Martyrdom, Medieval illum. MS.
IN this fourth section of our course we will examine the lives and writings of early martyrs and visionaries who guided their fellow-Christians along a path of moral virtue through the example of their martyrdom and, in some cases, their power of spiritual vision.
FIRST, we will set a backdrop - literally an icon - against which we will study the work of the martyrs. It is the tradition of Christ's descent into hell, a journey downward to all that has been separated from God, then upward to restore all that was lost. This is a foreshadowing of the Apokatastasis.
THEN St. Ignatius of Antioch exhorts the Churches on the glories of martyrdom and the healing, transforming power of the Eucharist.
NEXT, St. Polycarp of Smyrna illustrates how the early martyrs were regarded as models, as intercessors, and as "passion-bearers".
THE mysterious Shepherd of Hermas presents Christianity as a moral path on which we are guided by angels and saints.
THEN the Martyrdom of Saints Perpetua and Felicity combines the power of intercession and the gift of spiritual vision, with the example of martyrdom.
FINALLY, St. Cyprian, bishop of Carthage tries to explain and coordinate the martyrs' gift of spiritual guidance and vision with encouragement to individual lectio divina.
This Webpage was created for a workshop held at Saint Andrew's Abbey, Valyermo, California in 2003