The Passions of Perpetua and Frans van der Lugt

The martyrdom of Perpetua, Felicitas, and others, from a ca. 1000 illuminated manuscript

Jesus warned that those who wanted to be his disciples would have to take up their crosses and follow him, at the risk of losing their lives. During Holy Week, Christians rightfully focus their meditations and prayers on the passion of their Savior, but especially at this time it seems appropriate for us to remember [Read More...]

THE ART OF MISSION

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Visual art can be a terrific source for the history of religion, and that is especially true when we look at Christian missions through the centuries. Those visuals don’t just reflect our idea of a topic, they do much to shape it. For many people today, the word “missionary” is faintly ludicrous, and conjures up [Read More...]

TERROR AND MASSACRE BEGAN

I have been writing recently about the methods by which a government really can destroy or eliminate a faith, no matter how strongly we believe that “the blood of martyrs is the seed of the church.” In particular, I described the extraordinarily efficient combination of terrorism and secret policing by which seventeenth century Japan destroyed [Read More...]

HIDDEN CHRISTIANS

I have been describing the Japanese campaign against Christianity, which peaked in the early seventeenth century. That story has a bizarre and quite moving aftermath. Notionally, the Christian church was utterly destroyed by about 1650, and the authorities sought out possible underground believers by making them defile the cross. Yet their success was not as [Read More...]

DENYING THE FAITH

japanesemartyrs

I posted about the deadly Japanese persecution of Christians in the thirty years or so after 1614, and how this violence effectively destroyed organized Christianity in that nation. In 2014, we are commemorating the four hundredth anniversary of the beginning of the worst of the persecution. In describing Japanese acts against the Christians, I am [Read More...]

DESTROYING JAPANESE CHRISTIANITY

ChristianMartyrsOfNagasaki

This year marks a singularly grim anniversary in Christian history. In 2014, it is exactly four hundred years since the start of the horrific persecution that destroyed the once flourishing church in Japan. When we think of persecutions on this scale, we normally tend to set them in an ancient or medieval context. The world [Read More...]

THE CRISIS OF EGYPTIAN CHRISTIANITY

This past week has been horrible for Egypt’s Christians. I offer this quote from the New York Times: In Sohag, Bishop of Mar Girgis [St. George] Church Moussa Ibrahim told Mada Masr that the church was set ablaze by Muslim Brotherhood supporters at 9:30 a.m. in the absence of police forces, despite repeated threats against [Read More...]

SAINT JOHN FISHER

santjoan

Often, stories of martyrs and saints are so reworked over time that they become outrageously improbable, and it becomes all but impossible to excavate to find what really happened. That’s doubly unfortunate, because some unquestionably genuine stories are so powerful in their own right that they need not the slightest additional coloring. As a case [Read More...]


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