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Having persecuted the Christians, Diocletian set out for Rome to celebrate his 20th year of reign.  Upon arriving, he could not stand the freedom in Rome;  he impatiently left the city and went to Ravenna.  Having journeyed at the beginning of winter, he felt sick and became bed-ridden. He became so ill that talks spread that he was dead.  He forced himself to appear in public but his one year of illness made him unrecognizable.  He never again attained perfect health for he became disoriented in his judgments-- at times, insane; at other times, of sound mind.

After that, Galerius Caesar, his son-in-law, arrived and forced him to resign under threat of civil war.  At first, Diocletian refused, realizing that, being long in power, he had made many enemies.  To resign was sure death.  So Diocletian proposed the appointment of two Caesars.  Though Constantine was the best choice, Diocletian chose two unknown incompetents who further oppressed the people. 

Galerius, however, ruled supreme.  He arranged all things so that what he did to Diocletian would not happen to him.  But, having gone against God, all his plans were thwarted.

While in power, Galerius treated his subjects as slaves, denying all their liberties.  Those whom he fancied were first degraded before being tortured.  He tortured also judges, the rich and honored men of the land for the slightest reason.  Crucifixion was the capital punishment.  Even matrons were not spared.  

For his sports, he kept wild bears and threw men to the savage animals; he giggled and laughed when the man's limbs were torn to pieces.  His meals were accompanied by the shedding of human blood.  

Galerius began a new mode of execution. . .burning people alive, which he used against the Christians.  The burning was done slowly.  Fixed on a stake, a moderate flame burned the soles of their feet; then another part of the body until all the parts were aflame.  To prolong the agony, however, their faces and mouths were continually moistened to keep them alive.  Death came only many hours later.  Thus, the first Christians were martyred.  

The torture Galerius used on the Christians he applied to all indiscriminately.  Punishments like imprisonment, banishment or hard labor he found too mild.  His own household was chastised with lances.  To be beheaded was an indulgence shown to a very few.  

His rule was made worse in that he appointed rude, illiterate, cruel soldiers to be judges and administrators who merely ravaged the land.  

Then Galerius imposed the tax.  Land, vines, animals, fruit trees were meticulously taxed.  Even the dead animals and men were taxed.  To get a correct inventory, he used immense cruelty; torture was used on children so they would reveal the possessions of their parents,  slaves to expose their masters, wives to betray their husbands.  The aged and the sick were tortured, too.  Those who could not pay, the mendicants, were put on board a boat and sunk in the sea.  

Then God struck Galerius.  An incurable and malignant ulcer afflicted his private parts.  When physicians tried to eradicate it, it spread all the more and his veins burst.  Every time physicians tried to cure the wound, it got worse.  Galerius grew emaciated, pallid and feeble.  Gangrene set in.  Famous physicians were called in but the distemper even got worse.  His bowels came out and his buttocks became putrefied.  The distemper attacked the intestines and worms came out of his body.  The stench filled the palace and the city.  The punishment had taken a year long and Galerius was forced to acknowledge the supremacy of the God that he persecuted.  He promised to rebuild the church and make atonement for his misdeeds.  He published an edict restoring the practice of the Christian religion and begged the Christians to pray for him.  Galerius, however, did not obtain Divine forgiveness.  He died shortly after.

Eusebius:  Ecclesiastical History








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