Decius | Free Online Biblical Library

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Decius was Roman emperor from 249; he died in 251. A native of Pannonia, he was proclaimed emperor by the troops after restoring discipline in the Danubian armies. After Emperor Philip had been killed near Verone, Decius was accepted by the Senate in 249 only to be killed two years later in an attempt to defeat the Goths. He was a staunch advocate of the old Roman traditions, and his persecution of Christians proceeded from his belief that the restoration of state cults was essential to the preservation of the empire. The persecution of the church began with the execution of Fabian, bishop of Rome, in January 250, and it led to thousands of deaths. These resulted from Christian disobedience of the imperial order that all citizens should offer sacrifice to the name of the emperor. Those Christians who did sacrifice and later repented caused many problems for the church.