Christian Women MartyrsQUESTION: Are there any Christian women martyrs?ANSWER:
Although we haven't heard much about them, there were Christian women who were martyred for the cause of Christianity in the early church. In the first 300 years after the death of Christ, a Roman lady named Feliciitatis, described as a devout Christian with shining virtues, was beheaded with the same sword that killed her three youngest sons. Her four elder sons, all of them educated by their mother, also died as martyrs for their belief in Christ.
Another example was a lady named Blandina. She was suspended on a piece of wood affixed in the ground and placed in an area to be food for wild beasts. Her earnest prayers both encouraged the group that was being martyred with her, but also kept the wild beasts away from her. The guards returned her to the prison. Again she was brought out to be tortured and her faith so outraged the crowd that she and the young person (who was with her) were greatly strengthen. They were unmercifully punished. She was finally slain by a sword and is now listed among the Christian women martyrs.
There were others as well. Denisa, a sixteen-year-old, was beheaded for her faith. Cecilia was placed in a scalding bath for several minutes and then beheaded. Felicitas, married and quite far along in pregnancy, and Perpetua, were stripped naked and thrown to a wild bull to be gored, but not killed. Then they were beheaded. All of these women were martyred simply for confessing a faith in Christ.
In the Reformation (1200-1500), the issues for martyrdom were related to Catholicism verses Protestantism. Protestants were martyred for not embracing the Catholic faith. In this time period men, women, and children were all martyred with the same degree of disdain throughout England, France Germany, the Netherlands, Scotland, and Bohemia. The most famous of all Christian women martyrs, Joan of Arc, was martyred in this age, although some might argue that her mission was as much political as religious. Joan made references to earlier Christian women martyrs, Saint Catharine and Saint Margaret, who gave her inspiration for her mission. Joan started her objectives at the age of 13 saying that God had directed to do free the French from the English rule. She was tried and actually found innocent, but was eventually burned at the stake.
Martyrdom has existed and will continue to exist as long as there is religious persecution. Webster's Dictionary states that a martyr is anyone who is either killed for refusing to deny his or her faith or one who suffers greatly for the cause. People all over the world are suffering greatly because they refuse to deny their faith in Christ, and some are killed. Foreign missionaries are abducted for preaching the Gospel of Christ. Gracia Burnham is one example of a modern day Christian woman martyr. Although her husband gave his life for the cause of Christ, Gracia was held as a prisoner for over a year. She lived in tortuous conditions and suffered many indignities, terror, disease, and witnessed the deaths of many of her fellow captives after being kidnapped by Abu Sayyaf, a militant Islamic group.