Eastern Roman Empire
Died 1 January 404 or 391
Feast 1 January
St. Telemachus, who sacrificed his life to put an end to the bloody spectacles which, as late as the early fifth century, took place in Rome.
There is no reason to doubt the fact of the heroic death of St. Telemachus, but there is, on the other hand, no clear proof that its scene was theColiseum. Theodoret, the only writer who records the incident, says that it happened eis to stadio (in the stadium), a different place from the Coliseum.
Saint Telemachus also Almachus or Tilemahos citation needed was a monk who, according to the Church historian Theodoret, tried to stop a gladiator
fight in a Roman amphitheatre, and was stoned to death by the crowd. The Christian Emperor Honorius, however, was impressed by the monk's
martyrdom and it spurred him to issue an historic ban on gladiator fights. The last known gladiator fight in Rome was on January 1, 404 AD, so
this is usually given as the date of Telemachus' martyrdom.
He is described as being an ascetic who came to Rome from the East. The story is found in the writings of Theodoret, Bishop of Cyrrhus, Syria.
Although the site of Telemachus' martyrdom is often given as being the Colosseum in Rome, Theodoret does not actually specify where it happened,
saying merely that it happened in "the stadium".
Later retellings of the story have differed from Theodoret's in a number of details. Foxe's Book of Martyrs claims that Telemachus was first
stabbed to death by a gladiator, but that the sight of his death "turned the hearts of the people".In the version of the story told by Ronald
Reagan in 1984, the entire crowd left in silence.
There is also an alternate form of the story, in which Telemachus stood up in the amphitheatre and told the assembly to stop worshiping idols and
offering sacrifices to the gods. Upon hearing this statement, the prefect of the city is said by this source to have ordered the gladiators to
kill Telemachus, and they promptly did so.