Christian Martyrs in Madagascar

1828 - 1861

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In 1828 Queen Ranavalona I of Madagascar seized power, murdered all adversaries, and began a reign of terror causing her to be named "Bloody Mary of Madagascar."

She attacked the church with a fanaticism similar to the Emperor Nero.

She stopped baptisms, banned Scripture, closed churches, ordered the European missionaries out, and forbade her subjects, except those in her service, to learn to read and write.

In 1835 she presented the following charges against Christians: they despise the idols; they are always praying; they will not swear, but only affirm; their women are chaste; they are of one mind with regard to their religion; and they observe the Sabbath as a sacred day.

Suspected Christians were arrested. Sixteen hundred pleaded guilty to the queen's charges. Those who refused to worship the idols to which the queen prayed were chained in dungeons or killed.

To the frustration of the mad ruler, for every Christian put to death, a score of new believers sprang up to take their place.

For a few years the Christians enjoyed peace.

Then on March 28, 1849, nineteen Christians from influential families were condemned to death. Fifteen of the group were to be thrown over a high cliff into a rocky ravine 150 feet below. The idols were taken to the top of the cliff and as each victim was lowered a little over the precipice, the demand was made, "Will you worship your Christ or the queen's gods?" Each answered "Christ."

As the ropes were cut, the martyrs plunged downward, some singing as they fell!

Only one of the fifteen was spared, a young girl who was declared insane and sent to a distant village.

She lived to establish a large church in the community and to win her relatives to Christ.

The martyrdom continued until 1861 when the persecutor died.

A successor declared herself a Christian, opened a palace church, and proclaimed Madagascar a Christian kingdom.

That year the Madagascar church grew from 37,000 to 250,000.

A sanctuary for the palace church was built.

The queen ordered the following inscription for the cornerstone:

"By the power of God and grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, I, Ranavalomanjaka, Queen of Madagascar, founded the House of Prayer…for the service of God, King of Kings and Lord of Lords…"

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