Martyrs are witnesses for Christ who were willing to die instead of denying their faith. Men, women, and children from all around the world have been killed by themselves or in groups for their belief.

Martyrs in the early Church include St. Stephen, the First Holy Martyrs of the Roman Church, and all of the Apostles except for John. St. James the Greater was the first Apostle to be martyred.

Holy men and women still give up their lives today. More Christians were martyred in the 20th century than the previous nineteen centuries combined.

Throughout the year, usually on the day that they died, the Church celebrates the feast day of martyrs with the liturgical color of red which symbolizes their blood.

Christians who suffer persecution without shedding their blood are known as white martyrs.

Faith on display even before their death:

Men and women who go against the tide:

Faithful witnesses willing to die:

Martyrdom is the supreme witness given to the truth of the faith: it means bearing witness even unto death. The martyr bears witness to Christ Who died and rose, to Whom He is united by charity. He bears witness to the truth of the faith and of Christian doctrine. He endures death through an act of fortitude. “Let me become the food of the beasts, through whom it will be given me to reach God.”

Catechism of the Catholic Church 2473

Hated for speaking the truth:

Those who follow Jesus will encounter difficulty:

“Brother will deliver up brother to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death; and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved.”

Matthew 10: 21-22

Models of fidelity and service:

People give up their lives dramatically and silently:

An integral part of this religious memory of ours is therefore the duty to call to mind the meaning of martyrdom, to propose the actual figures of those witnesses of faith to the veneration of everyone, in the awareness that even today the saying of Tertullian retains its full meaning: “The blood of the martyrs, the seed of Christians”. We Christians already have a common martyrology in which God maintains and brings about communion among the baptized by the supreme demand of faith, manifested in the sacrifice of life itself. Real, if imperfect communion, already present between Catholics and Orthodox in their ecclesial life, reaches perfection in all that we “consider the highest point of the life of grace, martyria unto death, the truest communion possible with Christ Who shed his Blood, and by that sacrifice brings near those who once were far off.

Pope John Paul II, Apostolic Letter for the Fourth Centenary of the Union of Brest, November 12, 1995

Each one of us is called to be a martyr:

The Truth, Goodness, and Beauty of the Catholic Church

Pursuing holiness:

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