Epistle of Feast of the Holy Innocents

Apocalypse 14:1-5

In those days I beheld a Lamb stood upon Mount Sion, and with Him an hundred forty-four thousand, having His name and the name of His Father written on their foreheads. And I heard a voice from heaven, as the noise of many waters and as the voice of great thunder: and the voice which I heard was as the voice of harpers, harping on their harps. And they sung as it were a new canticle before the throne, and before the four living creatures and the ancients: and no man could say the canticle, but those hundred forty-four thousand who were purchased from the earth. These are they who were not defiled with women: for they are virgins. These follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth. These were purchased from among men, the firstfruits to God and to the Lamb: and in their mouth there was found no lie: for they are without spot before the throne of God.


Verse 1. Behold a Lamb, by which is divers times represented our Saviour Christ. Wi.

Verse 3. They sung as it were a new canticle. In these visions, after persecutions, are sometimes introduced rejoicings to encourage the servants of God in their sufferings from the wicked world. — No man could say (or sing) the canticle, but those hundred and forty-four thousand: by which are signified the elect, who were not defiled with women. Some expound this literally of those who always lived virgins; others understand all those who lived or died with a pure and clean heart, exempt from the corruption of vices, and of whom it is said, (v. 5) that in their mouth was found no lie, and that they were without spot for the throne of God. Wi.

Verse 4. These are they, &c. In the style of the prophets, by fornication is meant idolatry, and virginity signifies cleanness from all sacrilegious worship. These, therefore, are virgins in this sense, who have not fallen into the impurities of creature worship. But others, as S. Augustine, understand it of persons who have lived in continency. The first, however, is the more literal sense. Calmet.

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