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Over centuries, the Christian martyrs of Ancient Rome were put to death in the coliseum, their horrific demise serving as bloodthirsty entertainment for the Roman population.
The persecutions of early Christians took place over centuries, as the pagan Roman Empire sought to suppress and extinguish belief in God and Christ. While many Christians were simply executed and their homes destroyed, others were kept captive and sent to Rome. There they were escorted to within the enormous coliseum – a towering concrete arena host to all manner of events. Most infamously, lions and other ferocious creatures were let loose into the amphitheater with the Christians, who were ill-equipped to defend themselves.
This history recounts how various persecutions took place, and the most notable stories that emerged from the groups of believers corralled into the coliseum. Famous figures such as Saint Vitus are also related. For its part, the coliseum became emblematic of Roman barbarity, steeling Christian opposition to its grisly spectacles. What was intended to be a deterrent to belief in Christ instead encouraged and imbued the faithful with determination. The martyrs’ sacrifice was not in vain: 300 years after the crucifixion of Christ, the Roman Emperor Constantine converted to the Christian faith.