Seven brothers known as the Machabees were martyred together with their heroic mother during the second century B.C. They are the only martyrs of the Old Testament honored by a feast of universal observance in the Church.We can learn much from these saints who came just shortly before the advent of Christ. In particular, we find their account in the Old Testament - in books the protestants chose to remove from the Canon of Sacred Scripture. In these passages we find clear evidence for the need to pray for the dead. Read more at Catholic Devotions for the Dead.
For those wishing to study the life of the Maccabees further using Sacred Scripture, Catechism passages, authoritative writings of the Church, and traditional commentary, look into the CatechismClass.com lesson on the Holy Maccabees, which is available for only around $3.00. Click here to learn more and preview that lesson.
On August 1st the Church commemorates the Holy Maccabees with this prayer:
O Lord, may the martyrdom of these brothers warm our hearts with joy, enliven our faith by an increase of virtue, and comfort us by the added number of intercessors we have in heaven. Through our Lord . . .This date also marks the universal Feast of St. Peter's Chains.
As excerpt from the Tridentine Mass propers for this day:
After King Herod Agrippa had put to death St. James the Greater ten years after Christ's crucifixion, he decided to placate the Jews still more by arresting Peter, Prince of the Apostles. The Acts tell us that while Peter was in prison, "prayer was being made to god for him by the Church without ceasing." Finally, one night, an angel awakened the prisoner. The chains fell from his hands, he followed the angel safely past the sentries, and the iron gate of the jail opened of its own accord. This miracle confirmed the divine promise: "If two of you shall agree on earth about anything at all for which they ask, it shall be done for them by My Father in heaven" (Matt. 18:19). It is these chains, now preserved in Rome, that are venerated today.The holy chains of St. Peter are still preserved today for our veneration:
St. Peter's Chains (relic in San Pietro in Vincoli, Rome). Taken by User:Blorg, 2002-03-15.
O God, You freed the blessed apostle Peter from his chains and sent him forth unharmed. Free us from the bonds of our sins and in Your mercy shield us from all harm. Through our Lord . . .
Commemoration of SAINT PAUL:
Apostle St. Peter, one of the two apostles of Rome, is never celebrated without St. Paul, the other. Moreover, four links of St. Paul's chains are preserved with those of St. Peter.
O God, You have instructed many nations through the preaching of the blessed Apostle Paul. Let the power of his intercession with You help us who venerate his memory this day.
Prayer Sources: 1962 Roman Catholic Daily Missal