Saints of the Day ~ June 30

FIRST MARTYRS of the CHURCH of ROME (64 A.D.)

Today, the Church honors those unknown numbers of Christians who were tortured and fed to wild animals, crucified or burned alive in Nero’s gardens in Rome.

These first martyrs or “proto-martyrs” of Rome were the first Christians persecuted en masse by the Emperor Nero in the year 64, before the martyrdom of Saints Peter and Paul. Nero was widely believed to have caused the fire that burned down much of Rome in June of the same year. He blamed the fire on the Christians and subsequently put them to death to divert attention from himself.

These martyrs were called the “Disciples of the Apostles”, and their firmness in the face of their gruesome deaths, which were devised as a spectacle for the Roman citizenry, were a powerful testimony that led to many conversions in the early Roman Church.

The pagan writer Tacitus testifies to these events in his document “Annales” as does Saint Clement, bishop of Rome, in his letter to the Corinthians.

The total number of those martyred in the name of Jesus Christ is known only to God.

We commemorate this feastday in their memory on June 30.

(From catholicnewsagency.com, saints.sqpn.com, americancatholic.org, and catholicculture.org)

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PRAYER

(The following prayer is from the Roman Breviary from the Proper for the First Martyrs of the Church of Rome)

“Father, You sanctified the Church of Rome with the blood of its first martyrs. May we find strength from their courage and rejoice in their triumph.

“We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.”

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