New Catholic Dictionary – Holy Innocents

'Massacre of the Innocents', Peter Paul RubensArticle

Martyrs, male children slain by Herod. Matthew 2, recounts that Herod, angered because he had been deluded by the wise men, ordered the massacre of all male children of two years or under in Bethlehem. The Greek Liturgy numbered the martyrs at 14,000; the Syrians named 64,000; medieval records, 144,000; and modern authors have reduced the number considerably, some even so low as 15. The year of their death is unknown; however, it is generally. accepted that the slaughter occurred about two years after the apparition of the star to the wise men. Patrons of choir boys. Relics partly in Saint Paul’s-Outside-the-Walls and in Saint Mary Major, Rome. The feast of the Holy Innocents commemorated in the Roman Calendar, 28 December, is of ancient origin; the first extant mention of it is in the, Leonine Sacramentary, c.485. Mass is celebrated in purple and the Gloria and Alleluia are omitted. In England it was known as Childermas and, as in some other European countries, on this day a boy-bishop, consecrated on the feast of Saint Nicholas, 6 December, officiated at cathedral services.

MLA Citation

  • “Holy Innocents”. New Catholic Dictionary. CatholicSaints.Info. 23 October 2010. Web. 28 July 2021. <>