Eusebius, the great Church historian, had this to say about his historical records:
“Other historians have limited their coverage to recording victories in war, the exploits of commanders, and the heroics of soldiers stained with the blood of the thousands they have slaughtered for the sake of country, family, and property. My account, instead, will make indelible the wars fought for the peace of the soul and the men who battled courageously in such wars for truth rather than country, piety rather than family. It is the contests of the courageous athletes of piety, their endurance in victories over satanic opponents, and the crowns they won at the end that will make it eternally famed.”
One such person he recorded was a woman named Blandina who lived near the end of the second century. She was of no royal line or high birth and by all accounts she seemed only a servant girl who believed in Jesus Christ. When persecution broke out and a number of Christians were taken captive, Blandina one of them. Eusebius quotes the letter detailing the martyrdom as it says of her:
“…soldiers fell on… Blandina, through whom Christ proved that what men think lowly God deems worthy of great glory.”
The description of her torture was terrible. The accounts tell that from morning to evening she was tortured in unspeakable ways, so that even by the end of the day her torturers were astounded that she was alive, her body so destroyed. Yet the other believers feared for her, Blandina’s own mistress afraid, but it is told that Blandina powerfully endured her suffering by telling her captors: “I am a Christian, and nothing wicked happens among us.”
Along with the other martyrs from Lyons, they were taken to the amphitheatre for public execution. Here the martyrs were subjected to wild beasts, whips, and terrible cruelties. Day by day the Christians were led out, many having to watch from the side lines as their brothers and sisters died. They were made to watch, the authorities hoping that this would cause the Christians to recant and bow before the emperor.
On the last day, Blandina was brought in along with a young boy named Ponticus. The crowds had no mercy for the boy’s youth or pity for the woman and they were subjected to everything that could be thrown at them. Ponticus drew courage from his sister and endured everything until his last breath.
Blandina’s final moments are recorded thusly:
“Last of all, the blessed Blandina, like a noble mother who had comforted her children and sent them on triumphantly to the king, rejoiced at her own departure as if invited to a wedding feast. After the whips, the beasts, the gridiron, she was finally put into a net and thrown to a bull. Indifferent to circumstances through faith in Christ, she was tossed by the animal for some time before being sacrificed. The heathen admitted that never before had a woman suffered so much so long.”
May her story last until the Lord comes back and may we be encouraged by her perseverance and faith in Jesus.
All quotes taken from:
Eusebius: The Church History Translated by Paul L. Maier