Welcome to MARTRAE, an international network dedicated to research on martyrologies and ecclesiastical calendars, martyrdom and the cult of saints in the medieval period. The genesis of this network lies in the conference Celebrating the Saints: A Focus on Martyrologies and Saints’ Calendars, which was held in Trinity College Dublin in October of 2016. The aim of the network is to encourage interdisciplinary discussion and collaboration between scholars working on martyrologies and ecclesiastical calendars, the concepts of martyrdom and sainthood, and the cult of saints.
MARTRAE serves as a platform through which we can collaborate, share research updates, event announcements, and CFPs, and offers some basic resources by providing basic research tools, such as an on-going bibliography.
Grades of martyrdom
The scope for the network was inspired by the broad spectrum of texts and practices connected to martyrdom and its name was chosen to reflect the full scope of intersecting fields. The Old Irish word for martyrdom, martrae, covered a broad spectrum of religious devotion. Wholly in line with the development of martyrologies from lists of martyrs to lists including both martyrs and saints, the Irish concept of martyrdom includes not only a martyr’s death, but also giving one’s life to Christ in a more figurative sense, akin to ‘devoting one’s life to Christ’. A well-known explication of the range of manifestations of martyrdom is found in the (fragmentary) Cambrai Homily, preserved in a manuscript dating to ca. 850-900. According to this text – which offers multiple interpretations – there are three types of martyrdom characterized as red, white, and blue (or green) martyrdom (dercmartrae ocus glasmartrae ocus bánmartrae). Red martyrdom is a martyr’s death, white martyrdom is ‘abandoning everything one loves’ (referring to the ascetic or monastic life), and blue martyrdom is the suffering of penitential practice. In short, the term invokes many facets of the religious life and religious practice. It is hoped that this network may likewise serve as a access point for scholars from a variety of disciplines and provide a forum for the exploration of a variety of sources and approaches to the religious life.
This conference took place in Trinity College Dublin in 2016, generously supported by the Irish Research Council and the Trinity Long Room Hub Research Incentive Fund.
Holy Time Exhibition
This exhibition took place in the Trinity Long Room Library in 2018. A digital exhibition was launched simultaneously on holytime.martrae.net and the TCD library webpage. The digital exhibition is now archived but freely accessible on HCOMMONS under
Interested in the topic, but not sure where to start? Download a free bibliography.