The First Martyrs of the Holy Roman Church
On the day after the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, we honor the first martyrs of the Roman Church. They were victims of the Emperor Nero, who blamed Christians for a fire that destroyed most of the city of Rome in the year 64. These Christians were arrested, interrogated, and brutally murdered for Nero’s personal entertainment. They were thrown to the wild beasts in the arena or soaked in tar and used as living torches. Their deaths are documented in the writings of the Roman historian Tacitus and in Pope St Clement’s letter to the Corinthians.
Pope Clement encouraged His flock, “We are placed in the same arena, and the same contest lies before us. Hence we ought to put aside vain and useless concerns…Let us fix our gaze on the blood of Christ, realizing how precious it is to His Father, since it was shed for our salvation and brought the grace of repentance to all the world.”