Valerian (Fully Publius Licinius Valerianus)
Valerian (fully Publius Licinius Valerianus)
Roman emperor from A.D. 253 to 259; was at first friendly towards historians, but in 257 began a violent persecution of them, which continued to the end of his reign. Its object was chiefly to destroy the elders of the Church, especially the bishops, they were at first forbidden to convoke religious gatherings under pain of imprisonment and similar punishments; afterwards were sentenced, together with their lay adherents, to the mines; and, finally, were condemned to execution, in company with all priests and deacons, while all such senators, knights, etc., as would not renounce the Christian religion were threatened with confiscation of property and loss of life. The most noted victims of this persecution were Sixtus I of Rome and Cyprian of Carthage. In the year 259 Valerian attempted an invasion of the Persian kingdom, but was taken prisoner by the Sassanide king Sapor, and held in captivity until he died ten years later. His son and successor, Gallienus, issued an edict of toleration in 260, which inaugurated a period of forty years of comparative peace and rest for Christianity. See Cyprian, Epp. 82, 83; Eusebius, Hist. Eccl. 7:10, 11; Neander, Church Hist, ad loc.; Smith, Dict. of Gr. and Rom. Biog. s.v.; Herzog, Real-Encyklop. s.v.