Do we know of any martyrs from among the Roman Catholic Church that lived during the five centuries before Martin Luther (i.e., 10–15th centuries)? I am especially interested in those who have been well-spoken of by Martin Luther.


St. Thomas Beckett - 1170 - assassinated at a church for annoying the king who made him Archbishop.

St. Bernard and companions - 1226 - killed by the Moors

Bl. Charles the Good - 1127 - killed at church after stopping black marketers

St. Stanislaus - 1079 - killed after excommunicating a wicked king.

St. Elphege - 1012 - killed by Danish invaders for refusing ransom by selling off his church property.

St Adalbert - 983 - killed evangelizing Prussians.

St. Joan of Arc - 1412 - (not canonized until 1920, but pardoned thirty years after her death) burned at the stake and not really a martyr, but I thought I'd throw her in here.

St Wenceslaus - 929 - killed by his brother while praying in a church.

St. John Nepomucene - 1390 - drowned in the Vltava by a very different King Wenceslaus for refusing to violate the Seal of confession.

I found these folks just by looking through my lives of the saints book there are undoubtably more. I haven't a clue about Luther's knowledge of these particular saints. However, I think it's safe to say that educated people knew about St Thomas Beckett and may have heard about Joan of Arc in Western Europe (From the Canterbury Tales and Joan of Arc is now the patroness of France). As in Eastern Europe they may have known of St. Wenceslaus and St Stanislaus (patrons of Czech Republic and Poland). Their cults didn't operate in a complete vacuum.

  • Thank you Peter very much. Can you, please, tell me what the "neck of the woods" mean? – brilliant Apr 30 '12 at 4:13
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    Neck of the woods: locality, area, especially one which is familiar because of residence. – Andrew Leach Apr 30 '12 at 7:52
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    @AndrewLeach thanks, I just realized how much of a recursively worthless idiom that might be! – Peter Turner Apr 30 '12 at 14:03
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    How is Joan of Arc "not a martyr"? – Please stop being evil Apr 3 '15 at 6:39
  • @PeterTurner Why do you think everyone knew Thomas Beckett and Jean of Arc in 16th century? And why in Luther's region Wencelaus and Stanislaus? I come from the region Luther lived and today both have no special role. I think I first heard of St Stanislaus when I was in Krakow a few years ago. – K-HB Mar 12 '19 at 19:21

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