Christian Persecution Under Emperor Diocletian (AD 284–305)

Diocletian ruled as emperor for twenty-one years, from 284 to 305. In February 303, along with Galerius, Diocletian ordered the destruction of a new church building in Nicomedia (modern Izmit) and released imperial edicts of persecution against Christians.

His first edict was to purge his army from Christian soldiers by having them arrested. If they would not deny their faith and sacrifice to pagan gods and the emperor, they would be executed. Diocletion’s edicts prohibited Christian worship, commanded that churches and Christian materials be destroyed, and required Christians sacrifice to the pagan gods, or be arrested and killed.

At the end of February, a fire destroyed part of Nicomedia’s imperial palace, for which Diocletian blamed Christians and had many of them killed.