Emperor Diocletian Stepped Down - May 1
- 2013 5 May
MAY 1, 305 AD, the most powerful man in the world, Emperor Diocletian, stepped down from ruling Rome. Two years prior he began a systematic persecution of Christians, intending to exterminate them. He forbade worship, burned books, arrested clergy, and demanded pagan sacrifices. From Europe to North Africa, hundreds were martyred. Suddenly Diocletian was struck with a painful intestinal disease and resigned. Eight years later Emperor Constantine ended the persecution of Christians. In 1984, President Reagan said: "In the fourth century, a monk thought he heard God telling him to go to Rome...He followed a crowd into the Coliseum and saw the gladiators. He realized they were going to fight to the death. He cried out, 'In the Name of Christ, stop!'...made his way through the crowd and climbed the wall into the arena...As he was pleading with the gladiators...one of them plunged his sword into his body..his last words were, 'In the Name of Christ, stop!' Suddenly the gladiators stood looking at this tiny form...In dead silence, everyone left. That was the last battle in the Coliseum. One tiny voice...'In the Name of Christ, stop!' We could be saying that today."