Yesterday, we celebrated the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul. New Archbishops from around the world received their pallia (sing. Pallium) the sign of an archbishop.
Today, we celebrated the First Martyrs of Rome, which marks the persecution of Christians by Nero (64-67 AD).
One of the major revisions to the Church's calendar after Vatican II was to thoroughly review the historicity of the saints names that had accumulated after almost two millennia. Those for whom no historical evidence could be found were removed. In some cases where specific names could not be verified days like today's were created.
We know that the persecution happened and many Christians were killed for nothing more than simply being Christian. Their names have been lost to us. But isn't that a general truth? Most of the holiest men and women in history have been born, lived, and died without ever becoming famous.
Even as I write this I know that there are men and women in obscure places who will be killed simply because of their faith and no one but their families and friends will take note.
Today as we remember those first Christian martyrs who died almost 1950 years ago, we pray for all those who will be martyrs still, especially those whose names will never be part of the history.
NB. The word martyr comes from Greek and means literally witness. In Christianity a martyr is one who is killed by someone else because of their faith.