“Sweet Flowers of Martyrdom” (First Century)
+ Today the Church celebrates those children who were killed in Bethlehem and the surrounding area by order of King Herod.
+ These innocent victims gave testimony to the Messiah and Redeemer, not by their words, but by shedding their blood.
+ Honored as martyrs by the Early Church, they have been remembered since the first century.
+ In his beautiful “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 martyrs’ palms that are their reward.
For prayer and reflection
“In Ramah is heard the sound of sobbing,
Rachel mourns for her children,
she refuses to be consoled
for her children—they are no more!”—Jeremiah 31:15; Matthew 2:18
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.