Saint Dionysius of Alexandria…


…judges Francis’ ideas on martyrdom

  • Exhortation to Save the Soul of a Schismatic about to be Sacrificed

And martyrdom to avoid schism is no less glorious than martyrdom to avoid idolatry. Nay, it is to my mind greater. In one case a man is a martyr for his own single soul’s sake. But this is for the whole Church. Even now wast thou to persuade or constrain the brethren to come to one mind, thy true deed were greater than thy fall. This will not be reckoned to thee, the other will be lauded. And if thou shouldest be powerless to sway disobedient spirits, save, save thine own soul.  (Saint Dionysius of Alexandria. Letter To Novatian in: Eusebius of Cesarea, Historia Ecclesiastica, lib. III, c. 45) [Novation was killed during the reign of the emperor Valerian I (253-260) – and never considered a martyr by the Church]. 

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