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The Annunciation of the Nativity according to the Martyrologium Romanum from 1725

A martyrology , also a list of martyrs , (Calendarium sanctorum, Menologium , Analogium, Synaxarium ) is a list of martyrs and other saints and the day of their death, usually with details of their circumstances and the type of martyrdom.

The Martyrologium Romanum is the directory of all saints and blessed of the Roman Catholic Church . It was commissioned by Pope Gregory XIII until 1583 . compiled by Cardinal Guglielmo Sirleto with the assistance of Cesare Baronio in particular . In the act of canonization (canonization), the entry in this directory is the decisive step, even more important than the procedure in which the canonization act came about, since there was no regulated canonization procedure in the early centuries.

The Martyrologium Romanum also contains information about the gentlemen's feasts for liturgical use, around September 14th the feast of the Exaltation of the Cross , on December 25th the solemnity of the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ .

historical development

Since the 4th century at the latest, there have been calendars for individual local churches with the festivals of the martyrs venerated there. From the compilation of such lists of martyrs emerged martyrologies, which listed the martyrs and saints of the entire church together with the place of their grave or their veneration.

The Martyrologium Syriacum was created in the early 5th century . This was a template for the first Latin Martyrologium Hieronymianum , which was written soon afterwards and which was (probably incorrectly) ascribed to the church father Hieronymus . This was expanded several times in the following centuries.

Since the time of Charlemagne , a number of martyrologies have emerged in which the individual entries are enriched with details from the life of the saints. There were also martyrologies of saints in certain regions or religious orders . The martyrology of Gellonense , written around 804 , was particularly valued, and the martyrology of Bedas the Venerable was also widely used . Other martyrologies were written in the 9th century by Rabanus Maurus (around 845 ), Ado von Vienne ( Martyrologium Adonis ) (from 855) and Notker Balbulus . Popular language versions have also been in use since the thirteenth century. From rhyming martyrologies, the so-called Cisiojanus developed in the late High Middle Ages , a memorable poem that helps to date the moving holidays of the Roman Catholic Church. A collection of martyrologies was published by August Potthast in the "Bibliotheca historica medii aevi" (Berlin 1862).

Liturgical place

Before the reorganization of the Liturgy of the Hours by the Second Vatican Council , the martyrology - outside of the three -day Easter celebration - was recited daily at the end of Prim . The day was dated according to the Roman calendar and the moon phase was announced according to the name of the festival celebrated in the respective church and, if applicable, the beginning of the festival times . The enumeration of the saints that followed was always concluded by the words: "... and elsewhere many other holy martyrs, confessors and holy virgins more."

Example from the Dillingen 1599 edition, translated into German:

“Quarto nonas Ianuarij.
The second day in the Jenner.
- moon phase -
Today is the eighth day of Sant Stephen deß Ertzmarterers .
Item zů Rom the memory of many holy torturers, welliche des Keyser's Diocletiani command, in which the holy books were managed to be handed over to them, but they would rather give their bodies to the Henckern than Heyligthumb to the dogs.
Item zů Antiochia das Leyden of the holy bishop Isidori.
Item in the place of Tomis in Ponto / the three holy brothers Argei, Narcißi, and Marcellini, who was still a young boy, and at the time of Licini the prince, and the young soldiers who were captured, because he did not get caught, he was bitten on death beaten, and tormented for a long time in the Kercker, has in the end, since he was sunk into the sea, completed the torture. But his brothers were killed with the sword.
Item zů Meiland des Heyligen Bishop Martiniani.
Item zů Nitria in Egypt, the holy bishop and confessor Isidori.
Item of the holy bishop Siridonis.
Item in Thebaide of the holy Alexandrian Abbot Macarij . "

The Martyrologium Romanum provides that the praise of the saints should be read for the following day; this is best done in the Liturgy of the Hours , but also outside. It is read in the Liturgy of the Hours after the closing prayer of Lauds ; if this does not fit, also after the closing prayer of one of the little ears .

Martyrology in the Christmas liturgy

For December 25th, the martyrology contains the dating of the birth of Jesus Christ on the basis of various events in salvation history since the creation of the world, the indication of the Olympics and various profane chronologies.

In some places the cantor , the Hebdomadar , the deacon or the priest solemnly sings this announcement of the birth of the Lord immediately before Christmas mass , which has passed from its liturgical place of the hours of prayer, the end of the prim, into church customs. In this case, the eight saints of the day are usually not commemorated .

style = "text-align: center" | | Announcement of the birth of the Lord according to Roman martyrology (1584)
Latin (older version) German
Anno a creatione mundi, quando in principio Deus creavit caelum et terram, quinquies millesimo centesimo nonagesimo nono;

a diluvio autem anno up millesimo nongentesimo quinquagesimo septimo:
a nativitate Abrahae, anno up millesimo Quintodecimo:
a Moses et egressu populi Israel de Aegypto, anno millesimo quingentesimo decimo:
from unctione David Regem, anno millesimo trigésimo secundo:
hebdomada Sexagesima quinta, juxta Danielis prophetiam:
Olympiade centesima nonagesima quarta:
ab urbe Roma condita, anno septingentesimo quinquagesimo secundo:
anno Imperii Octaviani Augusti quadragesimo secundo, toto Orbe in pace composito,
sexta mundi
aet consecate , Jesus Christ, aeternus advent. Deus aeternique su Patris Filius, aeternus. Deus aeternique su Patrisum Filius ,
de Spiritu Sancto conceptus, novemque post conceptionem decursis mensibus, in Bethlehem Judae nascitur ex Maria Virgine factus homo.
Nativitas Domini nostri Jesu Christi secundum carnem.

In the year 5199 since the creation of the world, since God created heaven and earth in the beginning,

in 2957 since the flood,
in 2015 since the birth of Abraham,
in 1510 since Moses and the exodus of the people of Israel from Egypt,

in the year 1032 since the anointing of David as king,
in the 65th week of the year after Daniel's prophecy,
in the 194th Olympiad ,

in the year 752 since the founding of Rome,
the Octavian Augustus, as was the 42nd year of the reign over the world peace,
the sixth world age
Jesus Christ, eternal God and Son was the eternal Father, sanctify the world by his merciful arrival,
received of the Holy Spirit, nine months after conception, he was born a man in Bethlehem in Judah from Mary the Virgin:

The birth of our Lord Jesus Christ according to the flesh.

The concrete dates of the version from 1584 relate to ancient or medieval calculations. These “are not very precise as far as the history of Israel and other ancient peoples is concerned, but they do represent the historical comprehensibility of events and people. As far as the beginning of world and human history is concerned, the template was adapted to the current state of knowledge. ”The salvation-historical dimension of these events is now more strongly accentuated.

style = "text-align: center" | Announcement of the Birth of the Lord according to Roman Martyrology (2004)
Latin German transmission
Innumeris transactis saeculis a creatione mundi, quando in principio Deus creavit caelum et terram et hominem formavit ad imaginem suam;

permultis etiam saeculis, ex quo post diluvium Altissimus in nubibus arcum posuerat, signum foederis et pacis;
a migratione Abrahae, patris nostri in fide, de Ur Chaldaeorum saeculo vigesimo primo;
ab egressu populi Israel de Aegypto, Moyse duce, saeculo decimo tertio;
ab unctione David in regem, anno circiter millesimo;
hebdomada sexagesima quinta, iuxta Danielis prophetiam;
Olympiad centesima nonagesima quarta;
from Urbe condita anno septingentesimo quinquagesimo secundo;
anno imperii Caesaris Octaviani Augusti quadragesimo secundo;
toto Orbe in pace composito,
Jesus Christ, aeternus Deus aeternique Patris Filius, mundum volens adventu suo piissimo consecrare,
de Spiritu Sancto conceptus, novemque post conceptionem decursis mensibus,
in Bethlehem Iudae nascitur ex Maria Virgine factus homo and
Nativitas Christi sec nostri Jesus Jesus .

Countless centuries had passed since the creation of the world , when God in the beginning created heaven and earth and fashioned man in his image ;

and many more centuries since the Most High had set an arch in the clouds after the flood as a sign of covenant and peace; of the emigration of Abraham , our Father in faith, from Ur in Chaldea in the 21st century; of the exodus of the people of Israel from Egypt under the leadership of Moses in the 13th century; about the anointing of David as king about the 1000th year; in the 65th week after Daniel's prophecy; in the 194th Olympiad; since the city was founded in the 752nd year; in the 42nd year of the reign of the Emperor Octavianus Augustus , when the whole world was made in peace; there Jesus Christ, Eternal God and the Eternal Father's Son, who wanted to sanctify the world through his devotional arrival, is received by the Holy Spirit , born as a person nine months after conception in Bethlehem in Judah by the Virgin Mary . The birth of our Lord Jesus Christ according to the flesh .

The Roman Martyrology

The Roman Martyrology of the 16th century is based on the martyrology of the monk Usuard of the Abbey of Saint-Germain-des-Prés (around 860), which is based on the work of Florus of Lyon († around 860) and Ado of Vienne († 875), who in turn had further developed the martyrology of Bedas the Worthy († 735).

In the course of the liturgical reform after the Council of Trent (1545-1563) was in 1584 by Pope Gregory XIII. promulgated the first printed edition of the Martyrologium Romanum with the Constitution Emendato iam , after previous prints from 1582 and 1583 had to be withdrawn due to many errors. Pope Sixtus V had this martyrology expanded in 1586 by Baronius into a martyrologium universale , which was to include the martyrs and saints of all countries and times (again expanded by Heribert Rosweid, Antwerp 1613).

Following the Second Vatican Council , an Editio typica of the Martyrologium Romanum was published in 2001 , whose revised and expanded new edition ( Editio altera ) was presented by the Holy See on December 5, 2004 as a new general directory of the saints and blessed of the Catholic Church. On 844 pages in Latin it contains biographical and liturgical information on a total of 6,650 blessed and saints known by name. In addition, around 7,400 other, not always precisely identifiable, martyrs who were killed in the persecution of Christians are listed .

Martyrology of the 20th century

In 1994 Pope John Paul II pointed out that the 20th century had produced many martyrs whose testimony should not be lost. The Pope stated in the apostolic letter Tertio millennio adveniente (No. 37):

“In our century the martyrs have returned, often unknown, as it were unknown soldiers of the great cause of God. As far as possible, their testimonies must not be lost in the Church. As recommended by the consistory, everything must be done by the local churches not to lose the memory of those who suffered martyrdom by creating the necessary documentation. "

Helmut Moll took on this task for the German Bishops' Conference . Under his direction, the German Martyrology of the 20th Century was published in 1999 , the sixth edition of which has been available since 2015. The Bishops' Conferences of Italy, the Netherlands, Austria, Poland, Slovenia and Spain have also responded to the call and have created a martyrology of the 20th century for their countries.


  • Martyrologium Romanum. Editio princeps (1584) . Edizione anastatica, introduzione e appendice a cura di Manlio Sodi - Robert Fusco ( Monumenta Liturgica Concilii Tridentini 6). Libreria editrice Vaticana, Città del Vaticano 2005. ISBN 88-209-7675-7 .
  • Hippolytus Delehaye, Paulus Peeters, Mauritius Coens et al. (Eds.): Martyrologium romanum ad formam editionis typicae scholiis historicis instructum . In: Acta Sanctorum, Propylaeum Decembris . Société des Bollandistes, Brussels 1940.
  • Martyrologium Romanum . Ex decreto Sacrosancti Oecumenici Concilii Vaticani II instauratum auctoritate Ioannis Pauli PP. II promulgatum. Editio altera. Libreria editrice Vaticana, Città del Vaticano 2004. ISBN 88-209-7210-7 .
  • Helmut Moll on behalf of the German Bishops' Conference (Ed.): Witnesses for Christ. The German Martyrology of the 20th Century , 6th expanded and restructured edition, Paderborn 2015, ISBN 978-3-506-78080-5


  • Henri Quentin: Les martyrologes historiques du moyen age. Paris 1908
  • Victor Saxer: Article Martyrologies. In: LThK³ 1993, Vol. 6, Col. 1445-1447
  • Reinaldo Stieger: Article Martyrologies. In: Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche ² 1962, Vol. 7, Sp. 138-139

See also

Web links

Wiktionary: Martyrologium  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Wiktionary: Martyrs directory  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. R. Stieger: Article Martyrologies . In: Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche , Vol. 7. Herder, Freiburg et al. 2nd ed. 1962, Sp. 138-139, 139.
  2. ^ August Potthast : Bibliotheca historica medii aevi , Berlin 1862, pp. 436–438. Google books
  3. Martyrologium Romanum , translated and edited. by Conrad Vetter, Dillingen 1599, unpaginated preliminary remarks, s. t. Common rules belonging to the martyrology
  4. Martyrologium Romanum , translated and edited. by Conrad Vetter, Dillingen 1599, p. 2
  5. Praenotanda, 35-36.
  6. Ordo lectionis Martyrologii intra Liturgiam horarum, 1 and 5.
  7. ^ German Liturgical Institute.
  8. Martyrology of Christmas in the version from 2004, version with notes (PDF file; 99 kB)