As magistrate of the Roman province of Bithynia, Pliny the Younger was no stranger to difficult decisions. But when a group of Christians was brought before him on charges of "atheism" and "immorality," he found himself at a loss. Pliny knew that the emperor's edicts forbade such practices, but he couldn't help feeling sympathy for the accused.
As he watched them stand before him, their faces calm and resolute, Pliny couldn't help but wonder what it was that made them so different from the other criminals he had judged. Was it their faith? Their devotion to a higher power?
In the end, Pliny chose to show mercy, sentencing the Christians to exile rather than execution. It was a decision that would come back to haunt him in the years to come, but one that he knew was right. For in that moment, as he watched the Christians depart, he felt a sense of peace and clarity that he had never experienced before.