Was any Doctor of the Church martyred?

  • List of Historical Christian Martyrs.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Nov 23, 2021 at 17:13
  • St. Irenaeus is a martyr and a Father of the Church as of January 21,2022!
    – Ken Graham
    Commented May 15 at 16:00

3 Answers 3


No, after reading up on all the doctors of the church, it looks like of all the Doctors of the Church declared thus far, the only ones who were even on the cusp of martyrdom were:

  • St. Augustine of Hippo, who died of illness during battle raging outside the city walls (not sure if he would have been specifically martyred though)
  • St. Athanasius, who probably would have been a martyr if he had just stayed dead when exiled numerous times.
  • St. Ephrem, who might have otherwise been martyred under Julian the Apostate had he not been exiled
  • St. Leo the Great, who by the grace of God was spared from Attila the Hun by his shrewdness and saved a good chunk of Christendom.
  • St. Irenaeus is a martyr and a Father of the Church as of January 21,2022! See my answer.At the moment this question was asked your response was correct.
    – Ken Graham
    Commented May 15 at 15:35
  • @KenGraham I read St. Edith Stein might be added to the list too
    – Peter Turner
    Commented May 15 at 16:16

Was any Doctor of the Church martyred?

The short answer is yes.

That clear distinct honour goes to St. Irenaeus.

Here is what the ancient Roman Martyrology states for the day of June 28, the Feast Day of St. Irenaeus who died in the year 202 A.D.

The Twenty-Eighth day of June.

The vigil of the holy apostles Peter and Paul. - At Rome, pope St. Leon. - At Lyons, in France, St. Irenaeus, bishop and martyr, who, as is related by St. Jerome, was the disciple of blessed Polycarp, bishop of Smyrna, and lived near the time of the Apostles. After having strenuously opposed the heretics by speech and writing, he was crowned with a glorious martyrdom, with almost all the people of his city, during the persecution of Severus. - At Alexandria, in the same persecution of Severus, the holy martyrs Plutarch, Serenus, Heraclides, catechumen, Heron, neophyte, another Serenus, Rhais, catechumen, Potamirena and Marcella, her mother. Among them, the virgin Potamirena is particularly distinguished. She first endured many most painful trials for the preservation of her virginity, and then cruel and unheard - of torments for the faith, after which she and her mother were consumed wi th fire. - The same day, during the persecution of Diocletian, St. Papius, martyr, who was scourged with knotted cords, cast into a caldron of seething oil and grease, and after other horrible torments, was decapitated, and thus won an eternal crown. - At Maestricht, St. Benignus, bishop and martyr. - At Cordova, St. Argymirus, monk and martyr, who was slain for the faith of Christ during the persecution of the Arabs. - At Rome, St. St. Paul, pope and confessor.

Not a Father of the Church you say! Well Pope Francis declared St. Irenaeus a Father of the Church on 21 January 2022.

St. Irenaeus, Father of the Church, pray for us!

It should be noted that the Roman Martyrology for the date of January 27 does not accord the title of martyr to St. John Chrysostom regardless of the fact he went in exile. To be declared a martyr in such circumstances, it has to be proven that an individual died directly in connection with abuse suffered while he was in exile. In other words, the question has to be asked: Did his death result from the direct treatment he suffered while in exile? St. John Chrysostom death can not be ultimately linked as the cause of his death!

At the present moment in time St. John Chrysostom is not considered a martyr within this Catholic Church or the Orthodox Churches.

  • He wasn't consider a Father of the Church before 21 January 2022?
    – Geremia
    Commented May 16 at 4:44
  • @Geremia Popes are periodically updating things. I stumbled upon this one. Some Catholic websites are not updating their information either.
    – Ken Graham
    Commented May 16 at 12:00

St. John Chrysostom died a slow death after his two exiles, which could certainly be considered a martyrdom.

Palladius, Dialogue Concerning the Life of Chrysostom p. 90:

[St. John Chrysostom] was sent in charge of soldiers to a very lonely village in Armenia, called Cucusus,1 in the hope of getting him killed by the Isaurians, who were continually raiding the place, by night and by day.

1. A village in the Taurus Mountains, on the edge of Cilicia. Chrysostom s friends did their utmost to get him sent to a less remote and dangerous place, but the Empress had chosen Cucusus herself, and this time was implacable. It took him seventy days to reach it: his letters tell of the hardships of the journey.

After he was starting to make converts there (ibid. p. 94),

John was […] transferred to Pityus, a desolate spot in Tzane, situated on the shore of the [far eastern end of the] Black Sea. The soldiers of the prætorian prefect who formed his escort accordingly hurried him over the ground at forced speed.

When they approached Comana, the martyred bishop Basiliscus appeared to him and said: "Be of good cheer, brother; to-morrow we shall be together." (p. 95).

ibid. p. 95:

[The soldiers] pushed [him] on; but when they had covered about thirty furlongs, he had such a sharp attack of illness, that they had to return to the shrine from which they had started.

After receiving the Sacraments, he died.

  • 1
    Note that the Common of Doctors is considered a variant of the Common of Confessors traditionally. Being a martyr is a "higher" title than doctor
    – eques
    Commented May 14 at 21:18
  • @eques St. Thomas shows the different respects in which each of the martyrs', virgins', or doctors' aureoles is greatest; but simply speaking, yes, the martyrs' is greatest, "for which reason a gloss on Mt. 5:10, says that 'all the other beatitudes are perfected in the eighth, which refers to the martyrs,' namely, 'Blessed are they that suffer persecution.' For this reason, too, the Church in enumerating the saints together places the martyrs before the doctors and virgins." (Summa Theologica suppl. q. 96 a. 12 co.).
    – Geremia
    Commented May 14 at 21:52
  • St. Irenaeus is a martyr and a Father of the Church as of January 21,2022! See my answer.
    – Ken Graham
    Commented May 15 at 15:35

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