The City of God: Book 1: Chapter Seven

Chapter 7

All the destruction, slaughter, plundering, burning, and distress visited upon Rome in its latest calamity were but the normal aftermath of war. It was something entirely new that fierce barbarians, by an unprecedented turn of events, showed such clemency that vast basilicas were designated as places where refugees might assemble with assurance of immunity. There, no one was to be slain or raped; many destined for liberation were to be led there by the compassionate enemy; from there, none was to be dragged away into captivity by a cruel foe. That this was in honor of the Name of Christ and to the credit of Christian civilization is manifest to all.

To see this and not acknowledge it with praise is ingratitude. To impugn those who give us credit is utterly unreasonable. Let no man with sense ascribe this to the savage ways of the barbarians. It was God who struck awe into ruthless and bloodthirsty hearts, who curbed and wondrously tamed them. God who long ago spoke these words by the mouth of the Prophet; ‘I will visit their iniquities with a rod: and their sins with stripes. But My mercy I will not take away from them.’

Augustine of Hippo, The City of God, Books I–VII

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