Callista: A Tale of the Third Century, by John Henry Newman
In CALLISTA: A TALE OF THE THIRD CENTURY John Henry Newman brings the riches of his intellect and imagination to bear upon the the Roman colony of Sicca Veneria in North Africa, circa 250 of the common era. Persecution is far from most Christians' living memory. Priests and bishops have grown lukewarm in matters of faith and preoccupied with matters of business. In celebration of the Roman millenium, Emperor Decius decrees that all citizens must pay homage to Rome by swearing by the genius of the Emperor and worshipping Jove. Against this backdrop Newman's novel dramatizes Pagan-Christian conflicts of great consequence through the interwoven fates of three main characters: Agellius, a Christian farmer of Roman descent; Caecilius Cyprianus, the persecuted Bishop of Carthage; and Callista, a Greek decorator of sculptures. Together they must reckon with the most pressing problems of tolerance and exclusivity, conversion and martyrdom.