Pope Francis on Martyrdom

Today we celebrate the memorial of Saints Perpetua and Felicity, young martyrs of the early church around the year 203 A.D. St. Perpetua was a woman of Carthaginian nobility and also a mother to a young child. St. Felicity was a slave girl, who had a child while in prison, but the child was taken from her. They were both thrown into the amphitheater to be eaten by wild beasts, but they were not harmed. In the end, they were both killed by having a sword thrusted into them. The martyrdom came during the persecution of Septimus Severus.

On October 14, 2013, Pope Francis beatified 522 martyrs who lost their lives in the anti-Christian persecution during the 1930’s in Spain. In his radio address he said,

“Who are the martyrs? They are Christians who have been “earned” by Christ, disciples who have learnt well the sense of that “love to the extreme limit” which led Jesus to the Cross. There is no such thing as love in installments, no such thing as portions of love. Total love: and when we love, we love till the end. On the Cross, Jesus felt the weight of death, the weight of sin, but he gave himself over to the Father entirely, and he forgave. He barely spoke, but he gave the gift of life. Christ “beats” us in love; the martyrs imitated him in love until the very end.

The Sainted Fathers say: “Let’s imitate the martyrs!” We must always die a little in order to come out of ourselves, of our selfishness, of our well-being, of our laziness, of our sadnesses, and open up to God, to others, especially those who need it most.

We implore the intercession of the martyrs, that we may be concrete Christians, Christians in deeds and not just in words, that we may not be mediocre Christians, Christians painted in a superficial coating of Christianity without substance – they weren’t painted, they were Christians until the end. We ask them for help in keeping our faith firm, that even throughout our difficulties we may nourish hope and foster brotherhood and solidarity.”

Although we celebrate the martyrdom of the many early Christians who died for Jesus Christ, we must realize that martyrdom occurred in great numbers in the 20th century and continues to this day. Pray for all Christians in Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Uganda and other countries that display great hostility towards Christianity.

All Holy Martyrs…Pray For Us!

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