“They went about… destitute, afflicted, mistreated… of them the world was not worthy.”
Martyrdom has always been a painful part of the Church’s history.
It’s hard knowing that we could die for our faith in Christ.
But it’s also important to take inspiration from all those who have gone before us!
Here are five female martyrs to inspire the modern Church.
Church history is full of incredible, inspiring stories of believers who sacrificed their lives to advance the kingdom of God.
Here are five female martyrs who have stood up for the kingdom throughout history and glorified Christ, even in their deaths. These Christian women were willing to profess the Gospel with their final breaths!
Blandina was only a young woman when she was martyred.
A second-century French slave who was brought to Christianity by her master, Blandina was arrested with a group of other Christians after citizens made false accusations against the local church.
Because Blandina was a slight, fragile young woman, her fellow believers worried that she would not remain steadfast under the torture of the fanatical mob.
However, Blandina refused to recant her faith or even speak against her torturers.
“I am a Christian and we commit no wrongdoing,” was her repeated refrain, even as she was tortured. Blandina held fast to her trust in Christ to the end, testifying to His strength and grace.
2. Catherine of Alexandria
Catherine was born in Alexandria, Egypt near the end of the third century.
As a member of the nobility (and possibly even a princess), she was intelligent, well-educated, and powerful in her community.
When she was fourteen, Catherine became a Christian and quickly denounced the cruelty of Emperor Maxentius, who had begun to violently persecute the Egyptian church.
Entertained by the thought of publicly humiliating Catherine, Maxentius summoned fifty philosophers and rhetoricians to debate her about Christianity.
However, Catherine was empowered by the Holy Spirit to provide an articulate and eloquent defense of her faith.
Her speech was so moving that several of the philosophers converted to Christianity immediately!
This angered Emperor Maxentius so much that he ordered her to be tortured and executed.
Through torture and threats, Catherine stood strong in her faith.
She even refused the emperor’s offer of marriage in exchange for a denial of Christ, stating that Christ was more important to her than anything in the world.
3. Lucy Yi Zhenmei
Lucy Yi Zhenmei was born in China in 1815.
As a young woman, she consecrated her life to Christ and sought to follow Him in everything she did.
Her devotion to Christ was striking, even to her family and friends. But her poor health often prevented her from pursuing the missionary work she longed to do for God.
When she was finally able to travel outside of her own province to share the Gospel, Lucy and her group encountered a governor who burned with an intense hatred and hostility toward Christians.
Lucy and her companions were arrested, tried, and sentenced to immediate death.
Lucy’s life of devotion and sacrifice had led her straight to a meeting with her Savior!
4. Esther John
Esther John was born as Qamar Zia in India in 1929.
She encountered Christianity at the age of seventeen and embraced the faith shortly afterward.
But as a daughter in a Muslim family, she had to hide her faith, and she eventually faced the prospect of a forced marriage to a Muslim husband.
She fled from her home, changed her name to Esther, and found a group of missionaries to work with.
Esther spent most of her adult life traveling from village to village by bicycle, teaching women to read and sharing the Gospel with them.
Christ’s love overflowed through her, leading many to have personal relationships with Him.
Esther’s family was confused — and sometimes threatening — as to her Christian faith, and in 1960, Esther was found dead in her home. She had been violently murdered.
Esther’s Christian community remembered her with fondness and admiration.
5. Kayla Mueller
Kayla Mueller, an American Christian, was kidnapped by ISIS in August 2013 while carrying out humanitarian work in Aleppo, Syria.
Kayla was held for two years by ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who tortured and raped her repeatedly at his compound in northwest Syria.
She died in captivity in 2015, and her body was never recovered.
ISIS militants singled Kayla out as a victim of torture and constantly pressured her to convert to Islam. But Kayla only grew stronger in her faith, writing, “In the end the only one you really have is God.”
Although Kayla suffered horrifically, those who were in captivity with her reported that she never gave up her faith and was always determined to encourage others.
The time may be coming when American Christians are forced to choose between staying alive and keeping the faith.
Let’s take inspiration and encouragement from the examples of those who have gone before us!