Martha
ID:
 
1569
 
Death Date:
 
339-79
 
Town:
 
Karka d-Ledan
 
Family:
 

Martha's father, Posi, was one of many Christians from Roman territory whom Shapur II had deported and settled in a town called Karka d-Ledan. Posi was the king's master craftsman. He married a Persian woman whom he converted to Christianity. Posi like Martha was put to death by Shapur II (339-79).

 
Father:
 
Posi
 
Religious Roles:
 

Martha was a "daughter of the covenant", meaning that she devoted herself to asceticism at a young age. Daughters and sons of the covenant held a special position in Syriac Christian communities. For more details, see Asceticism in the Church of Syria: The Hermeneutics of Early Syrian Monasticism.

 
Relics:
 

After Martha's execution, her brother collected her body and embalmed it along with her their father Posi's body. Their household possessed the bones of the two for some time, but eventually bishop Ṣawmay encouraged the family to transfer their bones to the church of Karka in 428.

 
Literary Works:
 

We know little about Martha's life, but know much about Martha's death. Martha's death is preserved among the Persian Martyr Acts. Bedjan has collected these accounts in Acta martyrum et sanctorum. This collection includes accounts of martyrs spanning from the third to the seventh century. The earliest martyr was NULL, who was killed during the reign of King Bahram II (276-93).

It was not until the fourth and fifth centuries that intense instances of persecution flared up. All major outbreaks of persecution occurred when the Sasanids and Romans were at war with one another. Sasanid rulers suspected Christians as harboring pro-Roman sympathies. Sasanids did not slay entire communities, instead they targeted community leaders and high-ranking Zoroastrians who had converted to Christianity.

Although many of the Persian Martyr Acts have not been translated into English, there is an attempt to translate and publish all of them in the Persian martyr acts in Syriac : text and translation series.

 
Brief Profile:
 

The account of Martha's martyrdom narrates her arrest, trial, and death. Martha was arrested and tried by the chief and Zoroastrian priest Mobed. The king had demanded that Martha either abandon her Christianity or remain Christian but agree to be married. Mobed presented both options to Martha, but she refused both and was killed by Sasanid authorities.

 
Manuscript sources:
  
Published primary sources:
  
Secondary sources:
 

For an excellent introduction, see Persian Martyrs: Introduction. This entry primarily used Harvey and Brock's publication.

Martyrdom, Religious Difference, and "Fear" as a Category of Piety in the Sasanian Empire: The Case of the Martyrdom of Gregory and the Martyrdom of Yazdpaneh also provides a helpful introduction to the acts of the Persian martyrs, especially the sixth- and seventh-century martyrdoms.

See also, Ausgewählte Akten persischer Märtyrer : mit einem Anhang: Ostsyrisches Mönchsleben, 76-82; Untersuchungen zur syrischen Literaturgeschichte, 94-105.