The Holy Innocents were the 14,000 infants slain by King Herod in Bethlehem after Christ’s birth, thus becoming the first martyrs for Christ. The Church remembers this on December 29.
The Magi in the East beheld a new star in the heavens, foretelling the Nativity of the King of the Jews. They journeyed immediately to Jerusalem to worship the Child, and the star showed them the way. Having worshiped the divine Infant, they did not return to Jerusalem to Herod, as he had ordered them, but being warned by God in a dream, they went back to their country by another way. Herod finally realized that his scheme to find the Child would not be successful, and he ordered that all the male children two years old and younger at Bethlehem and its surroundings be killed. He thought that the divine Infant, Whom he considered a rival, would be among the dead children.
- We beseech You, O Lord of mankind
- To accept in supplication
- The suffering which Your saints endured for Your sake, O Lord,
- And heal all our infirmities.
Kontakion (Tone 8)
- When the King was born in Bethlehem, the Magi came from the East.
- Having been led by a star from on High, they brought Him gifts.
- But in exceeding wrath, Herod harvested the infants as sorrowing wheat;
- The rule of his kingdom has come to an end.