Sunday, March 8, 2015

Forty & Twenty-One Martyrs

The twenty-one Coptic martyrs have been making the news all over the world, including in the United States, where our president refers to them as "Egyptian citizens" rather than as Christians. Not many have been quick to connect their deaths with tomorrow's feast, the feast of the Forty Martyrs. There is a strong connection, one that exceeds Apologetics or bad sermons.

One of the Coptic martyrs was not a Coptic Christian at all. Matthew Ayariga converted on the spot and joined the twenty Coptic Orthodox in dying with the words "Lord Jesus Christ" on their lips. Tomorrow we remember forty soldiers of the Roman army who were found to be Christians while on duty in Sebaste, Armenia. The Romans compelled their own soldiers to stand on a frozen lake until hypothermia set in and they died. One could not endure and rejected martyrdom in favor of a hot bath. Moved by the remaining thirty-nine, the watchman declared himself now a Christian, stripped his clothes, and joined the others in the lake to freeze. 

Love of Christ will gain more conversions, either by human friendship or great martyrdoms, than all the "apologetics" we can muster.


  1. Great Post, The Rad Trad.

    Thank You.

  2. Cyprian of Carthage, 252 Epistle, 73, 22.
    Catechumens- asking if any one of these, before he is baptized in the church should be apprehended and slain on confession of the name, whether he would lose the hope of salvation and the reward of confession, because he had not previously been born again of water?...Those catechumens are certainly not deprived of ;the sacrament of baptism who are baptized with the most glorious and greatest baptism of blood, concerning which the Lord also said, that he had "another baptism to be baptized with." (Luke 12:50). but the same Lord declares in the Gospel, that those who are baptized in their own blood, and sanctified by suffering, are perfected and obtain the grace of the divine promise, when he speaks to the thief believing and confessing in his very passion, and promises that he should be with himself in paradise.