"The Church of Christ was born from the sacrifice of Christ on the cross, and she continues to grow and develop in virtue of the heroic love of her most authentic sons and daughters.  'The seed is the blood of Christians' Tertullian, Apologeticus, 50).  Like the shedding of Christ's blood, so the martyrs' offering of their lives becomes in virtue of their union with Christ's sacrifice a source of life and spiritual fertility for the Church and for the whole world.  The Constitution Lumen Gentium (n. 42) states the reason very concisely:  "By martyrdom a disciple is transformed into an image  of his master, who freely accepted death on behalf of the world's salvation; he perfects that image even to the shedding of blood.  The Church, therefore, considers martyrdom 
as an exceptional gift and as the highest proof of love."
Pope Paul VI
"The Church of the first millennium was born of the blood of the martyrs.
 At the end of the second millennium, the church has once again 
become a church of martyrs."
Pope John Paul II

  Mexican Revolution
      Soviet Empire
   Spanish Civil War
       Third Reich
   China's P. R. C.
General Sources
This page is created by 
Sean Hanlon (Mellon Program)

    The aim of this site is to focus on the major persecutions of the Catholic Church in the twentieth century, a period during which, according to some, there have been more martyrs than in all the previous nineteen  centuries of the Christian era combined.  In fact, on December 4, 2000, the papal committee which was in charge of the commemoration of the martyrs of the twentieth century, presented Pope John Paul II with eight volumes cataloging at least 13,400 martyrs for the century, seventy percent of whom came from Europe and the nations of the former Soviet Empire. 

    Perhaps nothing shows the close relationship of the Catholic Church to developments  in contemporary society  as much as the horrible persecutions of the twentieth century. This is very evident if one reviews the position of the Church at the time of the Mexican Revolution (second to fourth decades), the Soviet Empire (second to tenth decades), the Spanish Civil War (fourth decade), the Third Reich (fourth to fifth decades), and the People's Republic of China (fifth decade to present). While this site does not exclude other denominations whose origns are Christian, its main focus will be the Roman Catholic Church.

    At the same time, the site acknowledges that there have been many other martyrs outside of the repressive rule of the governments mentioned here.  They have been evident in  such disparate countries as the Sudan and Vietnam, in addition to a number of other places around the world, including the slaughter of the Armenians in the Ottoman Empire.  Perhaps in a later stage in the development of this site, it will be possible to cover even these. 
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Copyright 1999-2005 by Vincent A. Lapomarda. 
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