-“Nero’s torches” or “Chandeliers of Christianity”, 1876, oil on canvas, Henryk Siemiradzki (Polish 1843-1902) 94 x 174.5 cm. (37 x 68 3/4 in.), please click on the image for greater detail; a favorite painting of mine.
The historical record recounts Christians were present in Rome a mere twelve years after the Resurrection. The painting of “Nero’s Torches” by Siemiradzki depicts an event following the Great Fire of Rome in the summer of A.D. 64. In nine days, the fire destroyed a third of the city’s busiest and most residential quarters and Nero’s involvement with the initial spark was widely rumored. Indeed, the time coincided with the construction of Nero’s famed Domus Aurea, the Golden House , for which urban space was required to satisfy the Emperor’s architectural desires. According to the Roman historian Tacitus, Nero now sought to divert the public from the general suspicion of his involvement in the deed: To suppress this rumor, Nero fabricated scapegoats and punished with every refinement the notoriously depraved Christians (as they were popularly called).
First, Nero had self-acknowledged Christians arrested. Then, on their information, large numbers of others were condemned not so much for incendiarism as for their anti-social tendencies. The official crime, according to Roman Imperial law, was “crimes against humanity”, since they would not sacrifice to the gods, nor indulge in Roman vices, nor worship openly nor publicly. They wouldn’t “go along, to get along”. 😉
Their deaths were made farcical. Dressed in wild animals skins, they were torn to pieces by dogs, or crucified, or made into torches to be ignited after dark as substitutes for daylight. Nero provided his Gardens for the spectacle . Despite their guilt as Christians, and the ruthless punishment it deserved, the victims were pitied. For it was felt that they were being sacrificed to one man’s brutality rather than to the national interest. [Tacitus, The Annals of Imperial Rome, London: Penguin Classics, 1996 edition, Book XV, chapter 14, pp.365-366]
The Great Empires: Rome, Communism, Ottomans, Byzantines, Mongols, kingdoms galore, great earthly powers; where are they now? Praise Him. Praise Him.
Summa Catechetica, "Neque enim quaero intelligere ut credam, sed credo ut intelligam." – St Anselm, "Let your religion be less of a theory, and more of a love affair." -G.K. Chesterton, "I want a laity, not arrogant, not rash in speech, not disputatious, but men and women who know their religion, who enter into it, who know just where they stand, who know what they hold and what they do not, and who know their creed so well that they can give an account of it."- Bl John Henry Newman, Cong. Orat., "Encounter, not confrontation; attraction, not promotion; dialogue, not debate." -cf Pope Francis, “You will not see anyone who is really striving after his advancement who is not given to spiritual reading. And as to him who neglects it, the fact will soon be observed by his progress.” -St Athanasius, "To convert someone, go and take them by the hand and guide them." -St Thomas Aquinas, OP. 1 saint ruins ALL the cynicism in Hell & on Earth. “When we pray we talk to God; when we read God talks to us…All spiritual growth comes from reading and reflection.” -St Isidore of Seville, “Also in some meditations today I earnestly asked our Lord to watch over my compositions that they might do me no harm through the enmity or imprudence of any man or my own; that He would have them as His own and employ or not employ them as He should see fit. And this I believe is heard.” -GM Hopkins, SJ, "Only God knows the good that can come about by reading one good Catholic book." — St. John Bosco, "Why don't you try explaining it to them?" – cf St Peter Canisius, SJ, Doctor of the Church, Doctor of the Catechism, "Already I was coming to appreciate that often apologetics consists of offering theological eye glasses of varying prescriptions to an inquirer. Only one prescription will give him clear sight; all the others will give him at best indistinct sight. What you want him to see—some particular truth of the Faith—will remain fuzzy to him until you come across theological eye glasses that precisely compensate for his particular defect of vision." -Karl Keating, "The more perfectly we know God, the more perfectly we love Him." -St Thomas Aquinas, OP, ST, I-II,67,6 ad 3, “But always when I was without a book, my soul would at once become disturbed, and my thoughts wandered." —St. Teresa of Avila, "Let those who think I have said too little and those who think I have said too much, forgive me; and let those who think I have said just enough thank God with me." –St. Augustine