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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Personal Peace (06/01/06)

TITLE: I, Blandina, am a Christian
By Sally Hanan
06/08/06


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I am the last to seal my fate.

“I am a Christian, and we commit no wrongdoing.”

“Take them away.” The Roman magistrate’s hand flutters in the air.

***
I shiver beside Ponticus – I the servant, and he the master’s son. We sit, bent over because the ceiling is so low, in the darkest place in the prison. I cannot see the outline of his face, but I hear his concern for me in his voice.

“Blandina, please don’t be afraid. Our Lord Jesus is with us, even now. Do you feel His presence?”

Yes, He is here. His peace courses through my inner parts. I reach out for Ponticus’ hand - to give him the comfort I myself have just received - and feel his tight fingers relax. This is my place. This is where God would have me be.

***
“Confess that you have seen your master eat the flesh of children. Confess that these others have committed depraved violations against the gods, and you will go free.”

I breathe in.” I am a Christian, and we commit no wrongdoing.”

They push and drag Sanctus, the elder, and I into the amphitheater to the roars of the crowd. I am suspended on a stake. The amphitheater door shrieks its way open and the wild beasts charge in; the dust of the ground flurries about their feet. I close my eyes to pray.

“Lord Jesus,” I shout, “take me into your glory. Lord Jesus, how I love you, my Lord and my God, I praise you from the depths of my heart; there is no one like you.”

I hear a growling, a tearing of flesh, and then… a silence holds the crowd. I open my eyes in surprise – those who were shouting so violently for my death yet a few minutes before are noiseless. I see Sanctus’ ravaged body and am joyous at his fast departure. The beasts prowl around my legs, but touch me not. Soldiers rush in to remove me, and I am thrown back into my prison.

Tears rack my body – am I not to be with my Savior today? “Lord God,” I sob, “I want to be with you.” The Lord’s will has prevailed, His victory over the forces of evil have been proven today to the masses. I cry tears again, this time for doubting Him.

***
It is morning again. “Deny your god and go free. Worship the gods of our people and we will forget your heinous actions.” I shake my head fervently. Deny my Lord? Accuse the brethren? NO!

“I am a Christian, and we commit no wrongdoing.”

“Then watch this,” laughs one soldier malevolently. Ponticus is chained onto the grate over burning coals. He does not cry out. A flame of fire caresses his leg, but there is no nurture here; it wraps its fingers around the skin; it catches hold and will not let go. I hold back my bile in the same moment as My Lord’s peace and strength flood my being yet again.

“Be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power!” I cry above the hiss and crackle.

“Nothing is fearful where the love of the Father is, and nothing is painful where there is the glory of Christ,” he gasps in reply.

They throw my body onto the burning seat. Searing coals scorch every part of me. A scream fills every thread of my being, but I will not cry out. They can kill my body, but they cannot touch the Spirit within me

Nets are thrown over Ponticus and I. His eyes are large with terror and pain. I pray.

A thunder of hooves come toward Ponticus – he is thrown up into the air by one’s large horns. I hear the thud of his body on the ground; I hear the dull sound of hooves trampling over his corpse…

I am next, and as my beating heart awaits my fate, my eyes widen in awe at the incandescent brightness of the light around me. My Jesus has come for me!

I do not feel the bull throw me up in the air - or gore me in my innards. I do not see the soldier come toward me with his dagger and plunge it into my heart; I only see the face of my Lord.

He smiles, and the peace that passes understanding travels with us as we leave this world of men.

I, Blandina, am a Christian and my fate is sealed.

In 177, the heathens of Lyon, Gaul, (part of the Roman Empire) began the persecution of Christians in Western Europe. Read more about Blandina’s courage here: http://www.historyswomen.com/womenoffaith/Blandina.htm


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This article has been read 1113 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Cassie Memmer06/08/06
This is a horrendous yet very beautiful story of deep faith. Very well written. I felt his emotions, his pain, his peace and joy. Great writing!
Dara Sorensen06/09/06
Amazing. It makes me cringe yet I know there is hope in the end through the suffering . Great descriptions; it made me feel like I was there watching such a remarkable demonstration of courage.
Suzanne R06/09/06
Wow! This was great. And certainly exemplifies 'purposefulness'. I'm a little perturbed probably by what was a standard line back then and not specific - "I am a Christian and we commit no wrongdoing." But I'm sure the context meant that it was in terms of denying her faith.

Thanks for bringing to life this history which is a challenge to all of us still today.
Helen Paynter06/09/06
Excellent re-telling of this story. On a tecnical note, if you have 'Ponticus and I' as the object of the verb (i.e. the people that something is done to ), then it should be 'Ponticus and me'. Thoroughly good take on 'peace'.
Marty Wellington 06/10/06
Very powerful imagery! I felt like I was there in their sufferings. Thanks for making us aware of these times of persecution.
Anita Neuman06/14/06
Wow - powerful story! There a couple of small errors, but the worst one was that your hint said you were in Advanced. I couldn't find it!
:-)
Shari Armstrong 06/14/06
A horric part of history, but a great example of what it truely means to have faith and peace in the face of adversity, and stand by it. Well done!
Dr. Sharon Schuetz06/14/06
WOW! Powerful stuff. You did an amazing job bringing this tragedy to life. Thanks.
Jan Ackerson 06/14/06
You did an awesome job with this difficult subject. And I really appreciated the note at the end, directing us to the website. We need to read stories like this every now and then, to shake us out of our comfort zones. Very good.