A handful of deaths are mentioned in “Gladys.” Amy casually references crucifixion to Kevin and Jill. And to Laurie, Patti tells her: “Doubt is fire. And fire is going to burn you up until you are but ash.”
But neither of these mentions holds a candle to the actual death that Gladys experiences. Gladys’ death seems brutal enough, but a little more examination reveals that the G.R. member actually died in three different, distinct ways – all of which were iconic ways that saints died throughout history. Looking for further evidence of Gladys’ potentially saintly status? See: the moment when Kevin and Rev. Matt go to visit her “tomb” at the morgue…and it’s empty. There’s a famous Biblical story about this, too.
Is someone trying to tell us that Gladys is a saint? Here are the three deaths Gladys experiences and an accompanying saint who suffered the same fate.
1. Death on a tree. Gladys is abducted, dragged through the woods, and tied to a tree before she is stoned. Several saints were tied to trees as a means of bringing about death. The most notable was St. Edmund, who was tied to a tree, left overnight as food for nearby wolves, and finally shot with arrows. His death has been the subject of several significant paintings.
2. Death by stoning. The stoning of Gladys broke not only her body – but also her spirit. She gave up her vow of silence just before succumbing. Saints including Matthias and James were stoned. However, none of these deaths were more notable than that of St. Stephen, the first Christian martyr. Stephen’s death reinvigorated the cause of Christianity in many areas where it was waning.
3. Death by fire. After all that Gladys suffers in the flesh, her body is burned and very finally eliminated from this world at the end of the episode – what could be seen as her final death. One of the most revered female saints is unquestionably Joan of Arc. Joan was burned at the stake in 1431 at the age of 19. Her martyrdom continues to inspire and motivate the faithful to this day.