Kingship and the Martyr's Crown

I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me…

Galatians 2:20

To whom do Christians owe their allegiance in this world - to Christ or to Caesar? For members of the early church, the answer to this basic question could spell the difference between life and death. There was a river of blood running through the history of early Christianity, a river fed by the lives of martyrs who refused to reject Christ the King and submit to Caesar the emperor. The list is long. There was the noble Bishop Polycarp (d. c.155), incapable of cursing the Saviour who had redeemed him; Saints Perpetua and Felicitas (d. 7 March 203), exchanging a final chaste kiss before being savaged in the arena; and the bold slave-girl Blandina (d.177), wearing out her torturers with an almost superhuman endurance. For nearly three centuries after the crucifixion of Jesus, Christians were forced to confront questions of faith of the most profound existential gravity, questions which determined not only how they lived, but, in many instances, how they died.
Canadian Heritage Information Network, The Provincial Museum of Alberta,
Art Gallery of Ontario, Gandhi Memorial Museum, Malcove Collection, University of Toronto, Musée de la civilisation,

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