December 29: Afterfeast of the Nativity of Christ; the 14,000 infants (Holy Innocents) slain by Herod at Bethlehem, the first Christian martyrs; Venerable Athenodorus, disciple of St. Pachomius the Great (4th c.) Venerable Benjamin, monk of Nitria in Egyptn (392); Venerable Marcellus, Abbot of the Monastery of the Unsleeping Ones ("the Ever-Vigilant"), Constantinople (485); Venerable Thaddeus, Confessor, of the Studion Monastery (818); Venerble Saint George, Bishop of Nicomedia, composer of Canons and Troparia (ca.857-891) Saint Trophimus, first Bishop of Arles in France (ca.280); Martyrs Callistus, Felix and Boniface, martyrs in Rome; Martyrs Dominic, Victor, Primian, Lybosus, Saturninus, Crescentius, Secundus and Honoratus, martyrs in North Africa; Saint Albert of Gambron, a courtier who became a hermit, later founding the small monastery of Gambron-sur-l'Authion in France (7th c.)' Saint Ebrulfus (Evroult), Abbot, born in Bayeux, monk at the monastery of Deux-Jumeaux, later founding a monastery at Pays d'Ouche in Normany, and other smaller monasteries (596); Saint Girald (Girard, Giraud), monk at Lagny in France, later Abbot of Saint-Arnoul, and of Fontenelle Abbey, where he was murdered (1031); Saint Mark the Grave-digger, of the Kiev Caves (11th c.); Saints Theophilus and John, of the Kiev Caves (11th-12th c.); Saint Theophilus, Abbot, of Luga and Omutch (Pskov) (1412), disciple of St. Arsenius of Konevits. Saint Basiliscus, Elder, the Hesychast of Siberia (Turinsk) (1824); Venerable Laurence of Chernigov (1950); New Hieromartyr Arcadius, Bishop of Tver (1937); New Hieromartyr Theodosius Belenky, Priest, at Chimkent (1938); Virgin-martyrs: Natalia, Natalia, Eudokia, Anna, Matrona, Barbara, Anna, Eudokia, Ephrosia, Agrippina and Natalia (1942); Other Commemorations: Commemoration of the consecration of the Church of the Holy Forty Martyrs, near the Copper Tetrapyle (four-way arch); Commemoration of all Orthodox Christians who have died from hunger, thirst, the sword, and freezing.
The Holy Innocents were the 14,000 infants slain by King Herod in Bethlehem after Christ’s birth, thus becoming the first martyrs for Christ. The Church remembers this on December 29.
The Magi in the East beheld a new star in the heavens, foretelling the Nativity of the King of the Jews. They journeyed immediately to Jerusalem to worship the Child, and the star showed them the way. Having worshiped the divine Infant, they did not return to Jerusalem to Herod, as he had ordered them, but being warned by God in a dream, they went back to their country by another way. Herod finally realized that his scheme to find the Child would not be successful, and he ordered that all the male children two years old and younger at Bethlehem and its surroundings be killed. He thought that the divine Infant, Whom he considered a rival, would be among the dead children.