Holy Innocents

Holy Innocents A festival in commemoration of the slaughter of infant martyrs (at Bethlehem, Mt 2:16), of which the Greek menology and Ethiopic liturgy give the number at 40,000, is alluded to by the early Christian fathers, especially Irenaeus and Cyprian, Origen and Augustine, as of memorial observance. In the 4th century, Prudentius celebrates it in the hymn "All hail, ye infant Martyr-Flowers," and, in connection with the Epiphany, also Fulgentius, in his homilies for the day. St. Bernard also alludes to them: "Stephen was a martyr before men: John before angels, but these before God, confessing Christ by dying, not by speech, and their merit is known only to God." Violet was used on this day in memory of the sorrow of their mothers, and the Te Deum, Alleluia, and doxologies were forbidden. In England, at Norton (Worcestershire), "a muffled peal is rung to commemorate the slaughter, and then a peal of joy for the escape of the infant Christ; a half-muffled peal is rung at Minety, Maisemore, Leigh-on- Menldip, Wick, Rissington, and Pattington." — Walcott, Sacred Archaeology, p. 313. SEE INNOCENTS.

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