Holy Innocents Day is dedicated to children – the first Martyrs of Bartholomew, who were beaten by order of Herod. The story is described in the New Testament and conveys unjustified cruelty towards the helpless and defenseless. The Catholic Church celebrates the holiday on December 28th.
According to legend, the magi came to the birthplace of Jesus. The illegitimate ruler of Judea, Herod the Great, asked to be told about the whereabouts of Christ, but could not get an answer, since his plans were known. Then the cruel king gathered his people and gave the order to beat all male babies up to 2 years old who were in Bethlehem.
The theologian Theophylact of Bulgaria argued that the beating was God’s providence: this is how people understood that Herod was in fact a cruel person; the babies did not die, but on the contrary received great gifts for the patience of evil. However, other sources report a large number of deaths. In church traditions, there is no exact number of children killed, but there are many references. Some indicate 14 thousand, others 64 thousand.
Artists in the Renaissance painted vivid pictures, reflecting the cruelty of tradition. They depicted the grief of mothers – crying women, from whose hands they snatch babies by force, bloodied bodies and Herod, indifferently watching what is happening. The first mosaics related to the event came to us from the 5th century – they did not show explicit scenes of violence.
Need to know:
- Holy Innocents Day became a church holiday in the 5th century;
- this is the most miserable day of the year – innocent children are the first to suffer in the name of Jesus. The husband of the Virgin Mary had a dream that he needed to flee to Egypt – so Jesus was saved;
- the beating was foretold by the prophet Jeremiah.
How to celebrate
Dedicate time to children: play with them, buy treats, spend the whole day with them showing your love. Do not scold them today for pranks – let them have fun to the fullest! Attend mass and commemorate the martyrs.
When is Holy Innocents Day celebrated in 2022?
Holy Innocents Day is observed on December 28 each year.