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Great Persecution

By February 24, 2014

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On This Day in Ancient History - February 24
On February 24, A.D. 303 the Great Persecution began with the posting of an edict, probably promoted by Galerius (Caius Galerius Valerius Maximianus) who was Diocletian's Caesar, but signed by all four of the rulers of the Tetrarchy. Paul Keresztes (citation below) says the edict probably included the following provisions:

(a) all churches were to be destroyed; (b) all Scriptures were to be given up and burnt; (c) all, undoubtedly, persisting Christians were to lose all their rights in the courts of justice, whether as plaintiffs or defendants; (d) persisting Christians of high or special standing or position in society or elsewhere were to lose all the rights and privileges that derived from their special standing; (e) persisting Christians of the Imperial household were to lose their personal freedom.

The persecution was supposed to begin the day before on the pagan festival of Terminalia. It was signed on the 23rd, and on that day the Christian church in Nicomedia was destroyed, but the notice wasn't put up until the following day. "From the Great Persecution to the Peace of Galerius," by Paul Keresztes. Vigiliae Christianae, Vol. 37, No. 4 (Dec., 1983), pp. 379-399

"This day in ancient history" caveat: please see Unreliability of Dates.

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