Saint Telemachus, a fourth-century monk who lived in a monastery, felt God calling him to Rome. He couldn’t figure out why God would want him in Rome, but he felt the pressure to go. Putting his possessions in a little satchel, he threw the bag over his shoulder and started out over the dusty, westward roads to Rome.When he got to Rome, people were running about the city in great confusion. He had arrived on a day when the gladiators were going to fight both other gladiators and animals in the amphitheater.
Everyone was heading to the amphitheater to watch the entertainment. Telemachus thought this must be why God had called him to Rome. He walked into the amphitheater. He sat down among 80,000 people who cheered as the gladiators came out proclaiming, “‘Hail Caesar! We die to the glory of Caesar.” The little monk thought to himself, Here we are, four centuries after Christ, in a civilized nation, and people are killing one another for the entertainment of the crowd. This isn’t Christian!
Telemachus got up out of his seat, ran down the steps, climbed over the wall, walked out to the center of the amphitheater, and stood between two large gladiators. Putting his hands up, he meekly cried out, “In the name of Christ, stop!” The crowd laughed and jeered. One of the gladiators slapped Telemachus in the stomach with his sword and sent him spinning off into the dust.
Telemachus got up and again stood between the two huge gladiators. He repeated, “In the name of Christ, stop.” This time the crowd chanted “Run him through!” One of the gladiators took his sword and ran it through Telemachus’ stomach. He fell into the dust and the sand turned red as blood ran out of him. One last time, Telemachus weakly cried out, “‘In the name of Christ, stop.” He died on the amphitheater floor.
The crowd grew silent, and within minutes they emptied out of the amphitheater. History records that, thanks to Saint Telemachus, this was the last gladiatorial contest in the history of the Roman Empire.