Tag Archives: Holy Innocents

Holy Innocents

The day on which we recall those innocent children, the boys we call holy, who unknowingly gave their lives for their Savior, let’s hear the words of Saint Augustine of Hippo.

Today, dearest brethren, we celebrate the birthday of those children
who were slaughtered, as the Gospel tells us, by that exceedingly cruel king,
Herod. Let the earth, therefore, rejoice and the Church exult — she, the
fruitful mother of so many heavenly champions and of such glorious virtues.
Never, in fact, would that impious tyrant have been able to benefit these
children by the sweetest kindness as much as he has done by his hatred
. For as
today’s feast reveals, in the measure with which malice in all its fury was
poured out upon the holy children, did heaven’s blessing stream down upon them.

The Holy Innocents

Today’s feast of The Holy Innocents has renewed meaning with the recent tragedy involving the death of 20 children in Newtown, CT on December 14. The entrance antiphon for Mass is rather startling (as is the Collect): “The innocents were slaughtered as infants for Christ; spotless, they follow the Lamb and sing for ever: Glory to you, O Lord.”

So many violations of human dignity come to mind. Most notable resonances of recent days are the Newtown children, but there are also the countless of children aborted daily, the merciless killing of the elderly, sick, immigrants, and the list can go on. There is much work to protect human life.

Christmastide is filled with opportunities to recall those who died for Christ: Saint Stephen, the Holy Innocents, Saint Thomas Becket, CT little ones. The 16th century Coventry Carol, was sung as part of a pageant demonstrating chapter 2 of Matthew’s Gospel where Herod kills male children under the age of two. The unknown author captures the scene perfectly, and even today it has a poignant message.

The Most Reverend Peter A. Rosazza published this editorial on his Facebook page:

Duccio Holy Innocents.jpg

On December 28th
our church commemorates the massacre of the Holy Innocents by King Herod
shortly after the birth of Jesus. The Magi disturbed Herod when they asked him
where they could find the new-born King since they had been led by his star to
Jerusalem. Herod, jealous of his power, sent soldiers to kill all baby boys two
years of age and younger in Bethlehem and its surroundings. Some scholars
estimate the number at approximately twenty-eight.

Just two weeks earlier, on
December 14th, another massacre of innocents occurred. As we know, eight boys
and twelve girls, between the ages of six and seven, along with six women, were
executed by twenty-year old Adam Lanza who had first killed his own mother. The
principal of the school another woman ran toward him and were killed in the

Read more ...

Holy Innocents


At the king’s command these innocent babes and little Children were put to death. They
died for Christ, and now in the glory of heaven as they follow Him, the
spotless Lamb, they sing for ever: Glory to You, O Lord!

O God, whom the Holy Innocents confessed and proclaimed on this day, not 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 living.

Pay close attention to the sentiments of this prayer: confession of the reality of God not by words but by actions, by the way we live. How appropriate to keep this in mind these days.

Holy Innocents

Holy Innocents Duccio.jpg

There were innocent children slain instead of Christ, by a
wicked ruler. Even the nursing babes were put to death. Spotless, they follow
the Lamb Himself, and say forever: 

Glory be to You, O Lord!

Holy Innocents

Massacre of the Innocents Duccio.jpgOur soul has been rescued like a bird from the fowler’s snare.


Father, the Holy Innocents offered you praise by the death they suffered for Christ. May our lives bear witness to the faith we profess with our lips.


from the Directory of Popular Piety and the Liturgy: The Feast of the Holy Innocents

Since the sixth century, on December 28, the Church has celebrated the memory of those children killed because of Herod’s rage against Christ (cf. Mt 2:16-17). Liturgical tradition refers to them as the “Holy Innocents” and regards them as martyrs. Throughout the centuries Christian art, poetry and popular piety have enfolded the memory of the “tender flock of lambs” with sentiments of tenderness and sympathy. These sentiments are also accompanied by a note of indignation against the violence with which they were taken from their mothers’ arms and killed.

In our own times, children suffer innumerable forms of violence which threaten their lives, dignity and right to education. On this day, it is appropriate to recall the vast host of children not yet born who have been killed under the cover of laws permitting abortion, which is an abominable crime. Mindful of these specific problems, popular piety in many places has inspired acts of worship as well as displays of charity which provide assistance to pregnant mothers, encourage adoption and the promotion of the education of children.

As recorded in the gospel of Matthew, after the visit of the Magi, Herod, in rage and jealousy, slaughtered all the baby boys in Bethlehem and surrounding countryside in an attempt to destroy his perceived rival, the infant Messiah. These “innocents” are honored by the Church as martyrs.

In countries where our own innocents are daily being slaughtered by abortion, this feast day is a special time to remember the unborn, to pray for their cause, and perhaps to picket or pray at facilities where unborn babies are killed through abortion. (113)

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
coat of arms



Humanities Blog Directory