THE COMMEMORATION OF THE MARTYRS
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
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.
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.
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