Sixtus II, reigned slightly less than a year as pope. His martyrdom was almost inevitable, as his election came just after the Emperor Valerian had issued an edict of persecution. Valerian’s strategy was to destroy the Church by “decapitation” — executing the clergy, then waiting for the people to lose interest. The method worked well in the suppression of pagan cults, but seemed to have an opposite effect on the Church. “The blood of the martyrs is seed,” said Tertullian, and he was right. Today is Sixtus’s memorial.