In our world today, think of all the bizarre customs that are so very contrary to the morals of Christianity. We must constantly struggle against the vain and lustful presentations of the media. It has become common practice to endorse and idolize fame and even certain violent sports. In the many centuries long past, Christians have struggled with similar cultural issues. For example, the gladiator arena was once host to some of the most horrific and violent spectator sports, yet society loved it.

At some point, it takes someone, sometimes even just one person, to make a change. In the 5th century there was a saint who did just that. St. Telemachus is a lesser known saint in our church, but his deed is no less noble. On January 1st 404 he displayed an act of bravery that would ultimately put an end to the gladiator arena. St. Telemachus, a monk from Asia, was so moved in his heart to act out against the atrocious public displays of violence, that he marched out onto the field of the gladiator arena in Rome’s Coliseum. The blood thirsty crowds were howling and sneering. St. Telemachus piously stated his opposition to such horrific acts, which were merely for the sake of public amusement, and many gladiators in the arena were slaves forced to fight against their will.

As Saint Telemachus voiced his Christ-like opinion the crowd began to howl and jeer even louder and to their enjoyment one of the largest gladiators struck St. Telemachus in the head and knocked him to the ground. Yet St. Telemachus did not stop as he knew the truth in his heart. St. Telemachus rose again and continued to piously present his case. This time the gladiator did not even hesitate; he drew his sword and killed St. Telemachus.

However, the response of the crowd was not what was to be expected, in fact it was somewhat miraculous. The entire arena became eerily quiet after the gladiator’s final blow. The crowd felt horrible and was shocked that such a pious man was murdered before their eyes. The crowds began to slowly but surely file out of the arena. After the events surrounding St. Telemachus’ noble stand against the brutality of the gladiator arena, a sensation against the sport was created throughout Rome and the Emperor outlawed gladiator sports with three days of the St. Telemachus’ death. This courageous stand by St. Telemachus created a turning point in certain cultural values that helped more of society embrace Christianity.  

Saints of our church always provide us with profound examples of how to resist the societal pressures that often push us to act against our faith. In a time where the gladiator arena was very accepted, St. Telemachus was strong enough to make his stand and make a permanent change for the betterment of Christian society. If we think of all the ill things that our society condones, there are many things  we can piously resist. Let us look around and with Christ as our guide, provide some semblance of resistance against the evil forces that attempt to move us to participate in sin. Acts of a peacemaker do not have to be on the large scale of the Saints. If we can help eliminate agitation in our world or radiate our own inner peace, even the small instances of peace we create are very large when combined with the other small instances of peace created by our brothers and sisters in the Body of Christ.

For the entire article about St. Telemachus click at


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    Dean Franck is a first year student in the Master's of Divinity Program at Hellenic College Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology in Brookline, Massachusetts. He is also a participant of our Digital Disciples Program.


Dean Franck

Dean Franck is a first year student in the Master's of Divinity Program at Hellenic College Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology in Brookline, Massachusetts. He is also a participant of our Digital Disciples Program.


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