Timolaus and companions

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Saint Timolaus and companions
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Died303 AD

Saint Timolaus and five companions, according to the historian of the early Christian church Eusebius in his Martyrs of Palestine , were young men who, having heard that the Roman authorities in Caesarea, Palestine, in 303 AD, had condemned a number of Christians to die by being thrown to wild beasts in the public arena, came before the governor of their own volition with their hands tied behind their backs and demanded to join their fellow Christians in that martyrdom. They were not however thrown to wild beasts but decapitated along with two other men who were already in prison.



There are two extant versions of Eusebius' Martyrs of Palestine but in only the shorter recension is the story of Timolaus and his companions recounted; in the longer recension Timolaus is not mentioned. Eusebius was present in Caesarea during the persecutions, part of the empire-wide campaign to suppress Christianity.

Persecution of Christians in Caesarea

The Emperor Diocletian had ordered that all in the Empire should perform worship and sacrifices to the Roman gods. Those who refused to do so in Caesarea, according to Eusebius, were interrogated and tortured if necessary to try to force them to apostasize, and if nothing would convince them to perform the sacrifices, they were executed. [1]


The governor of Caesarea, Urban, had already had two Christians thrown to wild beasts in the public arena for refusing to perform the sacrifices to the Roman gods. [1] As part of an upcoming festival, among the spectacles planned were more executions of this kind. [2] Hearing of this, a young man, Timolaus from Pontus (on the Black Sea, in modern-day Turkey), along with five others, "went in haste" to the governor, having tied their own hands behind their backs, declared themselves Christians, and demanded also to be thrown to the beasts. [1] The "astonished" governor, however, had them imprisoned for two days and then decapitated along with two others. [1]


According to Eusebius, Timolaus' companions in seeking martyrdom in this way were "Dionysius from Tripolis in Phoenicia, Romulus, a sub-deacon of the parish of Diospolis, Paesis and Alexander, both Egyptians, and another Alexander from Gaza." They were joined by another man who was already in prison, having previously been tortured, Agapius, and another Dionysius, who had supplied him with food while he was in prison. All eight were beheaded on the same day. [1]

Voluntary martyrdom

It was the teaching of the church that martyrs would go immediately to heaven, be rewarded with a martyr's crown, and sit by the throne of God, unlike others who would have to wait for the Day of Judgement. For this reason some Christians deliberately confronted Roman persecuting authorities with the aim of being condemned to death. [3]

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  2. There was never sustained, targeted persecution of Christians by Imperial Roman authorities.
  3. Official persecution of Christians by order of the Roman Emperor lasted for at most twelve years of the first three hundred of the Church's history.
  4. Most of the stories of individual martyrs are pure invention,
  5. Even the oldest and most historically accurate stories of martyrs and their sufferings have been altered and re-written by later editors, so that it is impossible to know for sure what any of the martyrs actually thought, did or said.
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Alphaeus and Zacchaeus

Saints Alphaeus and Zaccheus were two Christians who were put to death in Caesarea, Palestine, in 303 or 304, according to church historian Eusebius in his Martyrs of Palestine. They are commemorated on Nov. 18.

<i>Martyrs of Palestine</i>

On the Martyrs of Palestine is a work by church historian and Bishop of Caesarea, Eusebius, relating the persecution of Christians in Caesarea under Roman Emperor Diocletian. The work survives in two forms, a shorter recension which formed part of his Ecclesiastical History, and a longer version, discovered only in 1866. Eusebius was present in Caesarea at the time of the persecutions he recounts.

The Martyrdom of Pionius is an account dating from about 250AD to 300 AD of the martyrdom of a Christian from Smyrna named Pionius. It is also known as The Martyrdom of Pionius the Presbyter and His Companions, The Acts of Pionius, and in Latin as Martyrium Pionii or Passio Pionii. Pionius was a presbyter, and was most likely killed between 249 and 251 AD during the rule of the Roman Emperor Decius. The feast day of Saint Pionius is kept on March 11 in Eastern Orthodox churches, and on February 1 in Roman Catholicism.


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 Eusebius. "Martyrs of Palestine, short recension, III" . Retrieved 17 April 2013.
  2. "Martyr Timolaus at Caesarea, in Palestine". Orthodox Church in America. Retrieved 19 April 2013.
  3. Candida Moss (2013). The Myth of Persecution . HarperCollins. p. 211. ISBN   978-0-06-210452-6.