They didn't all look Middle Eastern
But they had converted to THAT religion and were setting themselves apart from the mainstream of society.
All of them - converted natives and strange-looking immigrants - became the subject of rumors, ridicule, and investigations.
Then, a horrific criminal act laid waste to the center of the great city, killing many.
The focus quickly fell upon these converted natives and strange-looking immigrants.
They and their leaders were rounded up.
Many were tortured and many were killed.
These first Christian martyrs of the Church of Rome remained true to their faith, rejoicing to share in the salvific sufferings of Christ, and helped stoke the fires of a spiritual awakening that would flourish when the empire that had sought to crush them was itself dust.
Today the Church celebrates the memory of the first martyrs of the Church of Rome.
(adapted from an earlier post)