Flourished late 2nd century C.E., Lyon, France
Persecutions of Christians began in C.E. 64 under the emperor Nero and continued sporadically throughout the Roman empire until the Edict of Milan in 313. During much of this time, the practice of Christianity was defined as a capital crime. The accused could escape punishment, however, by rejecting Christianity and offering a sacrifice to the pagan gods. Eusebius (circa 275–339), a historian of the early church, records the story of a persecution in Lugdunum, a town in Roman Gaul (present-day Lyon, France), at the center of which is the slave girl Blandina. Imprisoned with a group of other Christians, including her master, Blandina was repeatedly tortured but refused to deny her faith. She was then tied to a stake in the amphitheater and literally fed to the lions, but the animals refused to touch her. Finally, Blandina was returned to prison, where officials managed to kill her with a dagger, in the year C.E. 177.