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An invasion of Lombard tribesman, originally from Scandinavia and Pomerania (the Baltic seacoast region of northern Poland and northeastern Germany), moved southward into Italy in the mid-sixth century. The pagan invaders brought in their wake a wave of persecution against Italy’s Christians. Pope Saint Gregory the Great, in his Dialogues, relates two episodes in this persecution. In one case, forty imprisoned Italian peasants were executed for refusing to eat from meat sacrificed by the Lombards to their idols. In a second incident, four hundred prisoners were ordered to participate in the satanic worship that the Lombards were conducting in sacrificing a goat’s head to the devil. The Lombards demanded that the prisoners bow in adoration to the goat’s head, but most refused to do so. As Pope Gregory observes, “Having always bowed their heads in adoration before their Creator, they would never do so before a creature.” Thereupon the prisoners who refused to worship the devil and the goat’s head were slain by the sword.


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