Saturday, 13 April 2013

Blandina: A Martyr for Christ

(First posted on Violets and Daisies on Thursday, 2 February, 2012)

Written when I was 12 or 13!

Image by Sabing Baring-Gould, 1924.
Blandina struggled to keep the tears from streaming down her face as she watched her brothers in Christ being tortured one by one, in ruthless attempts to force them to disclaim their faith. There was Sanctus, a deacon from Vienne, and Maturus, who had only recently been baptised but still stood firm in his belief as he faced his oppressors. And poor Attalus! He had always been such a strong person and a support to Blandina, but now was doomed to die like all the others. The tears now flowed freely down Blandina's face as she thought of her dear friends rejoicing with Christ in heaven. As hard as she tried not to remember, all the horrors of the past few days came flooding back . . .

Day after day, Blandina had been subject to every kind of torture imaginable. Amid ragged gasping she had cried, “I am a Christian. We do nothing to be ashamed of . . .” She had somehow found strength in uttering those simple yet precious words. Oh yes, they may scoff at a slave for having such defiance, but how could they expect that she would refuse God! No, she would acknowledge Him as her Saviour even if it meant death.

As Blandina was tortured, her persecutors muttered to another, “It is a miracle that she is still alive! Her body is so mangled and she has so many hideous wounds that she should be dead by now! We are beaten, what else can we do to be rid of this cursed woman?”

Blandina, her body already worn with torture, had been tied to a post. Wild animals were let loose, much to the delight of the spectators who cried for her blood. But Blandina devotedly prayed to her Lord and the other martyrs listened in wonder and amazement at this woman's faith. Amazingly, none of the wild beasts harmed Blandina. Eventually, her persecutors took her down and thrust her once again into the prison where she awaited her doom.

Blandina opened her eyes from this painful reverie to see a guard glaring at her. “Get up!” he growled sharply. 

Blandina hardly had the strength to stand, but she tried to and immediately collapsed on the ground in pain. The guard was at her at once, pulling her to her feet and ordering her to walk. She was led along with Ponticus, a fifteen-year-old Christian boy, to watch other Christians being punished and made to swear by pagan idols. When they refused, the persecution increased. Soon enough, Ponticus and Blandina were added to their number, and the persecution resumed. 

Ponticus sometimes wondered how much longer he could survive the harsh torturing, but when he saw how much courage Blandina had, he felt strengthened and resisted so bravely that their persecutors were amazed. But Ponticus was of a tender age and his body could not cope for long, so his soul went to be with the Lord. 

Despite being whipped, burned with hot irons and given to the wild beasts, Blandina did not disclaim her faith. At last, her persecutors, finding no way to break her resolve, dropped Blandina in a basket and threw her to a bull in the amphitheatre. She was gored again and again by the bull. Her body was by now used to pain, and she died knowing she was going to heaven to be with her Lord and Saviour at last. Blandina had held on firmly to her belief in Christ throughout the whole ordeal. Her persecutors later admitted that they had never known a woman to suffer so much for so long.

I think the story of Blandina shows clearly how we to are to respond when faced with trials. As Hebrews 12:2 says;

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

No doubt some of the crowd who witnessed Blandina's death and possibly even some of her persecutors were stunned by her faith and prehaps became Christians as a result.

For my research, I used a book called '2000 Years of Christ's Power - Part One: The Age of the Early Church Fathers' (pages 81-82) by N.R. Needham.

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