I was reminded of the words of Christ while reading last night. The Christians in the ancient Roman Empire (third century) were being persecuted, turned from their homes, burned, tortured, and beheaded. A civil war broke out and then a plague infested the area, which distracted the unbelievers from the persecution.
I was deeply moved by the account which St Dionysius the Great wrote* regarding the total selfless and divine love the Christians displayed. I will quote him at length here:
DIONYSIUS TO THE ALEXANDRIANS
Certainly very many of our brethren, while, in their exceeding love and brotherly-kindness, they did not spare themselves, but kept by each other, and visited the sick without thought of their own peril, and ministered to them assiduously, and treated them for their healing in Christ, died from time to time most joyfully along with them, lading themselves with pains derived from others, and drawing upon themselves their neighbours’ diseases, and willingly taking over to their own persons the burden of the sufferings of those around them.