The Story of St. Peter Balsam, Martyr
The Governor asked Peter about his name, his family and where he was born. Peter told Severus that he was a Christian and the questions continued.
Severus: "What kind of job do you have?"
Peter: "What more honourable job can I have, or what better thing can I do in the world, than to live as a Christian?"
Severus: "Do you know the public laws?"
Peter: "I know the laws of God, the Ruler of the Universe!"
Severus: "You know that there is a law of the most merciful Emperors, commanding all to sacrifice to the gods, or be put to death!"
Peter: "You will also know one day that there is a law of the Eternal King; Jesus Christ, saying that everyone shall perish, who offers sacrifice to devils. Whose law should I obey? Should I die by your sword for being a Christian, or should I be condemned to everlasting misery in Hell, by the sentence of the great King and true God, for sacrificing to devils?"
Severus: "Seeing that you ask my advice, it is that you obey the law, and sacrifice to the gods."
Peter: "I can never be forced to sacrifice to gods of wood and stone, as those are which you adore!"
Severus: "Do you know that it is in my power to punish you with death, for insulting me with your words?"
Peter: "I did not mean to insult you. I only told you what is written in God's Divine Law."
Severus: "Have mercy on yourself and sacrifice!"
Peter: "If I am truly merciful to myself, I should not sacrifice to your pagan idols."
Severus: "I desire to be merciful to you. I will allow you some time to change your mind, so that you may save your life."
Peter: "It is no use allowing me time to change my mind. Do to me now, what you will do soon, and complete the work, which the devil, your father, has begun. I will never do what Jesus Christ forbids me!"
On hearing these words, Severus ordered that Peter be pulled up on a rack and hung in the air. While Peter was hanging from the rack, Severus said to him, "What do you say now, Peter? Do you see what it is like to be hung on a rack? Are you yet willing to sacrifice to the gods?"
Peter: "Tear me with iron hooks, and don't talk to me about sacrificing to your devils! I have already told you, that I will sacrifice to that God alone for whom I suffer!"
Then Severus commanded that Peter's tortures be doubled! But Peter was not afraid — he sang the beautiful psalms of King David: "One thing I have asked of the Lord; this will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life." "I will take the chalice of salvation, and will call upon the name of the Lord."
Then the Governor called for new executioners to take the place the executioners who were already tired out. The people, seeing Peter's blood run out in streams, cried out to him: "Obey the Emperors! Sacrifice to the gods and save yourself from these torments!"
Peter: "Do you call these torments? I don't feel any pain! But I know that if I am not faithful to my God, I know that I will have to suffer real pains; pains which are so terrible that no man can imagine what they are like. And these are the pains of Hell Fire!"
Severus: "Sacrifice, Peter Balsam, or you will repent of it!"
Peter: "Neither will I sacrifice, nor shall I repent of it!"
Severus: "I am just ready to pronounce sentence."
Peter: "It is what I truly desire!"
Severus: "It is our order, that because you: Peter Balsam, have refused to obey the laws of the Emperors, and have refused to obey our commands, that you will have to suffer and die a terrible death! Because you Peter, have defended the laws of the man Jesus; who was crucified; you yourself, will be crucified; nailed to a cross, just as Jesus was! Then we shall see if you will change your mind and worship our gods!"
Peter did get crucified, and did not change his mind. He remained faithful to the end and that is why he is now known as St. Peter Balsam the Martyr. His Feast Day is January 3rd.
During Peter's martyrdom, it was the Catholic Faith, the one and only true religion, founded by our Lord Jesus Christ, which gave him and all martyrs, the courage they needed to persevere to the end. It is Jesus, Mary, Joseph and all the Saints and Angels of Heaven who can comfort us with joy when we are faced with terrible fears and dangers, in life and in death. But the most comforting of all is when we receive Jesus in the most Blessed Sacrament. Receive Jesus as often as you can during your life and He will give you many graces to face all your fears and dangers, in life and death.
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