Today is the Feast of the Holy Innocents, a day that Christians have historically set aside for remembering the baby boys of Bethlehem that Herod cruelly slaughtered (Matthew 2:16-18).
Also called Childermas, the Feast was instituted between 400 and 500 AD by the Latin-speaking church and intentionally placed within the octave of Christmas to emphasize that the Holy Innocents – considered by many to be the church’s first martyrs - gave their life for the newborn Saviour.
But the Feast is also a time when the church annually reaffirms her commitment to the sanctity of life. As George Grant observed last year,
As Dr. Grant’s words suggest, today is a time for us to mourn, not only over the Bethlehem martyrs, but over the tens of thousands of innocent victims who have been slain on the altar of the abortion industry.
It has long been the focus of the Christian Church’s commitment to protect and preserve the sanctity of human life--thus serving as a prophetic warning against the practicioners of abandonment and infanticide in the age of Antiquity, oblacy and pessiary in the Medieval epoch, and abortion and euthanasia in these Modern times. Generally set aside as a day of prayer, it culminates with a declaration of the covenant community’s unflinching commitment to the innocents who are unable to protect themselves.
The Magi, the Massacre and Herod the Horrible
My Columns at the Chuck Colson Center