Saturday, September 24, 2011

Oh Arius, you Darnel!

But while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went away.
Matthew 13:25 

Arianism was among the major issues discussed at the Council of Nicaea in 325. At that time there was no commonly adopted doctrine about anything in the Kingdom of God. Persecuted Christians did not have the chance to come together to talk about the content of their faith. The Scriptures were a gentle guide drawing the line between Judaism, Christianity and paganism but as we know, they raise as many questions as they answer.
Constantine I had learned to his dismay that bitter disputes existed among the Christians also about the most fundamental issues, such as Who is God. How could such a confused religion unite the people of the Empire under One God and one Caesar?

Theologians had written many treaties that tried to solve the breaking up of the theological concept of One God of Israel because of what had happened in Jesus Christ. Some of them were working on the line that was eventually accepted at Nicaea: God is One Trinity. This paradoxical close-up of One God has ever since been the fundamental teaching of Christian churches.

The concept of Trinity is not really clear in the classic wording of the Nicene Creed:

We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of all things visible and invisible. 
And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, 
begotten of the Father [the only-begotten; that is, of the essence of the Father, God of God], 
Light of Light, 
very God of very God, 
begotten, not made, 
being of one substance with the Father;
By whom all things were made [both in heaven and on earth];
Who for us men, and for our salvation, came down and was incarnate and was made man;
He suffered, and the third day he rose again, ascended into heaven;
From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.
And in the Holy Ghost.

Faith in One God, Monotheism, the pillar of Judaism (Shema Israel) and absolute foundation of Islam.

They have it easy.

The section on Lord Jesus Christ is highly complex language and difficult to understand, at the limits of what human languages - even the delicate classical Greek - can express.

In the Kingdom of Heaven there was a more sensible solution proposed by presbyter Arius (250–336) from the theological capital of Alexandria.

Faith in One God.

This must be the unshakeable foundation of true faith.

So why let this Jesus guy, admittedly a human born in the little town of Bethlehem, to break up this teaching of the One Majesty, God of Israel?

Arius relied on the holy Scriptures that underline that God is One and he noticed that Jesus himself says

"You heard me say, ‘I am going away and I am coming back to you.’ If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I."
John 14:28

Presbyter Arius began to look at the very beginning of everything and concluded that there must have been a time before Jesus Christ existed since he is called Son of God.

It is obvious, is it not, at least according to our human language and logic that if there is a Father and He has a Son, the Father was before the Son.

Wikipedia article summarizes all this nicely:

"Arius taught that God the Father and the Son did not exist together eternally.
He taught that the pre-incarnate Jesus was a divine being created by (and therefore inferior to) God the Father at some point, before which the Son did not exist.
In English-language works, it is sometimes said that Arians believe that Jesus is or was a "creature", in the sense of "created being". Arius and his followers appealed to Bible verses such as where Jesus says that the father is "greater than I" (John 14:28), and says "The Lord created me at the beginning of his work" (Proverbs 8:22) although this verse is now generally held by trinitarians to refer to some concept of "wisdom" rather than to the Son of God.
Of all the various disagreements within the Christian Church, the Arian controversy has held the greatest force and power of theological and political conflict, with the possible exception of the Protestant Reformation. The conflict between Arianism and Trinitarian beliefs was the first major doctrinal confrontation in the Church after the legalization of Christianity by the Roman Emperors Constantine I and Licinius."
Quoted from wikipedia

Tares among the wheat (darnel)
The teaching of Arius was not only a powerful catalyst in the development of Church teaching about Trinity that challenged the greatest minds in early Byzantine period from St Athanasius and St Augustine to the Cappadocian Fathers.

It was also tares among the wheat that spread among the wheat in the fields of Christ. The most significant believers who followed Arian teaching were the fearsome Goths approaching the borders of the Roman empire and eventually breaking in with devastating consequences to the classical world in events that changed the history of the world.

The growth of the Kingdom of Christ in Europe at these turbulent times was strongly influenced by Arian Christology from the regions of modern Yugoslavia all the way along the northern borders of Roman empire and to Spain.

A key person in this sowing of the darnel was Wulfila who brought many pagan Gothic tribes to Christ the Created One.

Arianism today
Because the teaching of Arius makes sense - of course Father is greater than Jesus, God is eternal, invisible, One - probably quite many baptised Christians today have similar ideas about the relationship between God and Christ at the back of their heads even when confessing the Nicene Creed by their mouths.

Trinity is a tough doctrine because it is so paradoxical and does not fit into the mighty power of our brains!

Go ask St Augustine if you do not agree with me on this!

Monday, September 12, 2011

One God, One Empire, One Emperor

"The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till it was all leavened."
Jesus Mt 13:33

The leaven of Kingdom of Heaven was spreading around the Mediterranean as faith in Jesus spread rapidly from heart to heart. People were taught to keep what Jesus had told them to keep and they came to be baptized despite of the cruel and bloody persecution of the Church.

We can look at the policy of persecution - and its reversal by Constantine the Great and Licinius - as a political act. The Empire was made up of so many conquered nations, cultures and religions, that it needed something to bond it together. The cult of the Caesar was such a binding element that was acceptable to all and sacrificing for the good of the Emperor by the Eagle an act of civil obedience. By refusing to sacrifice Christians were a danger to the inner unity of the Empire as religion had an important social and political function in ancient Rome.

It's No Sacrifice

 The Roman Eagle standard used in the movie Gladiator

Why did the not go along and sacrifice by the eagle standard and altar to the good of the Emperor? (Some actually did). Had they not refused Christianity would have been just another cult among the many, competing with Mithra or Isis. With no salt, no difference and no role in shaping world history. By sticking to One God and refusing pagan worship of the Emperor, even by the extreme price paid by Saint Perpetua and Felicia and so many others, Christians became a meaningful entity. Very meaningful.

Decisive victory for Christ in Milan!

 Constantine the Great (ref)

Constantine knew first hand the futility of Diocletian's persecution of Christians and he had seen its horrible consequences. He deeply loved his Christian mother Helena and respected her religion. But when he and Licinius reversed the religious policies of the State by the Edict of Milan in February 313 and made faith in Christ an allowed religion (religio licita) this they did not change the basic configuration. Religion was still seen as a political entity that was needed to keep keep internally together the huge Empire. The Edict just changed the key religion and in addition to Jupiter and Sol invictus also faith in Jesus Christ, Rex Regum, was now officially allowed.

The victory for Jesus at Milan was enormous because He is a living God, not a false god like Dio or Sol. So Jesus was now able to mobilize new and very powerful forces to the battle in His request to conquer the entire world. Suddenly such a goal did not look such a crazy and impossible dream as it must once have been in the eyes of His first disciples in Galilee.

Unity of faith is unity of Empire
From the background of fundamental political significance given to the new religion in Roman ideology we can easily understand the horror at which Constantine looked at the great diversity and myriads of quarrels in the Christian communities coming out from the closet. Instead of confessing a single faith in God and living in peace there were bitter, often bloody, quarrels about almost everything in the faith. Who is God, who is Christ, what is Church, who is the boss of the Christians...? 

Constantine decided to step in and fix the problem of diversity in faith for once and for all. For this purpose the Emperor invited all 1800 Christian bishops to join a common (Ecumenical) council to be held in the city of Nicaea (modern Iznik in Turkey). They were to work out consensus about their doctrinal, hierarchical and practical differences and unite as a single Church under the benevolent rule of a single Emperor for the good of a single Empire.

About 318 of the invited bishops arrived to Nicaea some of them badly disfigured by torture in Roman jails, and sat down to work out the theological borders of the Kingdom of God.

The Bishops discussed
The Arian question regarding the relationship between God the Father and Jesus the Son
The date of celebration of the Paschal/Easter observation and Jewish calendar
The Meletian schism
The validity of baptism by heretics
The status of the lapsed in the persecution under Licinius
(For more details see the excellent wikipedia article on First Council of Nicaea) 

The result of the discussions was compressed in what is known today as the Nicene Creed. It is simply the foundation of  Christian theology and those who do not accept it are considered to be outside the Kingdom of God.

Nicene Creed has remained unchanged after the modifications and additions of the Ecumenical Council of Constantinopol in 381 A.D.

The later probably fifth century "Spanish addition" to the creed (et filioque) has only been accepted by the Western church and still today remains an open wound in the body of Christ.

Original Creed of Nicaea Anno Domino 325
We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of all things visible and invisible.

And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, begotten of the Father [the only-begotten; that is, of the essence of the Father, God of God], Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father;

By whom all things were made [both in heaven and on earth];

Who for us men, and for our salvation, came down and was incarnate and was made man;

He suffered, and the third day he rose again, ascended into heaven;
From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.

And in the Holy Ghost.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Victorious Sun

Constantine's labarum. ChRistos Chi Rho (wikimedia)

The Kingdom of God entered the top levels of Roman power hierarchy through the patient love and care and prayers of a woman, Helena. The relationship between mother and son is clearly shown with the honors and importance Constantine gave her after becoming Emperor of the West and later as the sole Emperor of Rome.

The border to the Kingdom of God is baptism. Constantine did not get baptism before he was on his death bed. There may have been a calculated reason to this: to be sure, that all the many sins he had done during his lifetime would truly be forgiven by God. I am not sure if this explanation is true as it is quite silly and shows no understanding of the real meaning of baptism.

Jesus Christ was knocking the door of Constantine's heart but this was not enough in this cold world. The Ruler of this world, Satan, had a strong grip on the rulers of the Roman Empire as we see in the cases of, for example, Gestus, Valerian, Maximian and especially Diocletian the Persecutor. And this was not just spiritual war but physical destruction of the body of Christ, those who through faith were citizens in Civitate Dei.

But how on earth could the resurrected Jesus join such a battle of armies? Is He not seated on the Throne on the right side of Father from where He will be coming (future) to judge the world?

Yes, He is sitting on the Throne of Glory. It is not located somewhere over the rainbow but in the heart of our existence. Secret and much closer to us than we imagine.

Sol invictus
In the following majestic way Jesus the Warrior led His invisible Kingdom to one of its greatest victories over the hostile Empire of Rome. (Let us not forget those Roman soldiers who were put in charge of executing this rebel with common criminals or the fifth prefect of Judea, Pontius Pilate (26-36), who gave them the order to do their grim job. It took only 300 years for the Empire to kneel in front of the Crucified.)

Late Roman emperors had a new favorite god, Sol invictus, the Invincible Sun.

It is remarkable that we can read Emperor Julian's Oration to the sovereign Sun. This is a rare authentic document about Sun worship written by a true Roman, a handsome macho soldier who was sworn enemy of Christ the Galilean and His meek followers to whom his mother believed ad nauseam. For Julian, Sol invictus represented deep wisdom and truth, light from the sun in the darkness of human existence. For us, his Oration is rather incomprehensible mumbling with no head or tail.

The cult is important because Sun was the favorite God of Helena's son, Constantine. During his rule we are still in pagan Rome and he also minted coins to the glory of Sol invictus.

With a master stroke, Jesus the Warrior hit Constantine at the heart of his heart. Through the sun, his favorite god!

The setting for the battle

Ponto Milvian today (ref)

The crucial battle of Milvian Bridge October 28, 312 was at hand. Constantine was facing the fearsome army of Maxentius. Wikipedia has a vivid description of the situation:

"Constantine reached Rome at the end of October 312 approaching along the Via Flaminia. He camped at the location of Malborghetto near Prima Porta, where remains of a Constantinian monument in honour of the occasion are still extant. It was expected that Maxentius would remain within Rome and endure a siege, as he already had successfully employed this strategy during the invasions of Severus and Galerius. He had already brought large amounts of food to the city in preparation. Surprisingly, he decided otherwise and met Constantine in open battle. Ancient sources about the event attribute this decision either to divine intervention (e.g., Lactantius, Eusebius) or superstition (e.g., Zosimus). They also note that the day of the battle was the same as the day of his accession (28 October), which was generally thought to be a good omen. Lactantius also reports that the populace supported Constantine with acclamations during circus games, although the reliability of his account is not clear."

"Maxentius chose to make his stand in front of the Milvian Bridge, a stone bridge that carries the Via Flaminia road across the Tiber River into Rome (the bridge stands today at the same site, somewhat remodelled, named in Italian Ponte Milvio or sometimes Ponte Molle, soft bridge). Holding it was crucial if Maxentius was to keep his rival out of Rome, where the Senate would surely favour whoever held the city. As Maxentius had probably partially destroyed the bridge during his preparations for a siege, he had a wooden or pontoon bridge constructed to get his army across the river. The sources vary as to the nature of the bridge central to the events of the battle. Zosimus mentions it, vaguely, as being a wooden construction while others specify that it was a pontoon bridge; sources are also unclear as to whether the bridge was deliberately constructed as a collapsible trap for Constantine's forces or not."

Maxentius had clear superiority in the size of his army and in choosing the positions and deciding on the attack.

The vision in Sun - Sol invictus

Wikipedia has detailed discussion on what happened on 27th of October, the evening before the crucial battle: 

"In his later Life of Constantine, Eusebius gives a detailed account of a vision and stresses that he had heard the story from the emperor himself. According to this version, Constantine with his army was marching (Eusebius does not specify the actual location of the event, but it clearly is not in the camp at Rome), when he looked up to the sun and saw a cross of light above it, and with it the Greek words "Εν Τούτῳ Νίκα", En toutō níka, usually translated into Latin as "in hoc signo vinces," both phrases have the literal meaning "In this sign,[you shall] conquer;" a more free translation would be "Through this sign [you shall] conquer". At first he was unsure of the meaning of the apparition, but in the following night he had a dream in which Christ explained to him that he should use the sign against his enemies. Eusebius then continues to describe the labarum, the military standard used by Constantine in his later wars against Licinius, showing the Chi-Rho sign."

The Son of God gave Constantine a sign exactly there where the man was looking - in the sun he worshiped despite of his mother's prayers.
Constantine's coin with labarum (wikimedia)
After the battle of Milvian Bridge we start to see the labarum in Constantine's coins!

Victory through a woman


History, also Church history, is mostly written by men about men...

So I find it so amazing how Jesus Christ, the King of Kings, has used women in crucial tasks in the battle. Quietly, humbly, in the background - yet so essential operators against the enemy unable to fathom the power of love.

Birth and youth of Helena
The hero of our story, Flavia Iulia Helena Augusta, was born between 246 and 250 possibly in the city of Drepanum (modern village of Hesek in Turkey). Little is known about her youth. As a young woman she was possibly working as a stabularia that is inn-keeper or as a maid in an inn.

She must have been an attractive woman because despite of her low social status nobleman Constantius Chlorus (250-306) noticed her and the two became lovers. This very human event is an important early step in the long-term strategy of Christ against Rome. Crucial detail in this love story are the identical silver bracelets they happened to be wearing when they met in Drepanum. Albanian born Constantius was there possibly in 270 during Emperor Aureliu's eastern campaign against the revolt of Queen Zenobia of Palmyra. Helena would have been a little over twenty years old at the time.

From our point of view, things did not go so smoothly for the King's great plan. The two fell in love, Helena was now either Constantius's wife or concubine. On 27th of February 272 she gave birth to their first child, a boy. in the city of Naissus in Serbia. The father called his son Constantine.

Divorce and life in Nicomedia
But when life began to smile to Constantius the low social status of his wife was a real burden to success in the palace. So he promptly divorced Helena before 289 to marry a noblewoman, daughter of the mighty general Maximian. The mother and her son were expelled and taken from the palace to the city of Nicomedia where Emperor of the East, Diocletian (ruler 284-305), kept court. We do not know much about Helena at this time. She must have followed from near the education of her only son in the palace and we know that she never married again.

"Constantine received a formal education at Diocletian's court, where he learned Latin literature, Greek, and philosophy. The cultural environment in Nicomedia was open, fluid and socially mobile, and Constantine could mix with intellectuals both pagan and Christian. He may have attended the lectures of Lactantius, a Christian scholar of Latin in the city. Because Diocletian did not completely trust Constantius — none of the Tetrarchs fully trusted their colleagues — Constantine was held as something of a hostage, a tool to ensure Constantius' best behaviour. Constantine was nonetheless a prominent member of the court: he fought for Diocletian and Galerius in Asia, and served in a variety of tribunates; he campaigned against barbarians on the Danube in 296, and fought the Persians under Diocletian in Syria (297) and under Galerius in Mesopotamia (298–99). By late 305, he had become a tribune of the first order, a tribunus ordinis primi." (wikipedia)

Diocletian Persecution
What madness from the King to send His key fighter to Nicomedia!

For we do know that the persecution of the Kingdom of God reached its horrific peak during the time of this same Emperor Diocletian with merciless cruelty and lethal force. While laws against Christians had been enforced more strictly since 250 Diocletian now wanted to destroy utterly this sect from the face of Earth.

"Constantine had returned to Nicomedia from the eastern front by the spring of 303, in time to witness the beginnings of Diocletian's "Great Persecution", the most severe persecution of Christians in Roman history. In late 302, Diocletian and Galerius sent a messenger to the oracle of Apollo at Didyma with an inquiry about Christians. Constantine could recall his presence at the palace when the messenger returned, when Diocletian accepted his court's demands for universal persecution. On 23 February 303, Diocletian ordered the destruction of Nicomedia's new church, condemned its scriptures to the flame, and had its treasures seized. In the months that followed, churches and scriptures were destroyed, Christians were deprived of official ranks, and priests were imprisoned."

What terrible times and at what risk Christ had put His key fighter when sending Helena to Diocletian's court.

We know that mother Helena would not leave her son and that she wanted to live or die near him. In our minds and hearts we can imagine those lonely nights of prayer by this woman who could have been the Queen proudly standing beside her husband Constantine Chlorus who ruled Rome from 293 to 306. She was hidden from the public and just a forgotten mother in the night. Theodora, daughter of Maximian, had the honour of standing with the Emperor in the glory of the state.

Everything changes
Church historians see the horrible death of sick Emperor Diocletian as divine punishment for the universal cruel persecution of the Kingdom of God. Politicians made plans about his successor but something much bigger was now happening.

Mother Helena was perhaps forgotten by the people but not by our Lord. Absolutely everything changed in her life.

I believe that because of her mother's prayers, holy angels guided Constantine actions and he got permission to leave treacherous court of Galerius to join the British campaing against the Picts led by his father. When  Constantius fell sick in York he named his eldest son as successor and at his death on 25 July 306 the Roman legion promptly shouted Constantine the new August.

When the now 34 year old Constantine entered his task as the ruler of Britain, Gaul, and Spain he brought two persons with him to the heart of Rome - his mother Helena showered with honours and the King of the Kings knocking the door of his heart.

The living God of his mother.

(The historical details in the text are taken from various Wikipedia articles. I hope this little introduction encourages the reader to study the articles in detail.)  

Christ conquers Roma

 S.P.Q.R  Senatus Populusque Romanus
Senate and the People of Rome

It is overwhelming proof of the skill of our Enemy that many devout believers consider one of the greatest victories of Christ, the conquest of Rome, to be a sad defeat for the true Apostolic Church.

The odds against Christ were immense

Roman Empire is one of the most powerful kingdoms in the history of mankind.  The legions had conquered most of the known world from Atlantic to Arabia Felix and proudly they called the Mediterranean "Our Ocean". No other imperium has ever achieved such a feat. Their military power and technology was overwhelming, their iron rule, their commerce, shipping, taxation of the entire world since the time of  Caesar Augustus, their criminal justice system, architecture, political skills are still cause of wonder. Roman civilization is in the core of the Western world and we have Capitol Hill in Washington as well as consuls and plebeians all over the democratic world, not to speak of Emperors that have been and will be.

Adolph Hitler found so much to admire in the iron eagle state of Rome that his Third Reich adopted many symbols and ideas from it when preparing for the Thousand Years of Nazi rule over the world.

Against this powerful macho machinery of road builders, bridge constructors, hardened viewers of gladiator games, experienced shrew politicians, omnipotent rulers there stands one man, Christ, and His gospel.

The odds against Christ were immense

And yet He received a resounding victory over this most powerful kingdom upon earth.

He did.


In my mind are two basic strategies, Christ the Lamb and Christ the Warrior.

The Lamb, Jesus, represents such depth of love that neither the pleas of her father and friends, love for her just born child nor fear of Roman torture and vicious death in the arena could turn the heads of Saint Perpetua and her friends. There was something stronger, more powerful in them, then the power of an omnipotent sadistic and cruel power hungry State and its representatives. This love reached a single mother and changed world history.

The Warrior, Jesus, was present in a crucial battle of human armies and brought victory to one side against the other that utterly perished. (He takes sides, you know...)

I write about these two things, that in my mind led Jesus Christ and the Kingdom of God to such a resounding victory that the entire western world was shaken as if in a massive earthquake. Events that shapes also today the world of human race living upon this Earth. Your world and mine.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Saint Perpetua and Saint Felicia

St Perpetua and St Felicia
Ehtiopian icon

The mustard seed of the tree, the Kingdom of God, had been planted in Judea. The soil was not particularly fertile and the environment extremely hostile. The chosen pillar, the Rock, Petrus, had been executed and in the same persecution of Nero 63-64 Anno Domino similar fate met the chosen Apostle of the Gentiles, Paulus, former Pharisee Saulus.

The rulers of the almighty Roman Empire had decided that the new Jewish sect of the Nazarens was disruptive for the good of the State. These people refused to sacrifice for the good of the Emperor and were thus obviously a problem in the midst of the great mixture of nations and religions under the rule of Rome.

History has preserved to us an amazing authentic document from the early period when the secret Kingdom was slowly but surely spreading around Mare Nostrum under the skilful rule of the Crucified. For unlike many other historical stories and legends telling about martyrs and saints, the young Roman lady Perpetua (181 - 7.March 203) tells about the events personally by herself. In other words, amazingly, we do have the original diary that was written by Perpetua in prison while she was waiting to be killed in arena during the birthday celebrations of Emperor Gestus in 203 A.D. 

The document is among the most touching that I know from the period in its freshness and nobility. It gives us quite unique insight into the secret life of the Kingdom of God and shows how our Lord Jesus Christ worked at the entrance gate on its border. The diary of St. Perpetua shows how the rule of Christ over the hearts of people penetrated deep into pagan North Africa from faith to faith.

The story of St. Perpetua and St. Felicia is truly holy and far from some of the imaginary holiness of martyr legends. It is full of remarkable light and most intimate experiences of a believer with the King of Kings. The story is also remarkable as the first known document written by a Christian woman.

It demonstrates the totally invincible power of God that nothing on this earth can win, not the Devil in his hatred of men and not even the cruel death. The price Perpetua had to pay for her faith in Jesus was awful. But she was ready to pay it and answered with her blood to the ultimate question "Do you love me more than anything else?"

The story of St. Perpetua takes us to Carthago in March 203 A.D. We meet a beautiful 22 year old noblewoman and her personal slave Felicia. Perpetua is married and has just given birth to a little baby boy. Her slave Felicia is near the end of her pregnancy.  While Perpetua's mother was a devout Christian, her loving father was a pagan with respected position among the nobility of the city.

Emperor Septimus Severus had given an order that while Christians were not to be bothered it is strictly forbidden to convert to either Judaism or Christianity.  These religions were considered harmful for the unity of the empire. Despite of the imperial prohibition five young adults were studying Bible under Catechumen 
Saturus: Perpetua, two slaves Felicia and Revocatus, and two free men, Saturninus and Secundilus.  

Police officials surprised the five students while their teacher was not present and they were promptly taken to jail. They were all baptized in the prison and thus became legal citizens of the Kingdom of God. Perpetua wrote about her experiences during the imprisonment in Latin. This diary was given to a friend and the story was completed with a short and detailed eyewitness description of the martyrdom. The narrator tells how St. Perpetua was thrown to a wild cow apparently in order to mock her being a woman. Its horn pierced her painfully but did not kill her. The inexperienced macho man sent to kill her with a sword did not succeed either until St Perpetua helped him to fulfill his job. (I would not be surprised if this soldier had later become a Christian himself after such an experience.)

Young Perpetua was asked by Christ in most severe manner three questions
- Do you love me more than your baby boy?
- Do you love me more than your father?
- Do you love me more than your own life?

These were not verbal questions but something worse, choose Me or your own life with your loving parents, your friends, your child.

St. Perpetua takes us to her dreams and we thus have unique first hand story about the psychological realities in which North Africans were living in the beginning of the 3rd century A.D. The dreams are so vivid and encourage Perpetua, comfort her about the fate of her little brother who died from disfiguring sickness unbaptized, and give her strength for the martyrdom on the sandy arena. A fight with "the Egyptian" and stepping on the head of Devil, the dragon.

It is just an amazing story - you can read it all in here.

Bene venisti, tegnis!

For me the most powerful and memorable moment in the diary of St. Perpetua is the vision in which she meets the Shepherd.

Is is an absolutely fantastic detail in the story and told with such humility and bright beauty. Read it yourself! 

At the heart of the vision is our Lord Jesus Christ who says to Perpetua the most simple words imaginable "Bene venisti, tegnis!" (Welcome, girl) and gives her a piece of goat cheese.

Perpetua has the taste of that cheese in her mouth when she wakes up in the morning.

With such a King, the enemy has no chance to stop His Kingdom.

No chance at all.

We all know that only three generations after these events the Empire or Rome knelt in front of the Shepherd whose sheep it had so cruelly persecuted. The pure Lamb of God from Bethlehem won Jupiter from the heights of Mt Olympus.