Summary: The long term impact of Titus ministry serves as inspiration for us to mentor others
The Impact of Undercover Mentoring on Crete
is a village on crete, with 796 inhabitants (2001 census). It is located in the 44th km of the Heraklion-Tympaki national road and it is the centre of the municipality of Gortyna .
The village is built on the feet of a green hill with view to the plain of Messara, at altitude of 170 meters, over the remains of ancient Gortys.
The name of the village means Ten Saints,
At the end of the second century AD, Christianity was spreading across Crete thanks to the earlier work of the Apostle Titus, a Cretan who was student to the Apostle Paul who landed on the island around 62AD. Tradition has it that Titus stayed there the rest of his life, dying in his 90's.
Christianity became the prominent on Crete and nearing the end of the 2nd century had a very active Christian bishop called Philip.
In the year 249AD the Roman Empire saw the ascension of Emperor Decius who was deified as were all Roman leaders. Decius though, wanted the whole of the Roman Empire to worship his name.
The Decian Persecution (250-51)
Decius being proclaimed emperor in September 249, found himself almost immediately confronted by a double task : he had to effect a moral reform, and to repel the invasion of the Goths. This latter duty was forced upon him by circumstances, and though he did not succeed, he at least died with honour in the attempt.
The work of reform he took upon himself, without duly estimating either his own strength, or the obstacles to be overcome. A determination to eliminate the Christian religion was among his schemes for general reform ; he saw in Christianity a potent solvent of Roman manners and customs ; he expected to put an end to it by severe measures, vigorously applied.
The edict of persecution, ordered all Christians, and all suspected of Christian tendencies, to make some act of adhesion to paganism, to make a sacrifice, or libation, or to participate in the sacred feasts. In every town, even in every village, a commission was appointed to preside over the business. A certificate of sacrifice was given to those who submitted.
Those who stood firm were to have pressure brought to bear on them by the government officials and municipal authorities. Naturally, those first sought out were the bishops and clergy, and other notable Christians. The confessors were cast into prison, and there suffered hunger and thirst, and other lingering tortures, until they apostatized. From time to time, capital sentences and executions showed the length to which the authorities were prepared to go. The stake was often resorted to, because the entire destruc tion of the body was supposed to do away with all hope of resurrection. The property of fugitives was confiscated.
These measures, vigorously applied, seemed at first to be completely successful. In the face of persecution the majority of Christians made a deplorably poor stand.
"The apostasy was universal," says Dionysius of Alexandria ; " many important persons came forward of their own accord ; the leaders allowed themselves to be brought by those beneath them, or by their colleagues. Summoned by name, and invited to sacrifice, most of them advanced, pale and trembling, as though they had come, not to offer sacrifice, but to be sacrificed themselves. The crowd, gathered for the spectacle, laughed them to scorn; all saw they were cowards, as much afraid to sacrifice as to die.
Others, with more effrontery, rushed to the altars, protesting that they had never been Christians. It is of such as these that the Lord said they could scarcely be saved. As to the lower classes, they either followed the rest, or took to flight. A certain number were arrested. Of these, some persevered so far as to endure chains and imprisonment, even for a considerable time ; but, before being brought before the tribunal, they abjured. Others were only overcome by torture."
In Carthage and in Rome, things went as in Alexandria. In Smyrna, the Bishop Eudcemon apostatized, with many of his flock. But, on the other hand, there were some martyrs and more confessors.
In Rome, Pope Fabian, arrested at the beginning of the persecution, was put to death on January 20, 250. Two priests, Moyses and Maximus, and two deacons, Rufinus and Nicostratus, were thrown into prison, where they remained over a year. Moyses died towards the end of the year.
At Toulouse, Bishop Saturninus was executed. Pionius, a priest of Smyrna, was surprised when celebrating the anniversary of St Polycarp with a faithful few, and died at the stake.
In Antioch and Jerusalem, the Bishops Babylas and Alexander were arrested, and died in prison. Origen, who was imprisoned, and all but torn in two on the rack, escaped with his life; but worn out, no doubt by the sufferings he had undergone, he did not live long.