I heard this story years ago and have been looking for it ever since. There are a few different versions of the story, but I finally found the one I was looking for in a small book at the dollar store the other day:
This is the story of a man whom perhaps you have never heard about. He was Telemachus, a fourth-century Christian monk.
He lived in a remote village in Italy, tending his garden, sharing his goods, giving his produce to others, and spending much time in prayer. One day he thought that he had heard the voice of God, or at least a strong impression that he should go to the city of Rome. He immediately obeyed, made his preparations and set out on foot. Some weary weeks later he arrived in the city at the time of one of the great festivals. Telemachus, not knowing what to do, followed the ever-increasing crowd surging down the streets and converging at the Colosseum. He watched as the gladiators stood before the Emperor saying, "We who are about to die salute you." THEN he realized these men were about to fight to the death for the entertainment of the raucous crowd that day. Telemachus shouted, "In the name of Christ, STOP!"
Nobody heard, nor did the ones near him respond. The games began, the gladiators were locked in battle. The monk pushed his way through the shouting crowd, climbed over the wall, and dropped to the dusty floor of the arena. The crowd watched in fascination as this tiny figure ran toward the gladiators, shouting, "In the name of Christ, STOP!" The crowd thought it was part of the entertainment.
The little monk continued until he was right in the middle of the gladiators who had stopped to watch this interruption. Suddenly the crowd realized it wasn't part of the show and their laughter turned to anger and shouting. As Telemachus was pleading with the gladiators to stop, he turned to the emperor to plead for this carnage to end. One of the gladiators plunged a sword into his body. He dropped to the sand. As he lay bleeding and dying, his last words were: "In the name of Christ, STOP!" The crowd was hushed, they all heard his dying plea.
Then a strange thing happened. As the gladiators looked down at the tiny, bleeding figure in the sand, the crowd was gripped by the drama. Way up in one of the upper rows, one man stood and slowly began to make his way toward the exit. Others followed his lead. And soon, in hushed, deathly silence, everyone left the Colosseum.
That year was 391 B.C. and that was the last battle to the death ever fought in the Roman Colosseum. It changed the thinking of society.
It happened because of one small voice . . . barely heard above the clamour and shouting. Only one voice . . . one unknown, a nobody. . . one life who was willing to speak the truth in the name of God!