Top 10 Martyrs Beheaded Into Sainthood


To be dubbed a saint in the Christian faith, you have had to have undergone some form of tribulation for the sake of your religion. The Christian history is riddled by numerous stories of people who gave their lives for the causes they believed in. Although many of these martyrs have gone unnoticed, some have made to the annals of history.

10. Saint Cecilia


What’s worse than a beheading is a failed beheading, then having to die slowly from the wounds inflicted? That is what happened to Saint Cecilia. Saint Cecilia is well known to the Catholics as a martyr, her year of birth is unknown but her death was around 177AD in the city of Rome. She was the daughter of two Roman Christians and was given in marriage to Valerian of Trastevere who was a nobleman. She converted her husband and his brother to Christianity and in turn they began missionary work and charity. They were then caught and sentenced to death. Shortly after, Saint Cecilia was arrested and suffocated in a bath at her house but up to no avail. She was then sent for beheading and after three failed attempts, she was left for dead and eventually succumbed to her injuries after three days

9. Saint George


The history of Saint George is dubbed by myth and sometimes fiction; however, he is still revered as a patron of England, Germany, Greece, Aragon, Georgia, Catalonia and Lithuania amongst other European countries. He was born in an area known as Cappadocia which is in the present day Turkey and lived there in the third century AD. Although not very clear, it is believed that both his parents were Christians, he grew up in a Christian household until he moved to Palestine and became a soldier. During his time as a soldier, he was appalled by the way in which the Roman soldiers persecuted Christians and he revolted against the army. He was consequently arrested, imprisoned and then tortured and ordered to renounce his faith but he stayed true. He was then beheaded at the city of Lydda in Palestine for his faith.

8. Saint Valentine


On February 14th people all over the world celebrate Valentine’s Day unaware of the historical significance of this day in history. On February 14th 278 AD Valentine was executed as a martyr by the Roman emperor Claudius II. His execution was a three part event; the first was a senseless beating, followed by a public stoning and finally, decapitation. One might wonder what heinous crime can fit such a merciless punishment. Ironically, he was sentenced to death for something that would later become norm: the marriage between young people at a time of war.  Emperor Claudius II prohibited the marriage between young people because according to him, when soldiers had wives waiting for them back home, they would be cowards on the battlefield. Valentine went against the Emperor’s orders by marrying young people in the church because he believed that love knew no bounds and shouldn’t be prohibited.

7. Saint John Fisher


If Saint John was aware that there would be an age where divorce was granted at the drop of a hat, he would turn in his grave. Saint John Fisher is a martyr who chose to die because he believed that marriage was a core pillar of the Catholic faith and hence should not be taken lightly. Saint John Fisher was a cardinal bishop of Rochester; he was well educated in the faith and even rose to become the chancellor of Cambridge University.  He also had a good reputation for being a staunch Christian and a great preacher. When the reigning king at the time, King Henry VIII, wanted to divorce his queen, Catherine, Saint John Fisher took an offense and supported Queen Catherine. This rubbed the king the wrong way and he ordered the imprisonment and beheading of Saint John Fisher.

6. Saint Denis


The story of Saint Denis is one that is filled with drama and sorrow. He was a bishop of Paris and is usually represented in statues with his head in his hands. This is because legend has it that after he was beheaded, the headless corpse rose again and carried the head some distance before it fell to its knees. Saint Denis was a popular preacher in Paris at the time and he converted countless people into the Christian faith. He was revered and loved for his righteousness and virtues. However, some people hated him just as much and incited the governor Fescenninus Sisinnius to arrest him and his 275 followers. What followed was a series of tortures; they were imprisoned, scourged, burnt at the stake, fed to wild beasts and then finally decapitated. Saint Denis had to endure the pain of watching the atrocities being inflicted on his followers before he was beheaded.

5. Saints Crispin and Crispinian


These two saints are believed to be brothers of noble Roman descent. They were strongly rooted to their faith and dedicated their lives to spreading the gospel at a time when the Roman Empire was predominantly pagan. These two brothers were believed to have been disinherited and abandoned by their family because of their faith; they then resolved to do menial jobs in order to sustain themselves. They did not run from the law for very long because they were arrested and threatened so that they would abandon their faith to no avail. They were then handed over to the governor Rictiovarus who was a well-known prosecutor of Christians. In his hands the brothers were partially skinned alive, awls were plunged deep under their fingernails and were thrown into the river to drown. Still alive, they were then sentenced to be beheaded by the Emperor Maximianus.

4. Pope Saint Lucius


What’s harder than being a pope is reigning as a pope at time when Christians were being persecuted left, right and center. Pope Saint Lucius is a man who was tasked with the heavy burden of having to lead his flock through a time when they were being hunted like animals. The pope was sent to exile shortly after he was consecrated and after the valerian was made emperor he returned to head the church.However, his return was plagued by unfavorable politics and speculation. There was a group of people who wanted the work of the church crippled so they figured the sure thing to do so was by cutting off the proverbial snake’s head. The events surrounding his death are unknown, however his mangled body was found headless and the head was later found on a pole just outside the city of Rome.

3. Saint Januarius


Saint Januarius was the bishop of Beneventum. He was persecuted in the hands of Dioclentian in the year 305 AD. The story of Januarius is one that is shrouded by miracles, wonder, and superstition because of the events that happened during his death. During this time, the Roman Empire was against Christianity and persecuted those that outwardly professed their faith. Saint Januarius was arrested and asked to denounce his faith. When this proved futile, he was sentenced to death by fire. Miraculously, the flames had no effect on him and there was not a burn on his body. His persecutors then threw him in a pit with wild beasts but he was not harmed by them. Frustrated, they then decided to decapitate him. His body was then transported to a church in Naples and preserved.

2. Saint John the Baptist


If you have been to church then you must have heard the story of Saint John the Baptist. His parents were Zachary and Elizabeth, who prior to his conception were unable to have children. An angel appearance and a promise of greatness later, they conceived John who was to become the one to pave the way for Jesus Christ. John the Baptist was very popular among Christian believers, and he converted many people to Christianity and baptized them, hence the name John the Baptist. He is also well known for having baptized Jesus Christ. The Pharisees and Sadducees were responsible for John the Baptist’s downfall. They were appalled by the teachings of John the Baptist and how he outwardly accused them of being vipers and hypocrites. They conspired to have him arrested and unjustly tried under King Herod; he was then sentenced to death by decapitation.

1. Saint Paul


Saint Paul is a very popular saint in the Christian faith both for his missionary work as well as for writing most of the epistles in the New Testament. Before he became a Christian, Paul was known as Saul and he was a well-known and feared persecutor of Christians. It is narrated in the Acts of apostles that he became a Christian on his way to Damascus where he saw a great light and heard the voice of God asking him why he was persecuting Christians. After this incident he became a follower of Christ and dedicated his life to zealously spread the word of God. His death is believed to have been in the hands of Emperor Nero. He was arrested by his persecutors, tortured and flogged before finally being decapitated and his head stuck on a pole in order to deter others from joining the faith.

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