Photo: "Skellig Michael" Copyright Irish Tourist Board.


   Favorite Monks:  Telemachus:

The Monk Who Ended the Coliseum Games  by Monk Preston

Image: portion of illuminated manuscript page from "The Book of Kells."


(Birth date unknown.  The last known gladiator fight in Rome was on January 1, 404 AD, so this is usually given as the date of Telemachus' martyrdom.) 

(St. Telemachus, Saint Telemachus, Almachus) _________________

Have you received Christ as your Lord and Saviour?

Plan of Salvation _________________

Make a difference like Telemachus did:

Though not all Christians are called to full-time Christian Ministry, we are all called by God to share our faith (witness) with those who are not Christians.  Some Bible verses that you will find helpful for doing this, and that you may want to commit to memory are found on other pages on our  web site (see: Memory Verses; 2nd Set: Salvation!, Plan of Salvation, and Statement of Faith). _________________

 "Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God."  -Matthew 5:9

Image: Painting of the martyrdom of Telemachus.

The Martyrdom of Telemachus

One Man Can Make A Difference

         I first heard this story on a Christian Radio station.  Unfortunately, I missed the beginning of the program, so I do not know who was speaking, but the story was told beautifully.  The story of Telemachus and how the holding of the Coliseum Games and Gladitorial Contests came to an end, has often been repeated.  Even American President Ronald Reagan told the story of "the little monk" (at the Annual National Prayer Breakfast on February 2, 1984).  Unfortunately, there are some mistakes in the story that are usually perpetuated, whenever it is told.

The Story As Often Told

     Here is a brief summary of the story as it is usually told:

     In the fourth century a little monk named Telemachus from Asia (modern day Turkey comprises the Roman province of Asia; or perhaps Asia Minor is meant), was led by an inner voice to go to Rome without knowing why.  He followed the crowds to the Coliseum.  Two gladiators were fighting, and Telemachus tried to get between them to stop them, shouting three times, "In the name of Christ, forbear!" Telemachus was killed by being run through with the sword of one of the gladiators.  When the crowd saw the little monk lying dead in a pool of blood, they fell silent, leaving the stadium, one by one.  Because of Telemachus' death, three days later, the Emperor by decree ended the Games.

The Errors

     The errors found in the above story are: (1.) that the event above occurred in the fourth century.  It actually occurred in the early 400's A.D., (which is the fifth century); and (2.) that Telemachus was killed by a gladiator's sword, the crowd then leaving one by one, until all had left.  Telemachus actually was killed through being stoned to death by the furious crowd, enraged that someone would dare to interfere with their "entertainment." 



Image: The Prayer Foundation logo (with white Celtic cross on a green shield).

Some critics claim that Telemachus' death cannot have ended the Coliseum Games, because the Games were held until the early fifth century.  This a false argument, because they are accepting the wrong dating of the event.  They are correct about the dating of the ending of the Games, but wrong in contending  that Telemachus' death was not the event that triggered their demise.

The True Story

The true story is found in the writings of Theodoret, Bishop of Cyrrhus in Syria (393-457 A.D.).  Theodoret's Ecclesiastical History covers the period of time up until 429 A.D. (the early fifth century).  We quote it here:

 Theodoret of Cyrus (Cyrrhus in Syria), The Ecclesiastical History   

Book V, Chapter XXVI: Of Honorius the Emperor and Telemachus the monk. 

"Honorius, who inherited the empire of Europe, put a stop to the gladitorial combats which had long been held at Rome.  The occasion of his doing so arose from the following circumstance.  A certain man of the name of Telemachus had embraced the ascetic life.  He had set out from the East and for this reason had repaired to Rome.  There, when the abominable spectacle was being exhibited, he went himself into the stadium, and stepping down into the arena, endeavoured to stop the men who were wielding their weapons against one another.  The spectators of the slaughter were indignant, and inspired by the triad fury of the demon who delights in those bloody deeds, stoned the peacemaker to death.

When the admirable emperor was informed of this he numbered Telemachus in the number of victorius martyrs, and put an end to that impious spectacle."


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