THE MARTYR OF THE MIDDLE AGES - MILES ET ATHLETA CHRISTI. MARTYRDOM IN POLAND IN THE MIDDLE AGES AS THE EXPRESSION OF THE IDENTITY AND CREDIBILITY OF THE CHURCH (Polish title below)
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(Polish title: Sredniowieczny meczennik - Miles et athleta Christi. Meczenstwo w Polsce w okresie sredniowiecza jako wyraz tozsamosci i wiarygodnosci Kosciola). Martyrdom in the Church is a constant reality, not a characteristic trait of a time of persecution. Thus, in the Middle Ages, although on a smaller scale than previously, there were cases of witness to Christ given by shedding one's blood. However, in this period we find another dimension of martyrdom. It was linked to monastic life. Martyrdom of the time crowned the life of the apostle to the pagans, which was flight (withdrawal) from the world. We have examples of this such as Saint Adalbert, the Five Martyred Brothers, or Saint Bruno-Boniface. Another form of martyrdom in the Middle Ages is the defense of the faith and the rights of the Church. It consisted of bearing witness to the faith, Christian morality, or the rights of the Church to sovereigns, including those who were Catholic. We have models of this in Saint Stanislas, the bishop of Plock Werner, and a Krakow vicar, Martin Baryczka. Another form of martyrdom is the death for the faith suffered at the hands of pagans or heretical invaders. This period runs in Poland from the middle of the thirteenth century to its end. There were several Christians in Poland who gave their lives in this way, but written evidence is lacking, which is why the Church's recognition has only been given to certain acts of martyrdom. We have an example of this in the person of the holy Dominican of Sandomierz who was called Sadok and his companions. The martyr, by his attitude, reminded and admonished people, exhorted and warned them. He reminded them of the need for asceticism in Christian life, in other words, for a continuous effort over oneself; he also reminded of the urgent duty to announce the Gospel. Then he exhorted to make a profession and courageous defense of the faith by one's entire life, without reservations. He warned of the moral disorder that is a catastrophe for man and for society. For the people of the Middle Ages, martyrdom meant a struggle, in which man becomes not only athleta Christi, 'fighter or athlete of Christ,' but even a true miles, 'knight.'
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