Ben-Hur and his friends commit their lives to Jesus, who they now realize is not the earthly king they had previously hoped for, but a heavenly king and a savior of mankind. Five years after the crucifixion, Ben-Hur and Esther have married and had children. The family is now living at a villa in Misenum. Iras visits Esther, marvels at the children she might have had, and informs Esther that she has killed Messala, saying she has finally discovered that Romans were brutes. Esther tells Ben-Hur of the visit and he launches a fruitless search for the woman.
In the tenth year of Emperor Nero’s reign, Ben-Hur is staying at Simonides’ house. Simonides’ business has been successful, and he, with Ben-Hur, has given most of the fortunes to the church of Antioch. Now, as an old man, he has sold all his ships but one, and that one has returned for probably its final voyage. The Christians in Rome are suffering persecution under the hands of Emperor Nero, and Ben-Hur and his friends decide to help. Ben-Hur, Esther, and Malluch set out from Antioch, on the last of Simonides’ ships to Rome. They decide to build an underground church – surviving through the ages and becoming known as the Catacomb of San Calixto in Rome.