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"Quo Vadis": The Faith of the Early Christian Martyrs

The epic film Quo Vadis depicts the decadent Roman Empire and the struggles of the early Christians living there in 64 AD. Military commander Marcus Vinicius falls in love with the beautiful Lygia, a Christian, who refuses to marry him because he rejects her faith. Emperor Nero (Peter Ustinov) has Rome burned down so he can rebuild the city. When the citizens turn on him, he blames the new sect of believers called Christians. Many of them are taken to the Roman arena and thrown to the lions.

The expectant crowd roars its approval as about 200 Christians are forced into the arena. Soldiers urge them on with whips. Several ferocious lions climb concrete steps up to iron bars that face the arena grounds. One older woman holds a younger woman and prays, "Oh dear Lord Jesus, help me, help me."

As Emperor Nero watches, his chief commander tells him he may give the signal. Suddenly the apostle Peter enters the arena and in a loud booming voice proclaims to the audience: "Peace! Peace to the martyrs. Peace to them. Take thy children, Lord. Numb their wounds. Suffer their pains. Give them strength, oh Savior. Blessed are you, my children, who die in the name of Jesus. I say to you, that this day you shall be with him in paradise. Here where Nero rules today, Christ shall rule forever." Three guards quickly seize him and take him away to the jeers of the crowd.

Nero asks the commander, "Who is that man?"

"I think he is their leader. A man called Peter. He escaped us before."

"He said Christ would replace me! What sort of…" Nero stops as the martyrs calmly begin to sing a hymn. Nero listens in disbelief. "They're singing!" he says.

The lions pace impatiently behind the iron bars. The crowd looks on in anticipation. Nero signals the trumpeters. The iron bars are slowly lifted and several dozen lions walk out onto the arena grounds to the cheers of the crowd.

Content: Not rated

Elapsed Time: 00:46:25 to 00:50:08 from the start of tape two.

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