Of Blood and Sand

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I will never forget a book which was included in the course of study of our children. It was entitled Martyrs of the Catacombs. Its author is unknown.

The conditions of persecution faced by the early Church are put into a fictitious account. A soldier of middling rank at Rome is assigned to follow the movements of the growing sect known as Christians. There are rumours that they gather for meetings of suspect purpose in the labyrinth of tunnels and caves that underlie the Ancient City.

In his first few wanderings he becomes lost easily and is only rescued by some of the Christians. He finds torch-lit gathering places adorned with the painted names and testimonies of many of the martyrs. He gets an opportunity to speak with one of the Elders. The man is very impressive in a peaceable sort of way, holding no ill will for the incensed Roman…

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