Modern Martyrs

by MSO
statues of martyrs at Westminster Anney

The 10 statues were added to the Abbey in niches above the west gate that had been empty since the Middle Ages.

The term martyr refers to someone who suffers persecution and death for refusing to renounce their faith and beliefs. Some historical martyrs include St. Stephen, St. Peter, and St. Joan of Arc. After the restoration of Westminster Abbey (UK) in 1995, it was decided to fill the ten gothic-style niches above the west doorway with ten statues. Rather than putting up statues of traditional saints or religious figures, they installed depictions of modern martyrs of the 20th century. The ten people represented by these statues died in circumstances of oppression and persecution in different locations around the globe, the most well known being Martin Luther King, who was assassinated in 1969. Four sculptors created the statues which were carved from French Richemont limestone. The Archbishop of Canterbury unveiled the statues in 1998 in the presence of The Queen.

The 20th century martyrs of Westminster Abbey are:

1. Grand Duchess Elizabeth of Russia (d. 1918)2. Manche Masemola (d. 1928)3. Maximilian Kolbe (d. 1941)4. Lucian Tapiede (d. 1941)

5. Dietrich Bonhoeffer (d. 1945)

6. Esther John (d. 1960)

7. Martin Luther King (d. 1969)

8. Wang Zhiming (d. 1972)

9. Janani Luwum (d. 1977)

10. Oscar Romero (d. 1980)

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