Roman Night is the second novel in The Sebastian Cycle quadrilogy of the Blood of Martyrs series, which deals with the persecution of Christians during the reign of Emperor Diocletian. The main character is the historical figure known in hagiographic literature as Saint Sebastian.
Historians suppose that Emperor Diocletian only visited Rome upon his accession in 284 and for the triumph of his Vicennalia (celebrating twenty years of reigning) in 303. This is incorrect. He was also there in 288 for a belated ceremony authorizing and commemorating Maximian co-emperor and Augustus.
This upcoming celebration occasions trouble for Sebastian, Chief of the Palace Security in Rome. During the emperor’s absence, Sebastian has been using the official residence to host clandestine meetings of Christians, one of whom is the beautiful Susanna. He cannot skirt the issue any longer. Has he been guilty of cowardice for keeping his Christianity secret?
As the emperors approach Rome, a false brother of the Church on the Palatine, a financial officer named Torquatus, begins laying the groundwork for betraying Sebastian and his friends. Although he is an informant for the pagan authorities, he hopes to eventually take over the church of Rome, foisting his own brand of heresy on it.
Two members of the Praetorian Guard are incarcerated first. Determined to overcome his fear, Sebastian refuses to disavow them. In an astonishing turnabout, some of the very officials charged with proscribing the Christians are converted by Sebastian’s bold preaching.