Lives of Saints - The Holy Infants Christianity - Books
And if thy hand cause thee to stumble, cut it off: it is good for thee to enter into life maimed, rather than having thy two hands to go into hell, into the unquenchable fire.                where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.                And if thy foot cause thee to stumble, cut it off: it is good for thee to enter into life halt, rather than having thy two feet to be cast into hell.                where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.                And if thine eye cause thee to stumble, cast it out: it is good for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell;                where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.               
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Lives of Saints - The Holy Infants
   

The Holy Infants

Although St. Stephen is generally recognised as the first martyr, he was preceded by a host of innocent babes slaughtered by the infamous Herod whose fearful uncertainty drove him in panic to commit the most heinous of crimes.

It is not generally known that the barbarous Herod, who reigned over the Jews at the time when Christ was born, was not by descent a Jew himself, but a member of a tribe that had been absorbed into Judaism.

Hence, he zealously relished his role as king of the Jews under the Roman Empire. The news of the coming of a Messiah, so alarmed Herod that he hastily assembled about him his close associates, including priest and scribes from whom it was ascertained that the newborn king was coming into the world in the obscure village of Bethlehem.

Still sceptical, he consulted the wise men of the East and asked them to seek out this Christ child. However, these Magi, from various countries, not only venerated the Messiah and bestowed gifts upon them, but returned to their homelands rather than betray Him Who was the King of Kings.

Up to this point Herod had been guilty of atrocities of such vile nature that it came as no surprise that, in order to protect his position, he ordered the massacre of every Jewish male infant under the age of two not only in Bethlehem but for miles around. It is estimated that 14,000 infants were put to the sword.

These holy innocents were the first victims of a persecution that proved itself relentless for centuries.

Pilgrims to the Holy Land discover that entombed deep in the grotto of the Church of the Nativity are many of these Innocents, appropriately enough, beneath the now vanished stable where Christ was born.

At this sacred spot the Patriarch of Jerusalem conducts special commemorative services each year on the 11th of January, a day in which Christians of all denominations can- not fail to pause in respect, in whatever part of the world they might be.

Source: http://www.orthodoxchristian.info


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