The Relics of the Maccabees…in Rome

The seventh chapter of the Second Book of Maccabees (a book belonging to the Catholic Bible, but not among the Hebrew collection of Scriptures) tells the story of seven faithful Jewish brothers who maintained their fidelity to the Law of God in the face of persecution during the tyranny of Antiochus IV in the second century B.C. The New Testament book of Hebrews commends these martyrs of Maccabees as exemplars of living faith (Heb 11:35).


The horrific murder of these Maccabean martyrs was so terrible and gruesome that we derived an English word from it—macabre. These seven Jewish brothers and their mother were arrested and ordered to eat the un-kosher flesh of a pig. One of the brothers spoke up and bravely pronounced, “What do you intend to ask and learn from us? For we are ready to die rather than transgress the laws of our fathers.”

Maccabee Relics in Rome

A Catholic Church in Rome was once dedicated to these holy Maccabee martyrs. It is known today as San Pietro in Vincoli or “Saint Peter in Chains” because it houses the chains used by the pagan Roman authorities to arrest Saint Peter. In 1876 an archeologist found beneath the church what were once believed to be the tombs for the relics of  the seven martyred brothers of Maccabees. This is providential since this Roman church is now known throughout the world for its famous statue of Michelangelo’s Moses as the great giver of the Law.


In this Catholic church, one can see the connection between the Law of Moses and those Maccabean martyrs who died on account of that sacred Law. Even more, their memory is joined with the imprisonment and eventual martyrdom of the Church’s first Pope—Saint Peter.

The blog post was an excerpt from my book The Crucified Rabbi – Judaism & the Origins of Catholicism.

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Question: Might it be that the Maccabees are a type of the martyrs at the end of time under the Antichrist? I think so. What’s your opinion on this matter? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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