St. Maximilian Kolbe (1891-1941), a Polish Catholic priest who was killed at Auschwitz after having volunteered to take the place of a man with a family following the escape of several prisoners.
Manche Masemola (1913-1928), a South African Christian who was killed by her parents for converting to Christianity rather than observing the traditional religion of their tribe. She was never baptized but is recorded as saying that she would be baptized in her own blood.
Janani Luwum (1922-1977), the Anglican Archbishop of Uganda who spoke out against the atrocities being committed in Uganda by Idi Amin and, as a result, was executed by Amin’s government.
Grand Duchess Elizabeth of Russia (1864-1918), a Russian princess who was executed by the Bolsheviks during the Russian Revolution. She is noted for her charitable works while part of the royal family, for publicly forgiving her husband’s killer, and leaving the Imperial household to join a convent following her husband’s death.
Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968), an American pastor and civil rights leader who was assassinated in Memphis, TN. He is noted for his belief in nonviolent resistance and his work to bring about a more equal and just society.
Óscar Romero (1917-1980), the Catholic Archbishop of San Salvador in El Salvador who was assassinated while celebrating Mass. He had spoken out against poverty, social injustice and the assassinations and torture being committed by the military regime in El Salvador.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945), a German Lutheran pastor and theologian who was executed by the Nazi regime for his opposition to Hitler’s euthanasia programs and persecution of the Jews.
Esther John (1929-1960), a Pakistani nurse and convert to Christianity who was murdered as a result of her evangelical work in her local villages.
Lucian Tapiedi (1921-1942), a Papuan teacher who was one of the eight “New Guinea Martyrs” killed by the Japanese during their invasion of New Guinea. Tapiedi’s killer later converted to Christianity himself, taking the name Lucian and building a church in honor of Tapiedi.
Wang Zhiming (1907-1973), a Chinese pastor who was executed by the Communist government as part of China’s Cultural Revolution. The martyrdom of Wang and other Christians in Wuding County has led to enormous growth of Christianity in this region of China.
These ten martyrs serve to remind us that persecution is not something limited to history books and the Roman Empire. Even today, millions of Christians throughout the world undergo daily persecution because of their beliefs. It is important that we work to end these persecutions and pray for those who undergo these trials.