I recently spoke with one of the priests at Christian Brother’s Academy of NJ about the concept of Christian Martyrdom. Here are a few things that I learned:
Throughout civilization, individuals have been tortured, arrested, and killed for their beliefs. Often, these individuals are called martyrs. In fact, in the New Testament of the Bible, the word martyr translated into witness. When Christians witnessed about their faith, they were often killed leading to martyrdom. Today, the word martyr is used to describe someone who has died for their faith. There are many Christian martyrs, most of whom are from history. Three of the most famous are Stephen, Simon Peter, and William Tyndale. Each of these individuals was put to death because of their Christian faith.
In the Bible, Stephen’s martyrdom is described in Chapters 6 and 7. He is considered to be one of the first martyrs following Jesus’ death. Stephen would testify and while he spoke the truth, his words often offended those who would hear him. These others eventually put together a council to try Stephen and rather than go to jail, he was run out of town and stoned. Stephen continued to testify, even asking God to forgive those who stoned him.
Simon Peter’s brother, Andrew, brought Simon to Christ. Simon Peter was a thinker and was known as thinking hard before ever speaking. Following the death of Jesus, Peter became a fiery preacher and his sermons were talked about in the beginning of Acts. He traveled and primarily brought the teachings of Christ to the Jews. Simon Peter was killed by Nero and is believed to have been crucified upside down.
William Tyndale is a more latter-day martyr, a reformist who defied the teachings of the Catholic Church during King Henry’s reign. He translated the Bible into English, bringing the word of the Lord to many. Tyndale was tied to a stake in 1536 and died by choking.
Feeling completely inspired I was on the hunt to find more modern day Martyrs.