"Love for Christ and zeal for souls leads us to proclaim the Gospel of Life.”
New York City has no shortage of religious festivals or processions. Little Italy’s sprawling Feast of San Gennaro, Chinatown’s Feast of the Assumption procession, and the Giglio lift celebrating St. Paolino and Our Lady of Mt. Carmel are just a few of the devotions that take place every year.
Most festivals and processions are joyful and involve ethnic foods and carnivals, bringing communities together in a spirit of thanksgiving.
But the Feast of the Holy Innocents, the memorial of the sacrifice of the first martyrs for Christ, is different.
The dark nature of Holy Innocents’ Day, which commemorates Herod’s massacre of all male children two years and younger, is a somber recollection of the innocent lives lost in his attempt to kill the child Jesus.
At the Shrine of the Holy Innocents on West 37th Street, people gathered for Mass, Benediction, and a public Rosary procession. The intention was to offer prayer in union with the Holy Innocents for the innocent lives lost in the present age through abortion.
In the homily, Fr. Fidelis of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal said, “Love for Christ and zeal for souls leads us to proclaim the Gospel of Life; love for Christ and zeal for souls moves us to offer real help to mothers in crisis pregnancies; and love for Christ and zeal for souls moves us today to publicly pray and witness at the very place where innocent blood is shed.”
Even with the procession’s solemn tone, the beauty of those united in Christ shone through. Through the beauty of those who bear witness to Christ’s love, the smiling eyes of those who took to the streets in prayerful solidarity and the startling image of the procession, a powerful reminder that the legacy of the saints of the city continues.
In the words of Fr. Fidelis CFR, “May the tragic sound of Rachel’s weeping in this world be transformed into the joyful, angelic hymn “Glory to God in the highest. and on earth peace to people of goodwill.”