The emperor Domitian, who was naturally inclined to cruelty, first slew his brother, and then raised the second persecution against the Christians. In his rage he put to death some of the Roman senators. Some of these he had killed through malice, and others to confiscate their estates. He then commanded all the lineage of David- the Jewsbe put to death.
Among the numerous martyrs that suffered during this persecution were Simeon, a presbyter of Jerusalem, who was crucified. In addition, there was the Apostle John, who was boiled in oil, and afterward banished to Patmos. Flavia, the daughter of a Roman senator, was likewise banished to Pontus. A law was also made at this time which said: "No Christian, once brought before the tribunal, should be exempted from punishment without renouncing his religion."
A variety of fabricated tales were, during this reign, composed in order to injure the Christians. Such was the infatuation of the pagans, that, if famine, pestilence, or earthquakes afflicted any of the Roman provinces, it was laid upon the Christians. These persecutions among the Christians increased the number of informers and many, for the sake of gain, swore away the lives of the innocent.
Another hardship was, that, when any Christians were brought before the magistrates, a test oath was proposed. If a Christian refused to take the oath, death was pronounced against him. And if he confessed himself a Christian, the sentence was the same. The following were the most remarkable among the numerous martyrs who suffered during this persecution.
Dionysius, the Areopagite, was an Athenian by birth, and educated in all the useful and ornamental literature of Greece. He then traveled to Egypt to study astronomy, and made very particular observations on the great and supernatural eclipse, which happened at the time of our Savior's crucifixion. The sanctity of his behavior and the purity of his manners recommended him so strongly to the Christians in general, that he was appointed a presbyter of Athens. Nicodemus, a benevolent Christian of some distinction, suffered at Rome during the rage of Domitian's persecution. Protasius and Gervasius were martyred at Milan.
Timothy was the celebrated disciple of the Apostle Paul, and a presbyter of a church in Ephesus, where he zealously governed the Church until 97 A.D. At this period, as the pagans were about to celebrate a feast called Catagogion, Timothy, meeting the procession, severely reproved them for their ridiculous idolatry. This reproof so exasperated the people that they fell upon him with their clubs, and beat him in so dreadful a manner that heexpired of the bruises two days later.