The woman with seven sons was a Jewish martyr described in 2 Maccabees 7 and other sources. Although unnamed in 2 Maccabees, she is known variously as Hannah,Miriam, and Solomonia.
Shortly before the revolt of Judas Maccabeus (2 Maccabees 8), Antiochus IV Epiphanes arrested a mother and her seven sons, and tried to force them to eat pork. When they refused, he tortured and killed the sons one by one. The narrator mentions that the mother "was the most remarkable of all, and deserves to be remembered with special honour. She watched her seven sons die in the space of a single day, yet she bore it bravely because she put her trust in the Lord."Each of the sons makes a speech as he dies, and the last one says that his brothers are "dead under God's covenant of everlasting life". The narrator ends by saying that the mother died, without saying whether she was executed, or died in some other way.
The Talmud tells a similar story, but with refusal to worship an idol replacing refusal to eat pork. Tractate Gittin 57b cites Rabbi Judah saying that "this refers to the woman and her seven sons" and the unnamed king is referred to as the "Emperor" and "Caesar". The woman commits suicide in this rendition of the story: she "also went up on to a roof and threw herself down and was killed".
Other versions of the story are found in 4 Maccabees (which suggests that the woman might have thrown herself into the flames, 17:1) and Josippon (which says she fell dead on her sons' corpses).
Various sources have proposed names for this woman. In Lamentations Rabbah she is called Miriam bat Tanhum,in the Eastern Orthodox tradition she is known as Solomonia, while in the Armenian Apostolic Church she is called Shamuna, and in the Syriac Church she is known as Shmuni. She is called "Hannah" (or "Chana") in Josippon, perhaps as a result of connecting her with Hannah in the Book of Samuel, who says that the "barren woman bears seven," (1 Samuel 2:5). Gerson Cohen notes that this occurs only in the longer Spanish version of Josippon (1510), while the shorter Mantuan version (c. 1480) continues to refer to her anonymously.
The woman with seven sons is remembered with high regard for her religious steadfastness, teaching her sons to keep to their faith, even if it meant execution. The Maccabees story reflects a theme of the book, that "the strength of the Jews lies in the fulfillment of the practical mitzvot ".
It is probable that Hilary of Poitiers refers to this woman as a prophet. Hilary says "For all things, as the Prophet says, were made out of nothing,"and, according to Patrick Henry Reardon, he is quoting 2 Maccabees 7:28.
Roman Catholic apologist Jimmy Akin uses this story to defend the Deuterocanonical books. He examines Hebrews 11:35 ("Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, that they might rise again to a better life") and notes that this hope of eternal life after torture is not found anywhere in the Protestant Old Testament, but is found in 2 Maccabees 7.
According to Antiochene Christian tradition, the relics of the mother and sons were interred on the site of a synagogue (later converted into a church) in the Kerateion quarter of Antioch.On the other hand, tombs believed to be those of these martyrs were discovered in San Pietro in Vincoli in 1876. An additional tomb believed to be that of the woman with her seven sons is located in the Jewish cemetery of Safed.
The Holy Maccabees
Wojciech Stattler's "Machabeusze" ("The Maccabees"), 1844
|Born||2nd century BC|
Judea (modern-day Israel)
|Venerated in|| Catholic Church |
Eastern Orthodox Church
Oriental Orthodox Church
Although they are not the same as the Hasmonean rulers called Maccabees, the woman and her sons, along with the Eleazar described in 2 Maccabees 6, are known as the "Holy Machabees" or "Holy Maccabean Martyrs" in the Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church.
The Orthodox Church celebrates the Holy Maccabean Martyrs on August 1. The Catholic Church also includes them in its official list of saints that have August 1 as their feast day. From before the time of the Tridentine Calendar, the Holy Maccabees had a commemoration in the Roman Rite liturgy within the feast of Saint Peter in Chains. This commemoration remained within the weekday liturgy when in 1960 Pope John XXIII suppressed this particular feast of Saint Peter. Nine years later, 1 August became the feast of Saint Alphonsus Maria de' Liguori and the mention of the Maccabee martyrs was omitted from the General Roman Calendar, since in its 1969 revision it no longer admitted commemorations.Since they are among the saints and martyrs recognized in the Roman Martyrology, they may be venerated by all Catholics everywhere.
According to Eastern Orthodox tradition, the sons are called Abim, Antonius, Gurias, Eleazar, Eusebonus, Alimus and Marcellus,though the names differ slightly among different authorities.
According to the Syriac Maronite Fenqitho (book of festal offices), the name of the mother is Shmooni while her sons are Habroun, Hebsoun, Bakhous, Adai, Tarsai, Maqbai and Yawnothon.
The three Ethiopian books of Meqabyan (canonical in the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, but distinct works from the other four books of Maccabees) refer to an unrelated group of "Maccabean Martyrs," five brothers including 'Abya, Seela, and Pantos, sons of a Benjamite named Maccabeus, who were captured and martyred for leading a guerilla war against Antiochus Epiphanes.
Various mystery plays in the Middle Ages portrayed the Maccabean martyrs, and depictions of their martyrdom possibly gave rise to the term "macabre", perhaps derived from the Latin Machabaeorum.
Agnes of Rome is a virgin martyr, venerated as a saint in the Roman Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox Church, the Anglican Communion, and Lutheranism. She is one of seven women who, along with the Blessed Virgin, are commemorated by name in the Canon of the Mass.
Mary was a first-century BC Galilean Jewish woman of Nazareth, and the mother of Jesus, according to the New Testament and the Quran.
The Maccabees, also spelled Machabees, were a group of Jewish rebel warriors who took control of Judea, which at the time was part of the Seleucid Empire. They founded the Hasmonean dynasty, which ruled from 167 BCE to 37 BCE, being a fully independent kingdom from about 110 to 63 BCE. They reasserted the Jewish religion, partly by forced conversion, expanded the boundaries of Judea by conquest and reduced the influence of Hellenism and Hellenistic Judaism.
1 Maccabees is a book written in Hebrew by a Jewish author after the restoration of an independent Jewish kingdom by the Hasmonean dynasty, about the latter part of the 2nd century BC. The original Hebrew is lost and the most important surviving version is the Greek translation contained in the Septuagint. The book is held as canonical scripture by the Catholic, Orthodox, and Oriental Orthodox churches, but not by Protestant denominations nor any major branches of Judaism; it is not part of the Tanakh. Such Protestants consider it to be an apocryphal book.
2 Maccabees is a deuterocanonical book which focuses on the Maccabean Revolt against Antiochus IV Epiphanes and concludes with the defeat of the Seleucid empire general Nicanor in 161 BC by Judas Maccabeus, the hero of the hard work.
Judah Maccabee was a Jewish priest (kohen) and a son of the priest Mattathias. He led the Maccabean Revolt against the Seleucid Empire.
The Dormition of the Mother of God is a Great Feast of the Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Churches which commemorates the "falling asleep" or death of Mary the Theotokos, and her bodily resurrection before being taken up into heaven. It is celebrated on 15 August as the Feast of the Dormition of the Mother of God. The Armenian Apostolic Church celebrates the Dormition not on a fixed date, but on the Sunday nearest 15 August.
The Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, known in the East as The Entry of the Most Holy Theotokos into the Temple, is a liturgical feast celebrated on November 21 by the Catholic and Orthodox Churches.
May 14 - Eastern Orthodox Church calendar - May 16
July 31 - Eastern Orthodox liturgical calendar - Aug. 2
Mattathias ben Johanan was a Kohen whose role in the religion-driven Maccabean Revolt against the Greek Seleucid Empire is related in the Books of the Maccabees. Mattathias is accorded a central role in the story of Hanukkah and, as a result, is named in the Al HaNissim prayer Jews add to the Birkat Hamazon and the Amidah during the festival's eight days.
Simeon at the Temple is the "just and devout" man of Jerusalem who, according to Luke 2:25–35, met Mary, Joseph, and Jesus as they entered the Temple to fulfill the requirements of the Law of Moses on the 40th day from Jesus' birth at the presentation of Jesus at the Temple.
Felicitas of Rome, also anglicized as Felicity, is a saint numbered among the Christian martyrs. Apart from her name, the only thing known for certain about this martyr is that she was buried in the Cemetery of Maximus, on the Via Salaria on a 23 November. However, a legend presents her as the mother of the seven martyrs whose feast is celebrated on 10 July. The Eastern Orthodox Church celebrates their martyrdom on 25 January.
Eleazar is a common Jewish given name for a male.
The Maccabean Revolt was a Jewish rebellion, lasting from 167 to 160 BCE, led by the Maccabees against the Seleucid Empire and the Hellenistic influence on Jewish life.
Johanan was the oldest of the sons of Mattathias, and brother of Judas Maccabeus. He was one of the leaders of the revolt of the Maccabees in the 2nd century BC.
Eleazar was a Jewish man whose story is portrayed in 2 Maccabees 6. Verse 18 describes him as "one of the leading teachers of the law," and "of distinguished bearing." We learn from verse 24 that he was ninety at the time of his death. Under a persecution instigated by Antiochus IV Epiphanes, Eleazar was forced to open his mouth and eat pork, but he spat it out and submitted to flogging. He was then privately permitted to eat meat that he could pretend was pork, but he refused and was flogged to death. The narrator relates that in his death he left "a heroic example and a glorious memory,".
Stephen, traditionally venerated as the protomartyr or first martyr of Christianity, was according to the Acts of the Apostles a deacon in the early church at Jerusalem who aroused the enmity of members of various synagogues by his teachings. Accused of blasphemy at his trial, he made a long speech denouncing the Jewish authorities who were sitting in judgment on him and was then stoned to death. His martyrdom was witnessed by Saul of Tarsus, a Pharisee who would later become a follower of Jesus and known as Paul the Apostle.
The church of the Santissimi Sette Fratelli Martiri is a Roman Catholic church in Ranica, province of Bergamo, in Lombardy, Italy. Alongside rises also the church of Santa Lucia.
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