This amazing painting is from www.santibeati.com, but Christian martyrs are not just ancient history. A brief item in The Tablet, a British weekly led me to a big story about the war on Christians today.
On January 18, they cited the World Watch List, the annual report of a U.S.-based non-denominational group called Open Doors. They report that documented cases of Christians martyred for their faith almost doubled in the year 2013 compared to 2012. Most of these deaths occurred in several Muslim-majority countries.
According to the Tablet, "2,123 killings were credibly documented in 2013, after 1,201 the previous year, and the 1,213 deaths in Syria alone were more than all those reported in the whole world in 2012. Other reports put numbers of martyred Christians in 2013 at as many as 8,000."
I couldn’t find the story on the Tablet’s website: http://www.thetablet.co.uk/ but I tracked down the complete report here: http://www.worldwatchlist.us/
The awesome thing is that in spite of these persecutions, people still choose Christianity. Their faith is strong. Not much has changed since the 3rd century when Tertullian told us, “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church.”