A further thought on the nature of martyrdom: It seems that what makes martyrdom what it is is determined by the community of memory to which the martyr belongs and who narrate that memory. That a person’s death is a martyrdom is a hermeneutic statement about the whole shape of that person’s life and death. It is to say that, given that this person has died, that their life has been terminated and is now a completed whole, this life says this. For someone’s life to be martyrological that life must be a finished life, a completed story. As long as I am alive, the story of myself is open to revision. Only with my death will the who of who I am be permanently settled and open for final evaluation. To call someone a martyr is to claim that their life, now being closed, completed, finalized makes this statement, bears this witness, proclaims this reality.
Thus, it seems that martyrdom should be understood as a possibility, and indeed an imperative for all Christians. Of course, at this point we have extrapolated the meaning of martyrdom out to its furthest possible point. And at this point it raises the question, if this sort of notion of martyrdom is correct, does one necessarily have to be violently killed to be rightly accounted as a martyr?