June 30 is the date held by certain people, Catholics mainly, as the feast to remember the first Martyrs in Rome – those blamed by Nero and subsequently persecuted by the Empire.
The Da Vinci Code movie apparently claims that there aren’t really any pagan sources telling about early Christianity.
This would rather shock Tacitus, who is not only proud to be a civilized worshiper of the Roman gods, but highly annoyed by the Christian “superstition”. (He would have been equally annoyed by his guest appearance here in the Christian section, but one hopes he changed his opinion, upon his appearance before Truth Himself.)
Tacitus is writing in AD 109 about the events of his childhood. His research and critical thinking have made him a highly credible historian from the day he finished the Annals until now. He is but one of the many contemporary pagan sources which survive, but he’s definitely one of the more interesting ones.
I’ve included the whole story of the Great Fire (and the paragraph right before it starts) so that you can see Nero’s decision (and Tacitus’ comments on Christianity) in context. So the excerpt starts with some commentary which is rather too relevant to life today, and may not be work-safe for touchy colleagues. (But if you really expected a Roman historian recounting Nero’s deeds to be work-safe, you don’t know much about Nero or Romans.)
No, I’m not Catholic, but all we have to be is Christian to remember those that suffered before, and those that suffer now, and those that will suffer tomorrow for the name of Christ.