A Related Example of Martyrdom: St. Paul
Martyrdom can be a tough concept to grasp. The story of Perpetua and Felicitas provides some insight on why people choose to be martyred, but it can be difficult to fully understand their actions.
Perpetua and Felicitas are both examples of martyrs devout to their faith. This work from Sant'Apollinare Nuovo in Ravenna emphasizes their goodness and holiness, drawing attention to their golden halos and glowing faces.
The second photo from the British Museum showcases Saint Paul's martyrdom. It takes place prior to his execution by beheading, a standard practice back in the day. Angelic beings hover above his head, highlighting his divinity. Saint Paul's face is twisted with agony, but his head aims skyward at the angels and his god in heaven.
Saint Paul is a perfect example of a martyr. Those willing to perish for their faith go through immense pain and struggle, but they know they will achieve their goal and that their suffering will be worth it.
Perpetua and Felicitas accepted death easier than Saint Paul, but they still went through their fair share of pain. The former wept when her father pleaded her to turn back, and the latter went through physical pain to deliver her child before stepping into the arena. Understanding Saint Paul gives us further understanding of the thoughts of other martyrs who also felt desolation and torment. However, like the noble saint, they also knew they would attain their ultimate goal to be with their savior.