Conscience, though of a rather contorted sort, prompts the churchmen holding two convicted Jewish thieves to try and convert them to Christianity so as to spare them the torments of hell when they are hanged. They were handed over to Church authorities by the rabbis of the Roman Jewish ghetto in 1736. Hanging Christians was less problematic, because they could always be induced to pray for forgiveness, and in any case they had undergone the saving rite of baptism. However, by the time the two men die, after a lifetime of disregarding their heritage and religion, they have become educated in the facts of their own Jewishness and stubbornly insist on dying in the religion of their birth.
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