In book 8, Chapter 9 of his Ecclesiastical History, Eusebius relates the special zeal with which the Emperor Diocletian pursued the Christians of the Thebaid in southern Egypt at the end of the 3rd century. “We… have observed large crowds in one day; some suffering decapitation, others tortured by fire; so that the murderous sword was blunted, and, becoming weak, was broken, and the very executioners grew weary and relieved each other.”

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