3rd Day of Christmas: Feast of Holy Innocents

Who was this ghastly king, and what were his infamous deeds? Herod the Great was a convert to Judaism. He was a prefect of the Roman Empire, a tyrant, a brilliant politician, and a murderous villain. He accomplished some spectacular building projects, including an expansion of the second temple in Jerusalem. Among the victims of his murderous carnage, he killed his wife, his brother, and two of his sisters’ husbands, but what is his enduring legacy in the Holy Scriptures?

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Feast of the Holy Innocents

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Childermas (Feast of the Holy Innocents or Massacre of the Innocents) is observed in the West on December 28, the third day of (liturgical) Christmas. Feast of the Holy Innocents commemorates the male children of Bethlehem (two-years old and younger) slayed by Herod the Great in his desperate attempt to cling to the throne. These children are considered the first martyrs of Christianity.

Herod knew the ancient prophecies (of the coming Messiah) in the Old Testament and also heard the news of a soon-to-be new-born King, a Messiah who would take away the sins of the world, as told in the Gospel of Matthew.

I selected a poetic form called “Sestina” for the following poem. I hope this finds you in joyful spirits, good health, and cheerfully celebrating the 12 days of Christmas.


A Profane event for a feast,
Commemorating murdered children,
Males under two years, innocents,
Herod cleaved while seeking Jesus,
So he killed all Bethlehem boys,
And this day is holy,

On account of Christ’s holiness.
This immovable feast
Celebrates the boys,
The Substitute children,
Slain in bloodlust for Jesus,
Before losing their innocence.

Utterly innocent
And indubitably holy
(Only Christ Jesus),
Provides a just feast:
Lauding these children,
Each esteemed boy.

Butchered boys,
Robed in innocence,
Now exalted children,
And the King of holiness
Shelters your feast,
In the name of Jesus.

Your personal Jesus,
Beloved boys,
For you we feast,
Ill-fated innocents,
And your crown of holiness,
You cast as children.

The One Royal Child,
Victorious Jesus,
In justice and holiness,
Redeemer of the boys:
Assurance of innocence
Memorialized in a feast.

The feast of the Holy Innocents, ordained by Jesus,
For God’s delight, a veneration of martyred boys,
Children slain by Herod’s madness, to kill the One most holy.

Copyright © by Donald Lindsey
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