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We have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original conviction firmly to the very end. Hebrews 3:14

Sanctus was one of a number of Christians who stood firm in his faith throughout a series of horrendous tortures during an outbreak of anti-Christian persecution in the Roman province of Gaul in the second century.

A contemporary letter said that he “endured all cruelty with superhuman courage”. Sanctus was tortured in an attempt to extract information from him, but he refused to answer any questions.

When asked his name, race, city of origin and whether he was slave or free, Sanctus unashamedly proclaimed in response to every question, “I am a Christian.”

Angered by this, the governor and torturers increased the pressure on Sanctus, pressing red-hot plates of brass against the most tender parts of his body, but he was unmoved.

Sanctus, swollen and inflamed, was brought out again after a few days for further torture. This time he was put on a rack but, rather than destroying his fragile body, it served to straighten out his contorted physique.

After this, Sanctus was taken with a number of other Christians to a special public exhibition, where they were subjected to more suffering, including being mauled by beasts.

But Sanctus responded only with the same confession that he had made at the beginning until finally he was put to death.

Give us, O Lord, a steadfast heart, which no unworthy affection may drag downwards; give us an unconquered heart, which no tribulation can wear out; give us an upright heart, which no unworthy purpose may tempt aside.

Bestow upon us also, O Lord, our God, understanding to know you, diligence to seek you, and faithfulness that may finally embrace you; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274)

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