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Five Saints Looking Totally Chill During Execution

by Kathy Copeland Padden about a year ago in Historical
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According to artist renderings anyway

They must’ve been running a Special that day. Martyrdom of Four Saints. Painting by Antonio da Correggiotonio da Correggio

This has always blown my mind. I mean, I look more agonized when I get a paper cut than these guys do being chopped, roasted, stabbed, beheaded, and all the other god-awful fates (no pun intended) the early saints reportedly endured.

I’ve always been low-key proud of my pain tolerance, especially after enduring twelve years of Catholic school. But this crew is just so extra.

St. Sebastian

Hmm. Did I shut the oven off? Photo by

So much for “you only live once.”

This guy could trade Near Death Experience stories with J.C. and Rasputin at astral cocktail parties. That’s rare as unicorn poop, even among martyred saints.

Meet Sebastian. He was a Praetorian Guard under notorious Christian- Hater Diocletian. He condemned Sab to death for converting his fellow soldiers to Christianity.

So, around 288 C.E., poor Sab was tied to a tree and shot with arrows by a bunch of archers who clearly sucked at their job.

The poor dude was left for dead. But, incredibly, he wasn’t. He was still alive but probably feeling a bit under the weather. Luckily for Sebastian, a nice lady who became St. Irene happened by and saved him.

Irene nursed him back to health, only for Sab to piss off Diocletian again. (Isn’t it always the way?)

Diocletian wasn’t playing anymore. He ordered Sebastian clubbed to death which seemed to do the trick this time. His “we’re pretty sure it’s dead" body was tossed in a Roman sewer just to be on the safe side.

St. Antipas of Pergamum

What a buncha bull. Photo by

Like my high school nuns, Saint Antipas was a contemporary of the Apostles. He fawned over them like a groupie, particularly John, who made him squeal by appointing Antipas Bishop of Pergamum.

When he said he was all set with Paganism and would remain a devout Christian until death, the Pagan priests decided to speed up the process.

His execution was unthinkably cruel, even by martyr standards. In 92 C.E., Antipas was dragged to the Temple of Artemis, where he was crammed into a copper bull usually reserved for sacrifices.

It was literally a red-hot furnace, and the pain must have been excruciating. This was the thanks Antipas got for casting out the demons tormenting the locals. Sheesh.

Even still, we are assured he went to his death peacefully, as if he was falling into a comfortable sleep.

I stand in complete amazement because if I turn the electric blanket up too high I cry.

St. Lucy

When Lucy rolls her eyes, Lucy really rolls her eyes Photo by

*Ricky Ricardo voice*

Oh, Lucy!

*Ricky Ricardo voice*

I mean, honestly.

Lucy’s eyes are on a plate, and there’s a sword jutting out of her neck. And yet, she looks like she’s having a spa day. Or consumed some primo edibles about an hour ago.

Whatever it is, I want some.

The nuns could never satisfactorily explain to me how our girl’s eyeballs were on a plate and also in their sockets. I got their stock reply of “you are bold as brass” that I heard daily during my twelve years in plaid. In other words, they had no fecking clue.

Anyway, the story goes that, as part of her torture, Lucy’s eyes were gouged out, which you’d think would elicit at least a whimper. Other legends say Lucy gouged out her own eyes to repel prospective boyfriends since her heart, and apparently her eyes, belonged to the Lord.

Seems like a lot of bother to discourage guys from asking you out. Everyone knows just tell them you want to get married and have their baby. Immediately. That usually does the trick with a lot less fuss.

St. Lawrence

It’s getting hot in here so take off all your clothes Photo by

This guy wasn’t just a saint; he was hilarious. In 258 C.E., he was broiled alive on a gridiron and still managed to be a wiseass. Which is awesome. We salute you, Larry!

And check him out. He looks like he’s lounging on a divan rather than being burned alive outside the gates of Rome. All that’s missing is a big bunch of grapes in his right hand.

How did Lawrence end up charbroiled? When Pope Sixtus was led to his execution, Larry approached him asking why Sixtus was leaving without his deacon(Larry was his deacon.)

The Pope assured him that he would follow in three short days. The promise of unimaginable pain and a wretched death made him giddy with delight. Larry gleefully rushed off to give away all his stuff and await the Big Day.

It was soon at hand. When the prefect of Rome ordered Lawrence to hand over the Church’s treasures, he showed up with a bunch of poor people and said, here ya go, buddy. This went over like a fart in church, and his punishment was death by slow broiling.

His last words?

“I am cooked on that side; turn me over, and eat.”

Cheeky until the end.

Lawrence’s gig is Patron Saint of deacons, comics, and, get this — cooks. Apparently, Larry wasn’t the only one with a twisted sense of humor.

St. Romanus

St. Romanus, his tongue, and Tyrion Lannister Photo by

Romanus of Antioch was yet another early martyr. He lived during the reign of Valerian, who really, really hated Christians like every other Roman ruler of the time.

St. Lawrence, the intrepid fellah who quipped, “turn me, this side is done” while being roasted alive, gave Romanus strength and inspired him to end up martyred himself.

Romanus couldn’t fathom how Lawrence could endure such an ordeal with nary a complaint. I don’t get it, either. How do they do that?

As we can see, Romanus, book in one hand, his tongue in the other, with not a care on the world, did his hero Larry proud.

During the Diocletian persecution, Romanus gave pep talks to the faithful and dissed the wussbags offering sacrifices to the Pagan gods to save their hides. This was not cool with the Roman establishment, and Romanus was condemned to burn in 303 C.E.

He was already tied to the stake when he was unbound to stand before Emperor Galerius. The Big Cheese demanded that Romanus have his tongue cut out for talking so much smack.

Romanus was subsequently tortured six ways to Sunday, then strangled to death as the grand finale, probably doing a crossword through the whole thing.

Did anyone feed the cats? Photo by Slate


About the author

Kathy Copeland Padden

Political junkie, history buff, and music freak spending the End Times alternating betweencrankiness and bemusement. Come along! It's fun!

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