Persecutions of Christians in the Early Roman Empire
by Felix Just, S.J., Ph.D.


[Still Under Construction]

Emperor (Reign) Martyrs and other Persecutions of Christians
Tiberius (AD 14-37)

ca. 29/30: Crucifixion of Jesus, just outside of Jerursalem (Mark 15 & par.)
ca. 33/36: Deacon Stephen stoned to death by a mob in Jerusalem (Acts 7:51-60)

Caligula (37-41) .
Claudius (41-54) 44: Apostle James, son of Zebedee, beheaded in Palestine by King Herod Agrippa I (Acts 12:1-2)
ca. 49: Jews (prob. esp. Jewish-Christians) expelled from Rome for causing a disturbance (Acts 18:2; Suetonius)
Nero (54-68) 62: James the Just (the "brother of the Lord") stoned in Jerusalem
64: Christians blamed for the burning of Rome
; some Christians burned at the stake or killed by wild animals
ca. 64/66: Apostle Peter crucified just outside of Rome (cf. John 21:18-19)
ca. 64/66: Apostle Paul beheaded just outside of Rome (cf. 2 Tim 4:6-8)
60's: unconfirmable stories of the killing of most of the other apostles in various locations by various methods
[ 66: Jewish Revolt against Rome begins in Israel/Palestine; some Christians flee across Jordan river to Pella.]
Galba (68-69)
Otho (69)
Vitellius (69)
.
Vespasian (69-79) [ 70: Destruction of Jerusalem by Roman Army ]
Titus (79-81) .
Domitian (81-96) 90's: John (author of Book of Revelation) exiled on the island of Patmos (near Ephesus)
Rev 2:13 & 17:6 refer to "martyrs" who have shed their blood for Jesus
Nerva (96-98) .
Trajan (98-117) ca. 107: Bishop Ignatius of Antioch (Syria) condemned to fight wild beasts in Rome
ca. 110: Pliny-Trajan correspondence discusses how to deal with people accused of being Christians
Hadrian (117-138) .
Antoninus Pius (138-161) ca. 155-160: Bishop Polycarp of Smyrna (Asia Minor) martyred
Marcus Aurelius (161-180) 160's or 170's: Christian Martyrs of Lyons & Vienne (southern France)
ca. 165: Justin Martyr, beheaded in Rome
Lucius Verus (161-169) .
Commodus (180-192) ca. 180: "The Passion of the Scillitan Martyrs" written
Pertinax (193)
Didius Julianus (193)
.
Septimius Severus (193-211) 202: Edict makes it illegal to convert to Christianity; persecution esp. in North Africa
ca. 203: Perpetua & Felicity martyred in Carthage (North Africa)
Caracalla (211-217)
Macrinus (217-218)
Elagabalus (218-222)
Severus Alexander (222-235)
Maximinus (235-238)
Gordian I and II (238)
Balbinus (238)
Pupienus (238)
Gordian III (238-244)
Philip the Arab (244-249)
.
Trajanus Decius (249-251) 250: Major Empire-Wide Persecution; Christians required to participate in Emperor Worship
Bishop Fabian of Rome martyred; Bishop Cyprian of Carthage exiled; Origen of Alexandria tortured to death
Trebonianus Gallus (251-253)
Aemilian (253)
.
Valerian (253-260) ca. 258: Bishop Cyprian of Carthage martyred
Gallienus (253-268)
Claudius Gothicus (268-270)
.
Aurelian (270-275) some persecutions
Tacitus (275-276)
Probus (276-282)
Carus (282-283)
Carinus (283-284)
Numerian (283-284)
.
Diocletian (284-305)
& Maximian (286-305)
Major Empire-Wide Persecution begins ca. 303; confiscation of Christian churches and books; arrest, torture, and execution of many Christian leaders
Constantius Chlorus (305-306)
Maxentius (306-312)
.
Galerius (305-311)
Licinius (311-323)
311: Edict of Galerius: toleration for Christians, allowing them to worship openly
Constantine (307-337) 313: Edict of Constantine (Edict of Milan): toleration for all religions, including Christianity; ends persecutions
Constantine II (337-340)
Constans I (337-350)
Constantius II (337-361)
Magnentius (350-353)
.
Julian (361-363) Julian ("the Apostate") abandons Christianity; tries to revive worsihp of pagan gods
Jovian (363-364)
Valentinian I (364-375)
Valens (364-378)
Gratian (375-383)
Valentinian II (375-392)
.
Theodosius (379-395) 380: Christianity declared the one and only official religion of the Roman Empire

 


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