Thursday, December 11, 2014

December 11 - Victoricus, Fuscian, and Gentian - Martyrs, Missionaries

"Victoricus...Fuscian," Gentian called to them in a hurried voice, "you need to leave Therouanne if you want to live." He continued, "Your presence here has been a blessed one and many have become Christians because of your words but you must now retreat if you hope to save your lives."Victoricus and Fuscian looked at each other and weighed Gentian's words carefully. They had expected that they would eventually run into this kind of resistance. They had arrived in Therouanne to spread the Gospel to the people who lived along the coast of the North Sea in what is now known as France but was then known as Belgica. Gentian spoke truly: their mission work had been very successful and had even brought Gentian--an elder in the community--into the Christian fold.

The two men conferred and return to the anxious Gentian. They knew what they must do if their testimony was to hold in the region. If they fled persecution, then many would finally believe that their true colors had been shown and abandon the Faith they had offered as worthless or manufactured. They steeled their resolve and gave Gentian the news that they would not be fleeing and that they would, instead, continue sharing the faith that would very likely cost them their lives.

The governor had tired of Victoricus and Fuscian and had decided to give them a choice: denying their faith or dying. However there was a problem: he didn't know where they were and had no way of finding them. Although, he had heard that old man Gentian had recently seen them and so he had Gentian dragged before him. "Where are they, old man?" the governor demanded. Gentian refused to tell. "If you won't tell me, then you'll die. Eventually, somebody will tell me and they'll die, too. Save yourself" the governor concluded. Gentian refused again and was martyred.

Eventually, somebody did tell and Victoricus and Fuscian were brought before the governor and ordered to deny their faith. If they did, it would be quickly spread that the Roman Empire was stronger than the Christian Gospel. It would appear to be a victory for power over love and dominance over mercy. They refused and were tortured by having metal spikes driven through their nose and ears. Finally, when they still refused to give in, they were beheaded and their bodies cast aside. In the wake of their strong testimony, Christianity took roots and flourished in and around Therouanne. By hoping to stop the spread of the Faith within the region, the governor only cemented its hold upon the hearts and minds of a people who respected and valued three men who refused to retreat simply because of fear.

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