New Martyr

The title of New Martyr or Neomartyr (Greek: νεο-, neo-, the prefix for "new"; and μάρτυς, martys, "witness") is conferred in some denominations of Christianity to distinguish more recent martyrs and confessors from the old martyrs of the persecution in the Roman Empire. Originally and typically, it refers to victims of Islamic persecution.[1]

The earliest source to use the term neomartys is the Narrationes of Anastasius of Sinai, who died around 700. The title continued to be used for the next three hundred years to refer to victims of Umayyad and Abbasid persecution. It was mainly used in Greek sources, but is occasionally found in Arabic, Georgian and Syriac sources. Between the 11th and 14th centuries, the Byzantine–Seljuq wars also generated a number of neomartyrs.[1]

The Greek Orthodox Church traditionally gives the title to those who had been tortured and executed during Ottoman rule in Greece in order to avoid forced conversion to Islam.[2][3] This meaning is the dominant one, so much so that pre-Ottoman use of the term has been almost ignored in academia. Sectarian conflicts of the 19th century within the Ottoman Empire and Communist persecution in eastern Europe also generated saints considered neomartyrs.[1]

List of new martyrs

Under Umayyad rule

  • Euphemia of Damascus (before 700)[1]
  • Sixty Martyrs of Jerusalem (725)[1]

Under Abbasid rule

  • Elias of Heliopolis (779)[1]
  • Romanus (780)[1]
  • Theophilus the New (780s)[1]
  • Abo of Tbilisi (786)[1]
  • Bacchus-Ḍaḥḥāk (786/7)[1]
  • George-Muzāḥim (978)[1]

Under Ottoman rule

The first new martyrs were recorded after the Seljuk invasion of Asia Minor (11th century).[4] In the Eastern Orthodox Church, the third Sunday after Pentecost is known as the "Commemoration of All New Martyrs of the Turkish Yoke."

  • Ahmed the Calligrapher[5] or Ahmed Kalfas[6])
  • Akylina of Chalkidike
  • Anthimos the Georgian
  • Aquilina of Thessalonica
  • Athanasios the Neomartyr
  • Boris the Pomak
  • Chrestos the Albanian
  • Chrysostomos of Smyrna
  • Constantin Brâncoveanu
  • Constantine Hagarit
  • Cosmas of Aetolia
  • Cyril VI of Constantinople, ethnomartyr
  • Demetrios Doukas
  • Demetrios of Philadelphia
  • Demetrios the Neomartyr
  • Gabriel I of Pec
  • Patriarch Gabriel II of Constantinople
  • George of Ioannina
  • George the New
  • George of Kratovo (d. 1515)
  • Gregory V of Constantinople
  • Hasan
  • John Calphas ("the Apprentice")
  • John of Ioannina, a.k.a. John the Tailor
  • John the New of Suceava
  • Archbishop Kyprianos of Cyprus
  • Makarios the Monk
  • Michael Mavroudis
  • Niketas the Young
  • Paisius and Habakkuk
  • Panteleimon Dousa
  • Paul of Constantinople, 6/19 April 1683
  • Paul the Russian
  • Philothei
  • Theocharis of Nevşehir (Neapoli)
  • Teodor of Vršac
  • Theodore Gabras
  • Theodore of Komogovina
  • Thomas Paschidis
  • Zlata of Meglen

Under Communist rule

In the Russian Orthodox Church, the Sunday closest to 25 January (7 February on the Gregorian Calendar) is the "Sunday of the Holy New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia." The date of 25 January was chosen because that was the date in 1918 of the martyrdom of St. Vladimir (Bogoiavlensikii), Metropolitan of Kiev, who is referred to as the "Protomartyr of the communist yoke in Russia."

  • Alexander Hotovitzky
  • Anastasia Hendrikova
  • Andronic Nikolsky
  • Bishop Arcadius Ostalsky,
  • Bishop Arseny Zhadanovsky, who was the last abbot of the Chudov Monastery which was also destroyed
  • Bishop Basil (Preobrashensky) of Kineshma
  • Archbishop Dimitry (Dobroserdov)
  • Grand Duchess Elizabeth Fyodorovna and Nun Barbara
  • Dr. Eugene Botkin (see Romanov sainthood)
  • Bishop Hermogenes (Dolganyov)
  • Metropolitan Benjamin of Petrograd
  • John Kochurov of Tsarskoye Selo (First martyr of the Revolution)
  • Archpriest John Vostorgov
  • Metropolitan Joseph, 1938
  • Archimandrite Kronid Lubimov
  • Archpriest Makary Kvitkin
  • Margarete of Menzelinsk
  • Maria of Gatchina, c. 1930
  • Bishop Maxim of Serpukhov 23 June/6 July 1931
  • Nicholas II of Russia with his immediate family and servants (see Romanov sainthood)
  • Fr. Nicholas Zagorovsky, 1943 (confessor)
  • Bishop Nikita Dilektorsky
  • Nikodim of Solovki
  • Archbishop Nikolay Dobronravov
  • Metropolitan Peter of Krutitsy
  • Metropolitan Seraphim Chichagov of St. Petersburg
  • Patriarch Tikhon, 1925 (confessor)
  • Vladimir Beneshevich
  • Metropolitan Vladimir (Bogoyavlensky) First hierarch martyred by the Bolsheviks.
  • Bishop Platon (Kulbusch)

Under Nazism


The feast of "All New Martyrs of Serbia" is celebrated on 28 June [O.S. 15 June].

Boxer Rebellion

24 June  [O.S. 11 June] is celebrated as the feast of the "New Martyrs of China Slain During the Boxer Rebellion"

  • Ia the Teacher
  • Holy Martyrs of China


  • Hieromartyr Maximus Sandovic,[7] 24August/6 September 1914

Post-Soviet Russia

  • Daniel Sysoyev[8][9] Muscovite priest and missionary assassinated by an Islamist militant
  • Yevgeny Rodionov, a Russian soldier who fought in First Chechen War, was taken prisoner, tortured and eventually murdered for his refusal to convert to Islam[10]

As of 2016 the Russian Orthodox Church has not glorified either of the martyrs listed above, but each has received widespread popular veneration.

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Christian Sahner (2002), "Old Martyrs, New Martyrs and the Coming of Islam: Writing Hagiography after the Conquests" (PDF), Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, 65: 89–112.
  2. ^ Encyclopedia "Papyrus-Larousse, c. 1965, article "Νεομάρτυς", in Greek language.
  3. ^ "Threskeutika", Textbook of Religion, for the 3rd year of Greek high school ("Gymnasion"), chapter 30 (b), circa 2007. In Greek language.
  4. ^ Byzantinoslavica. Academia, Slovanský ústav v Praze. Byzantologická komise. 1996. p. 104.
  5. ^ "Ahmed the Calligrapher". Retrieved 24 April 2015.
  6. ^ Saint Ahmed, Synaxaristes (Compedium) of Neomartyrs, editions "Orthodoxos Kypsele" (Orthodox Bee-hive)
  7. ^ "HIEROMARTYR MAXIMUS SANDOVICH". Retrieved 24 April 2015.
  8. ^ "Hieromonk Job Gumerov. Can One Consider the Death of Father Daniel Sysoev to be a Martyrdom? / OrthoChristian.Com". Retrieved 24 April 2015.
  9. ^ "Byzantine, Texas: Podcasts on New Martyr Fr. Daniel Sysoev". Retrieved 24 April 2015.
  10. ^ John Sanidopoulos. "MYSTAGOGY". Retrieved 24 April 2015.

Further reading

  • Blackwell Dictionary of Eastern Christianity, 341-43
  • Sahner, Christian C. Christian Martyrs under Islam Religious Violence and the Making of the Muslim World. Princeton University Press, 2018.
  • Vaporis, Rev. Nomikos Michael. Witnesses for Christ: Orthodox Christian Neomartyrs of the Ottoman Period 1437-1860

External links

Media files used on this page

Christ Pantocrator mosaic from Hagia Sophia 2744 x 2900 pixels 3.1 MB.jpg
Author/Creator: Dianelos Georgoudis, Licence: CC BY-SA 3.0
Marvelous mosaic of Christ Pantocrator (“ruler over all”) from the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul. It is the central figure of the so called Deësis mosaic (Δέησις, "Entreaty") which probably dates from a relatively late 1261. It is considered by many to be the finest mosaic in Hagia Sophia.