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Marcellus Gallio (died 38 AD) was a Roman military tribune and Christian martyr during the 1st century AD. He was the commander of the detachment which crucified Jesus in Jerusalem in 33 AD, and he won Jesus' crucifixion robe in a dice game. After experiencing the robe's miraculous powers, Gallio became a Christian, and he was martyred by the Roman emperor Caligula in 38 AD because of his conversion.

Biography

Early life

Gallio reuniting with Diana in 32 AD

Marcellus Gallio was born in Rome, Roman Republic, the son of the republican senator Lucius Gallio and his wife Cornelia, and the brother of Lucia Gallio. During his youth, he fell in love with Diana, a ward of the future Roman emperor Tiberius; when, at the age of eleven, she cut her finger and started crying, Gallio cut his own finger to show that it didn't hurt, and he then kissed her and promised that he would marry her when he grew up. Gallio rose to the rank of military tribune due to his family's connections, and, by the time he grew up, he had made himself known as a ladies' man and a gambler. He became rivals with Tiberius' heir Caligula over their shared love for Diana, who had been promised in marriage to Caligula by 32 AD. He insulted Caligula at private banquets, causing Gallio's father to fear that the public would soon see his opposition to the growing tyranny of the Roman emperors as a personal squabble.

Rivalry with Caligula

Gallio bidding against Caligula

That year, while visiting the slave market of Rome to purchase the Macedonian twins Phigaleia and Kallisto (and arguing with his one-night stand Livia), Marcellus reunited with Diana, who reminded him of his promise to marry her when they were both young. Their reunion was cut short when Prince Caligula and his entourage arrived at the pavilion, and Caligula was unhappy to see Gallio, his old rival. Tensions rose when Caligula's subordinate Tribune Quintus outbid Marcellus for the purchase of the twins, and Marcellus retaliated by outbidding Caligula for the purchase of the Greek slave Demetrius (claiming that he was only betting against Quintus). Caligula, infuriated, left with his entourage, and Gallio had Demetrius unchained and sent to the Gallio home.

Gallio reading Caligula's letter

When Gallio returned home that evening, he was shocked to find that Demetrius had followed his orders and had reported at the household, and Demetrius explained that he was repaying a debt to Marcellus. Marcellus ordered that his family servant Marcipor make Demetrius a personal servant and train him accordingly. Gallio then met his mother and sister, who revealed that Diana had stopped by their home and told them that Caligula was very angry with him. Shortly after, Senator Gallio arrived and angrily lectured Marcellus on how Marcellus' well-known rivalry with Caligula was sabotaging his credibility as an opposition senator. Shortly after, Tribune Quintus entered the home and delivered a letter to Gallio. Gallio opened the letter and read it in front of his family, discovering that it was from Caligula. Caligula wrote that, "The courage of a tribune must not be squandered in the baths and banquet halls of Rome," and ordered him to the garrison at Jerusalem; he was to sail that night on the Palestine galley. Lucius Gallio had Cornelia and Lucia prepare Marcellus' belongings for his trip, and, when Marcellus asked his father where Jerusalem was, Lucius told him that it was in Palestine, "the worst pest hole in the Empire" and full of "a stiff-necked, riotous people always on the verge of rebellion." He then explained to Marcellus that Caligula had essentially assigned him a death sentence, as the legionaries there were the scum of their army, their cruel officers were often murdered by their own men, and disease also took a heavy toll on the soldiers. His father told him to be a Roman and a man of honor, and to endure the experience so that he might live up to his father's ambitions.

Exile to Palestine

Gallio and Demetrius leaving for Palestine

Gallio and Demetrius boarded the galley that night, and Demetrius refused Gallio's request to be his friend during their exile, claiming that friendship could not be bought. Marcipor then arrived at the ship and informed Gallio that Diana wished to speak with him before he left. Diana told him that she was going to Capri to attempt to convince Emperor Tiberius to intercede, and that she loved Gallio and did not wish to see him leave again. The two passionately kissed before Gallio's subordinate asked him to hurry to the ship before they missed the tide, and Gallio's last words begged Diana to ensure that Tiberius did not make her marry Caligula.

Arrival in Jerusalem

Gallio and Centurion Paulus entering Jerusalem

While entering Jerusalem, Gallio was told by Centurion Paulus that they came at the worst time - Passover - when the Jewish soothsayers expected their Messiah (whom he described as their "King, savior, redeemer, son of their God, and general troublemaker") to enter into the city. Gallio and Paulus stopped when they observed a crowd of Jews bearing palm leaves greeting Jesus, who was riding into the city on a donkey, but they dismissed his entry and rode on ahead; however, Demetrius briefly stayed behind after locking eyes with Jesus and being compelled to follow him.

Marcellus entered the garrison and found the soldiers partying with Judean prostitutes and musicians, and he had Demetrius massage him by the public bath.

Gallio at the public baths

Marcellus ordered a skin of Syrian wine daily, and it was delivered by the wine merchant Caleb, whom Marcellus repeatedly derided as a thief who sold poor wine. He even pranked him in front of the other officers by throwing his denarius into the pool and forced him to jump into the pool to rescue it, much to everyone's laughter. Paulus then told Gallio that the prefect Pontius Pilate had plans to arrest "the fanatic" (Jesus), and he told Gallio that Pilate wanted the arrest done quietly, as Jesus had the support of half of the city. He told Gallio that he had a way to do so, but it would require some money; Gallio had Demetrius give Paulus a pouch of eight gold pieces and some silver for use as a bribe. Demetrius reluctantly did so, knowing that he would thus be compliant in the arrest of the man whom he admired. While Gallio's back was turned, Demetrius ran away to warn Jesus, while Gallio contineud to get drunk and later fell asleep in his room.

Crucifixion of Jesus

Gallio meeting with Pontius Pilate

The next morning, Paulus woke Gallio and told him that Pilate demanded his presence. Demetrius then returned to Gallio's room and asked him to intercede before Pilate on Jesus' behalf, although Jesus had already been sentenced; he said that Pilate would be worse than a murderer if he let Jesus be executed. However, Gallio said that, as Jesus had already been tried, Pilate's word was final. When Gallio arrived before Pilate, Pilate informed him that he would be sent back to Capri at the end of the week, and that he had powerful friends at court. However, Pilate told Gallio that he had one last task for him, the execution of three criminals (including Jesus). Gallio was shocked when another officer told him that they were to be crucified, and that nails were to be driven through their flesh.

Gallio gambling behind the Cross

Gallio led the Roman escort which brought Jesus to Calvary, and he had the grisly task of overseeing the crucifixion of Jesus, Dismas, and Gestas. After the crucifixion, he and the other soldiers gambled behind the cross while awaiting Jesus' death, and Demetrius rejoined the soldiers after recovering from being knocked unconscious by a Roman soldier earlier in the day. Paulus proposed that the soldiers gamble for possession of Jesus' robe, and Gallio won the dice game, winning the robe. Demetrius reluctantly brought the robe from the foot of the cross to Gallio, and, when the other soldiers began to laugh and mock Jesus, a guilty Gallio told the soldiers not to joke. Paulus told Gallio that it was easy for him not to joke, as he was headed back to Capri, while the other soldiers would continue to stay in the "sinkhole" that was Iudaea. It began to rain as Gallio and Demetrius left Calvary, and Gallio had Demetrius throw the robe over him to shelter him from the rain squall. When Demetrius refused, Gallio slapped him and took the cloth for himself, although he immediately suffered from a panic attack and told Demetrius to take it off of him. Demetrius angrily insulted Gallio as a "Roman pig" and called the Roman Empire thieves, murderers, and animals, cursing the Empire before leaving with the robe.

Return to Capri

Gallio emerging from his nightmare

During the return voyage to Capri from Jaffa, Gallio had several nightmares about the crucifixion, with the metallic clanking noises on the ship causing him to remember the nailing of Jesus' hands. Gallio stormed onto the deck and asked his soldiers "Were you out there?" in a fury, only to recover and tell them that he was having a nightmare. His soldiers even considered putting him in irons, fearing that he had gone insane.

Gallio reuniting with Diana

Gallio then returned to Capri and reunited with Diana, and he confessed to her that the thought of her was the only factor keeping him sane. Gallio then stood up from their bench and neared a cliff, telling her to keep away when she asked him what was bothering him. Diana saved Gallio from committing suicide, and he told her that he would tell her the truth soon enough, and that he was ill in his mind. Gallio was then told that Emperor Tiberius was summoning him, and Gallio told Diana that the captain of the galley had prewarned Tiberius that Gallio had gone insane. Diana insisted on going with Gallio, who told her that she was free from her promise to marry him.

Gallio meeting with Tiberius

Diana entered the palace before Gallio, and she failed to convince Tiberius to postpone the meeting until Gallio had rested. Gallio arrived and greeted Tiberius, and he delivered him dispatches from Pilate which were to be read by the Emperor's eyes only. Tiberius then asked Gallio's opinion of Pilate; Gallio agreed that Pilate was stern, but was uncertain as to whether he was just, as Jesus' crucifixion still haunted him. When Tiberius asked Gallio what happened in Judea, Gallio had a fit of heavy breathing and again exclaimedd, "Were you out there?" Tiberius sternly demanded that Gallio get control over himself, and he told him that Pilate's report and Gallio's condition hinted alike at a serious situation. Diana's intercession persuaded Tiberius - who had served with Gallio's grandfather in Iberia - to calm down, and Tiberius told Gallio to tell him everything. Gallio talked with the Emperor for two hours about the crucifixion, and Tiberius was puzzled about Jesus' claim that he was the "Son of God". Gallio then told Tiberius that he lost his wits when he put on Jesus' robe, and Tiberius was concerned about the miracles, disciples, escaped slaves, Roman legionaries fraternizing with the natives, and other disturbances. One of Tiberius' scientists - Dodinius - suggested that the robe had bewitched Gallio, and that the robe had to be destroyed for Gallio to recover. Tiberius thus granted Gallio an imperial commission to destroy the robe and compile a list of the surviving followers of the "dead magician". Gallio was then ordered to immediately leave for Palestine at the first tide. Tiberius then agreed to give Marcellus another chance with Diana, although he privately believed that she would make a better empress with Caligula.

Return to Palestine

The villagers repaying Gallio

Over the next few years, Gallio - posing as a Roman merchant - searched for Demetrius and the robe, and his guide Abidor took him through three provinces and 100 villages while searching for him. By 37 AD, they made it to Cana, and Abidor told Marcellus that, in Galilee, "the crucified one" had many friends. Gallio again bought homespun garments for high prices, hoping to find Demetrius in the process. However, an elderly man, Justus, criticized the Galileans for paying Gallio too much, asking them if they had given in to the sin of greed because life was too hard, and if they had gone against their faith. Surely enough, starting with the young woman Ronya bat Geut, the people began to give Gallio some of his money back to repent for their sin.

Gallio gifting his donkey to Jonathan

Gallio took up an interest in Justus and followed him, asking him if he was the local leader, to which Justus responded that he was just a weaver. When Justus asked Gallio for news of the outside world, Gallio told him that the world was the same, although there were some new "ideas" growing out of Judea - Christianity. Justus explained to Gallio that ideas were important, growing like children. He then introduced Gallio to his grandson Jonathan, who told Gallio that Jesus had straightened his foot so that he could walk. Gallio, seeing the boy's amazement at the sight of Gallio's donkeys, gifted one of his donkeys to him, claiming that he was repaying Justus' debt; Jonathan innocently asked Justus if Gallio was "one of us". Gallio then let Jonathan ride his donkey away, and Justus explained that Jesus was from nearby Nazareth, and that almost everyone in Cana knew him.

The Christian meeting at Cana

That night, while Gallio was camping behind a nearby house, he heard music and investigated, joining a Christian prayer service. He then heard a harp song about Jesus' death and resurrection, and, when he asked Justus who had just sung, Justus told him that she was Miriam, another on whom Jesus had looked. She was a paralytic before Jesus cured her of her bitterness; Gallio noticed that she was still crippled and asked how she had been cured, so Justus invited Gallio to his home for supper to explain Christianity to him.

Gallio eating with Justus

At supper, Justus told Gallio that Jesus attended the wedding at Cana and turned Miriam from a bitter girl into one who smiled and sang, and he also told Gallio of Jesus' resurrection; when Gallio claimed that she was a moonstruck girl singing fables about Jesus, and claimed that Jesus was dead, Justus asked Gallio how he was so certain of Jesus' death. Gallio claimed that the soldier who had thrust the lance into his side had told him, but the memory of the crucifixion caused Gallio to have another nervous breakdown and excuse himself early, apologizing to Justus and claiming that the voyage to Palestine had left him indisposed.

Abidor confronting Gallio in his tent

When Gallio returned to his tent, Abidor followed him into the tent and mentioned that Pilate was offering large sums of money for the arrests of Christian leaders. Gallio told Abidor that he reported to Tiberius and not to Pilate, and Abidor responded by telling him that putting Justus on the cross would give him a year's worth of fine wine. Gallio responded by giving Abidor a pouch of gold and telling him to return to Damascus, and Abidor suggested that, if he told the Judeans of Gallio's true identity, they might pay him more; Gallio responded by beating him and throwing him out of the tent.

Miriam talking with Gallio

The next day, Gallio walked into Cana and angrily rebuked Jonathan for giving his donkey to another boy. Miriam then called Gallio over to a bench in the shade, where she apologized for eavesdropping and asked him if he disliked Jesus' teachings; she then revealed that the villagers were aware that he was a Roman spy due to his broad shoulders and his willingness to pay too much for the homespun cloths. She asked him if he was doing his work for Rome, and he confessed, and he also claimed that he was doing so to restore his reason. He then insisted that Jesus died at the cross and that his death was the end, but Miriam insisted that it was just the beginning, as he rose to be with his Father. She then told Marcellus that he was no sorcerer and cast no spells, and that he asked only two things of the Judeans: love God and love one another (including Romans, Greeks, slaves, soldiers, and everyone else). While Gallio insisted that worlds were built on force and not charity, and that power was the only thing that counted, Miriam claimed that hope was better than power. She then told him that Jesus left her as she was to show the others that misfortune need not deprive them of their happiness. Gallio nearly suffered a breakdown when he confessed that he had seen Jesus himself, and he decided to leave Judea forever. However, Miriam told him that "the big fisherman" Peter and his Greek companion were waiting at Shalum's inn for Gallio to meet them. Before Marcellus left, Miriam expressed her hope that Marcellus would overcome his struggles and find his path.

Demetrius presenting the robe to Gallio

Demetrius rushed to the inn and barged into Demetrius' room, where he ordered Demetrius to stand in the presence of his master. He then forced Demetrius to take out the robe and ordered him to burn it, claiming that it had cast a spell on him. However, whenever Demetrius held the robe near Gallio, Gallio backed away and was frightened by it, and Demetrius claimed that Gallio's own conscience and decent shame was what made him ill, not the robe. Just as Marcellus was about to burn the robe, he buried his face in it and came to feel unafraid. Demetrius told Gallio that, until then, Gallio had only remembered what he had done to Jesus, but, now, he remembered the man himself.

Conversion

Gallio meeting Saint Peter

Demetrius then took Gallio outside to meet Peter, and he openly introduced Gallio as a tribune of Rome, while introducing Peter as a fisherman of Galilee. Peter said that he was honored to meet a humble subject of the Empire, but Gallio said that the honor was his. Justus then began to introduce Peter to the people of Cana, telling them of how he was Jesus' beloved disciple. However, his speech was interrupted when a Roman archer shot him in the chest with an arrow, and the archers dispersed the meeting by killing several more Christians. Soon, Paulus and his legionaries arrived, guided by Abidor.

Centurion Paulus and Gallio in battle

Gallio ordered the soldiers to stop, but Paulus claimed that he was no longer a tribune, as Tiberius had died and Caligula had become the new emperor. However, Gallio pointed out that a tribune would remain in his post unless explicitly relieved. Paulus demanded that Gallio make him obey him as Tribune, so Gallio drew a sword and challenged Paulus to a duel. Gallio demanded that, if he won, Paulus would withdraw his men; Paulus insisted that, if Gallio won, Gallio could take command of his men, as he would be dead. The two proceeded to duel in the square, and, after a hard-fought duel, Gallio disarmed Paulus, who asked him to finish him off. However, Gallio hurled his sword into a tree and ordered the humiliated Paulus to recall his men.

Gallio confessing to Peter

Paulus and his men then left the town, and, that night, Peter invited Gallio to join him and Demetrius as Christian missionaries in Syria, Lebanon, Greece, Sicily, and Rome. Gallio was hesitant, saying that he could never become a Christian; when Peter asked him if he had something he wanted to say, Gallio confessed that he did, but he struggled to speak. Peter decided to encourage Gallio by telling him of how he had thrice denied Jesus on the night of his arrest, and Gallio responded by confessing that he had crucified Jesus. Peter revealed that Demetrius had already told him, and a puzzled Gallio asked how Peter could forgive him, to which Peter responded, "He forgave you from the cross; can I do less?" Gallio then decided that, from that day forwards, he offered Jesus his sword, his fortune, and his life, pledging this on his honor as a Roman.

Return to Rome

Diana and Gallio reuniting in the catacombs

The garrisons of Antioch, Ephesus, and Corinth went on to make mention of Gallio's activities to Caligula, as Gallio had become an evangelist and "ringleader" of the growing Christian movement. By 38 AD, the three evangelists had arrived in Rome, and Caligula had Demetrius arrested and tortured with the goal of discovering Peter and Marcellus' whereabouts. Diana, having discovered Gallio's servant Marcipor was a Christian, had Marcipor take her to Gallio to warn him about Demetrius' capture. She was taken into the catacombs, where Marcipor brought Gallio to meet her. Diana told Gallio that Demetrius was being held in the armory below the guardroom, so Gallio had ten strong volunteers accompany him on a rescue mission. Before he left, Gallio bade farewell to Diana, who told him that she wanted to marry him regardless of what faith he chose.

The Christians rescuing Demetrius

Gallio and his comrades snuck into the palace at night, ambushing the Praetorian Guard in the armory and using chairs and their bare hands to subdue them; Gallio wore his tribune's uniform to temporarily fool the Roman soldiers. The Christians then took Demetrius out of his cell and rushed back to the catacombs, while Gallio fought off two pursuers. An enraged Caligula issued orders to capture Gallio by the end of the day, demanding that he be brought to stand trial.

Peter arriving to cure Demetrius

Marcellus and his friends brought a wounded Demetrius to the Gallio estate, hiding in a secret spot until a Roman search party left the building. The physician Marius predicted that Demetrius would die soon, but Peter arrived shortly after and miraculously healed him. Peter left shortly after, and Marius stormed out, claiming that Peter was an illegal sorcerer. Gallio ordered Marcipor to fetch two men and a carriage to take Demetrius to Peter, and, before Marcellus left, his father told him that this would be the last time they would meet, as he disowned him.

Capture and trial

Diana visiting Marcellus in prison

Gallio escorted the carriage as it rode towards the hideout, but several Roman horsemen pursued them. Marcellus volunteered to stay behind and hold off the Romans so that the others could escape, and Marcellus was pulled from his horse without a fight and thrown in prison. Diana visited him the next day and informed him that he was to face a trial before the entire court and the emperor, as his father's political influence ensured that he would have to face a fair trial.

Gallio at his trial

Marcellus was then brought to trial, where he stood before Caligula and the Roman Senate. He openly professed his Christian faith, but assured the emperor that the Christians were not engaged in any plot against the state. Caligula then asked Gallio if the Christians called Jesus a King, and, while Gallio said that that was true, Jesus claimed no earthly throne, and instead ruled over the hearts and minds of men and promoted justice and charity. When Caligula asked Gallio if justice and charity were lacking in the Empire, Gallio said that neither was present when he crucified Jesus. Caligula then asked Gallio, if he crucified Jesus, why he was risking his life for him, to which Gallio responded by saying that he owed him more than his life, as he forgave Gallio his crime against him. Gallio claimed that the crucifixion of Jesus was the greatest mistake that Rome had ever made, and Caligula was offended at the suggestion that either the Empire or him could make mistakes. Gallio wittily responded by saying that he was on trial, not Caligula, causing murmurs in the audience. Caligula then demanded that Gallio hand over Jesus' robe, but he remembered that it was bewitched, causing him to shirk from it. Diana then asked Caligula to give it to her, so Gallio handed the robe to Diana. Caligula grew more offended when he believed that Gallio was trying to convert him to his "sedition", and Gallio offended Caligula and the pagan senators when he promised that Christ's kingdom would someday come.

Diana and Marcellus defying Caligula

When Caligula asked the pleasure of the Senators, they clamored for death, and, when Caligula proclaimed "death" the will of the people, Diana claimed that it was the will of his "slaves and parasites". Caligula gave Gallio one last chance at clemency, demanding that he swear an oath to the Empire and renounce his faith. While Gallio renewed his oath of loyalty to Rome, he refused to renounce his faith, so Caligula sentenced him to death and ordered that his sentence be carried out immediately. Diana joined Gallio, saying that Gallio was her chosen husband, and that she had no wish to live another hour in an empire ruled by Caligula; she claimed that, in Caligula, Rome's noble blood had turned to poison.

Martyrdom

Gallio and Diana walking to their martyrdom

Gallio and Diana were then escorted to the palace archery field to be executed for high treason, while Caligula raved about how they were going to their kingdom to meet their king. The two of them walked happily, side-by-side, as Diana had accepted Christ as her King, and the two lovers were martyred by arrows fired by the Roman archers. Before her death, Diana gave Jesus' robe to Marcipor, telling him to give it to "the big fisherman". Marcellus and Diana were then buried in a Christian funeral attended by Peter and Demetrius.

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