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Thursday, September 22, 2005

House of Martyrs

When Halloween rolls around, everyone puts up a “House of Terror” with scenes from the Texas Chainsaw Massacre, one of the Friday the 13th movies or some equally violent and bloody events drawn from history and fiction. There might be a way to keep the format but change the message.

Part of the terror lies in the fact that these scenes of death and destruction are built around senseless violence, violence that seems unredeemable. But there are, throughout history, myriad examples of violence that served as a means of redemption.

Instead of creating a House of Terror, why not create a House of Martyrs, commemorating people who died for love of Christ? Each scene in the house could depict the violent death of one or more of the saints, with the last scene of the Crucifixion.

Here are links to descriptions of some martyrs to start you off. I will add more as readers suggest them.

Martyrs in Scripture
John the Baptist, beheaded (Gospels)
St Stephen, stoned to death (Acts 7)
James - beheaded (Acts 12

Apostolic martyrdom
Mark died in Alexandria, Egypt, after being dragged by horses through the streets until he was dead.
John faced martyrdom when he was boiled in a huge basin of boiling oil during a wave of persecution in Rome. However, he was miraculously delivered from death. John was then sentenced to the mines on the prison island of Patmos. He wrote his prophetic Book of Revelation on Patmos. The apostle John was later freed and returned to serve as Bishop of Edessa in modern Turkey. He died as an old man, the only apostle to die peacefully.
Peter was crucified upside down on an x-shaped cross, according to church tradition because he told his tormentors that he felt unworthy to die in the same way that Jesus Christ had died.
Bartholomew, also know as Nathanael, was a missionary to Asia. He witnessed to our Lord in present day Turkey. Bartholomew was martyred for his preaching in Armenia when he was flayed to death by a whip.
Andrew was crucified on an x-shaped cross in Patras, Greece. After being whipped severely by seven soldiers they tied his body to the cross with cords to prolong his agony. His followers reported that, when he was led toward the cross, Andrew saluted it in these words: "I have long desired and expected this happy hour. The cross has been consecrated by the body of Christ hanging on it." He continued to preach to his tormentors for two days until he expired.

The Holocaust

Example: Maximilian Kolbe – starved along with nine other men, he finally had to be killed with an injection of carbolic acid.

Martyrs of Pagan Rome
Examples: St. Ignatius of Antioch – eaten by lions
Martyrdom of Polycarp – attempted burning to death, eventually speared to death, his blood put out the flames of the pyre.
St. Lawrence - grilled on a griddle. Reported to have told his torturers, "Turn me over. I'm done on this side."
St. Sebastian - shot with arrows and beaten to death.

The English Reformation
Example: Thomas More and Cardinal John Fisher – heads cut off for refusing to acknowledge Henry VIII’s claim that his marriage was not valid.
Margaret Clitherow – pregnant, she was pressed to death for having allowed Masses in her house.

Japanese martyrs
Adults and children crucified

Filipino martyrs
Hung upside in a pit

Jesuit Martyrs in North America
Examples: Isaac Jogues - knifed and tomahawked to death
John de Brebeuf - burned with glowing embers in every part of his body, even his eyes.

French Revolution
Example: 16 nuns beheaded for the Faith

Uganda Martyrs
Example: Charles Lwanga and companions were burned alive for refusing the homosexual advances of the king.

Other Martyrs
Example: Lucy – eyes torn out and attempted burning alive, finally stabbed with a dagger.
Maria Goretti – rapist murdered her for fighting him and telling him it was a sin.


Nârwen said...

We've got an All Saints Party every year. Some people come as martyrs. (One of the priests is known for doing particulary gory costumes ! )

Steve Kellmeyer said...

Ah, you see?
You already have begun to put the pieces in place. :)

mandamum said...

When I was at ND, our Children of Mary group had a pregame foodstand on Halloween, and we all came as martyrs--great fun!


PontiusSocrates said...

Interesting post, and an interesting suggestion.

How would you feel about the following choices:

Jan Hus
The refugees inside Montsegur (not to mention the rest of the Cathars in southern France)
The victims--Moslems, Jews, and even local Chrstians-- inside Jerusalem when the Crusaders first arrived.

Any reason why these people wouldn't be included?

Just wondering...

Steve Kellmeyer said...

Jan Hus was a heretic who abused his safe conduct pass. Hus had agreed not to preach anywhere as a condition of coming to the council. He broke his word, was arrested, refused to renounce his heresies and was legally executed by the state.

The Cathars were pretty much the same deal - heretics.

The deaths in Jerusalem were the result of war, not religion.

Smallman said...

Excellent blog.