A Christian martyrdom occurs when someone is murdered fighting for and preaching their testimony of Jesus. In previous years at the church, most murders were done through burning to death at the stake, crucifixion, stoning and different types of torture. A martyr is defined as someone who undergoes torturing and usually death as well for supporting or refusing to advocate a belief as required by someone else, along with other things.
Martyrdom began with Greek origins. The word “martus” has a Greek background and is defined as “a spectator who swears to a circumstance of which he has knowledge from personal observation”. This term is first seen in Christian literature. The apostles were all “witnesses” of the public life of Christ and learned all they have learned from His teachings. The concept of martyrdom has previously been questioned and mostly worried about the potential to commit crimes and violence towards others. Later on, the term “martyr” was used to describe people who were arrested, and while they were on trial, admitted to being Christians. Towards the mid second century, the word was reused to people who suffered died for what they believe in. But even then, it hadn’t been only Christians that were prepared to die for their faith and principles. Socrates, a philosopher, was condemned to death in 399 BC because he “refused to recognize the Gods” and “corrupted the youth” of Athens. During the lifespan of the time the Apostles were around, the term martus started to be used to mean someone who could be called to in the court of law to talk about what he/she testified to, with the possible penalty of death. It only happened, in the during the first year of the Church, that the term “martyr” was only used to mean “someone who had died for their faith.”
In the olden days, it was regulation to everyone and was required to believe in the religion of the nation. Failure to do so, in the eyes of the State, was equivalent to betrayal of the nation. Because of this law, there have been many persecutions by Christians. If Christians testified against the presence and chose to not worship the same Gods of the state, they would be spoken to from now on as atheists. New laws in place created a different matter to be worried about from the exiting legislation. Even though they were now legal, Christians had security under a regime which said that they were not allowed to be sought after by the authorities. There were other irrelevant Christians obtained by briberies saying that they had obeyed the law, while others would still fall away from torture. From this date to 284-305, the final persecution initiated by Diocletian, the Church stayed in the same legal situation as earlier, towards the second century. Christian gatherings were not allowed, all Christians were directed to deny their religion, and churches and sacred books were ordered to be ruined. The penalties aligned with the social classes of the times. For higher class, failure to comply meant disgrace and death. For middle class, they would be demoted to slavery and if you were already a slave, you gained the incapability to receive freedom.
After a period of time when the torments of Christianity were lowered, Emperor Decius chose that the Christians were enemies with the Roman order and that they are supposed to be challenged throughout the entire empire with all the power from authorities that the ruler can find. A judgement was then issued that said that “everyone must sacrifice to the Roman gods and produce a certificate signed by an official that they have done so,” and this shows that Christianity, which began in small groups scattered around various citied over the empire, has become so widespread all over the world that they have become a majority of the population.
Throughout time, there has been a large history of martyred saints in the Catholic Church. Some of which got credit for great achievements or commendable behavior. Most, though, lost their lives in protection of their faith. Many were respected for their influences to the Church and their society. We will never know all who were killed in these times, but there are some good examples of what can happen as a Martyr. In most places in Christianity, martyrdom is usually looking into as a path to sainthood and with that people are acknowledged as saints in various denominations. From the first century there was Saint Stephen, Saint James and James, the brother of Jesus. From the second- fourth century, Pope Fabian, Euphemia and Cyprian were all killed. During the fifth through the 15th century, Tsar Lazar and Joan of Arc were both murdered. Moving to the 16th century, both Juan de Padilla and William Hunter sacrificed their lives. Throughout the 17th century to now, Francis Taylor’s life and Arthur Bell’s life were taken. One of the most recent and wide known attacks was on the Normandy Church in 2016, going for Jacques Hamel, a priest during the time.
Being a martyr is a heroic accomplishment. Most do not represent a major part of the Christian population. There aren’t thousands of people being martyred but there are thousands of people who admire and support those who would stand up for what they believe in. Because of this, being a martyr should be something admired but not copied. These stories have an intense effect on Christians in today’s world when they learn about them. The first martyr of Christianity was Jesus and he bravely attested to his own faith against a harsh court. I think the martyrdom stories that were talked about during that time were mostly important and to blame for the growth of early Christianity. Several of the stories that are talked about admit that there were pagans existing at these killings who were so overwhelmed by the bravery of the Christians that they wanted to believe and see the truth of the Christian religion in the flesh and as soon as that happened they converted to Christianity, which thinking about now, is pretty impressive. Although these individuals are bold and courageous for fighting for what they believe in, it is nice to live in a world now that we do not have to be worried about being killed for belief in our faith.