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.