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MATTHEW OF WESTMINSTER The flowers of history, especially such as relate to the affairs of Britain. Vol. I. B.C. 4004 to A.D. 1066.

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MATTHEW OF WESTMINSTER
The flowers of history, especially such as relate to the affairs of Britain. Vol. I. B.C. 4004 to A.D. 1066.
page 189



ehould be thrown into prison, and by exquisite tortures compelled to sacrifice to the gods. Then some, being overwhelmed with fear, yielded, but some were supported by divine virtue, and flew te heaven through torments. In this slaughter, the legion of the Holy Thebeans, which contained six thousand, six hundred and sixty-six soldiers, suffered, gloriously enduring martyrdom for Christ's sake, at the command of Maximian. And of this multitude of martyrs, some few names have been ascertained by us, those, namely, of MauriciuB, Exuperius, Candidas, Victor, Innocentius, and Vitalis. But the other names, though they are not known to us, are inscribed in the book of life. The passion of Victor and Ursa took place at Castrum Solodi. The martyrdom of Gereon and his companions, three hundred and twenty-eight in number, took place at Cologne. This persecution was so cruel and so bloody, that in one month seventeen thousand martyrs are recorded to have been put to death. For it crossed over the sea, and kindled the illustrious funeral piles of holy martyrs among the Britons, since Saint Alban suffered among that nation ; of whom the presbyter Fortunatus speaks, thus praising his martyrdom : " The fertile Britain boasts the noble Alban/1 And this Alban, when the commands of the treacherous emperors against the Christians were raging, received in hospitality a certain clergyman, who was fleeing from his persecutors. And seeing that he devoted himself to continual prayers and watchings, he being suddenly filled with the divine grace, began to imitate the example of his faith, and being gradually instructed by his salutary exhortations, forsook the darkness of idolatry, and became a Christian with his whole heart. The name of that clergyman, although the Roman histories pass it over, is nevertheless stated in the history of the Britons. For it is said, that Alban, glowing with affectionate gratitude, first of all, hid his confessor Amphibalus from his persecutors when he was pursued by them, and then changing garments with him, exposed himself to the danger of death, in this imitating Christ, who laid down his life for his sheep. Therefore every day, when the hour of evening was coming on, the master and the disciples, avoiding the society of men, betook themselves to a more remote dwelling, which is called


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