Why did Jesus Christ tell St. Peter to put away the sword Peter drew in Christ's defense, and warn him that those who live by the sword will die by the sword? (Matt. 26:51-52
; cf. John 18:10-11
)? In a famous legend surrounding St. Peter's martyrdom
, why did Christ appear to Peter to inspire him to return to Rome and to his martyrdom? Why have saints down the ages volunteered for martyrdom (example
), even to the point of pleading to be allowed to return to places where they will be martyred (example
)? Why did Lutheran theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer
, himself executed by the Nazis after he had returned to Nazi Germany from safety in the U.S., once observe, "When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die"?
Christians live in this world, but they are called to always be ready for their true home in the world to come. And by their deaths, even by their violent deaths, they build up the Church in this world. Early Church writer Tertullian
summed up this Christian ideal this way:
"The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church."