First Martyrs of the Church of Rome (June 30)
In the year 64, Rome was devastated by a terrible fire. Many Romans thought that the Emperor Nero was responsible for the tragedy. In order to protect himself, Emperor Nero blamed the fire on the Christian community of Rome. Along with St. Peter, many other Christians suffered martyrdom during this persecution. Some were thrown to the wild dogs, others crucified, and many were burned alive after being impaled on stakes. They were tortured unmercifully, and Pope Clement recalled in a letter the bravery and patience of those men, women, and children, whom he knew himself and counted as founders of the Roman Church. To the people of his day he wrote: "We are placed in the same arena and the same contest lies before us. . .Let us keep our eyes on the blood of Christ, realizing how precious it is to His Father, since it was shed for our salvation and brought the grace of repentance to the world."