The terrible martyrdom of the early Church of Rome earned the famous quotation, “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of Christians.” It mirrors the saying of Jesus, “unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit.” The great persecution of Rome was initiated by Emperor Nero in 64 A.D paved the way for the spread of Christian faith. According to historian Suetonius a conflict rose among the Jews living in Rome when a group of them became Christians by accepting Chrestus (Christ) the executed Jew of Galilee as their Saviour and began to challenge the moral, religious and social life of others.
Emperor taking the advantage of the strife blamed the Christians for burning the city of Rome, when he himself burned it to enlarge his palace. According to the historian Tacitus, many Christians were put to death because of their “hatred of the human race.” The truth is not they hated the human race, but they hated the evil and vice that were practiced and promoted by the imperial power. Probably the Apostles Peter and Paul were among the victims.
St. Clement who succeeded St. Peter as the Bishop of Rome calls these martyrs “Spiritual Heroes and victims of envy and jealousy.” Our own Uganda martyrs’ sacrifice is no less cruel and less admirable than the early martyrs of Rome. Just as Saints Hippolytus, Ignatius of Antioch, Lawrence, Agatha, Agnes, Sebastian and hundreds of others were burned alive, thrown to wild beasts, beheaded and crucified, our own martyrs suffered terrible martyrdom similar to theirs. The way their blood became the seed of faith in the early centuries, the blood of Uganda martyrs has nourished our faith.