Martyr Monday – ROMANUS – “So many mouths praising God”

The story today is from fox’s book of martyrs of a 1st century pastor/churchman named Romanus.  His story makes me want to run through a brick wall.  Let me set the stage for you:  the city is Antioch and Romanus has just arrived to encourage a group of gathered believers there.  Also just arriving in the city were Galerius and Asclepiades, two roman captains who violently persecuted Christians.  The group of Christians have just been arrested by the roman army.  And so we read….

Word was brought unto the captain Asclepiades, that the band of armed soldiers were not able to wrest the staff of faith out of the hand of the congregation (were not able to stop them from worshipping), and all by reason that one Romanus so mightily did encourage them, that they fervently wished to die for the name of their Christ.  Seek out that rebel, (quoth the captain,) and bring him to me, that he may answer for the whole sect.  Apprehended he was, and, bound as a sheep appointed to the slaughterhouse, he was presented to the emperor, who with wrathful countenance beholding him, said, What! art thou the author of this sedition?  Art thou the cause why so many shall lose their lives?  By the gods I swear thou shalt pay for it!!

Romanus answered, Thy sentence, O emperor, I joyfully embrace; I refuse not to be sacrificed for my brethren, and that by as cruel means as you may invent; and whereas thy soldiers were repelled from the Christian congregation, that so happened, because it lay not in idolaters and worshippers of devils to enter into the holy house of God, and to pollute the place of true prayer. (basically Romanus just told him that he couldn’t arrest the believers because he is a satan worshipper.  dude was BOLD!!)

Then Asclepiades, wholly inflamed with this stout answer, commanded him to be trussed up, and his bowels drawn out.  The executioners themselves, more pitiful in heart than the captain, said, Not so, sir; this man is of noble parentage, unlawful it is to put a nobleman to so unnoble a death.  Scourge him then with whips (quoth the captain) with pieces of lead at the ends.

Instead of tears, sighs, and groans, Romanus sung psalms all the time of his whipping, requiring them NOT TO FAVOR HIM for nobility’s sake; Not the blood of my progenitors, (saith he,) but Christian profession, maketh me noble.  Then with great power of spirit he spoke against the captain, laughing to scorn the false gods of the heathen, with the idolatrous worshipping of them, affirming the God of the Christians to be the true God.  But the wholesome words of the martyr were as oil to the fire of the captain’s fury.  The more the martyr spoke, the madder was he, insomuch that he commanded the martyr’s sides to be lanced with knives, until the bones appeared white again.  Sorry am I, O captain, (quoth the martyr,) not that my flesh shall be cut and mangled, but for thy cause am I sorrowful, who, being corrupted with damnable errors, seducest others.  Again Romanus preached at large the living God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, his well-beloved Son, eternal life through faith in his blood, expressing therewith the abomination of idolatry, with a vehement exhortation to worship and adore the living God.

At these words Asclepiades commanded the tormentors to strike Romanus on the mouth, that his teeth being stricken out, his pronunciation at leastwise might be impaired.  (He couldn’t shut him up!!)  The commandment was obeyed, his face buffeted, his eyelids torn with their nails, his cheeks cut with knives, the skin of his beard was plucked by little and little from the flesh; finally, his seemly face was wholly defaced.  The meek martyr said, I thank thee, O captain, that thou hast opened unto me many mouths, whereby I may preach my Lord and Saviour Christ.  Look how many wounds I have, so many mouths I have lauding and praising God.  The captain, astonished with this singular constancy, commanded them to cease from the tortures.

Writing that you may praise God with the one mouth you have,

Matt