The very first martyr in
the name of God is of course, Jesus Christ of Nazareth. Of that there is no
question. His death on the cross for all mankind, for all generations is the
first, indeed most important, case of martyrdom for Christianity.
The next martyr was
Stephen. His deaths was a direct result of his preaching the Gospel and the
faithful manner in which he exclaimed the glory of the Lord, even unto those
betrayers and murders of Christ. Stephen was stoned to death in the street
at Passover the Spring following Jesus' Crucifixion. The outrage Stephen
caused was so great that there was great persecution of the Church through
the regions of Judea and Samaria, particularly in Jerusalem. It is said that
over 2,000 Christians suffered persecution and death as a direct result of
James (the Great)
The next martyr was
James, the son of Zebedee, elder brother of John. James' martyrdom was about
10 years after the death of Stephen. This occurred under the hand of the
infamous Herod Agrippa who was determined not only to persecute the
Christians but indeed annihilate them. James was undaunted when confronted
with his impending death; when he was brought to the place of martyrdom, he
continued to preach and exhort those around. His main accuser was so moved
by the Apostle's conviction, this man repented and fell down at James' feet!
Then, both men were beheaded at the same time!
Born at Bethsaida, in
Galilee, he was one of the first to be called 'disciple'. He labored for
Christ throughout Upper Asia and suffered martyrdom at Heliopolis, in
Phrygia. He was scourged, thrown into prison and then crucified.
Matthew was the tax
collector that left all when Jesus simply said 'Follow me.' He was born at
Nazareth. He wrote all of his gospel in Hebrew, but thanks to James, Jesus'
brother (actually step-brother), the Gospel of Matthew was translated into
Greek. Matthew labored for our Lord in Parthia, and Ethiopia where he
suffered his death being slain by chopping apart by halberd.
James (the Less)
This disciple of Christ
was supposed by many scholars to have been the brother of our Lord by a
former wife of Joseph. He was the head of all the Churches of Jerusalem and
the author of the Epistle in the New Testament bearing his name. At the age
of 94, he was beaten and stoned by the Jews, still not dying they bashed his
brains out with a club.
Less is known about him
than most of the other disciples, but he was elected to fill the place of
Judas. He was stoned at Jerusalem and then beheaded.
He was the brother of
Peter. He preached the gospel to many Asiatic nations; but when he arrived
at Odessa, he was seized and crucified on a cross, the two ends of which
were fixed transversely in the ground; hence the derivation of the term, St.
Mark was a Jew, born of
the tribe of Levi. Very important tribe in the Jewish nation. He was
converted to Christianity by Peter. In conjunction with Peter, he wrote the
Gospel of Mark in the Greek language (instead of Hebrew which was his
natural tongue). Mark was literally dragged and torn to pieces by the people
The blessed Apostle
Peter, the one whom Jesus declared to build his Church upon, was condemned
to death at Rome by Nero. However, Peter had several, indeed many
opportunities to escape. Many offered Peter refuge. He refused all. Peter
recounts that while he was at the Gate of the city, preparing to flee, he
saw Jesus Christ come down to meet him; worshipping Christ, Peter said that
the Lord indicated that he was come again to be crucified. By this, Peter
perceived that he was to be crucified for the Lord, and returned to the
city. He ask that he be crucified with his head down and his feet upward, he
being unworthy to be crucified in the same form and manner as the Lord.
Paul also suffered
persecution and ultimately death under the hand of Nero. Two messengers of
Nero, Ferega and Parthemius, were dispatched to Paul to tell him of his
impending death. When they got to Paul, he was preaching the Word of God and
instructing people in the way of the Lord; these messengers indicated that
they too wanted to believe and wanted Paul to lead them in prayer. As Paul
bowed in prayer, they beheaded him.
The brother of James was
commonly called Thaddeus. He was crucified at Odessa.
He preached in many
countries, often translating the Gospel into the native language, including
India where he was cruelly beaten and crucified.
Also called Didymus,
preached the Gospel in Parthia and India, where the pagan priests killed him
by thrusting a spear through him.
The evangelist and author
of the Gospel that carries his name. He traveled with Paul through various
countries. He was hanged to death from an olive tree in Greece.
Preached the Gospel in
Africa and even Great Britain, where he was crucified.
The 'beloved disciple'
was a brother to James (the Great). He founded many Churches, including
Smyrna, Pergamos, Sardis, Philadelphia, Laodicea, and Thyatira. Captured at
Ephesus, he was taken to Rome where he was put into a cauldron of hot,
boiling oil. By a miracle of God, he was taken out without any injury!
Domitian immediately banished him to the Isle of Patmos, where John wrote
the book of Revelation. He is the only disciple of Christ to escape violent