Catholic Culture News
Catholic Culture News

Martyrdom and the Mass

By Mike Aquilina ( bio - articles - email ) | May 25, 2022 | In Way of the Fathers (Podcast)

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In the first three centuries of Christian history, the practice of the faith was a capital crime, and many gave their lives as the ultimate testimony. The Church called them “witnesses”—in Greek, martures, whence we get the English word martyr. To speak of martyrdom, the early Fathers employed language usually reserved only for the Eucharist. So what does martyrdom have to do with the Mass?


Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, “Eucharist and Mission,” in Pilgrim Fellowship of Faith: The Church as Communion, pp. 112-120

Finbarr G. Clancy, “Imitating the Mysteries That You Celebrate: Martyrdom and Eucharist in the Early Patristic Period,” in Vincent Twomey, ed., The Great Persecution: The Proceedings of the Fifth Patristic Conference, Maynooth

Robin Darling Young, In Procession before the World: Martyrdom as Public Liturgy in Early Christianity

Ignatius of Antioch, Letter to the Romans

Anonymous, The Martyrdom of Polycarp

Mike Aquilina’s website

Mike Aquilina’s books

Theme music: Gaudeamus (Introit for the Feast of All Saints), sung by Jeff Ostrowski. Courtesy of Corpus Christi Watershed

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Mike Aquilina is a popular author working in the area of Church history, especially patristics. He is executive vice-president and trustee of the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology, a contributing editor of Angelus (magazine) and general editor of the Reclaiming Catholic History Series from Ave Maria Press. See full bio.

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