Originally, The Roman Martyrology was a written catalogue of those saints who shed their blood for Christ during the early centuries of pagan persecution. Local churches celebrated each martyr's "birthday" into heaven, assigning the day of their final victory over the world as their feastday in the liturgical calendar. When she triumphantly arose from the catacombs, the Church gradually introduced other great saints, who were not slain for their faith, into the Martyrology as she combined the recorded Acta of both east and west. These three hundred pages contain the names of thousands of our most valiant Catholic heroes and heroines along with a very brief biographical sketch commemorating either their martyrdom or their most enduring accomplishments. As an official book of the Roman liturgy, the Martyrology is read during the canonical office of Prime and at the evening meal in the refectories of most monastaries and convents, in order that the religious might avail themselves of the intercession of those saints whose "birthdays" will be celebrated the following day.
You will not find listed here the numerous saints canonized over the last sixty years. This may be unfortunate but some lack cannot be avoided; there are other sources and newer calendars. The historical importance and the spiritual value of this edition is inestimable. We hope that this offering from Loreto will fill the desires of many souls who will know best how to utilize this volume to their advantage. This 20th century may well have been the bloodiest in the long and glorious history of the Church of God upon earth. Remember that the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church. God willing, we will reap a bountiful harvest of souls in the 21st century.
May the example of those who have already tread the path of the cross, fortify our souls, give us courage, and provide hope that we too may have the grace to receive, with grateful affection, whatever end the providence of God has destined for us.
"We have the names of almost all the martyrs arranged according to the days on which they suffered, collected in one volume, and daily we offer Masses in their honor. This book does not tell us to what extent each one suffered but only his name, and the place and the day of his suffering is recalled. And so it happens that many from different lands and provinces are glorified with the commemoration of their martyrdom each day."
Pope Saint Gregory I, July 598 A.D.
Regist. Epist., Lib. 8, 28, ad Eulogium
Transl. by Rev. Raphael Collins, B. A. 1946
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