Diocletian Essay, Research Paper


There was a heathen emperor named Diocletian, who was chosen to be emperor over all the earth, though he

was a destroyer of men, two hundred and eighty-six years after Christ’s incarnation; and he reigned twenty years,

a cruel murderer, so that he killed, and bade kill, all the Christians whom he could find out, and burned churches,

and robbed the innocent; and this impious persecution spread unceasingly over all the earth fully ten years, until

it came also even to England, and there killed many who believed in Christ.

One of these was Alban, the noble martyr, who was likewise killed in that persecution for Christ’s faith, even as

we shall tell you here.

In those days came the murderous persecution to England from the wicked emperor, and the murderers seized

the Christians everywhere with exceeding fury; then a priest escaped from them who ran secretly to Alban’s

house, and there lay hid from his fierce persecutors, and Alban received him, though he was not baptized. Then

began the priest, forasmuch as he loved God, to sing his offices, and fast strictly, and day and night to praise his

Lord, and meanwhile to teach the true faith to the honorable Alban, until he believed in the true God, and

renounced heathenism, and became verily a Christian, and exceeding full of faith. Then the priest dwelt with the

honorable man until the magistrate who persecuted the Christians discovered him there, and with great wrath

commanded him to be fetched before him speedily.

Then came the messengers to Alban’s house, but Alban went out unto the persecutors with the priest’s cloak, as if

he were he, and would not betray him to the wicked persecutors. He was therefore bound, and brought

straightway to the impious judge, where he was offering to his gods the devilish sacrifices, with all his associates.

Then became the judge fiendishly angry, as soon as he beheld the steadfast martyr, because he had received the

fugitive priest, and given himself up to be slain for him. Then he bade men lead him to the heathen sacrifice, and

said that he himself should receive the heavy punishment which he had meant for the priest if he could have

taken him, unless he quickly submitted to his shameful gods; but Alban was not affrighted by his fiendly threats,

because he was girded about with God’s weapons unto the ghostly fight, and said that he would not obey his hest,

nor bow down to his idolatry.

Then asked the judge immediately, and said, ‘Of what family art thou, or of what rank among men?’ Then Alban

answered the wicked man thus: ‘what concerneth it thee, of what family I may be? But if thou desire to hear the

truth, I tell thee quickly that I am a Christian, and will ever worship Christ.’

The judge said to him: ‘Tell me thy name, without any delay, now that I thus ask.’ The champion of God said to

the murderer thus, ‘I am called Albanus, and I believe in the Savior, who is the true God, and made all creatures;

to Him I pray, and Him I will ever worship.’

The murderer answered the glorious man, ‘If thou wilt have the felicity of the everlasting life, then thou must not

delay to sacrifice to the great gods, with full submission.’ Alban answered him: ‘Your sacrifices to the gods, which

ye offer to devils, cannot help you, nor profit your cause, but ye shall receive as your meed everlasting

punishments in the wide-reaching hell.’

Lo! Then the judge became fiendishly irate, and commanded men to scourge the holy martyr, weening that he

might bend the steadfastness of his mind to his own forms of worship by means of the stripes; but the blessed man

was strengthened by God, and bore the scourging exceeding patiently, and with glad mind thanked God for it.

Then the judge perceived that he could not overcome the holy man by the severe tortures, nor turns him from

Christ, and commanded them to kill him by decapitation, for the Savior’s name. Then the heathen did as the

judge commanded them, and led the Saint unto his beheading; but they were delayed a long while at a bridge,

and stood until evening by reason of the exceeding crowd of men and women who were stirred up, and came to

the martyr, and went with him. So then it fell out that the unbelieving judge sat unfed in the town until evening,

without any attendance, fasting against his will.

Lo! Then Alban would hasten to death, and went to the stream where he could not go over the bridge, and looked

up to heaven, praying to the Savior and the stream thereupon dried up before him, and made a broad way for

him, even as he had desired of God. Then the executioner, who was to kill him, was touched by that miracle, and

threw away his sword, and ran quickly, as soon as they had come over the stream, and fell at his feet with full

faith, desiring to die with him rather than slay him.

He was then united, with resolute faith, to the holy man whom he was to have beheaded; and the sword lay there

shining before them, and not one of them would readily slay him.

There was nigh at hand to the holy man a pleasant hill, adorned with plants, with all fairness, and with steep

slope. Then went Alban quickly thither, and straightway prayed to God that He would give him water upon the

hill, and He did so. Then ran the

well-spring at Alban’s feet, those men might understand his power with God, when the stream ran from the steep


He was then beheaded for the Savior’s name, upon the hill, and departed to his Lord by victorious martyrdom,

and with true faith; but his slayer might not live in full health, because that both his eyes burst out of him, and fell

to the earth with Alban’s head, that he might understand whom he had killed.

They beheaded afterward the faithful soldier who would not behead the holy man, and he lay beside Alban,

believing in God, baptized with his blood, and departed to Heaven.

Afterward, when the executioners came to their lord, and related the wonderful signs which Alban had wrought,

and how he was blinded who had beheaded him, then he bade them stay the persecution, and spake reverently

of the holy martyrs, whom he could not turn from God’s faith by the terrible torments.

In that same persecution were also slain Aaron and Julius, and many others, both of men and women, widely

throughout England, killed by tortures for Christ’s faith, and they departed victoriously to the true life. Then the

persecution ceased, and the Christians came out of the woods, and out of the wastes, where they had been

hidden, and went amongst men, and restored Christianity, and repaired churches that were wholly ruined, and

dwelt there in peace with true faith. Then they built likewise a worthy church to the holy Alban, where he was

buried, and there frequently were miracles performed to the praise of the Savior who liveth ever in eternity.

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