The Abitinian Martyrs – The Christians Who Couldn’t Do Without a Lord’s Day Service.
Defying the emperor’s orders, this group, led by their presbyter Saturninus, continued to meet secretly for worship in private homes. Discovered and arrested, they were sent to Carthage, about 50 miles away, to be tried by proconsul Gaius Annius Anulinus.
Commenting on this arrest, the author of the Acts of the Abitinian Martyrs – most likely an eye-witness – wrote: “As if a Christian could exist without the Lord’s Day, or the Lord’s Day exist without a Christian celebration! Do you not know, Satan, that the Christian is based on the Lord’s Day, and the Lord’s Day is based on a Christian, so that the one cannot survive without the other? When you hear the phrase ‘Lord’s Day,’ understand that it means the assembly of the Lord. And when you hear the bell ring, recognize that it is the Lord’s Day.”
On their way to Carthage, the Christians encouraged each other by singing hymns. Once there, they unanimously refused to renounce their faith. Imprisoned, they were denied food, while any supporter who tried to bring supplies was sent away. This measure gave way to a small brawl outside the prison.