SEEDS OF LIFE:
Early Christian Martyrs; First Christian Martyrs; The Martyrs of Lyons and Vienne
(Gracewing, 1998, 113pp, $22.00. Available from AD Books)
Seeds of Life is part of the Wellsprings of Faith Series, designed to provide easily accessible texts of patristic and monastic literature. This excellent, pocket-size volume contains extracts from the writings of Tertullian and Cyprian, together with accounts of the martyrdoms of Perpetua and Felicity, Cyprian, the martyrs of Scilli and others.
It has been said that "the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church". Many of the saints celebrated in the liturgical calendar are martyrs and came from all walks of life. Though many of them died hideously and painfully, they believed that they were, in fact, triumphing over death.
As we enter a new century, a reflection upon the role of martyrs is timely: in the 20th century as many people died for belief in Christ as in the previous 19 centuries combined, many of these modern martyrs having been beatified in the last few years. Similarly, recent news items remind us that in many countries, persecution of Christians remains unabated or is on the increase.
Michael Daniel teaches at a Melbourne independent school.