Thursday, August 14, 2008

Saint Telemachus


St. Telemachus was a monk. Telemachus was a diminutive man who enjoyed living in reclusive settings full of the wonders of God's creation. He was quite content and had no reason to want to do anything else. But one day, he felt that God was telling him to go to Rome. He hated Rome. He enjoyed his monastic lifestyle, absent of the hustle and bustle of city life. But God needed him in Rome. So Telemachus left his reclusive lifestyle to obey God.


He entered the streets of Rome on January 1, 404 AD. Immediately, he was overwhelmed by the artwork and monumental architecture, and was also disgusted by the way man worshipped himself in that city.


He got caught up in a crowd of people and was almost involuntarily led into the Colosseum. As he sat in the bleachers, he was shocked by the spectacle of bloodletting and sadism that was meant to entertain the masses. Humans massacring and butchering one another. He was aghast. As soon as the violence started, he stood up and screamed out, "In the name of Christ, stop this!" His voice carried well in the acoustic masterpiece. Everybody heard him. He ran down the stairs and into the center of the arena, all along repeating his plea, "In the name of Christ, stop this!" People laughed. Someone yelled from the stands, "Kill him! Run him through!" A gladiator threw him out of his way and then sent a spear right through Telemachus. The stadium fell silent. Telemachus, doubled over with the spear in his gut, blood spilling on the ground, dying, said one last time, "In the name of Christ, stop this!"


Silence. Then one man stood and walked out. Then another, and another, until the thousands and thousands of people in the Colosseum had left. But this was not the end. Although there were other factors, the death of Telemachus solidified the opposition to the gladiatorial battles. Emperor Honorius was so moved by Telemachus' actions, he issued an edict, banning the gruesome gladiatorial battles.


One man nobody knew obeyed God, and single-handedly brought about the end of a gruesome custom that had killed so many.

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