The Holy Martyred 14,000 Infants
Commemorated on December 29
The Holy Martyred 14,000 Infants were killed by king Herod in Bethlehem. When the time was come for the fulfilling of the greatest of events – the Incarnation of the Son of God and His Birth of the MostHoly Virgin Mary, Magi in the East beheld a new star in the heavens, foretelling the Nativity of the King of the Jews. They set off immediately to Jerusalem to worship the Born-Child, and the star showed them the way. Having worshipped the Divine-Infant, they did not return to Jerusalem to Herod, as he had ordered them to, but rather – receiving a revelation from on high – they went back to their country by another way. Herod finally realised that his scheme to find the Infant would not have success, and he gave orders to kill all the male children two years and younger at Bethlehem and its surroundings. He reasoned, that among the dead children would be also the Divine-Infant, Whom he considered a rival. The murdered infants became the first martyrs for Christ. The rage of Herod fell also on Simeon the God-Receiver, who declared in witness in front of everyone in the Temple that the Messiah had been born. When the holy elder died, Herod would not give permission that he be properly buried. And on the orders of king Herod, the holy prophet and priest Zachariah also was killed: they murdered him in the Jerusalem Temple betwixt the Offertory and the Altar – because he would not tell the whereabouts of his son John, the future Baptist of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The wrath of God soon fell upon Herod himself: an horrid condition struck him down and he died – devoured by worms while still alive. Before his death the impious king accomplished full measure of his wicked deeds: he murdered chief-priests and scribes among the Jews, and also his brother by birth, and his sister and her husband, and also his own wife Mariam and three of his sons, and likewise 70 men of wisdom that were members of the Sanhedrin.
© 1996-2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos.