Since the first sin, and Adam's attempt to blame Eve, people have search for scapegoats, others whom they could blame for their mistakes. Such was the case of the emperor Nero, after the great fire in Rome.
We do not know the exact number, or the names, of all the Christians who died during the persecution. We do know that some were set ablaze as human torches, others were crucified, or faced some other equally excruciating death. These are the ones we celebrate today as the First Martyrs (protomartyrs) of Rome.
What Nero could not see was that the deaths of the martyrs, rather than scaring people away from the Christian faith, drew people to it. As only God can do, a horrible event was transformed into one that gave life to the church. If God can transform this, can he not also transform any negative event in our own lives?