Page:Historical Works of Venerable Bede vol. 2.djvu/176

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Becomes reader and exorcist.dutes of reader in the church; and afterwards becoming exorcist. began to cast out unclean spirits from those who were possessed. In this capacity his merits shone more and more, and speedily elevated him to the rank of priest. Nor were his mind and actions unworthy of his rank, as the storm of persecution, which followed, made manifest. For at that time the unbelievers raised a violent persecution, and heavily assailed the church. But the gates of death did not prevail against the gates of the daughter of Sion, so as to deter men from declaring their Maker’s praise. And when the authors of this treason had tried their first mad assault upon the leaders of the truth and faith of our Lord, and conspired together to slay the bishops and priests, or to make them recant their faith, to the terror of the rest, it came to pass that some of the leaders of the enemy came to Nola, to deliver over to torment its bishop, Maximus, a man venerable for learning, piety and his gray hairs. But he, perceiving this, and mindful of our Lord’s precept, "When they shall persecute you in one city, flee ye to another," escaped for a time into a distant place of refuge, leaving the defence of the city to the priest Felix, whom he embraced as a son, and desired to have as his successor in the see. When the persecutors were unable to find the bishop, they proceeded without delay to lay hands on Felix, and determined to cast him down from his far famed constancy of virtue either by persuasion and promises or by threats and punishment. He is seized by the persecutors.He was therefore seized by his fierce adversaries, and, supported in his soul by divine consolation, thrown into prison, where his hands and neck were enclosed in chains, his feet tied with a thong, and broken shells scattered under him, that in his terror and the chillness of the place he might be prevented by their painful galling from enjoying sleep or rest. Meanwhile the bishop, who had fled for safety to the mountains, was suffering no less martyrdom than if he had been thrown