Book: Death's Dominion
Chapter: To Reject: Not Everyone Loves a Corpse
Chapter four examines how various groups rejected the martyr cult, as well as typical Christian responses to that rejection. The martyr cult was not universally embraced during this period. Proponents of the martyr cult faced significant criticism from those outside Christendom who saw devotion to the martyr’s corpse as a macabre and potentially polluting practice. Opposition also came from Christians who felt that the practices at the martyr shrines during the all night vigils (which involved loud music, drunken revelry, and the comingling of the sexes) were extreme enough to warrant the prohibition of martyr veneration in its entirety. Others felt that implicit in the cult was worship of the martyrs themselves, which was too similar to the polytheism of the non-Christian gentiles.