What is the purpose of martyrdom?


As a protestant, I know very little about the death of the apostles. It’s hard for me to grasp why they died such horrible deaths. I saw in the Bible, that the church really came together as one body after the crucifixion, and I wonder if martyrdom is difinatively a vehicle for unity. Is there a catholic teaching on martyrdom and unity, or do the writings of the church fathers link these two ideas?


Dear Maryelle,

The ultimate martyr is Jesus. He said that no one has greater love than the one who is willing to lay down his very life for another. And then He, almighty God, did just that. It is in fidelity to His love for us that martyrs choose to suffer and die rather than betray Him. It is fidelity to His love that unifies. This is the vehicle for unity. If all Christians allowed the reality of Calvary to COMPLETLEY rule their lives, there would be no divisions in Christianity. Such Christians would allow the Truth to lead them according to His will and not their own.

Fr. Vincent Serpa, O.P.

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