Chapter XX.—In Consequence of the Translation, Many of the Christians are Ill-Treated. Theodore the Confessor. Temple of Apollo at Daphne destroyed by Fire falling from Heaven.
The transaction above related 1416 excited the indignation of the emperor as much as if an insult had been offered him, and he determined upon punishing the Christians; but Sallust, a prætorian prefect, although a pagan, tried to dissuade him from this measure. The emperor, however, could not be appeased, and Sallust was compelled to execute his mandate, and arrest and imprison many Christians. One of the first whom he arrested was a young man named Theodore, who was immediately stretched upon the rack; but although his flesh was lacerated by the application of the nails, he addressed no supplication to Sallust, nor did he implore a diminution of his torments; on the contrary, he seemed as insensible to pain as if he had been merely a spectator of the sufferings of another, and bravely received the wounds; and he sang the same psalm which he had joined in singing the day before, to show that he did not repent of the act for which he had been condemned. The prefect, struck with admiration at the fortitude of the young man, went to the emperor and told him that, unless he would desist speedily from the measure he had undertaken, he and his party would be exposed to ridicule while the Christians would acquire more glory. This representation produced its effect, and the Christians who had been arrested were set at liberty. It is said 1417 that Theodore was afterwards asked whether he had been sensible of any pain while on the rack; and that he replied that he had not been entirely free from suffering, but had his pains assuaged by the attentions of a young man who had stood by him, and who had wiped off the perspiration with the finest linen cloth, and supplied him with coolest water by which he eased the inflammation and refreshed his labors. I am convinced that no man, whatever magnanimity he may possess, is capable, without the special assistance of Divine Power, of manifesting such entire indifference about the body.
The body of the martyr Babylas was, for the reasons aforesaid, removed to Daphne, and was subsequently conveyed elsewhere. Soon after it had been taken away, fire suddenly fell upon the temple of the Daphnic Apollo, the roof and the very statue of the god were burned, and the naked walls, with the columns on which the portico and the back part of the edifice had rested, alone escaped the conflagration. 1418 The Christians believed that the prayers of the martyr had drawn down fire from heaven upon the demon; but the pagans reported the Christians as having set fire to the place. This suspicion gained ground; and the priest of Apollo was brought before the tribunal of justice to render up the names of those who had dared the incendiary act; but though bound and subjected to the most cruel tortures, he did not name any one.
Hence the Christians were more fully convinced than before, that it was not by the deed of man, but by the wrath of God, that fire was poured down from heaven upon the temple. Such were the occurrences which then took place. The emperor, as I conjecture, on hearing that the calamity at Daphne had been occasioned by the martyr Babylas, and on being further informed that the honored remains of the martyrs were preserved in several houses of prayer near the temple of the Apollo Didymus, which is situated close to the city of Miletus, wrote to the governor of Caria, commanding him to destroy with fire all such edifices as were furnished with a roof and an altar, and to throw down from their very foundations the houses of prayer which were incomplete in these respects.
Ruf. H. E. i. 36; Soc. iii. 19; Theodoret, H. E. iii. 11; Am. Marcel. xxii. 13.342:1417
Rufinus saw Theodore at Antioch, and asked him this question, Ruf. i. 36; and Soc. shows the source from which he borrowed the story by affirming that Rufinus, author of an ecclesiastical history in Latin, had this interview with Theodore.342:1418
Am. Marcel. xxii. 13. 1–3.