Martyrs of Rome: Are You Prepared to Witness for Christ?

by Steve Ray on June 30, 2016

Torture2.jpgOne of the talks I gave while we were just in Rome today is about the Apostolic Fathers and Suffering for the Faith. It is dear to my heart since we just traveled all over following the footprints of St. Paul and the Apostolic Fathers. I will be speaking on the suffering and martyrdom of early Christians.

We visited the Church of Santo Stefano Rotundo (picture to right). Many people think the church is morbid, disgusting and even gross. As you can see in the picture it is a round church with all the walls covered with paintings of the tortures and martyrdoms of the early Christians. They are graphic and detailed.

The two pictures below are from the walls of the church (man with molten lead being poured down his throat and woman with her hands cut off and hung around her neck). These are only two pictures of hundreds. You will see them in our next DVD. (Thanks for the correction below in Comments.)

Torture1jpg.jpgBut back to my question: Are you prepared to Witness for Christ?” Be careful before you say YES! In Acts 1:8 Jesus said to the Apostles, “You will be my witnesses.” By virtue of our baptism, we are ALL called to be witnesses for Christ. But when Jesus used the word “witness” he may have implied more than we think. We tend to think he meant to give testimony for Christ with words alone. But the early Christians gave witness to Christ with much more than their words.

The New Testament was originally written in Greek and the Greek word used for “witness” is martur. Sound familiar. Say it to yourself out loud a few times and see if it sounds like an English word we use. I bet you guessed it. The English word “martyr” derives from the Greek word martur meaning witness.

Torture3.jpgThe Catechism states, “Martyrdom is the supreme witness given to the truth of the faith: it means bearing witness even unto death . . . ” (CCC 2473). When we traveled to the sites of the Apostolic Fathers and the place where they and many others spilled their blood on areana floors, it was a sobering trip.

Are you and I really prepared to be witnesses for Christ in the full sense of the word? The early Christians suffered horrendously to pass the faith on to us. Would we have the faith and fortitude to follow in their steps? For myself, I like to think I would. But I also know I don’t like pain–I avoid it like the plague.

But I commit myself to this, and ask you to join me — if martyrdom is required of me, I will trust God to give me the grace and strength to go down heroically with these words on my lips:

“I am a Christian! Lord Jesus, receive your servant!”

“And they have conquered [the Devil] by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony (martur), for they loved not their lives even unto death.” (Revelation 12:11, RSVCE)

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Brother Ed May 5, 2007 at 3:13 PM

Well spoken. We have forgotten what the call of Christ really means in the West, but our brothers and sisters in Africa and the East know all too well. I am stunned at the stories I hear of the suffering these precious saints endure for His name’s sake, and I have prayed myself that the Lord would grant me the grace to undergo martyrdom if this is His will. It will not take much more in our country for us to start feeling the persecution others have endured. There are people who are just waiting to get themselves and their cronies in to political office in this country so they can close the churches because we are bigots in their eyes. Their mercies are none too tender. Remember what happened to the people who participated in Operation Rescue a few years ago? That was brutal, but it is only a foretaste.

The Holy Scriptures promise us that if we will live for Him, we WILL suffer persecution. I don’t see any “weasel clauses” for Americans.

May we all stand boldly for His name.

Brother Ed

Anne Marie May 5, 2007 at 5:30 PM

I too pray for the Grace to face a martyr’s death if Christ asks that of me. I often think of Felicity and Perpetua and their witness for the Lord. Along with so many others Jesus used their witness to convert a country even more pagan than ours today.

Still as I look out at the landscape of our nation I can’t help wondering just how far are we from the days when we, or perhaps our children will face this fate?

The voices are so strident, the evil and hatred so palpable. I recall the blood bath of the French Revolution and the English martyrs and contrast that with what I read on blogs for instance such as the Atheist “No God Blog” or even some of the Protestant blogs and it reminds me that we must pray for Holy Mother Church, we must pray for our Priests to boldly teach the faith, we must pray, and fast and do penance for an ever more powerful outpouring of the Holy Spirit to strengthen us to stand firm in the face of evil, to take up our crosses and proclaim Christ Jesus in every aspect of our lives.

Holy Spirit of God guide us, St. Michael, defend us in battle, Mother Mary shield us under the protection of your mantel. Amen.

MM from Brooklyn May 6, 2007 at 9:48 PM

I had heard from a historian’s talk that they actually poured molten lead down martyr’s throats during the Diocletian persecutions, not boiling water. Of course that is only a matter of degrees; still a horrible way to die.

Steve Ray May 8, 2007 at 1:10 PM

MM: Now that you mention that I remember that too. I updated to post to reflect your comment.

Lee B. Day May 17, 2007 at 12:52 PM

Hi Bro. Ray and Sis. Janet!
Peace in the Lord!
Im very grateful to u for the book u gave me in the phil during ur visit two yrs ago..crossing the tiber..It deepend more my catholic faith through ur convertion to the true church founded by in Budai now to work..and i always bring that book and continue to keep in touch with you through ur always with you in ur journey through prayers..
God bless and may u bring more fallen souls to the fold of Christ…

Lee B. Day May 17, 2007 at 12:56 PM

Bro Ray….

do u have some future trip to holy land this year?

Kindly post the future sked so that i can also inform my friend coz she’s interested to join ur group.

Thanks and God bless

Torre Bissell October 20, 2008 at 5:56 PM

This is a word my wife and I received a couple of days ago:
A word received: You live in a time of persecution of my people. Some of it is fairly mild and some of it is lethal. I want you today to say in your heart to me, “Yes, LORD, I will go. Send me.” That is the response I want from my disciples. I am not asking you to look fear in the face and choose me instead, I AM asking you to look me in the face and not at your fears.

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