Acts of the Martyrs

A name given to the narratives of the martyrs' trials and deaths. They may be classified as follows:
  1. Official reports of the interrogatories, few in number, among the most famous being the "Passio Cypriani" and the "Acta Martyrum Scillitanorum"
  2. Non-official records, made either by eye-witnesses or by contemporaries recording the testimony of eye-witnesses, including "Martyrium San Polycarpi," "Acta SS. Perpetum et Felicitatis," and "Epistola Ecclesiarium Viennensis et Lugdunensis"
  3. Documents of a later date than the martyrdom, based on Acta of the first and second class.
Besides these divisions there are documents, whose historicity has little or no value, romances, with a possible foundation of truth, and real forgeries. There has been considerable critical studies of these Acta. The result of these investigations has been to substantiate such main facts as the causes of the persecutions, the number and heroism of the martyrs, the popularity of their cultus, and the historicity of the popular heroes.

New Catholic Dictionary

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