[“This is one of several addresses given by the late Mr. James A. Ramsay to a company of schoolgirls who visited his home village of Strathyre, addresses under which some forty professed to come to Christ.  We trust the lovely story will be widely used for young hearts only too likely to have to confront the Roman Empire again.” - D. M. Panton.*


[* This tract was printed in August 16, 1937.]




About 2,400 years ago there lived a man of God, a prophet, called Daniel, who dreamed a fearsome dream.  He saw four wild beasts.  The first three were a lion, a bear and a leopard.  The fourth was not like any kind of beast that he knew, but this is how he speaks about it: "After this I saw in the night visions, and behold a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly; and it had great iron teeth: it devoured and brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with the feet of it and it was diverse from all the beasts that were before it and it had ten horns" (Dan. 7: 7).  Daniel did not know what the dream meant, but an angel told him. (In times past angels sometimes came down from Heaven and spoke to men.)  The angel told him that the wild beast meant a kingdom that would arise in after days - a cruel government.  Well, part of the dream came true 700 years after, that is, 1,750 years ago.  The angel told Daniel that a cruel and fierce nation or government would arise and do wicked things - just like a mad fierce beast.  The dream came true (part of it) long years ago when the nation of Rome began.


The worst thing that this wild-beast nation did was to crucify our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.  But I am not going to tell you that wonderful story just now.  I am going to tell you about a great battle between Rome - that wild beast - and a girl.  She was only a slave-girl - just grown up.


Blandina was the slave-girl’s name.  The Romans were mostly heathen, but Blandina’s mistress was a Christian.  She told Blandina about Jesus and His cross, and taught her to love Jesus her Saviour.  But that wild-beast government, like the Bolshevist government in Russia, would not let any of the people worship or pray to Jesus or to God; so they cut off the mistress’s head and put Blandina in prison.  They said to her that she must give up her Christianity. "You Christians are wicked people," they said; "you do bad things and you will not pray to gods of Rome."


Blandina said: "It is not true that we live bad lives.  We are taught to be good and pure and kind and to do no harm to anyone.  But we must not pray to the gods of Rome, for they are not gods at all.  Jesus is God, and we must worship Him only."


They said:  "You are only a slave-girl.  You have no right to worship Jesus if Rome tells you to worship the gods of Rome.  Now be sensible; if you come to the temple where our gods are worshipped, and burn incense to the gods, we will set you free and not punish you."


"I cannot do that.  Jesus is my God and Saviour.  He would be grieved if I denied Him.  We Christians love God, the Creator, and do no harm, and we cannot worship false gods."


"Foolish girl!  Do you think that you, a slave, know better than the Emperor and the free men of Rome?  We will give you another chance: come to the temple and offer incense, and you will be set at liberty."  "No, never!  I am a loyal servant of Rome, but I must obey God rather than man."


"Wretched girl!  Do you defy the Roman Empire and the Roman Emperor?  We shall soon teach you how to obey your superiors."


So poor, brave, faithful Blandina was taken into a prison cell and cruelly whipped till her back was covered with blood.  But her persecutors did not want to kill her, they wanted to break her will and make her obey Rome - Rome, that wild beast Power that stamped upon and crushed all that refused to submit to its rule.  Yes, Rome was a terrible power to fight against.  But Jesus Christ was in Blandina’s heart, and His power is greater than all other powers together.  The battle was about this question: "Can Jesus Christ make Blandina strong enough to defy Rome, and suffer and die, rather than worship Rome’s false gods?"


Rome said: "You are only a slave-girl, and we will trample you to pieces if you do not worship the gods of your own country."


But Jesus spoke into Blandina’s heart and this is what He said: "Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul" (Matt. 10; 28). "Whosoever shall confess Me before men, him will I confess also before My Father which is in Heaven" (Matt. 10: 32). "Fear not, for I am with thee."  "In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world" (John 16: 33).  "Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid" (14: 27).


And a deep joy and peace filled the slave-girl’s heart, as she prayed: "Thy will be done."  And how long did the battle last?  For two weeks at least.  Every day she was visited by the cruel servants of wicked Rome, and she was punished and tortured with terrible cruelty; but she was strengthened by Jesus and would not give in.


Then they took her to the arena to see other Christians tormented and killed.  The arena was in the interior of an immense amphitheatre which held more than 10,000 people who came to see the Christians being killed.  There was a dreadful iron chair, heated red-hot, and the Christians were made to sit in it till they were nearly dead.  Then they were put into a net and flung into the arena, where there were lions and tigers hungry to eat them.  If the lions and tigers would not touch them (which often happened), a wild bull was put in, and many Christians were gored to death by the bull.


Dear Blandina was brought into the amphitheatre.  The other spectators were enjoying the cruel sight, but Blandina was filled with sorrow and horror to see her dearest friends suffering such terrible agonies and death.  But Jesus was with them, and took them to glory when they died.  And He was with Blandina.  After each cruel spectacle Blandina was taken back to prison and offered her freedom if she would deny Jesus and worship the gods of Rome.  And when she was found to be immovable, she was cruelly whipped and torn with hooks.


At last the final day came.  Blandina was brought into the amphitheatre, all bleeding after cruel scourging.  At the same time a lad of fifteen, named Ponticus, was brought in.  Blandina encouraged him to be faithful unto death, and he was faithful, and he died before she died.  Her enemies were astonished that a poor slave-girl could endure so much and live so long and yet not give in.  They did not know what a Saviour she had.  They did not know that He was beside her all the time, soothing her pains. She sat in the fearful red-hot chair till she became insensible.  She was flung to the lions and tigers, but they would not touch her.  She wakened up and said to the boy: "Be strong and Jesus will give you crown of life," and then the boy died and received the crown of glorious martyrdom.  And soon after, she became insensible and while she was insensible the bull gored her to death.


Now, my dear children, I am going to tell you what you are thinking - you are thinking this: Why did God, and Jesus not rescue Blandina from those cruel men?  Well, be sure of this - God loved Blandina more than her father and mother could have loved her.  When you are older you will be able to understand that pain and sorrow, suffered for Jesus’ sake bring blessings that nothing else can bring.  In Paradise with her Lord Blandina is a hundred times happier than she could have been if she had not suffered.  "Our light affliction which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory" (2 Cor. 4: 17).


"And now we fight the battle,

But then shall wear the crown

Of full and everlasting

And passionless renown."


How glorious to meet Blandina in Heaven!  And how much more to meet Jesus, who died for Blandina and you and me!





This fragment of an incomplete sonnet was written by Mr. Ramsay the day before he died, in his eightieth year, October, 23, 1936, and was found under his pillow after his death.  Suffering acute heart-spasms, he said he had never known greater joy. The incident herein described actually occurred, not in the martyrdom of Blandina, but in that of Perpetua, a young noblewoman, who suffered similarly some years later.


"Blandina-slave and saint-upon the sand

Of the arena all unconscious lay,

Death-gored; then woke, "I do not understand –

I thought I was to have been gored to-day"!

"Oh what a heavenly dream!" she said - and died.

And found her martyr-crown already won,

And joy, once dreamt of here, in heaven begun –

For ever in the Secret Place to bide."