Seven Brothers

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(2nd century),

martyrs. Seven martyrs buried in different cemeteries of Rome were culted from early times on 10 July, but apart from their late and unreliable Acts, there is no evidence that they were brothers or, as is usually supposed, the sons of Felicity, martyr. The fact that one of them was buried near her tomb may well have been at the root of the legend, inspired perhaps by a desire to find a Christian equivalent to the story of the martyrdom of the Machabees and their mother. The feast of the Seven Brothers was well attested in the early Roman sacramentaries and became general in Christendom (including England) from early times. The principal element of the Legend is that Felicity and the other martyrs refused to apostatize or to sacrifice to the pagan gods: each of them suffered the death penalty. Felicity, who had encouraged the others in turn, died last of all. Feast until 1969: 10 July.

AA.SS. Iul. III (1723), 5–28;C.M.H., pp. 362–3;H. Delehaye, Étude sur le légendier romain (1936), pp. 116–23.

Subjects: Christianity.

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