The Memorial of the First Martyrs of the Church of Rome


The word Martyr comes from the Greek word mártys, which means “witness.” . The early Christian martyrs were witnesses for their faith; they were the witnesses of Nero’s persecution. They bore persecution and death solely because of their beliefs.They refused to worship false Gods, or pay homage to a “divine” emperor.They held the faith they possessed, the teachings of Christ, to be of such value they would rather face persecution, torture, and death, rather than renounce their religion. In this early stage( early First Century) of the Church, their faith was not a dominant religion of the empire : its practice was a direct conflict with that empire.These early Christian martyrs are true witnesses of their faith. In their lives they witnessed a world without Christianity. Their witness was of a society that most times was in direct opposition to Christianity. In their world the emperor was a divinity, a God. They lived in a society where wealth was controlled by very few and the majority lived on barely enough to survive. They witnessed a world of slavery.Human rights did not exist. They witnessed a world where power was everything. They witnessed a world ruled by fear and intimidation. They witnessed a world of crucifixion. They witnessed a world where they were put to death.Their martyrdom was because they also witnessed something better. They witnessed Jesus Christ.In their witness of Jesus Christ, they faced the same opposition he faced. In their world, their lives they witnessed both the world without Jesus and one with Jesus; Their witness as MARTYRS  was the truth of the gospel. The memorial of the first Martyrs of the Church of Rome is first a memorial of these martyrs, of their suffering, their lives and their faith. Second this memorial is also of their witness, their witness of Christ’s world in their world, their time. Their witness, their martyrdom, tells which world they choose.

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