Captives, Christian Redemption of
Captives, Christian Redemption Of.
The disasters which fell upon the Roman, empire in the 4th and 5th centuries gave a special prominence to this as one of the forms of Christian love. Ambrose was charged by his Arian opponents with sacrilege for having melted down the eucharistic vessels of the church at Milan for this purpose, and defends himself against the charge on the grounds that this was the highest and. best use to which he could have applied them (De Offic. ii, 28). Augustine did the same at Hippo (Possidius. Vita, c. 24). Acacius, bishop of Amidas, ransomed as many as seven thousand who had been taken prisoners by the Persians (Socrates, H. E. vii, 21); Deogratias, bishop of Carthage, redeemed the Roman soldiers who had been carried off by Getseric after the capture of Rome (Victor Utic. De Persecut. Vandal. i, in the Bibl. Pat.vii. 591). It is worth noting that the truth that mercy is above sacrifice was formally embodied in ecclesiastical legislation. The code of Justinian (i, tit. 2, De Sacros. Eccles. 21), while forbidding the alienation of church vessels or vestments for any other purpose, distinctly permits them to be pledged or even sold for this or other like works of mercy or necessity.