This term comes from a Latin word. And it serves to refer to an individual who suffer or die for defending their beliefs and convictions. In Western society, the concept is often used to name someone who dies in defense of Jesus Christ and the Christian religion.
Christianity began to use the notion of martyr to refer to people who were tortured or shot for defending Christ and spread their religious convictions. In the first three centuries after his crucifixion, those followers who were not willing to give up their beliefs were arrested and taken to the Roman circus. A place where they were thrown into the sand at the mercy of hungry lions; this was one of the most characteristic spectacles of the Roman Empire.
In the saints, a calendar that the Catholic Church maintains with the patron saint dates of the various saints, there is a section known as martyrology, which includes those who died defending the principles of the gospel. It is worth mentioning that this book is ordered according to the date of its festivities and includes the martyrs generated by the ten great persecutions promoted by the Roman empire.
One of the teachings of Christ is the search for perfection. And the church he understands this and the love of God through a path: forgetting his own life to make it available to ecclesiastical mandates. Thus, many followers of this institution were convinced that the only way to fulfill what their god expected of them it was to put aside its existence to put it at the service of the Church; to such an extent that they did not even fear death.
In previous centuries, many embraced the cross, regardless of the consequences, in order to be loyal to this institution. Betting on that reward that the church promised them, the eternal life. In this context the idea of a martyr arose, for all those who were willing to give their lives for the gospel.
For Catholics, a martyr is an individual who was capable of anything to defend the word of Christ. They see it as a true example to follow and they often use his name to evangelize those who live around him.
Other meanings of the concept
However, the concept is not only used in a Christian context, but is related to the way in which people express their devotion to a certain ideology. You can be a martyr for defend your Nation, religion or even an ideology. It could be said, for example, that Che Guevara was a martyr, because he died for Bolivarian ideas, in the same way that Bolivar was, because even though he did not die in combat, he left his life in the struggle for the liberation of the peoples. Americans of the Spanish Empire.
The followers of Islamic fundamentalism are also martyrs since they give their lives to To and the ideas present in the Koran, the holy book by which they are governed. Immolation is a requirement that is imposed on them if they wish to be part of the army. And its objective is to impose the divine will and destroy the infidels.
From a colloquial point of view, and outside the issues related to beliefs, a martyr is an individual who suffers great suffering or makes great efforts to get something. Some examples can be: “Héctor is a martyr, he is only five years old and has to endure the confrontations between his parents”, “Pablo is not guilty: in reality, he is a martyr fighting a situation that he did not seek”.