How martyrs are made

Stories of the faithful

The fire made the likeness of a room, like the sail of a vessel filled with wind, and surrounded the body of the martyr as with a wall, and he was within it not as burning flesh, but as bread that is being baked, or as gold and silver being refined in a furnace. And we perceived such a fragrant smell as the scent of incense or other costly spices. —from The Martyrdom of St. Polycarp (second century).

One of the teenagers killed in Colorado’s Columbine High School shootings in 1999 was Cassie Bernall. Soon after her murder, reports emerged about how one of the shooters had found Bernall under a table, pointed a gun at her head and asked, “Do you believe in God?” She said yes and was promptly shot.


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