A Martyr (“witness” in Greek) is someone who suffered persecution and death for testifying to his or her belief in Christ. Among the countless martyrs were deacon St. Stephen the Protomartyr, St. George and St. Sarkis the Warrior, St. Hripsime and her virgin companions and many other luminaries of God.
All disciples of Christ (with the exception of John) also died as martyrs. A martyr’s death is called “witnessing” or “testimony”, the story of their martyrdom is called “martyrology”. Historically shrines were built upon the relics of martyrs or at the sites of their martyrdom in order to immortalize their names. Many of those shrines later became churches and cathedrals. Martyrs were called “baptized by blood”. This blood has important mystical meaning in the life of the Church, because martyrdom is notable victory over evil, whose most horrifying weapon against man is death. Hence, suffering defeat by the blood of martyrs the devil is utterly humiliated. Martyrs are faithful intercessors for men before God. They are often depicted on icons with the weapon of their death, as a sign of victory and triumph.