Persisting through Violence and Brutality

Persisting through Violence and Brutality

My group decided to do our topic on violence and brutality. While what was done to martyrs was unimaginably macabre, most continued to persist until the end. In honor of their courage, I decided to dedicate my page to how martyrs resisted the violence and brutality. 

Stained Glass Window of Perpetua

Perpetua and Felicitas in the arena.

The Courage of Martyrs

First of all, unlike Perpetua, who voluntarily chose to be a martyr, most martyrs did not choose to be such people, deliberately seeking their death to make a statement. As such, while Perpetua's courage is commended, it may be easier to see why she made it to her death without wishing to escape. For others, it was when they were captured and asked to recant their faith that they chose death rather than conversion. Nevertheless, they were always brave when faced with their trials and eventual execution. Some found solace with their companions who also chose the same route. Many others trusted their God would see them through and alleviate them from their pain.

Alonzo Rodriguez Commiato dei santi Pietro e Paolo Messina Museo Regionale

Saints Peter and Paul perfoming the kiss of peace as martyrs.

Ritual: Kiss of Peace

One such way martyrs found comfort was through rituals. One of them is the kiss of peace. The kiss of peace was originally "a traditional Chrisstian greeting dating to early Christianity." Men greeted each other with a kiss on the cheek. However, different churches incorporated different meaning to the kiss of peace. The Catholic Church used it to express peace and familial unity. For the Eastern Orthodox Church, it was used during service when the clergy would perform the kiss of peace as a ritual. Lastly, the Protestant Church modified the kiss of peace into something more metaphorical, using it as a ritual of welcoming. In the case of martyrs, they used it to show they have made peace with themselves, as though a form catharsis. Felicitas and Perpetua perfomed this ritual, and the Saints Peter and Paul are shown performing this act in the image to the side.

Saint Peter

Saint Peter is depicted holding the Key to Heaven.

Courage through Visions of God

Many matyrs trusted their God and found solace in Him because of "visions" they received from Him. Through those visions, thier belief in their religion was strengthened, and any kind of doubt was obliterated. In the story of Perpetua and Felicitas, Perpetua sees a vision of herself and her fellow potential martyrs facing a dragon before ascending a ladder to a garden, which reasures her of her actions. Saint Peter was about to flee for his life when he envisioned Jesus saying he (Jesus) was "going to Rome to be crucified again." It was for that reason that Saint Peter decided to become a martyr and refrain from resisting capture.