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A Brave Monk Who Changed the Course of History

On January 1, 404, a monk from the eastern provinces of the Roman Empire attended a gladiatorial match in Rome. But instead of watching the games, Telemachus leapt into the arena in an attempt to separate the combatants.

01/2/23

John Stonestreet

Glenn Sunshine

On January 1, 404, a monk from the eastern provinces of the Roman Empire attended a gladiatorial match in Rome. But instead of watching the games, Telemachus leapt into the arena in an attempt to separate the combatants. Theodoret, bishop of Cyrrhus, described the crowd as so filled with bloodlust they stoned the monk to death. Other accounts say one of the gladiators stabbed him. When word reached Emperor Honorius, he declared Telemachus a martyr and abolished gladiatorial matches in Rome. 

This was 91 years after Christianity was made legal in Rome. Though it may seem shocking for blood sports to be practiced in an empire made Christian for nearly a century, it took time for the Christian understanding of human value to take root. In the end, it took someone willing to live out his faith in a hostile moment. It cost him his life, but his martyrdom saved thousands and changed the course of an empire. Telemachus believed his faith demanded such action. So does ours. 

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