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Catholic Dictionary




The ten great persecutions of the Church from apostolic times to the Edict of Milan (A.D. 313) are generally identified by the reign of the ruling emperor: 1. Nero (54-68) accused the Christians of being haters of mankind; 2. Domitian (81-96) took his victims mainly from the Christian nobility; 3. Trajan (98-117) considered Christianity an organized menace to the empire; 4. Marcus Aurelius (161-80) confiscated the property of the faithful and tortured his victims; 5. Septimus Severus (193-211_ forbade fresh conversions; 6. Maximinus Thrax (235-38) persecuted the clergy; 7. Decius (249-51) ordered all subjects who would not sacrifice to the state gods to be put to death; 8. Valerian (253-60) forbade all Christian assemblies and concentrated on clergy and nobility; 9. Aurelian (270-75) allowed the anti-Christian legislation to remain but did not seriously enforce it; 10. Diocletian (284-305) reversed Aurelian's policy and unleashed the bloodiest of all Roman persecutions.