Hey, how about a weird martyrdom story on this Sunday afternoon? I take you now through the magic of text to Paris in the middle of the third century. St. Denis, now revered as the patron saint of the city, was the bishop there, and he managed to make an enemy of the pagan priests. They decided to have him executed on Montmarte, the highest hill in the area. When I learned about the martyrdom of Denis in history class, my professor said that they beheaded him before reaching the summit because they found him annoying. The Wikipedia page doesn’t mention this, but what’s really important is what follows. According to legend, after being beheaded he continued to walk, carrying his own head and preaching a sermon, until he finally reached the top of Montmarte and died for real.
Denis is not the only saint who is said to have kept on talking after losing his head. There’s even a term for saints who are depicted carrying their own heads, cephalophores. Variations on the talking head martyrdom story appear to be pretty similar, with the basic idea being that someone was beheaded before they could finish what they were doing, so they just kept on until they were done. I suppose the loss of a head is a small matter when you’re doing God’s work.
St. Aphrodisius of Alexandria, who is said to have walked to a cathedral carrying his own head.
While searching for information on Denis, whose name I couldn’t remember, I also came across some information on St. Edmund, an East Anglian king who was killed by Vikings. After sticking a bunch of arrows in his body, they cut off his head, which rolled into the bushes. It called out to the Vikings, and they put it back on his neck, where it reconnected itself.