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Related: martyr - inquisition - Christianity - saint

Christian martyrs: Saint Agatha - Saint Sebastian


Historically, a martyr is a person who dies for their convictions or religious faith, such as during the persecution of early Christians in the Roman Empire. Sometimes the term is applied to those who use violence, such as dying for a nation's glory during wartime (usually known under other names such as "fallen warriors"). The death of a martyr is called martyrdom. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martyr [Apr 2006]


The following images (link) are originally from a ca. 1930 limited Fortune Press book entitled ``Tortures and Torments of the Christian Martyrs'', itself a photographic copy of an earlier, rare folio published by William Brendon & Son in 1904. The original woodcut images are from Papal-approved documents dated 1591--1600. This is a serious reference work for pious purposes, not to be used for frivilous or cheap, tawdry thrills. These images, plus the original juicy texts translated into modern English, a forensic monograph on the likely physical death of Jesus (including technical anatomical drawings and descriptive text), modern-day torture illustrations created by contemporary artists such as Joe Coleman, drawings by world-famous artists Richard Ramirez and John Wayne Gacy and illuminating commentary from the publisher, are available in the trade-paper book entitled, not surprisingly: ``Tortures and Torments of the Christian Martyrs'', published by FERAL HOUSE, Box 861893, Los Angeles CA 90086-1893. I highly recommend this book! --http://www.wps.com/about-WPS/personal/christian.org/christian-torture/1.html, accessed May 2004

Santo Stefano Rotondo

"To single out details from the great dream of Roman Churches, would be the wildest occupation in the world. But St. Stefano Rotondo, a damp, mildewed vault of an old church in the outskirts of Rome, will always struggle uppermost in my mind, by reason of the hideous paintings with which its walls are covered. These represent the martyrdoms of saints and early Christians; and such a panorama of horror and butchery no man could imagine in his sleep, though he were to eat a whole pig raw, for supper. Grey-bearded men being boiled, fried, grilled, crimped, singed, eaten by wild beasts, worried by dogs, buried alive, torn asunder by horses, chopped up small with hatchets: women having their breasts torn with iron pinchers, their tongues cut out, their ears screwed off, their jaws broken, their bodies stretched upon the rack, or skinned upon the stake, or crackled up and melted in the fire: these are among the mildest subjects. So insisted on, and laboured at, besides, that every sufferer gives you the same occasion for wonder as poor old Duncan awoke, in Lady Macbeth, when she marvelled at his having so much blood in him." --Charles Dickens via Pictures from Italy (1846) http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Gazetteer/Places/Europe/Italy/Lazio/Roma/Rome/churches/S.Stefano_Rotondo/home.html [Jan 2006]

What pity it is, that the labours of painting should have been so much employed on the shocking subjects of the martyrology. Besides numberless pictures of the flagellation, crucifixion, and descent from the cross, we have Judith with the head of Holofernes, Herodias with the head of John the Baptist, Jael assassinating Sisera in his sleep, Peter writhing on the cross, Stephen battered with stones, Sebastian stuck full of arrows, Laurence frying upon the coals, Bartholomew flayed alive, and a hundred other pictures equally frightful, which can only serve to fill the mind with gloomy ideas, and encourage a spirit of religious fanaticism, which has always been attended with mischievous consequences to the community where it reigned. --Tobias Smollett via a 1765 letter published in Travels through France and Italy (1765) via http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Gazetteer/Places/Europe/Italy/_Texts/Smollett/Travels/31.html#churchgore [Jan 2006]

See also: 1840s - Charles Dickens - Italy - martyrs - torture - art horror

Tortures and Torments of the Christian Martyrs

  1. Tortures and Torments of the Christian Martyrs : The Classic Martyrology - Reverend Antonio Gallonio (Author), William D. Edwards (Author) [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]
    Repellent and fascinating at the same time, the terrible tortures of Christian martyrs evidence a sort of evil creativity and gleeful bloodlust on the part of their tormentors. This book, originally published in 1989 in a limited edition, captures the gruesomeness of torture and provides an intellectual examination of it - with an awareness of the visceral thrill that such images provide. It includes a reproduction of the 1591 book of the same title, with engravings and descriptions of Christian tortures; segments from The Dolorous Passion of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ (1824), by an Augustinian nun (which helped inspire Mel Gibson's film Passion); the article "On the Physical Death of Jesus," by William D. Edwards, describing the forensic realities of the crucifixion (which also impacted the film); and 24 illustrations by a variety of well-known artists, performers, and infamous criminals including Daniel Clowes, Joe Coleman, Raymond Pettibon, and Kaz. --Book Description via amazon.com

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