Sunday, July 10, 2011
July 10 -- Feast of the (other) Seven Brothers
August 1 will be the feast of the Maccabean Martyrs, whose brutal torture and death were described in 2 Maccabees 7. Seven brothers and their mother were executed by Antiochus, the Hellenistic ruler of Judea, because they would not violate the commandments of Judaism by participating in polytheistic sacrifice.
You may well be wondering why an August 1 feast is mentioned on July 10. It is because some early Christians (fourth or fifth century) were not content with that story. It was, after all, a tale of Jewish martyrdom, which is pretty good, but how much better would it be if it had happened to Christians?
Thus, seven male names were selected from the many cemeteries of Rome to be linked as brothers, sons of Felicity, near whose grave one of them had been buried. These seven "brothers" were then said to have been cruelly tortured and murdered, one at a time while the others looked on, in an effort to coerce them into polytheistic sacrifice. Felicity, like the mother in Maccabees, was not only tough enough to endure the sequential murder of her sons, but to encourage them to keep the faith unto death.
Yet the deaths were no where near as grisly as what was described in Maccabees, which is a little disappointing, since they could have made anything up. According to one source, Januarius, Felix, and Philip were scourged to death; Silvanus was thrown over a precipice; Alexander, Vitalis, and Martialis were beheaded. Felicity, whose feast is held in November, was also beheaded.
A wise man once suggested that I learn to take pleasure in shameless ripoffs. I think I can do that today. As for The Seven Brothers Meet Dracula, I'm guessing that they're different from the others, unless their black belts were in Krav Maga.
Posted by Tom Major at 4:00 AM