Martyrs of the Early Church

13th April:   Carpus, Papylus & Agathonice,

In the month of Christ’s ultimate sacrifice of Himself for us, the martyrdoms of Carpus, Papylus and Agathonice are well worth remembering. What they said as they died could be said by the many thousands of Christians who are facing persecution all over the world today.

Carpus, Papylus and Agathonice lived in Pergamum (Asia Minor) in the late second century. Carpus was a bishop, Papylus was a deacon, and Agathonice was his sister. Trouble began when the proconsul Optimus ordered them to sacrifice in the name of the emperor.

Carpus refused, saying, “I am a Christian and because of my faith and the name of the Lord Jesus Christ I cannot become one of you.” He was hung up and tortured by iron claws.

Papylus was a wealthy citizen, but he had also led many people to faith in Christ. As he suffered the same fate as Carpus, he said, “I feel no pain because I have Someone to comfort me; One whom you do not see suffers within me.” Both men were then burnt alive.

Finally, it was his sister’s turn. She too refused to sacrifice to demons. “If I am worthy,” she said, “I desire to follow the footsteps of my teachers.” On being urged to have pity on her children, she replied, “My children have God, who watches over them; but I will not obey your commands.” As she was consigned to the flames, she cried out three times: “Lord Jesus Christ, help me because I am enduring this for you.” She died soon after.

Terrible deaths, but also, triumphant ones. These three Christians loved Jesus so much that the only thing they could NOT bear was to deny Him. Sadly, the persecution goes on today, in countries where Jesus Christ is still bitterly hated. Pray for the Christians who live in these countries, that they too may have courage and endurance – to the end.

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