THE TRIUMPHANT CHURCH

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Since 64–68 AD imperial persecution of the Christians in the Roman Empire begun with Nero 37–68. In 64 AD, a great fire broke out in Rome, destroying portions of the city and economically devastating the Roman population. The fire was falsely blamed on Christians so persecuted after the fire with punishments inflicted on Christians, together with other abuses put down by Nero.From the 2nd century to Constantine threw Christians to lions for entertainment. By the mid-2nd century AD, mobs threw stones, assaulted, robbed Christians. Christians were mass-slaughtered so thrown to wild beasts by decree of Roman officials for refusing to renounce their faith according to St. Irenaeus. Abuses continued in the 3rd century, despite the written Tertullian Apologeticus of 197 in defence of persecuted Christians addressed to Roman governors. Christians were martyred under Maximinus Thrax especially the clergy. During the mid-century Decius’ persecution of Christian laity extended across the Empire. Christian were publicly sacrificed authorized by Decius’ roving commissions visiting cities and villages. Supervised execution of sacrifices delivered written certificates to all citizens who performed them. Christians were required to avoid punishment by publicly offering sacrifices or burning incense to Roman gods but accused by the Romans of impiety when they refused. Refusal was punished by arrest, imprisonment, torture, and executions so Christians fled to safe havens in the countryside or purchased certificates, called libelli. Carthage debated the extent to which the community should accept Christians but some Christians were sought out and martyred. According to Tertullian‘s Scorpiace in the letters of Saint Ignatius of Antioch, the Christians were Faithful Unto Death. Christians endured unto death with tendency to aspire naturally to martyrdom because they had no choice. The Roman authorities realised the Christians turned the tables by persuading crowds to execute them. The proconsul obliged some, sent rest away if they want to kill themselves there was plenty of rope available or cliffs to jump off. Christian not seeking death like Polycarp and Cyprian bishops in Smyrna and Carthage attempted to avoid martyrdom. Christians killed all day long like sheep to slaughter are more than conquerors in Jesus name. Their faith in persecution spread Christianity so what the devil meant for evil God turned good. pp_early_persecution_of_christians_js_0027

Palestinian bishop Eusebius of Caesaraea described the mass murder of Christians by their fellow Jews during the Bar Kochba revolt c. AD 132. The persecutions culminated with Diocletian and Galerius at the end of the third and beginning of the 4th century. The Great Persecution is considered the largest. Beginning with a series of four edicts banning Christian practices and ordering the imprisonment of Christian clergy, the persecution intensified until all Christians in the empire were commanded to sacrifice to the Roman gods or face immediate execution. Over 20,000 Christians are thought to have died during Diocletian’s reign. One of the most prominent martyrs during the Dioclecian persecution was Saint George, a Roman soldier renounced the Emperor’s edict in front of fellow soldiers and tribunes claimed himself to be a Christian by declaring his worship of Jesus Christ. Diocletian attempted to convert George, offering gifts of land, money and slaves if he made a sacrifice to the Roman gods but George never accepted and subsequently tortured and decapitated. Christians in the Western part of the empire co-emperors protec ted Christians in Gaul, Spain and Britannia.The persecution continued when Constantine I came to power in 313 and legalized Christianity and through Theodosius I in 4th century Christianity became the official belief of the Empire. Julian II temporarily restored traditional Roman religion so established religious tolerance renewing Pagan and Christian hostilities. Martyrs were unique examples of the Christian faith some saints were also martyrs. The number of Christian martyrs killed for religious reasons before 313 was more than 100,000. Siemiradzki_Christian_Dirce

In AD 341, the Zoroastrian Shapur II ordered massacre of all Christians in the Persian Sassanid Empire. About 1,150 Assyrian Christians were martyred under Shapur II in Assuristan or Sassanid who ruled Assyria. In the 4th century, the Terving king Athanaric in ca. 375 persecuted of ChristiansChristians were persecuted by Jews in AD 516, in Yemen  several tribal elites fought for power including Joseph Dhu Nuwas or “Yousef Asa’ar” a Jewish warlord mentioned in ancient south Arabian inscriptions. Syriac and Byzantium sources claim he fought Christians in Yemen who refused to renounce Christianity. A 2009, a documentary on BBC claimed the choice between conversion to Judaism or death so 20,000 Christians were massacred. Consultant Professor Abdul Rahman Al-Ansary, a former professor of archaeology at the King Saud University in Riyadh revealed inscriptions documented by Yousef after Killing more than 22,000 Christians in Zafar and Najran. Historian Glen Bowersock described the Jewish king of the Arabs launched attacks against the Christians in the city of Najran. The king himself reported in detail to Arab and Persian allies about massacres inflicted on all Christians who refused to convert to Judaism. This persecution is described and condemned in Qur’an 85th chapter of Al-Burooj   zodiacal constellation. After the Persian conquest in AD 614, in a riot in Jerusalem the Jewish governor of Jerusalem Nehemiah was allegedly killed by Christians with council of righteous planning to build the Third Temple. The Christians allied themselves with Eastern Roman Empire so escalated into a full-scale Christian rebellion, resulting in a battle of Jews and Christians in Jerusalem. Many Jews were killed so survivors fled to Caesarea under Persian Army. The Judeo Persian Sasanian general Xorheam assembled Judeo-Persian troops encamped around Jerusalem so besieged it 19 days.  Digging under foundations of Jerusalem to destroy wall on 19th day of siege Judeo-Persian forces took Jerusalem. The siege resulted in 17,000 who Christians dead according to Sebeos stated by Antiochus, 4,518 massacred near Mamilla reservoir. Christians said the genocide death toll was 90,000 plus 37,000 people including patriarch Zacharias exiled to Mesopotamia. The atrocities included the city burned destroying churches in the account of Antiochus Strategos a Byzantine Greek with deep hatred towards Jews. Thousands of Christians massacred during the conquest of the city in Strategos’s manuscripts from 4,518 to 66,509 killed.These are the catacombs where Christians were buried underground. slide2Strategos wrote Jews offered to help them escape death if they become Jews and deny Christ but the Christian captives refused so Christians killed. In 1989, a mass burial grave at Mamilla cave discovered in by Israeli archeologist Ronny Reich, near the site Antiochus recorded massacre took place. Originally, Christians in Islamic states were allowed to practice their faith until the Pact of Umar. This treaty, enacted in 717 AD, forbade Christians from publicly displaying the cross on church buildings, summoning congregants to prayer by a bell, re-building churches in case they were destroyed and other restrictions. Historians say this treaty laid down the foundation of Islamic Christianophobia prevalent today in Muslim-majority countries. So as People of the Book Christians were awarded dhimmi status along with Jews and Mandeans inferior to the status of Muslims. At times, anti-Christian pograms under sharia, non-Muslims were obligated to pay jizya taxes, which contributed a significant proportion of income for Islamic state so forced some Christians to convert to Islam. According to the Hanafi school of sharia, the testimony of a non-Muslim Christian was not considered valid against testimony of a Muslim. Christian men were not allowed to marry a Muslim woman under sharia but Muslim men  allowed to marry Christian women to convert. Christians under Islamic rule had the right to convert to Islam or other religion. A murtad or apostate of Islam faced severe penalties or even hadd which could include the death penalty. Tamerlane instigated large-scale massacres of Christians in Mesopotamia, Persia, Asia Minor and Syria in the 14th century AD. Most of the victims were indigenous Assyrians and Armenians members of the Assyrian Church of the East and Orthodox Churches, which led to the decimation of the hitherto majority Assyrian population in northern Mesopotamia and the abandonment of the ancient Assyrian city of Ashur. Furthermore, any Muslim person – including any person born to a Muslim family or having become Muslim at a given point in life – who converts to Christianity is considered to have performed apostasy. Apostasy, the conscious abandonment of Islam by a Muslim in word or through deed, including also conversion to Christianity, is punishable as a crime under the application of the Sharia.p1330267
In China in the late 17th century, Christianity was banned for at least a century in China by the Kangxi Emperor of the Qing Dynasty after the Pope forbade Chinese Catholics from venerating relatives or Confucius.  The Boxer Rebellion, anti Christian Boxers and Muslim Kansu Braves served in the Chinese army so attacked Christians. During the Northern Expedition, the Kuomintang incited anti-foreign anti-Western sentiment. Portraits of Sun Yat-sen replaced the crucifix in several churches, KMT posters proclaimed Jesus Christ is dead, so worship Nationalism. Foreign missionaries were attacked and anti foreign riots broke out. During the Northern Expedition, in 1926 in Guangxi, Muslim General Bai Chongxi led troops in destroying Buddhist temples and smashing idols, turning the temples into schools and Kuomintang party headquarters. It was reported almost all of Buddhist monasteries in Guangxi were destroyed by Bai in this manner. The monks were removed as Bai led a wave of anti – foreignism in Guangxi, attacking American, European, and other foreigners and missionaries, and generally making the province unsafe for foreigners. Westerners fled from the province, and some Chinese Christians were attacked as imperialist agents. In Japan Christian martyrs of Nagasaki in the 17th-century when Tokugawa Ieyasu assumed control over Japan in 1600. He disliked Christian activities in Japan so banned Catholicism in 1614. In mid-17th century, demanded expulsion of all European missionaries and the execution of all converts. This marked the end of open Christianity in Japan. The Shimabara Rebellion, led by a young Japanese Christian boy named Amakusa Shiro Tokisada, took place in 1637. After the Hara Castle fell, the shogunate’s forces beheaded 37,000 rebels and sympathizers. Amakusa Shirō’s severed head was taken to Nagasaki for public display, and the entire complex at Hara Castle was burned to the ground and buried together with the bodies of all the dead. Many of the Christians in Japan continued for two centuries to maintain their religion as Kakure Kirishitan, or hidden Christians, without any priests or pastors. Some killed for their Faith are venerated as the Martyrs of Japan.

Christianity was allowed in Meiji era Constitution of 1890 introduced so separation of church and state permitted freedom of worship. The relationship between Christians in India in comparison to those between Muslims and Hindus, or Muslims and Sikhs, Muslims and Christians is occasionally turbulent. The advent of European colonialism in India throughout the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries, Christians were systematically persecuted in a few Muslim ruled kingdoms in India. Modern day persecution exists carried out by Hindu nationalists. Human Rights Watch stated rise of anti-Christian violence due to Hindu nationalism and Smita Narula, Researcher, Asia Division of Human Rights Watch stated “Christians are the new scapegoat in India’s political battles. Without immediate and decisive action by the government, communal tensions will continue to be exploited for political and economic ends. Muslim Tipu Sultan, the ruler of the Kingdom of Mysore, took action against Mangalorean Catholic community from Mangalore and the South Canara district on the southwestern coast of India. Tipu was widely reputed to be anti-Christian. He took Mangalorean Catholics into captivity at Seringapatam on 24 February 1784 and released them on 4 May 1799. The Bakur Manuscript reports said: “All Musalmans should unite together, and considering the annihilation of infidels as a sacred duty, labour to the utmost of their power, to accomplish that subject. Soon after Treaty of Mangalore in 1784, Tipu gained control of Canara. He issued orders to seize the Christians in Canara, confiscate their estates, and exile  them to Seringapatam, the capital of his empire, through the Jamalabad fort route. There were no priests among the captives. Together with Fr. Miranda, all the 21 arrested priests were issued orders of expulsion to Goa, fined Rs 2 lakhs, and threatened death by hanging if they ever returned. Tipu ordered the destruction of 27 Catholic churches. Among them were the Church of Nossa Senhora de Rosario Milagres at Mangalore, Fr Miranda’s Seminary at Monte Mariano, Church of Jesu Marie Jose at Omzoor, Chapel at Bolar, Church of Merces at Ullal, Imaculata Conceiciao atMulki, San Jose at Perar, Nossa Senhora dos Remedios at Kirem, Sao Lawrence at Karkal, Rosario at Barkur, Immaculata Conceciao at Baidnur. All were razed to the ground, with the exception of Igreja da Santa Cruz Hospet also known as Hospet Church at Hospet, owing to the friendly offices of the Chauta Raja of Moodbidri. According to Thomas Munro, a Scottish soldier and the first collector of Canara, around 60,000 of them, nearly 92 percent of the entire Mangalorean Catholic community, captured. 7,000 escaped. Observer Francis Buchanan reports 70,000 were captured from a population of 80,000 with 10,000 escaping. They were forced to climb 4,000 feet (1,200 m) through jungles of Western Ghat mountain ranges. It was 210 miles (340 km) from Mangalore to Seringapatam, in a 6 week  journey.

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According to British Government records 20,000 died on the march to Seringapatam. According to James Scurry, a British officer, who was held captive along with Mangalorean Catholics, 30,000 of them were forcibly converted to Islam. The young women and girls were forcibly made wives of the Muslims living there.  The young men who offered resistance were disfigured by cutting their noses, upper lips, and ears. According to Mr. Silva of Gangolim, a survivor of the captivity, if a person who had escaped from Seringapatam was found, the punishment under the orders of Tipu was the cutting off of the ears, nose, the feet and one hand. The Archbishop of Goa wrote in 1800, “It is notoriously known in all Asia and all other parts of the globe of the oppression and sufferings experienced by the Christians in the Dominion of the King of Kanara, during the usurpation of that country by Tipu Sultan from an implacable hatred he had against them who professed Christianity. The British officer James Scurry, who was detained a prisoner for 10 years by Tipu Sultan along with the Mangalorean Catholics Tipu Sultan’s invasion of the Malabar Coast had an adverse impact on the Saint Thomas Christian community of the Malabar coast. Many churches in Malabar and Cochin were damaged. The old Syrian Nasrani seminary at Angamaly which had been the center of Catholic religious education for several centuries was razed to the ground by Tipu’s soldiers. Many centuries-old religious manuscripts were lost forever. The church was relocated to Kottayam where it exists to this date. The Mor Sabor church at Akaparambu and Martha Mariam Church attached to the seminary were destroyed. Tipu’s army set fire to church at Palayoor and attacked Ollur Church in 1790. The Arthat church and the Ambazhakkad seminary was destroyed. Over the course of this invasion, many Saint Thomas Christians were killed or forcibly converted to Islam. Most of the coconut, arecanut, pepper and cashew plantations held by the Saint Thomas Christian farmers were indiscriminately destroyed by the invading army.  So Tipu’s army invaded Guruvayur and adjacent areas, the Syrian Christian community fled Calicut and small towns like Arthat to new centres like Kunnamkulam, Chalakudi, Ennakadu, Cheppadu, Kannankode, Mavelikkara, etc. already were Christians. They were given refuge by Sakthan Tamburan, the ruler of Cochin and Karthika Thirunal, the ruler of Travancore, who gave them lands, plantations and encouraged their businesses. Colonel Macqulay, British resident of Travancore helped them. Tipu’s persecution of Christians extended to captured British soldiers so significant amount forced conversions of British captives between 1780 and 1784. Following their disastrous defeat at the battle of Pollilur, 7,000 British men with unknown number of women were held captive by Tipu in the fortress of Seringapatnam. Of these, over 300 were circumcised and given Muslim names and clothes and several British regimental drummer boys were made to wear ghagra cholis and entertain the court as nautch girls or dancing girls. After the 10-year-long captivity ended, James Scurry, one of those prisoners, recounted he forgot to sit in a chair or use knife and fork. His English was broken and stilted so lost all his vernacular idiom. His skin had darkened to the swarthy complexion of negroes, and moreover, he had developed an aversion to wearing European clothes. petermartyrbellini

During the surrender of the Mangalore fort which was delivered in an armistice by the British and their subsequent withdrawal, all the Mestizos and remaining non-British foreigners were killed, together with 5,600 Mangalorean Catholics. Those condemned by Tipu Sultan for treachery were hanged instantly, the gibbets being weighed down by the number of bodies they carried. The Netravati River was so putrid with the stench of dying bodies, that the local residents were forced to leave their riverside homes. The Dechristianisation of France during the French Revolution is a conventional description of a campaign, conducted by various Robespierre-era governments of France beginning with the start of the French Revolution in 1789, to eliminate symbols associated with the past, especially the monarchy. So exiled clergy and condemned of many to death. As a result, Churches closed, desecratied and pillagied churches, removed word “saint” from street names and other acts to banish Christian culture from the public sphere.Removed statues, plates and other iconography from places of worship. Destroyed crosses, bells and other external signs of Christian worship. So instituted revolutionary and civic cults, including the Cult of Reason and subsequently the Cult of the Supreme Being. There was large scale destruction of religious monuments, the outlawing of public and private worship and religious education, forced marriages of the clergy, forced adjournment of priesthood and the enactment of a law on 21 October 1793 making all non-adjuring priests and all persons who harboured them liable to death on sight. The climax reached with celebration of the Goddess “Reason” in Notre Dame Cathedral on 10 November. Under threat of death, imprisonment, military conscription or loss of income, about 20,000 constitutional priests were forced to abdicate or hand over their letters of ordination and 6,000 – 9,000 were coerced to marry, many ceasing their ministerial duties. Some of those who abdicated covertly ministered to the people. By the end of the decade approximately 30,000 priests were forced to leave France and thousands who did not leave executed. Most of France was left without the services of a priest, deprived of the sacraments and any non-adjuring priest faced the guillotine or exile to French Guiana. In March 1793 conscription required Vendeans to fill each district’s quota of 300,000 enraged the populace who took up arms as “The Catholic Army”, “Royal” being added later, and fought for reopening of their parish churches with their former priests. A massacre of 6,000 Vendée prisoners, women after battle of Savenay along with drowning of 3,000 Vendée women at Pont-au-Baux, 5,000 Vendée priests, old men, women, children killed by drowning at Loire River at Nantes called “national bath” tied in group barges sunk in Loire.
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These massacres came formal orders for forced evacuation and scorched earth  policy initiated, farms destroyed crops, forests, burned villages razed, atrocities of campaign of mass killings. They targeted residents of the Vendée regardless of combatant status, political affiliation, age or gender. By July 1796, the Vendean dead numbered between 117,000 and 500,000, out of a population of around 800,000. These mass killings were the first modern genocide intent to exterminate Catholic Vendeans. Greek-Orthodox metropolises in Asia Minor, ca. 1880. Since 1923 only the metropolis of Chalcedon retains a small community. In 1842 Assyrians living in the mountains of Hakkari in south east Anatolia faced a massive unprovoked attack from Ottoman forces and Kurdish irregulars, which resulted in the death of tens of thousands of unarmed Christian Assyrians. A major massacre of Assyrians and Armenians in the Ottoman Empire occurred between 1894 and 1897 AD by Turkish troops and their Kurdish supporters during the rule of Sultan Abdul Hamid II (the Hamidian massacre). The motives for these massacres were an attempt to reassert Pan-Islamism in the Ottoman Empire, resentment at the comparative wealth of the ancient indigenous Christian communities, and a fear that they would attempt to secede from the tottering Ottoman Empire. Assyrians and Armenians were massacred in Diyarbakir, Hasankeyef, Sivas and other parts of Anatolia and northern Mesopotamia, by Sultan Abdul Hamid II. These attacks caused the death of tens of thousands of Assyrians and Armenians and the forced “Ottomanisation” of the inhabitants of 245 villages. The Turkish troops looted settlements occupied later by Muslim Kurds. Unarmed Christian women and children were raped, tortured and murdered. The Young Turks government of the collapsing Ottoman Empire in 1915 persecuted Christian populations in Anatolia, Persia and Northern Mesopotamia. The onslaught by the Ottoman army, including Kurdish and Circassian irregulars resulting in an estimated 2.5 million deaths, divided between roughly 1.2 Million Armenian Christians, 0.75 million Assyrians and 0.75 million Greek Orthodox Christians; a number of Georgians were also killed.

The Genocide led to devastation of ancient indigenous Christians who existed in region 1000’s of years.Further information: Persecution of Christians in the Soviet Union and Persecution of Christians in Warsaw Pact countries After the Revolution of 1917, the Bolsheviks undertook a massive program to remove the influence of the Russian Orthodox Church from the government while outlawing antisemitism in Russian society, and promoting state atheism. Tens of thousands of churches were destroyed or converted to other uses, and many members of clergy were murdered, including public executions and imprisonment for what the government termed “anti-government activities.” An extensive education and propaganda campaign was undertaken to convince people, especially the children and youth, to abandon religious beliefs. This persecution resulted in the intentional murders of 500,000 Orthodox followers in the 20th century by the Soviet Union. This persecution affected the Orthodox. It also affected other groups, such as the Mennonites, who largely fled to the Americas. Before and after the October Revolution of 7 November 1917 (25 October Old Calendar) there was a movement within the Soviet Union to unite all of the people of the world under Communist rule (see Communist International). This included the Eastern European bloc countries as well as the Balkan States. Since some of these Slavic states tied their ethnic heritage to their ethnic churches, both the peoples and their church were targeted for ethnic and political genocide by the Soviets and its form of State atheism. The Soviets’ official religious stance was one of “religious freedom or tolerance”, though the state established atheism as the only scientific truth (see also the Soviet or committee of the All-Union Society for the Dissemination of Scientific and Political Knowledge or Znanie which was until 1947 called The League of the Militant Godless and various Intelligentsia groups. Criticism of atheism was forbidden so resulted in imprisonment. tumblr_ll5pa9UbXR1qj9876o1_500

Some of the more high profile individuals executed include Metropolitan Benjamin of Petrograd, Priest and scientist Pavel Florensky and Bishop Gorazd Pavlik. The Communist regime confiscated church property, ridiculed religion, harassed believers, and propagated atheism in the schools. Actions toward particular religions, however, were determined by State interests, and organized religions never outlawed. It is estimated that 500,000 Russian Orthodox Christians were martyred in gulags by Soviet government, not including torture or other Christian denominations killed.Some actions against Orthodox priests and believers along with execution included torture being sent to prison camps, labour camps or mental hospitals. The result of state sponsored atheism was to transform the Church into a persecuted and martyred Church. In the first five years after the Bolshevik revolution, 28 bishops and 1,200 priests were executed. The main target of the anti-religious campaign in the 1920s and 1930s was the Russian Orthodox Church, which had the largest number of faithful. A very large segment of its clergy, and many of its believers, were shot or sent to labor camps. Theological schools were closed, and church publications were prohibited. In the period between 1927 and 1940, the number of Orthodox Churches in the Russian Republic fell from 29,584 to less than 500. Between 1917 and 1940, 130,000 Orthodox priests were arrested. The widespread persecution and internecine disputes within the church hierarchy lead to the seat of Patriarch of Moscow being vacant from 1925 to 1943. After Nazi Germany’s attack on the Soviet Union in 1941, Joseph Stalin revived the Russian Orthodox Church to intensify patriotic support for the war effort. By 1957 about 22,000 Russian Orthodox churches had become active. But in 1959 Nikita Khrushchev initiated his own campaign against the Russian Orthodox Church and forced the closure of about 12,000 churches. By 1985 fewer than 7,000 churches remained active. In the Soviet Union, in addition to the methodical closing and destruction of churches, the charitable and social work formerly done by ecclesiastical authorities was taken over by the state. As with all private property, Church owned property was confiscated into public use. The few places of worship left to the Church were legally viewed as state property which the government permitted church to use. After the advent of state funded universal education, the Church was not permitted to carry on educational, instructional activity for children. Adults training for church-related occupations was allowed. Outside sermons during celebration of divine liturgy could not instruct or evangelise the faithful or youth. 

Catechism classes, religious schools, study groups, Sunday schools and religious publications were all illegal and or banned. This caused many religious tracts to be circulated as illegal literature or samizdat. This persecution continued, even after the death of Stalin until the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991. Since the fall of the Soviet Union, the Russian Orthodox Church has recognized a number of New Martyrs as saints, some executed during Mass operations of the NKVD under directives like NKVD Order No. 00447.In the 19th century, Mexican President Benito Juárez confiscated church lands. The Mexican government‘s campaign against the Catholic Church after the Mexican Revolution culminated in the 1917 constitution which contained numerous articles which Catholics perceived as violating their civil rights: outlawing monastic religious orders, forbidding public worship outside of church buildings, restricted religious organizations’ rights to own property, and taking away basic civil rights of members of the clergy (priests and religious leaders were prevented from wearing their habits, were denied the right to vote, and were not permitted to comment on public affairs in the press and were denied the right to trial for violation of anticlerical laws). When the first embassy of the Soviet Union in any country was opened in Mexico, the Soviet ambassador remarked that “no other two countries show more similarities than the Soviet Union and Mexico. When the Church publicly condemned the anticlerical measures which had not been strongly enforced, the atheist President Plutarco Calles sought to vigorously enforce the provisions and enacted additional anti-Catholic legislation known as the Calles Law. At this time, some in the United States government, considering Calles’ regime Bolshevik, started to refer to Mexico as “Soviet Mexico. Weary of the persecution, in many parts of the country a popular rebellion called the Cristero War began (so named because the rebels felt they were fighting for Christ himself). The effects of persecution on Church were profound. Between 1926 and 1934 at least 40 priests were killed. There were 4,500 priests serving the people before the rebellion, in 1934 there were 334 priests licensed by the government to serve fifteen million people, the rest having been eliminated by emigration, expulsion and assassination. By 1935, 17 states had no priest at all. In the second Cristero rebellion (1932), the Cristeros took particular exception to the socialist education, which Calles had also implemented but which President Cardenas had added to the 1917 Mexican Constitution. Queen Ranavalona I (reigned 1828–1861) issued a royal edict prohibiting the practice of Christianity in Madagascar, expelled British missionaries from the island, and sought to stem the growth of conversion to Christianity within her realm. Many Malagasy citizens were put to death during this period as a consequence of refusal to recant their Christian faith. Punished in ways required in tangena ordeal. Condemned to hard labour, confiscation of land, property consequently died. 800px-Genseric_sacking_Rome_455

The tangena ordeal was commonly administered to determine the guilt or innocence of an accused person for any crime, including the practice of Christianity, and involved ingestion of the poison contained within the nut of the tangena tree (Cerbera odollam). Survivors were deemed innocent, while those who perished were assumed guilty. In 1838, it was as 100,000 people in Imerina died as a result of the tangena ordeal, constituting roughly 20% of the population.  Contributed to a strongly unfavourable view of Ranavalona’s rule in historical accounts.  Malagasy Christians would remember this period as ny tany maizina, or “the time when the land was dark”. Persecution of Christians intensified in 1840, 1849 and 1857; in 1849, deemed the worst of these years by British missionary to Madagascar W.E. Cummins (1878), 1,900 people were fined, jailed or otherwise punished in relation to their Christian faith, including 18 executions. In Britain catacombs opened in 1837 with capacity of 3500 coffins. In Derby, beneath Guildhall, is gruesome morbid catacombs Tower block of notorious beheading. Since 2nd Century Romans were not tolerant of Christianity so Britain suffered waves of persecution across the empire. St Alban the first British Christian martyr was executed in a town called Verulamium in 304 AD. Much later an abbey was built there dedicated to St Alban so named town St Albans. In 313 the Emperor Constantine granted Christians freedom of worship. So persecution ended and during the 4th century Christianity became widespread in England. In Hinton St Mary, Dorset a 4th century mosaic was found with the face of Jesus and the Greek letters chi rho, which stand for christos (Greek for Christ) showing Christianity was a popular religion in England. In the late 10th century there was a religious revival. A man named Dunstan (c.1020-1088) was Archbishop of Canterbury. He reformed the monasteries. New churches and monasteries were built during his time. Women played a significant part in the 10th century revival. Bishops from rich families lived in palaces and took part in government but parish priests were uneducated poor. Parish priests had own land called the glebe to grow food, live and worked alongside parishioners. In the 14th century John Wycliffe, a Roman Catholic priest and Oxford Scholar, translated Bible from Latin into English. His followers called Lollards mutterers were persecuted  for saying long prayers. In 1401 a law passed allowed heretics to be burned to death but they continued to meet during the 15th century. In early 16th century William Tyndale in 1525 Tyndale translated the New Testament into English. Tyndale translated part of the Old Testament  but Tyndale was burned in 1536. His last words were ‘Lord open the king of England’s eye. In 1534, The Act of Supremacy made Henry head of the Church of England. Henry broke with Rome kept Catholic religion and persecuted Protestants. Henry and Parliament’s dissolved monasteries in England from 1536-1540 and confiscated the abbey church wealth, riches and property. Much of the money went towards construction of Henry’s Royal Navy and beautiful buildings. 023Catacombs_468x312

In 1543 and 1547, Henry sold most of the land to pay for extravagant wars with France and Scotland. The Court of Augmentations was created to administer the monastic land, paid pensions to abbots after land was sold by crown by 1552 most pensions were in arrears. The land was bought by merchants, yeomen syndicates, noblemen, and gentry families. Nobles and gentlemen bought appropriated tithes, advowsons so strengthened their hand in parish affairs. The enrichment of the gentry increased their power and independence from Church and Crown. It created powerful pressure group with vested interest to ensure Roman Catholic church never restored. The Crown gained by Dissolution as many royal administrators and clients lined their pockets with monastic money. Dissolution transfered vast tracts of land to the Crown. Monastic land was worth 3 times royal landholdings. Henry acquired vast amounts of gold and silver plate, worth millions of pounds. 25 abbots sat in the House of Lords but all lost their places leaving secular lords in a majority over Bishops who continue to sit. The Dissolution of the monasteries involved some physical destruction of buildings decayed because lead was seized from the roofs, libraries broken up and sold off. And, traditional charitable functions of feeding the poor, the sick and housing travellers ceased. Henry VIII martyred Anne Askew a preacher and teacher in 1546, tortured in the Tower of London and burned. In In 1553 Edward died and his sister Mary, a Catholic detested the changes of Henry VIII and Edward VI. Mary was determined to undo the reforms of the two previous reigns so Catholic mass was restored in December 1553. In 1554 married clergy were ordered to leave their wives or lose their posts and in November 1554 the Act of Supremacy was repealed. In 1555 Mary began burning Protestants so next 3 years 300 Protestants executed so many fled abroad. Mary’s cruelty gained sympathy for Protestants alienated people driven from Catholicism. Elizabeth I from January 1559 restored Protestantism to England but rejected puritanism and people fined for not attending church. In 16th century all was supposed to belong to the high Church of England but in 17th century independent churches like The first Baptist Church formed in England 1612. In 17th century George Fox (1624-1691) and Margaret Fell (1614-1702) founded Quakers persecuted and Fox himself was imprisoned. Charles II in 1660 determined to crack down independent churches rejecting Anglicanism. In Britain Christians hid from Druids, Anglo Saxons, protestants fought Catholics for Anglican church.

The Clarendon code, a series of laws used to persecute non-conformists Protestants who did not belong to Church of England. The Corporation Act of 1661 said  all officials in towns must be members of Church of England. Conventicle Act of 1664 forbade unauthorized meetings of more than 5 people not of same household. The 5 Mile Act of 1665 forbade non-Anglican ministers to come within 5 miles of incorporated towns with a mayor and corporation non-conformists preached. The Bill of Rights in 1689 said Catholics could not be king, queen and no king could marry a Catholic. Protestant and Catholic Sectarian sentiments exist. In 19th century poor workers had little or no contact with church so William and Catherine Booth in 1865 founded Salvation Army renamed in 1878 to help the poor. In 20th century Pentecostal churches practised gifts of the Holy Spirit, praying in tongues spread to mainstream churches. In the 1970s and 1980s charismatic and house churches common and Alpha Course introduces people to Christianity in group settings answering questions. 21st Century Britain Bible ban in schools affect those not allowed to be taught Scriptures. New age and occult groups sprung us plus inter multl-faith groups of religious tolerance that teach all religions are accepted by God. The Second Republic proclaimed in 1931 attempted to establish a regime with a separation between State and Church as it had happened in France (1905), where Church had to finance itself, had full responsibility and freedom to elect its own bishops, and had to foster religious education outside formal schooling, unlike the Spanish Monarchy up to 1931. When established, the Republic passed a number of laws that prompted big progress in education, but it also challenged the power of Church, impregnating virtually all levels of life in Spain, and entrenched values and traditional public ceremonies. The different Church institutions shifted towards ever more Manichaean positions, presenting the situation resulting from the proclamation of the 2nd Republic as an anti-Catholic, Masonic, Jewish, and Communist international conspiracy that heralded a clash between God and atheism, chaos and harmony, Good and Evil. The Church’s high-ranking officials like Isidro Goma, bishop of Tudela, reminded their Christian subjects of their obligation to vote “for the righteous” and their priests to “educate the consciences. Their approach in 1912, when the bishop of Almería José Ignacio de Urbina founder of the National anti-Masonic and anti-Semitic League announced decisive battle unleashed between light and darkness. Since 2nd Spanish Republic, far-right forces imbued with ultra-Catholic spirit attempted to overthrow Republic by violence. Carlists, Africanistas, and Catholic theologians fostered atmosphere of social racial hatred in their speeches and writings.

Their action, as well as further political and ideological confrontation paved the way to the Spanish Civil War and a planned extermination conceived by the ultra-Catholic military coup in July 1936. Persecution of Catholics mostly, before and at the beginning, of the Spanish Civil war (1936–1939), involved the murder of almost 7,000 priests and other clergy, as well as thousands of lay people, by sections of nearly all the leftist groups because of their faith. During the Spanish Civil War of 1936–1939, and especially in the early months of the conflict, individual clergymen and entire religious communities were executed by leftists, which included communists and anarchists. The death toll of the clergy alone included 13 bishops, 4,172 diocesan priests and seminarians, 2,364 monks and friars and 283 nuns, for a total of 6,832 clerical victims. In addition to murders of clergy and the faithful, destruction of churches and desecration of sacred sites and objects widespread. On the night of 19 July 1936 alone, some 50 churches burned. In Barcelona, out of 58 churches the Cathedral was spared and similar desecrations occurred almost everywhere in Republican Spain. Exceptions were Biscay and Gipuzkoa where Christian Democratic Basque Nationalist Party, after some hesitation, supported the Republic while halting persecution in the areas held by the Basque Government. All Catholic churches in the Republican zone were closed. The desecration was not limited to Catholic churches, as synagogues and Protestant churches were also pillaged and closed. Some small Protestant churches were spared. The terror has been called the “most extensive and violent persecution of Catholicism in Western History, in some way even more intense than that of the French Revolution.” The persecution drove Catholics to the Nationalists expected defended religious interests and survival. Hitler and the Nazis had some support from Christian communities, mainly due to a common cause against the anti-religious Communists. Once in power, the Nazis moved to consolidate their power over the German churches and bring them in line with Nazi ideals. Many historians say that Hitler had a general covert plan, which some say existed even before the Nazis’ rise to power, to destroy Christianity within the Reich, was to be accomplished through control and subversion of the churches and to be completed after the war. The Third Reich founded own version of Christianity called Positive Christianity which made major changes in its interpretation of the Bible which said that Jesus Christ was the son of God, but was not a Jew and claimed that Christ despised Jews, and that the Jews were the ones solely responsible for Christ’s death.

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The Nazi government consolidated religious power, using allies to consolidate Protestant churches into the Protestant Reich Church. The syncretist project of Positive Christianity was abandoned by 1940. Dissenting Christians went underground and formed the Confessing Church, which was persecuted as a subversive group by the Nazi government. Many of its leaders were arrested and sent to Nazi concentration camps, and left the underground mostly leaderless. Church members continued to engage in various forms of resistance, including hiding Jews during the Holocaust and various attempts, largely unsuccessful, to prod the Christian community to speak out on the part of the Jews. The Catholic Church was suppressed in Poland. Between 1939 and 1945, an estimated 3,000 members, 18% of the Polish clergy, were murdered; 1,992 of which died in concentration camps. In the annexed territory of Reichsgau Wartheland, it was even harsher than elsewhere. Churches were systematically closed, and most priests were either killed, imprisoned, or deported to the General Government. The Germans also closed seminaries and convents persecuting monks and nuns. In Pomerania, all but 20 of the 650 priests were shot or sent to concentration camps. 80% of the Catholic clergy and five of the bishops of Warthegau were sent to concentration camps in 1939. In the city of Breslau, 49% of its Catholic priests were killed and in Chełmno, 48%. 108 regarded as blessed martyrs. Maximilian Kolbe was canonized as a saint. Polish and German Christians persecuted by Nazis. In the Dachau concentration camp 2,600 Catholic priests from 24 different countries killed. Many Jehovah’s Witnesses were given the chance to deny their faith and swear allegiance to the state, but few agreed. Over 12,000 Witnesses were sent to the concentration camps, and estimated 2,500–5,000 died in the Holocaust. In the aftermath of the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich, Nazi authorities repressed the Czechoslovak Orthodox Church which had given aid to the assassins. According to Pope Benedict XVI, Christians are the most persecuted group in the contemporary world. The Holy See has reported that over 100,000 Christians are violently killed annually because of some relation to their faith. According to the World Evangelical Alliance, over 200 million Christians are denied fundamental human rights solely because of their faith. Of the 100-200 million Christians under assault, the majority are persecuted in Muslim-dominated nations. Christians suffer numerically more than other faith groups or without faith in the world. Of the world’s 3 largest religions Christians are the most proportionally persecuted with 80% of all acts of religious discrimination directed at Christians who make up 33% of the world’s population. The Christian non-profit organization Open Doors publishes list of top 50 countries persecution of Christians for religious reasons is worst Although these sad events are uncomfortable topics to the forefront, it is important and incredibly relevant to recognise the memories of suffering. These  accounts evoke a keen sense of sadness as a poignant reminder of the passing of time. Affecting, pitiful pathetic, sorrowful, mournful, tearful, wretched, miserable, bitter, painfuldistressing, disturbing, heart-rending, heartbreaking, tear-jerking, plaintive, upsetting, tragic attacks in Christian history. These stark realisation of consequences resonate love of God ironically long after the dark heartbreaking emotional trauma. They represent resilience in the face of adversity as encouragement to those tortured more passionate for God martyred in the name of Christ. They remain brave, staunch, strong in bloody injustice unfairness of life with undimmed love for Christ. Despite relentless persecution and horrible genocide, God turned downcast sentiments into amazing unconquerable victory. They will resurrect forever to enjoy eternity with joy. No more pain or sorrow or tears while their adversaries agonise in hell. The Church remains triumphant in the end the church of God Wins through Christ Jesus.

 Courtesy Credit Image

http://www.catacombs

http://www.wikipedia

William Holman Hunt:A Converted British Family Sheltering a Christian Missionary from the Persecution of the Druids,

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