Lesson Title: To Die for - Martyrdom
Grade Level or Age Group: I have used this approach with grade 11 and 12 students in the context of a Church History course. It could be adapted for RCIA groups as well.
Lesson Objectives: The participants will reflect on the martyrdom of Christians in the past and be invited to reflect on the meaning of this faith witness in their own lives as followers of Christ today.Materials Needed:
- The text of Acts 6-7 - relating the martyrdom of Stephen;
- Background information on a few Christian martyrs throughout church history including some modern day Christian martyrs - see below.
1. Using the text of Acts 6-7 as a source, point out to the students that martyrdom was a reality of Christian life from the very early day of the Church and that it was seen as the ultimate way to follow (imitate) Jesus. Point out the similarities between Jesus' and Stephen's life, trial and death as you present the text.
2. Provide background information on the history of martyrdom from the Early Church to our own time. Use some of the resources suggested below to research and present this background information - or have the students do part of it themselves.
3. Ask the students to take a few minutes to write down their answers to the following questions: Is there anything in yur life that is so important that you would accept to die for it if that were the only way to protect it? Why would you make that decision?
4. Invite the students to share their answers with at least one other student in class. Once they have done this, you could also invite them to share with the rest of the class if they feel comfortable doing so.
5. Ask the students to reflect quietly on the following questions: "If you were in a country were Christians are persecuted for their faith, how would you react? What would you do if you were faced with choosing between your faith and death? Ask them to write down their answers in "A letter to Jesus".
- For contemporary examples of martyrdom you could use the
Background information on Romero can be found on A
profile of Oscar Romero and on our Archbishop
Oscar Romero website page.
- You could also use another short (56 minutes) video on
Jean Donovan who was also murdered in El Salvador. The video is called Roses in December.
- Information on Christian martyrs throughout history can
be found on a number of websites:
- The Christian Catacombs of Rome is a beautifully made website with a large amount of information.
- Christian martyrs by century - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
- You can also find information on individual saints/martyrs at Catholic Online Saints & Angels
©Gilles Côté, 2001 If you use this lesson plan, please acknowledge your source.
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