Vettius Epagathus (177) - “Comforter of the Christians”
Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 1 John 4:8
During a violent outbreak of persecution against Christians in Gaul, one young man, Vettius Epagathus, stepped forward and asked to speak in defence of a group of Christians who had been abused and beaten by the angry mob and brought before the authorities.
The governor rejected his request and merely asked, “Are you a Christian?” Vettius replied that he was, and was immediately put to death. Others were subsequently martyred also.
A contemporary letter, from the churches in Lyons and Vienne to their counterparts in Asia Minor, said about Vettius: “He was called the ‘Comforter of the Christians’ but he had the Comforter in himself, as evidenced in the love by which he laid down his own life for the defence of the brethren as a true disciple of Christ.”
The same letter described the “intensity of the pressure here, the awful rage of the heathen against the saints, and the sufferings of the blessed martyrs” who “endured every punishment as they hurried to Christ, proving that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in us”.
God is fire that warms and kindles the heart and inward parts. And so, if we feel in our hearts coldness, which is from the devil – for the devil is cold – then let us call upon the Lord and He will come and warm our hearts with perfect love not only for Him but for our neighbour as well.
Saint Seraphim of Sarov (1759-1833)
Dr Patrick Sookhdeo is the International Director of Barnabas Fund and the Executive Director of the Oxford Centre for Religion and Public Life.
Originally appeared on Isaac Publishing