Saints of the Day: Protomartyrs of Rome


Protomartyrs of Rome
Feast Day: June 30
After a raging fire destroyed two-thirds of Rome in 64, Emperor Nero blamed Rome’s Christians to divert suspicion from himself. Those acknowledging their Christianity were arrested and executed. Some were covered in wax and set afire as torches; some were sewn into animal skins and cast into the arena with wild animals; others were crucified. Sts. Peter and Paul died in the same persecution.
The feast of these earliest martyrs of the Roman church is celebrated a day after the joint feast of Peter and Paul. The Roman historian Tacitus said the

The Christian Martyrs' Last Prayer Jean-Léon Gérôme
“The Christian Martyrs’ Last Prayer” by Jean-Léon Gérôme Wikimedia Commons

protomartyrs were to be pitied “for it was felt that they were being sacrificed to one man’s brutality.”