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From Betty Lukens- A Roman soldier’s letter to his parents in the 1st century AD. “But the most shocking experience I’ve had lately was over 40 men who denounced the gods to become Christians. They have really caused a stir. Nothing our priests could do, nothing they could offer them, nothing they could threaten them with, would change their minds. So they were condemned to die- to die by freezing. They were taken by centurions out to a lake near the city in which they lived. The soldiers stripped them of their clothes and marched them out to the middle of the frozen lake. Back on shore, the soldiers built a fire to warm themselves as they waited and guarded these 40 men, so that they should die and not escape. You remember, Montano, my best friend? He was one of these centurions. Soon the guards heard singing: “Forty men on the ice to die- forty men standing true!” The night was bitter cold, but the men sang on: “Forty men on the ice to die- forty men standing true.” The centurions put wood on the fire, pulled their cloaks around themselves tighter, as they listened to these men dying from the cold. Every few minutes the men sang out and each time their voices became weaker. Then, to the amazement of the centurions, the singing changed to “Thirty nine men on the ice to die- thirty nine men standing true.” Into the darkness the soldiers gazed as one man came staggering back to give up his faith. At that second, Montano tore off his clothes and ran out to the ice. Immediately the voices surged, “Forty men on the ice to die- forty men standing true.” Montano died with them. You loving son, Cassio."

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