By Bishop Mettaous


The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church, as St.

Paul says: “having been built on the foundation of the

apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the

chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being

fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord.”

(Eph. 2:20-21) Most of the prophets died as martyrs,

either beheaded, stoned, cut with a saw… etc.

Our Lord Jesus, the Rock and Cornerstone of every

church was crucified, because, as St. Paul says “And

according to the law almost all things are purified with

blood, and without shedding of blood there is no

remission”. (Heb. 9:22)

The Holy Apostles followed His footsteps in suffering

and martyrdom, they all martyrised except for St. John

the beloved, yet he also suffered of torturing and exiling.

Then in the era of martyrdom the church offered a cluster

of saints, popes, bishops, priests, deacons, monks and

nuns, nobles and kings, soldiers, slaves and all ranks.

They all preferred martyrdom than escaping and saving

their lives, as St. Paul says: “women received their dead

raised to life again. Others were tortured, not accepting

deliverance, that they might obtain a better

resurrection.” (Heb. 11:35

Different means of torture included:

1. Scrouging with whips with knots and pieces of

heavy lead.

2. Combing the wounds and burning them with

slaked lime and vinegar.

3. Tying them to the horsetails and dragging them

along the streets.

4. Cutting the body members one piece after the

other, taking off fingernails and teeth.

5. Throwing them in furnaces or on heated iron


6. Tying the martyr in two tree-branches after

getting the branches closer, so when the branches

go back, the martyr’s body is divided in two.

7. Hanging the martyr on a pole upside-down, or

tying a heavy stone to his body.

8. Throwing the martyr in a lake of ice.

9. Throwing the martyr in boiling tar.

10. Removing the skin off the body.

11. Squeezing.

12. Stoning.

13. Putting the martyr in a pot filled with oil, tar and

sulphur, then starting to heat it until it boils.

14. Tying then going over them with a wheel of nails.

15. Crucifixion.

16. Torturing the children before their parents, or

slaughtering them on their mothers’ laps.

In addition, there are many other tortures that are


Inspite of all these savage tortures, the martyrs were

always happy and yearning for being tortured for many


1. The Beloved Lord Jesus Christ was sharing their

sufferings, supporting them with His grace and

power, as the Prophet says: “In all their

afflictions He was afflicted, and the Angel of His

Presence saved them; in His love and in His pity

He redeemed them; and He bore them and

carried them all the days of old.” (Is. 63:9), He is

the King Lord, “So they put away the foreign

gods from among them and served the Lord, and

his soul could no longer endure the misery of

Israel.” (Judges 10:16) “Then the Lord will be

zealous for His land and pity His people.” (Joel

2:18) Nevertheless He regarded their affliction,

when He heard their cry.” (Ps. 106:44)

2. Sometimes, the Lord Himself came and

comforted them, or St. Mary, an angel, one of the

saints… These visions made them happy about

their end and eternal life, giving them a push to

continue in the path of martyrdom.

3. Sometimes, the Lord used to send an angel to

lighten the sufferings of the martyrs, for example

when throwing them in a put of boiling tar or

putting them on a heated iron bed with nails, the

angel would flutter with his wings to cool down

the heat. Also sometimes the Lord used to heal

the martyrs completely of their wounds.

4. Sometimes, amidst the torture, the martyrs used to

see an angel carrying crowns for them, so this scene filled them with total rejoice, making them

tolerate the torture and looking forward to the


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