It is the custom in Bethlehem for Christian children to gather in the church of the Nativity every afternoon and sing a hymn in memory of the ‘flowers of martyrdom,’ who bore witness to the Messiah whom they did not know. The feast of the Holy Innocents has been kept in the West from the 4th century: They are considered to be martyrs because they not only died for Christ but instead of Christ. In Jerome’s martyrology they are called “the holy babes and sucklings”; in the Calendar of Carthage, simply “the infants.” Their relics are claimed by English and French churches.
In this feast the Church honors all who die in a state of innocence and consoles parents of dead children with the conviction that these also will share the glory of the infant companions of Jesus
Holy Innocents Novena
Dear Jesus, we thank You for Your blessed martyrs, the Holy Innocents. We praise You for the holy sacrifice they made by dying in place of You, and we ask You to hear their prayers on our behalf.
Holy Innocents, you were the victim of evil King Herod’s cruel jealousy. Fearing that his power would be usurped, he ordered your deaths. You gave up your lives in place of Christ. Please bring my prayers before the throne of Jesus for Whom you died!
You were cruelly killed at a young age by Herod’s soldiers. You died innocent victims, and we venerate you as martyrs because you were killed in place of the Infant Jesus. Pray for us, that we may always be willing to lay down our lives for Christ. Pray that we may grow in devotion to God each day.
Please also pray for
(mention your intentions here).
Holy Innocents, pray for us!
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
Prayer to the Holy Innocents for courage and strength
The innocent and sinless are not to be without their penance in this world, upon which falls the deep shadow of sin. I see it is Thy holy will, who wiliest all things well. I, then, will at least deny myself some little pleasure each day for love of Thee. I will not always seek and choose the easy and the flowery path. Teach me to give up daily my own will with gladness for Thy dear sake. Ye holy Innocents, blest Babes, earliest martyrs of Jesus Christ, the King of martyrs, how bright a life was won by that sharp death! Beautiful little martyrs of the holy Child, your eyes soon closed upon the dull mists of earth, to open upon untold glories. Bitter and short the passage, but Oh, Low passing sweet the end! How sweet to have died for Him who came to give His life for you! Pray for me, ye stainless ones, before the Throne, that I too, unworthy and wayward as I am, may come to be with those who follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth. Most Holy Child Jesus, save Thy children.
FEAST OF THE HOLY INNOCENTS
Holy children of God, you suffered death before you enjoyed the fullness of life, yet now you rest and reign with Christ in glory. Look down from heaven on our poor earth where children like you still suffer and die at the hands of those blinded by this world. Surround and protect the innocent and when our own poor efforts fail, comfort and console the parents whose loss we can hardly comprehend or imagine. We commend to your joyful company in heaven the souls of all dear children who have died. Help us to become like you, simple, pure and true! Teach us to accept love and blessings like you! Fill us with the joy and laughter of life to remind us that to such babes as you, the Kingdom of Heaven belongs. AMEN
Prayer to the Holy Innocents
Holy Innocents, you died before you were old enough to know what life means, pray for all children who die young that God may gather them into His loving arms.
Holy Innocents, you were killed because one man was filled with hatred, pray for those who hate that God may touch their hearts and fill them with love.
Holy Innocents, you experienced a violent death, pray for all who are affected by violence that they may find peace and love.
Holy Innocents, your parents grieved for you with deep and lasting sorrow, pray for all parents who have lost young children that God may wrap a warm blanket of comfort around them.
Holy Innocents, those around you certainly felt helpless to prevent your deaths, pray for all who feel helpless in their circumstances that they may cling to God for courage and hope.
Holy Innocents, you who are now in Heaven, pray for all of us, that one day we may join you there to bask in God’s love forever. Amen.
Prayer for Holy Innocents
We remember today, O God,
the slaughter of the holy innocents
of Bethlehem by King Herod.
Receive, we pray,
into the arms of your mercy
all innocent victims;
and by your great might
frustrate the designs of evil tyrants
and establish your rule of justice, love and peace;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you,
in the union of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
Blessing of Children on Holy Innocents
O Lord Jesus Christ, once You embraced and placed Your hands upon the little children who came to You, and said: “Suffer the little children to come unto Me, and forbid them not, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven, and their angels always see the face of my Father!” Look now with fatherly eyes on the innocence of these children and their parents’ devotion, and bless them this day through our ministry. (The father signs the forehead of each child with the sign of the cross.) In Your grace and goodness let them advance continually, longing for You, loving You, fearing You, keeping Your commandments. Then they will surely come to their destined home, through You, Savior of the world. Who lives and reigns forever and ever.