Massacre of the Innocents. Feast: December 28th.
28 December 2011
The Massacre of the Innocents
The Massacre of the Innocents is an episode of infanticide by the King of Judea, Herod the Great . According to the Gospel of Matthew . Herod orders the execution of all young male children in the village of Bethlehem, so as to avoid the loss of his throne to a newborn King of the Jews whose birth has been announced to him by the Magi. The incident, like others in Matthew, is described as the fulfillment of a passage in the Old Testament read as prophecy, in this case a reading of Jeremiah: “Then was fulfilled that which was spoken through Jeremiah the prophet, saying, A voice was heard in Ramah, Weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children.” The infants, known in the Church as the Holy Innocents, have been claimed as the first Christian martyrs. Some accounts number them at more than ten thousand, but more conservative estimates put their number in the low dozens. In Matthew’s account, magi (wise men) from the east go to Judea in search of the newborn king of the Jews, having “seen his star in the east”. The King, Herod the great, directs them to Bethlehem, and asks them to let him know who this king is when they find him. They find Jesus and honor him, but an angel tells them not to alert Herod, and they return home by another way. The Massacre of the Innocents is at Matthew 2:16-18.