You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, persecutions, suffering – what kinds of things happened to me … the persecutions I endured. 2 Timothy 3:10-11

Alexander, bishop of Cappadocia (in modern-day Turkey), was imprisoned from 204 to 211 for his faith. Upon his release he went on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, where the aged bishop, Narcissus, pressured him to stay and become his assistant and designated successor. Alexander, who developed a famous theological library in Jerusalem, was tortured during the persecution by Roman emperor Decius but came out alive.

Tradition says that he was eventually thrown to wild beasts, but that they refused to maul him and instead licked his feet and footprints in the sand. Worn out by his sufferings, he died in jail in the Roman city of Caesarea, on the Mediterranean coast of modern-day Israel, in 251.

Lord and Master of our Lives,
Take from us the spirit
of laziness, half-heartedness,
selfish ambition and idle talk.
Give us rather the spirit
of integrity, purity of heart,
humility, faithfulness and love.
Lord and King,
help us to see our own errors,
and not to judge our neighbours;
for your mercy’s sake.
Syrian Orthodox Liturgy

Dr Patrick Sookhdeo is the International Director of Barnabas Fund and the Executive Director of the Oxford Centre for Religion and Public Life.