Cardinal’s Wiseman novel tells the lives of Christians under the persecution of Emperor Diocletian. One of the main characters, Fabiola, is a pagan young woman from a noble Roman family who has frequent conversations with her slave, a Christian girl named Syra. One day Fabiola wounds the girl and from that moment begins her slow transformation and conversion to Christianity as she recalls it before her own death.

We find out about another character, Pancratius, the son of a martyr. I was particularly touched by the scene where he walks through a cemetery and sees the tomb of an 18 year old man who died as martyr followed by that of a dead burned body of a 12 year old boy. These things being presented before his eyes make him desire to shed his own blood for Christ. His wish will be granted as he later dies eaten by the beasts.

Is this a story from the past, or the persecution of Christians never really stopped? Are there any martyrs today? I think these questions are worth answering and reflected upon.


  • Author: Nicholas Patrick Stephen Cardinal Wiseman (1802 – 1865)
  • Original title: Fabiola or, the Church of the Catacombs
  • Original language: English
  • Genre: Historical novel
  • The period of creation: ~ 1853 – 1854
  • Publication year: 1854
  • Public: Adults