Catholics Must Learn the Phrase:
'Christianus sum! I am a Christian!'
If Cardinal George is right that he will die
in his bed, his successor in jail, and his successor a martyr--and
it is certainly plausible, even likely, from the way the straw blows
in the wind--then Catholics better get used to saying in response to
our secular liberal interlocutors, "Christianus sum!" and
CORPUS CHRISTI, TX (Catholic Online):
During the Roman persecution of the nascent Christian Church, to
proclaim oneself a Christian was to invite the wrath of public
authority, persecution, torture, even martyrdom.
Even in the face of a hostile government, Christians saw their
loyalties to Christ and his Church as being above everything
else. Being Christian was more important than attachment to the
Roman empire, to their tribe, to their family, to their
Being Christian was their essence, everything else was
Christian was who and what they were, not something added on to
who and what they were. It was their fundamental identity to
which they had to be faithful. So attached were they to Jesus
that to deny Jesus would be equivalent to denying who and what
As Tertullian chastised the pagan rulers in his Apology, by
saying Christianus sum! the Christian was telling them what he
was. But the pagan rulers did not want to hear this, instead
they wanted to hear what the Christian was not.
Christianus sum! men would answer. Christiana sum! women would
answer. I am a Christian! was the answer given to the Pagan
judges or interlocutors. It is all over the early Church
For example, in the account of the martyrdom of Polycarp,
Polycarp answered his interlocutors: Christianus sum!
In the Letter of Lyons and Vienne to the churches in Asia and
Phrygia which describe the bloody and vicious persecution of
Christians where more than 20,000 lost their lives, there is an
account of a certain Deacon Sanctus was asked to identify his
name, his city, his tribe, his profession, to which he only
answered Christianus sum! This was his only identifying badge,
as he suffered the most horrendous tortures.
In the account of the Scillitan Martyrs, a certain Speratus was
asked by the Roman proconsul Saturninus if he wishes to
persevere as a Christian and suffer to death, to which Speratus
responds: Christianus sum! His female companion Vestia answers
similarly: Christiana sum!
Tertullian recounts an event where a Roman soldier refused to
wear the laurel crown, which would have implicitly recognized
the divinity of the Roman emperor. When questioned why he
refused, he answered that he could not because he was a
Christian. Non facio. Christianus sum! I cannot. I am a
In the Epistle of St. Clement, the martyrdom of St. Lawrence is
related. Non interrogatus coepit clamare, Christianus sum.
Without even being questioned, he began to cry out: I am a
In the Passion of Perpetua and Felicitas, the martyress Perpetua
(who is included in the Roman Canon) says two phrases in
response to the demand that she sacrifice to the emperor. Non
facio. I cannot. Christiana sum. I am a Christian.
In the Acts of Cyprian, we learn about how Cyprian, the bishop
of Carthage, was brought before the Proconsul Aspasius Paternus,
and in response, he answered, Christianus sum, et Episcopus. I
am a Christian, and bishop.
In the Martyrdom of Fructuous, bishop of Tarragona, it is
related how Fructuosus defends himself against Aemilianus the
governor with Christanus sum!
There is an account of the martyrdom of one Maximilian in Africa
in 298 who was haled before the Roman Magistrate who demanded
why he refused military service: No facio. Non possum miltare.
Christianus sum. I cannot do it. I cannot be a soldier. I am a
It is important to recall these ancient histories. As the
governments of Western secular liberal democracies have invested
in their anti-life and morally relativistic political
philosophies and have become neo-pagan, they have become more
emboldened than ever and more hostile against Christians. The
spirit of anti-Christ is rising again.
So we see Christians and Christian institutions--most especially
Catholic institutions--encountering social and legal pressures
that affect their ability to practice their religion: no, to be
Currently, we are seeing the pressures on religious liberty on
such policies as requiring the public funding of the intrinsic
evils of artificial contraception, in vitro fertilization,
abortion, and euthanasia. We see the slow compulsion, by force
of law, that homosexual sex or same sex "marriage" should be
taught as normal, and any expressed resistance against that
position as bigoted.
The natural moral law no longer means anything. Reasonable
discourse is no longer possible. Any and every moral discussion
has become intractable.
We see demands (by what right?!) by public officials and the
liberal media that faith ought not to be part of the public
square, and that Catholics must abide by the false, immoral, and
frankly unconstitutional view of strict "wall of separation of
Church and State," which, in today's parlance means the State
holds the trump card, can define the "public square" (which it
defines every more broadly), and can elbow out all competitors
by force of law, even, we may be sure, to the point of violence.
As Pope Francis recently pointed out in his encyclical Lumen
Fidei, without faith, there will be no recovery of public
reason, of the natural moral law.
Foreseeing the rise in neo-pagan demands and its inexorable
consequence to public life, Cardinal Francis George of Chicago
famously stated: "I expect to die in my bed, my successor will
die in prison, and his successor will die a martyr in the public
If Cardinal George is right--and it is certainly plausible, even
likely, from the way the straw blows in the wind--then Catholics
better get used to saying in response to our secular liberal
interlocutors, "Christianus sum!" and "Christiana sum!"
I am a Christian! It is who and what I am.
And it will be who and what I am whatever you may do to me,
whatsoever you call me, fine me, incarcerate me, howsoever you
We will have the consolation that we join in the canon of
martyrdom uttered by the likes of Sts Polycarp, Sanctus,
Speratus, Lawrence, Perpetua, Cyprian, Fructuosus, and
Maximillian and hundreds of thousands, even millions more.
We may also be consoled in the age old law framed by Tertullian
in his Apology: The blood of martyrs is the seed of Christians.
Sanguis martyrum semen Christianorum.
It worked once. It will work again.