Sts. Perpetua and Felicity - Thrown to the Cows After Giving Birth
In one of the earliest pieces of writing by a Christian woman, Perpetua narrated her account of her martyrdom in 203. It wasn't very funny. The twenty-two year old had been raised by a wealthy Pagan father and was married with a son. Perpetua accomplished quite a bit for a woman at that age, actually.
So, against her father's will, she converted to Christianity, even knowing her decision would lead to her death. So, she was separated from her child and imprisoned in an overcrowded and dark prison -- which goes to show that when acting out rebellion as a young woman, you should probably pick your battles.
Perpetua's slave Felicity, who was eight months pregnant (who she just had to have because if everyone else at school had a slave, she had to have one too) was also held captive.
There's nothing more useful than a pregnant slave.
Roman law forbade the execution of pregnant women, because c'mon, they weren't monsters -- they would plan it so that she would be executed the day after giving birth.
On the day of the execution, the women were thrown naked into an arena with a wild cow -- and yes, a wild cow is the best they could do at the time.
The crowd feasted in honor of Caesar's birthday because executions are just the perfect occasion for a family picnic
The jeering and up-until-now-unsympathetic crowd took pity on the two women because they saw that that one of them had just given birth. And in an act that epitomizes human compassion, the crowd decided to let them be clothed and to just have their throats cut instead. Why the crowd weren't also made Saints is an absolute mystery.
St. Cecilia - A Botched Beheading
This is brutal.
Chaucer's Second Nun immortalizes this saint's story in The Canterbury Tales.
So, this Christian virgin who lived in Rome married a pagan, a guy named Valerian, but on their wedding night she told him that an angel watched over her chastity and basically that if Valerian wanted to get any, he would have to be baptized.
Lots of guys have done a lot more for a lot less.
So, he agreed and when he came back from his baptism, he saw an angel next to Cecilia, who laid a crown on each of their heads, honoring their union (aka, they wanted to get down.)
Valerian later convinced his brother Tibertius to be baptized as well and the two brothers dedicated themselves to burying Christian martyrs executed by the prefect of the city, Turcius.
The two brothers were killed by sword, because baptism is evil.
Cecilia, who had been gathering followers (real ones, not like on Twitter), was shut inside the baths, which were lit on fire. Again, they trapped her in a bathroom and set it on fire. But somehow, this didn't do the trick.
So, Turcius' men next attempted to behead her. But this isn't the movies, so it took a few whacks. Three whacks to be exact, but her head wouldn't come off.
Unfortunately for all parties involved, she lived three days longer, bleeding out.
Her followers collected her blood with napkins, instead of killing her like any decent person would, and then probably tried to sell her blood for some extra cash.
They later turned her home into a church, in her name of course.
St. Cyriacus - Limbs Torn Off
At the beginning of the fourth century, this Roman nobleman converted to Christianity as an adult and decided to give away his wealth, dedicating himself to healing and caring for the slaves of the Baths of Diocletian, one of the emperors at the time.
The emperor's young daughter was possessed by an evil spirit, who called in a request that Cyriacus be the one to make him leave her body.
He was summoned and cured the girl. The Persian King Sapor called him to do the same for his daughter and Cyriacus converted four hundred non-believers to Christianity on the way. No biggs.
So when Diocletian left Rome, his co-emperor Maximin saw the opportunity to punish Cyriacus for his faith.
Cyriacus' limbs were torn from their sockets and he was clubbed but still he would not sacrifice to the idols. Maximin had him beheaded when Cyriacus became too bothersome.
St. Agnes - "Wait, We Can't Kill a Virgin? We Can Fix That."
Agnes was born into the Roman nobility but when she refused to marry the head honcho's son (Prefect Sempronius) because she was already promised to Christ, he sentenced her to death.
Killing a virgin was illegal, however, so he had Agnes dragged naked to a brothel to have her cherry popped. Alternate versions of the story tell it differently, but apparently the men who tried to rape her were blinded or hair would magically grow in places on her body that kept the men from gaining, um, access to her nethers.
She was tied to the stake in the center of a square afterwards, but the wood just wouldn't burn so she was stabbed in the throat instead.
At least she (allegedly) died a virgin.
St. Edmund - Tied to a Tree, Arrowed
Edmund was the king of an Anglo-Saxon kingdom, East Anglia, when it was attacked in the 9th century by Danish Viking Lord Ivar the Boneless.
Yes, the world is a worse place today because people have don't have names like this anymore.
Anyway, the Danish Viking Lord Ivar the Boneless came to wreak some havoc on our buddy St. Edmund. Refusing to give up his faith in Christ (as this would allow his kingdom be a pawn of the heathens), Edmund didn't put up a fight.
So, The Vikings beat him and strapped him to a tree before continuously pelting him with arrows as he called out to Christ for help. Nobody was home.
Infuriated by his resolute faith, they chopped off his head and threw it into the woods.
Edmund's people went in search of his head, calling out "Where are you friend?" and expecting it to somehow respond, which makes sense. According to the story, the head actually did respond, shouting out, "Here!" (in an ancient tongue, of course, where it probably sounded a bit more like "polo")
So when they did find the head, they found it in a hungry wolf's paws, uneaten.
Edmund's followers believed the wolf had been sent by Christ to protect it, instead of by its stomach to almost eat it.
The king was given a proper burial and his wounds miraculously healed, his head reattached to his body and his skin did not decay even after years of his burial.
What I want to know is who the sick bitched is who opened the coffin to find that out?
St. Mercurius - Tortured with Sharp Nails and Burned before being Beheaded
Mercurius fought under the Roman Emperor Decius in 250 and defeated the Berbers, an indigenous people of North Africa, after the Archangel Michael, aka heaven's Wizard of Oz, gave him courage.
A guy named Decius appointed him prince after his victory because of his achievement as a warrior and also because their names rhymed.
Apparently, they weren't good enough buddies, though, because Decius then began persecuting Christians, which was cool back then.
He invited Mercurius to the palace to worship the Gods but the Archangel's dose of courage had worn off and Mercurius took a sick day off from Christianity and decided to take a load off.
The next day he disappeared into a crowd to avoid Decius. When the emperor finally caught on that Mercurius refused to worship the gods, he threw him in jail.
Mercurius endured numerous tortures, from being hung between two poles to being stabbed with sharp nails and burned, in complete silence. Braveheart (at first) style.
The Archangel healed him and Decius denounced the miracle as witchcraft.
The people of the area loved Mercurius, though, so Decius sent him away to be beheaded so the people wouldn't rise up and cause too much trouble at the site of his duress.
When Mercurius had a vision of Jesus finally inviting him to heaven after all that torture (tough man to please) Mercurius begged his executioners to carry out his sentence, at which point he was beheaded.
St. Valentine - Beaten with Clubs and Stones, Beheaded
February's romantic holiday is not really based on love at all.
St. Valentine was a Christian priest in Rome during the third century who married couples and aided persecuted Christians in finding love, cause he was a badass and getting married at some point was a rebellious thing to do. And he didn't even dress up as Elvis.
But for these ceremonies and his cause, he was imprisoned by the Roman Emperor Claudius II, who took a liking to him until Valentine tried to convert him to Christianity -- which is always when conversations go South, isn't it?
Anyway, he was beaten with clubs and stones.
But when he wouldn't renounce the faith in his Christian God, he was beheaded on February 14 around 270 A.D.
St. Dymphna - Flees from Incest, Pays for It
Passed on through oral tradition, this story is about an Irish girl living in the 7th century whose Christian mother died when she was 14.
What happened next involves a sick mix of necrophilia and incest.
Dymphna's pagan father wanted to find a new wife who looked like his previous one, kind of like most families do with dogs.
When he got around to realizing that no one could look exactly like his wife, he went for his next best option: his daughter. So, she fled with her servants to Belgium. When he found her hiding place, he tried to convince her to return to Ireland with him. She refused and he decapitated her on the spot, cause everyone was really good at doing that back then for some reason. If he couldn't have her, no one could.
Dymphna is the patron saint of people with mental illnesses, incest victims and runaways.
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