Roman Martyrology

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The Martyrologium Romanum, or Roman Martyrology is a catalogue of the sufferings and death of Christians martyred for their faith, from the ancient days of the Roman Empire, beginning with Stephen, up to the present day in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, Oceania, the Philippines, and in the countries of Latin and South America. Like the Roman Missal and the Roman Breviary, the Roman Martyrology is an official liturgical book of the Catholic Church. It provides an extensive but not exhaustive list of the saints recognized by the Church. Several saints are remembered, commemorated and celebrated every day of the year. The Orthodox Church likewise has a calendar of saints and martyrs for every day and season, with emphasis on Eastern Christianity in the Synaxarion and the longer Martyrologion.[1]

Foxe's Book of Martyrs and the Roman Martyrology

It is interesting to note that the Martyrologium Romanum, the Roman Martyrology, was updated, then authorized and published by the Catholic Church twenty years after the 1563 first publication of John Foxe's Actes and Monuments (Foxe's Book of Martyrs), the same year the Council of Trent concluded.

The Roman Martyrology was first published in 1583 by Pope Gregory XIII, who the year before had decreed the revision of the calendar called, after him, the Gregorian Calendar. A second edition was published the same year. The third edition was made obligatory wherever the Roman Rite was in use. Many Catholics martyred for their faith during the English and Protestant Reformations were included, such as Thomas More who was beheaded under Henry VIII.

In 1630 Pope Urban VIII ordered a new edition. In 1748 a revised edition by Pope Benedict XIV appeared, who personally worked on the corrections: he suppressed some names, such as those of Clement of Alexandria and Sulpicius Severus, but kept others that some had objected to, such as Pope Siricius. Since then, the Roman Martyrology remained essentially unchanged, except for the addition of new saints canonized during the subsequent years, up to the year 2001.

Recent developments

The Second Vatican Council decreed: "The accounts of martyrdom or the lives of the saints are to accord with the facts of history."[2][3] Years of study were required for determining reliable historical information which could be reasonably verified, after which a fully revised edition of the Roman Martyrology was issued in Latin (officially Martyrologium Romanum) in 2001, followed in 2004 by a revision that corrected some typographical errors in the 2001 edition and added 117 people canonized or beatified between 2001 and 2004, as well as a considerable number of ancient saints not included in the previous edition.

"The updated Martyrology contains 7,000 saints and blesseds currently venerated by the Church, and whose cult is officially recognized and proposed to the faithful as models worthy of imitation."[4]

The current crisis of violent persecution by anti-Christian militants will certainly add more names to the Martyrology of those courageous souls who were killed for their witness and testimony to Jesus Christ.

See also




Council of Trent 1545-1563


''The Two Babylons''

Great Apostasy

Christian apologetics


External links