The Martyrs of the Coliseum – Introduction

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The Martyrs of the Coliseum transports you to ancient Rome. The opening brings you to the time of Saint Gregory and paints a beautiful picture of whats in story for the reader. The blood of the martyrs is truly the seed of the Faith. Saint Gregory calls upon Heaven to open the eyes of ambassadors from Constantinople, to see that the blood of the Martyrs is indeed a relic to be venerated.

In the year 590, when St. Gregory the Great was elected to the chair of St. Peter, ambassadors were sent from the Emperor Justinian in the East to congratulate his Holiness and tender the usual spiritual allegiance to the Vicar of Christ. When they were leaving Rome, they requested the holy Father to give them some relic to take back to their own country. St. Gregory led them to the Coliseum. Taking up some of the clay of the arena, he folded it in a napkin, and handed it to the ambassadors.

They seemed not to appreciate the gift, and respectfully remonstrated. The holy Pope, raising his eyes and his heart towards heaven, with love and kindness beaming in his countenance, said to them, "You know not what you have; " and taking the napkin in his hand, unfolded it, and showed it to them, stained with blood — the blood of the martyrs who suffered in the Coliseum!

There is so much history inside the walls of the Coliseum, from wars and battles, to championships,  and ultimately the martyrdom of hundreds and thousands of baptised Catholics. It was a battle ground of good versus evil. It was where the hatred of the Emporers of Rome for the One True Faith was on full display for all of the Western World to see. The Introduction sets the stage that the pages are filled with stories of Heroic and Holy Faith.

There is no ruin of the ancient world so interesting as the great amphitheatre at Rome. It stands in stupendous magnificence, in the midst of the seven hills of the old capital of the world, as a monument of everything that was great or terrible in the past. The immensity and majesty of its designs tell the perfection of art, and its reminiscences recall all the horrors of persecution and the triumphs of Christianity. It was the battlefield in which the Church fought for the conversion of the Pagan world ; the blood of the martyred heroes who fell in the fight still mingles with the clay Of the sanctified arena; it was this blood Gregory gave to the ambassadors who wished to have some relics from the city of the martyrs.

The storms of seventeen centuries have rolled over the mighty amphitheatre, and left it as gigantic in its ruins as thrilling in its history. Tier rises on tier to the blue vault of heaven; the wandering eye cannot grasp its immensity; and although shaken by earthquakes and the lightnings of heaven, and rifled of its travertine by the spoilers of the Middle Ages, it still stands with imperishable grandeur in the midst of the seven hills, "a noble wreck of ruinous perfection."

We remember well our first visit to the ruins of the Coliseum. It was an event of our life. We found in the majestic pile a realization of the highest flights of fancy.

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