the persecution of mithraists : Sarrebourg, France
[…] Of all the Mithraic artifacts found, probably none compares to what was discovered at Sarrebourg, in Lorraine, France, when a shrine to Mithras was uncovered- with the skeleton of a man chained to the altar, and the door to the sacred room bricked up; Nabarz speculates [p. 52] that the man was a priest to Mithras who refused Christian conversion- and so was fastened to the altar of his Pagan God, walled up Edgar Allen Poe-like in the temple, and left to his Pagan fate.
[…] It was not long before the imperial government legislated formally and directly against the disgraced sect. In the provinces, popular uprisings frequently anticipated the interference of the magistrates. Mobs sacked the temples and committed them to the flames, with the complicity of the authorities. The ruins of the mithræums bear witness to the violence of their devastating fury. Even at Rome, in 377 A.D., the prefect Gracchus, seeking the privilege of baptism, offered as a pledge of the sincerity of his conversion the “destruction, shattering, and shivering,” of a Mithraic crypt, with all the statues that it contained.
Frequently, in order to protect their grottoes from pillage by making, them inaccessible, the priests walled up the entrances, or conveyed their sacred images to well-protected hiding-places, convinced that the tempest that had burst upon them was momentary only, and that after their days of trial their god would cause again to shine forth the light of final triumph.
On the other hand, the Christians, in order to render places contaminated by the presence of a dead body ever afterward unfit for worship, sometimes slew the refractory priests of Mithra and buried them in the ruins of their sanctuaries, now forever profaned (Fig. 46).
The hope of restoration was especially tenacious at Rome, which remained the capital of paganism. The aristocracy, still faithful to the traditions of their ancestors, supported the religion with their wealth and prestige. Its members loved to deck themselves with the titles of “Father and Herald of Mithra Invincible,” and multiplied the offerings and the foundations.
THE MYSTERIES OF MITHRA by Franz Cumont , pp. 203 – 206.