Hundreds of early Christians have been persecuted for their faith throughout history. According to certain historians, the Roman Catholic church rose from the martyrdom of its believers.
A Christian martyr is a person who would sooner die than betray or renounce Christ or his Gospel. Some of the brutal ways they were executed and tortured for their beliefs included stoning, beheading, burning at the stake, and crucifixion.
Well Known Christian Martyrs
Throughout Christian history, several well-known Christian martyrs went down for their righteous acts for the Church, its people, and anything that would hinder their relationship with Christ. A few of them are listed below:
St. Stephen, the first and well-known Christian martyr, died in Jerusalem in 36 A.D. He was a Hellenistic Jew who became one of the Catholic Church’s earliest deacons. He was given the archdeacon title for his outstanding abilities as an evangelist. His fame, though, sparked resentment among Jews.
Debates amongst Synagogue of Roman Freedmen members disputed St. Stephen’s teachings, but none of them could stand up to his intelligence and spirit. This increased his enemies’angereven more, and they began fabricating evidence against him. St. Stephen was accused of blasphemy, and the outraged populace demanded that he be condemned to death.
St. Stephen was summoned by the supreme rabbinic court in Jerusalem, the Sanhedrin. He delivered a speech about Israel’s history and the blessings of God as opposed to defending himself. Following the admonition, the crowds witnessing the trial were enraged. They took him into town and stoned him to death.
In 258 AD, the Roman Emperor Valerian persecuted St. Lawrence. Under Pope Sixtus II, who was likewise persecuted by Valerian, St. Lawrence was one of the sevendeacons tasked with assisting the less fortunate. The emperor’s army captured Sixtus and his deacons and killed them. After the Pope’s demise, St. Lawrence began distributing the Church’s funds and possessions to the city’s poorest individuals. When the emperor learned of this, he offered Lawrence a pardon in exchange for giving him the Church’s hidden treasure in three days.
Instead of the treasure, the saint walked through the city, gathering all the needy and sick individuals the Catholic Church was aiding. He presented them to Valerian. The emperor was enraged, and he sentenced the saint to a slow and painful death by grilling him on a gridiron.
In the 7th Century, St. Dymphna was born in Ireland to a pagan father and a pious Christian mother. When she was 14, she made a chastity vow and devoted herself to Christ. Soon, her mother died, and her father went into a pit of depression which led him to be easily manipulated by his wicked advisors. They suggested he marry his daughter.
After hearing her father’s twisted scheme, Dymphna ran away from home. Damon, her father, discovered his daughter’s location and traveled to Geel to apprehend her. He tried to persuade his daughter to return to Ireland so that they couldmarry. Dymphna declined, infuriating her father, who murdered her with his own hands.
St. Andrew was one of Christ’s early disciples. Andrew journeyed to the Black Sea coasts and all over what is now considered Turkey and Greece to preach the Christian faith. Governor Aegeas advised him to give up his beliefs and stop preaching while he was in Greece. The saint refused and was sentenced to death by crucifixion in Patras.
He was scheduled to be crucified on an upright crucifixion like Jesus. Instead, he insisted onan X-shaped one because he felt unworthy of dying on the same one as Jesus. Instead of being nailed, he was bound on a cross called a”crux decussate.”
Althoughit’s debated about,St. Polycarp’s death occurred between AD 155 and 167. He was a follower of John the Apostle, who penned the Gospel of John, the Book of Revelation, and three Epistles. He also may have played a role in the compilation of the New Testament of the Bible. He was sentenced to be burned at the stake for refusing to burn incense to the Roman Emperor. It has been said that the flames failed to kill him, so he was stabbed to death.
Peter, introduced to Christ by his brother St. Andrew, is renowned as the disciple who spoke before he thought. He established the church in Antioch and traveled around to preach about Jesus. During Nero’s reign, Peter was martyred between64 to 67 A.D. Like his brother Andrew, he refused to be crucified in the same manner as Jesus Christ as he felt unworthy.
Our Final Thoughts
These well-known Christian martyrs were ready to lay down their lives for Christ and his teachings. Hopefully, we can learn a lot from them andpracticetheir passion and love for Jesus. We have included certain books to increase your knowledge regarding these saints and their dutiful life. Our aim as Christians should be to do what’s right no matter if the world stands against us.