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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Love (04/27/06)

TITLE: Escape from Persecution
By Caitlynn Lowe


Cassius looked into the fear-stricken eyes of his newlywed wife, Julia. How he longed to take her into his arms and console her now! There was no time for that, however; their very lives were in danger, and they needed to escape at once. He led his beloved by her hand through a series of tunnels, this way and that, their only light being the flickering candle from the ceremony that the Priest had given the two before they left his side. Cassius squinted through the darkness as he tried desperately to remember the other man’s directions. Was he supposed to turn left here? No, no, he had been told to go to the right. Or were they supposed to take the straight path now? Panic began to cloud the young man’s mind. “Oh please, Lord,” he begged, “get the two of us through this safely.”

Minutes passed like hours as the two ran down forgotten trails. They were terrified, and silence filled the air. Yet each wondered if their own beating heart would betray their location in the tunnels. The old Priest had warned them that this could happen, but they pleaded with him regardless, passionately defending their love for one another. Finally the kindly man had smiled at the two and, offering his blessing, agreed to marry them. It was dangerous; Emperor Claudius had outlawed all marriages in order to expand the size of his army. Fewer unattached young men meant a larger army, and a larger army meant more victories for the Roman Empire. Thankfully there were still some Priests remaining who felt strongly about the sanctity and importance of marriage. Cassius and Julia loved each other far too much to give up so easily, and so they left immediately upon hearing about a Priest named Valentinus who had been giving support to the persecuted Christians and had been marrying young Christian couples before the eyes of the Lord.

Cassius could not help but smile at the thought of that moment when they exchanged their vows. It was such a small ceremony--it had been only he, Julia, and the Priest, all standing before God as a testimony to their love--yet it was perfect that way. As far as Cassius was concerned, everyone who mattered was there. The thought of his beloved’s smile, and the way her eyes glistened with tears when he promised to love her for all eternity, was joy enough to allow him to die happily, should it come to that. His concern now though was not for himself, but for his precious Julia, and for her safety, freedom, and happiness.

Finally, Cassius saw moonlight piercing through the blackness of the dark tunnel. At last! They were free. The two ran out into the beauty of the night sky and embraced each other, tears flowing freely down both their faces. Cassius was relieved. “Oh, Julia, my beloved, you are safe!”

“Yes, my love, we are both saved! And now we are free to live the rest of our lives together,” she replied, crying into his shirt. “To think, it is all thanks to that wonderful old Priest. Oh, I do hope that Emperor Claudius will spare him.”

“As do I, Julia. Yet we must resign ourselves to God’s will in the matter. May He watch over dear Father Valentine through whatever he faces next.”

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This article has been read 883 times
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Lynda Schultz 05/05/06
Is this how Valentine's Day really began? Great imagination if it isn't! Nicely done. I got sidetracked for a second with this: "Fewer unattached young men meant a larger army". More unattached or Fewer attached? But great job.
Jan Ackerson 05/08/06
Good job with building the suspense, and with staying historically accurate.
Pat Guy 05/08/06
Great account! You did a super job of writing. I enjoyed reading this all the way through.
dub W05/09/06
A well spun tale of historical basis. Thanks for posting.
Dr. Sharon Schuetz05/09/06
Excellent job. I shared their emotion as they ran. Good story.
darlene hight05/10/06
What a creative take on the topic! It is good to remember Valentine for the true beauty of what he did in his life instead of candy hearts and flowers