Burning winds and scalding sands were your food
And shelter in your final days of life.
For your true confession of Christ, exile
Is your reward from the Arian king.
The Sahara, like a giant furnace,
Swallows your Graces, Felix, Cyprian,
And the four-thousand nine-hundred sixty-six
Courageous African Christians
Who voluntarily followed you.
Sharp hunger, parched throats, burnt faces and feet –
No apparent reprieve from your agony.
‘Renounce your faith and live!’ the skeptical
Onlookers shout, not knowing that Christ’s
Presence with His co-sufferers transforms
Earthly pains into a foretaste of Heaven’s joys.
In no way, then, do you grumble against God
Or look back with longing to your cities.
Your great company, instead, sings praises
More fervently to the Sweetest Trinity,
Though your voices crack and hearts are failing.
Many angels led your pure souls upward
Into the Heavenly City, whose light
Is God Himself, while the silent desert dunes
Gratefully received your holy bodies,
Will be their tomb till Resurrection Day.
The tortures of tomorrow’s Christians
Will be much more subtle and refined,
Yet harder to resist – the Enemy
Has learned well the weaknesses of man.
Withal, through union with Christ, Who is God,
Unchanging, unconquerable – today,
And yesterday, and forever, Amen –
Through the gifts bestowed on us by your prayers,
We, too, will endure faithfully to the end,
And receive from Christ a crown of glory
And a throne of honor, which we will offer
Back to Him in thanksgiving and worship,
Throughout the glorious, endless ages.
Walt Garlington is a chemical engineer turned writer (and, when able, a planter). He makes his home in Louisiana and is editor of the 'Confiteri: A Southern Perspective' web site.