What Is the Common of Martyrs?

The Common of Martyrs is a set of readings in the lectionary which are read at Mass for the feast days of martyrs.

Some saints have special readings for their feast days (propers), but most do not. So the presider may choose the readings from the appropriate commons.

As you can see from the quotes below, many of these readings for the Common of Martyrs. focus on sacrifice, holiness, and trust in God.

Mass Readings for the Common of Martyrs

Choices for the First Reading for the Common of Martyrs:

  • When it is not the Easter season these readings are used for the Common of Martyrs:
    • 2 Chronicles 24:18-22: “God says, ‘Why are you transgressing the Lord’s commands, so that you cannot prosper?’”
    • 2 Maccabees 6:18, 21, 24-31: “Therefore, by manfully giving up my life now, I will prove myself worthy of my old age, and I will leave to the young a noble example of how to die willingly and generously for the revered and holy laws.”
    • 2 Maccabees 7:1-2, 9-14: “You accursed fiend, you are depriving us of this present life, but the King of the world will raise us up to live again forever. It is for his laws that we are dying.”
    • 2 Maccabees 7:1, 20-23, 27b-29: “Therefore, since it is the Creator of the universe who shapes each man’s beginning, as he brings about the origin of everything, he, in his mercy, will give you back both breath and life, because you now disregard yourselves for the sake of his law.”
    • Wisdom 3:1-9: “The souls of the just are in the hand of God, and no torment shall touch them.”
    • Sirach 51:1-8: “But then I remembered the mercies of the Lord, his kindness through ages past; For he saves those who take refuge in him, and rescues them from every evil.”
  • During the Easter season these readings are used for the Common of Martyrs:
    • Acts 7:55-60: “Stephen, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked up intently to heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God”
    • Revelation 7:9-17: “For the Lamb who is in the center of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to springs of life-giving water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”
    • Revelation 12:10-12b: “They conquered him by the Blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; love for life did not deter them from death. Therefore, rejoice, you heavens, and you who dwell in them.”
    • Revelation 21:5-7: “To the thirsty I will give a gift from the spring of life-giving water. The victor will inherit these gifts, and I shall be his God, and he will be my son.”

Choices for the Responsorial Psalm for the Common of Martyrs:

  • Psalm 31: “Into your hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit.”
  • Psalm 34: “The Lord delivered me from all my fears.”
  • Psalm 124: “Our soul has been rescued like a bird from the fowler’s snare.”
  • Psalm 126: “Those who sow in tears, shall reap rejoicing.”

Choices for the Second Reading for the Common of Martyrs:

  • Romans 5:1-5: “Not only that, but we even boast of our afflictions, knowing that affliction produces endurance, and endurance, proven character, and proven character, hope, and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.”
  • Romans 8:31b-39: “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor present things, nor future things, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
  • 2 Corinthians 4:7-15: “We are afflicted in every way, but not constrained; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our body.”
  • 2 Corinthians 6:4-10: “We are treated as deceivers and yet are truthful; as unrecognized and yet acknowledged; as dying and behold we live; as chastised and yet not put to death; as sorrowful yet always rejoicing; as poor yet enriching many; as having nothing and yet possessing all things.”
  • 2 Timothy 2:8-13; 3:10-12: “If we have died with him we shall also live with him; if we persevere we shall also reign with him.”
  • Hebrews 10:32-36: “You need endurance to do the will of God and receive what he has promised.”
  • James 1:2-4, 12: “Blessed is the man who perseveres in temptation, for when he has been proved he will receive the crown of life that he promised to those who love him.”
  • 1 Peter 3:14-17: “Even if you should suffer because of righteousness, blessed are you.”
  • 1 Peter 4:12-19: “But whoever is made to suffer as a Christian should not be ashamed but glorify God because of the name.”
  • 1 John 5:1-5: “Who indeed is the victor over the world but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?”

Choices for the Gospel for the Common of Martyrs:

  • Matthew 10:17-22: “You will be hated by all because of my name, but whoever endures to the end will be saved.”
  • Matthew 10:28-33: “And do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather, be afraid of the one who can destroy both soul and body in Gehenna.”
  • Matthew 10:34-39: “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever does not take up his cross and follow after me is not worthy of me.”
  • Luke 9:23-26: “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.”
  • John 12:24-26: “Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will preserve it for eternal life.”
  • John 15:18-21: “If the world hates you, realize that it hated me first.”
  • John 17:11b-19: “I do not ask that you take them out of the world but that you keep them from the Evil One. They do not belong to the world any more than I belong to the world.”

More About the Lectionary

The Common of Martyrs is part of the lectionary. Learn more about how Catholics read from the Bible at Mass. What is the difference between the Bible and a lectionary? How is the lectionary arranged? What translation is used?


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