The Massacre of the Innocents by Giotto, ca. 1304AD.
Today, 28 December, is the fourth day of the Octave of Christmas, and the Feast of the Holy Innocents -- Childermas. They are recalled in the Gospel of St. Matthew, Chapter 2:
13...behold an angel of the Lord appeared in sleep to Joseph, saying: Arise, and take the child and his mother, and fly into Egypt: and be there until I shall tell you. For it will come to pass that Herod will seek the child to destroy him. 14 Who arose, and took the child and his mother by night, and retired into Egypt: and he was there until the death of Herod: 15 That it might be fulfilled which the Lord spoke by the prophet, saying: Out of Egypt have I called my son. 16 Then Herod perceiving that he was deluded by the wise men, was exceeding angry: and sending killed all the menchildren that were in Bethlehem, and in all the borders thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently inquired of the wise men. 17 Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying: 18 A voice in Rama was heard, lamentation and great mourning; Rachel bewailing her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not.
On this day, then, we recall those that shed their blood on account of one who would kill the Christ. They did not will this particular end, and hence are not martyrs in the normal sense of that term, but they nonetheless died for Christ, as it were.
It is also a good day to ponder the number of innocents who have their blood shed each day -- particularly heinous is the crime of abortion. May we pray that those Herods that seek their own "good" in the destruction of others might repent.
For more on the Holy Innocents of Bethlehem, these links are most helpful:
Old Catholic Encyclopedia: Holy Innocents
Catholic Saints Info: Holy Innocents
Seasonal Customs (Fisheaters): Holy Innocents
Worth a moment is this traditional carol focusing on the Holy Innocents, the Coventry Carol. Fr. Z. has a splendid article on this beautiful carol: Fr. Z.: Childermas
Here is a wonderful recording of the same:
Merry Christmas & live well!