon for St. Irenaeus. It was very cold and windy — with snow hampering our efforts. We shot video footage for our upcoming DVD in the Footprints of God video series. This installment will be entitled APOSTOLIC FATHERS: HANDING ON THE FAITH.

(Click on pictures for larger images.)

We shot footage at the old and mostly forgotten Church of Irenee on the hillside of Lyons France. Under the church is the tomb of a man that had an incredible influence on me converting to the Catholic Church. Unhappily, in 1527 the Calvinists destroyed his tomb and threw his bones into the river. Only a few fragments remain.

3Gauls sm.jpgWe also found this ancient Roman Amphitheater which was rediscovered only in 1957. You don't see it now, but in the second century this arena floor was soaked with the blood of Christians.

In 177 about 45 of our brothers and sisters in the faith were gruesomely tortured and killed here in front of jeering crowds. A woman named Blandine was publically tortured for two days as the crowds cheered. The soldiers exhuausted themselves with every ingenious torture they could devise. They cut and inflicted and mutilated her naked body for days.

Blandine never caved in. When they jeered "Deny your Christ and live!" she would only say back "I am a Christian!" The Christians were placed in a iron chair with a raging fire beneath. The smoke and stench of their burning bodies filled the arena. Yet they never caved in. These Martyrs of Lyons and Vienne were true heroes and champions of the Faith. They wrestled to the death and won crowns of life.

I was extremely moved in this location. You can read the full story in Eusebius' History of the Church. We are grateful to Eusebius for preserving this story of Christian martyrdom and heroism. More when you see our next DVD.

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