We often hear the adage of "Winning the battle but losing the war."
These two Jesuits argued theology with Calvinists in Southern France, and winning the battle lost their lives. But did they lose the war? Depends upon how you look at it and who you believe. Some say that those there at their trial say they won but were sentenced to death anyway. We also might say that losing the war they won eternal life and the martyr's crown.
John's and William's deaths are an illustration of the ugliness of fanaticism at work. But it is not always fanaticism which can lead to violence; even fundamental disagreements which can drive us to treat one another badly. The men who killed them are not limited to one group, one side or the other. They represent a mindless zeal that even Catholics can show when dealing with those who disagree, not just on actual teachings but emotional issues as well. We should not be surprised by bad behavior even among those who "are on our side." We can all deal harshly rather than lovingly with others. We must remember that Jesus acted with love even with those who killed him. Errors in dogma, errors in matters of conscience, errors in may have no right to life, but people who we consider “in error” do.
Strive eagerly for the greatest spiritual gifts. But I shall show you a still more excellent way. If I speak in human and angelic tongues, but do not have love, I am a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal. And if I have the gift of prophecy, and comprehend all mysteries and all knowledge; if I have all faith so as to move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away everything I own, and if I hand my body over so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, it is not pompous, It is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. If there are prophecies, they will be brought to nothing; if tongues, they will cease; if knowledge, it will be brought to nothing. For we know partially and we prophesy partially, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I used to talk as a child, think as a child, reason as a child; when I became a man, I put aside childish things. At present we see indistinctly, as in a mirror, but then face to face. At present I know partially; then I shall know fully, as I am fully known. So faith, hope, love remain, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
-- 1 Corinthians 12:31—13:13