December 28: The Feast Of The Holy Innocents

Martyrs

On this day the Church celebrates the memory of those children who were killed in Bethlehem and its environs by order of King Herod. These innocent victims gave testimony to the Messiah and Redeemer, not by words, but by shedding their blood. Recognized as martyrs by the Fathers of the Church, they have been commemorated since the first century.

In his Hymn for Epiphany, the poet Prudentius praises the Innocents as “sweet flowers of martyrdom/cut down in life’s bright dawning hour,” and as playing, in their simplicity, by God’s altar with the crowns and palms that are their reward.

As we celebrate the memory of these holy children, take time today to reflect on those children throughout the world who suffer in our own time because of the abusive power and authority of others through human trafficking, abuse, exploitation, or neglect. Ask the Christ Child to be with them in their suffering and pray for and support those who seek to bring freedom and relief to these modern innocents.

Prayer +
O God, whom the Holy Innocents confessed
and proclaimed on this day,
not by speaking but by dying,
grant, we pray,
that the faith in you which we confess with our lips
may also speak through our manner of life.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
(Prayer from The Roman Missal)