A Lesson from the Catacombs

Eric at the catacombs

Eric Scheidler visits the Catacombs of Callixtus, June 2014

If you ever visit the ancient Christian catacombs scattered about the outskirts of Rome, you’ll see countless small tombs dug into the walls, only a foot of two across. These are the burial places of infants, cast out of their pagan homes and left to die of starvation and exposure. Though abortion was practiced in the ancient world, this form of infanticide was a far more common way to get rid of an unwanted child.

Many of these rejected children were rescued by Christians, nursed back to health and given homes, in obedience to Christ’s command to serve the least of his brothers and sisters. But all too often, the only act of love the early Church could offer these children was to bury their little bodies and offer prayers of mourning for them.

Continuing the Work of the Early Church

Earlier this summer, I had the opportunity to visit the Catacombs of Callixtus while on a pilgrimage to Rome with my wife April. As we walked through the cool, musty corridors of the underground complex, I was struck by the thought that we Christians today are carrying on this work of mercy—rescuing the bodies of abandoned, unwanted children and giving them the only gift we can, the gift of a proper burial.

Again and again, pro-life activists have found the bodies of these children in trash dumpsters, or on the loading docks of medical waste facilities. And just like the early Church, they have spoken out against the injustice, solemnly buried the victims, and mourned over their bodies.

These burial places can be found throughout the United States. In all, there are some 43 gravesites of the aborted unborn, from the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Hanceville, Alabama, where four aborted children are buried to the grave of over 16,000 abortion victims at Odd Fellows Cemetery in Los Angeles.

Please Join the National Day of Remembrance

But however staggering the numbers of children buried at some of these sites may be, they represent only a tiny fraction of the more than 56 million babies killed since the U.S. Supreme Court stripped unborn children of legal protection.

That’s why it’s so important that we visit these gravesites. So very few abortion victims have been buried. Those who have been deserve the special attention of pro-life Christians.

And that’s what the National Day of Remembrance for Aborted Children is all about. Solemn memorial services will be held simultaneously on September 13 at the gravesites of aborted children, as well as at other makers set up in their memory across the country.

I invite you to check out the list of gravesites and memorial sites to see if there is a Day of Remembrance memorial service scheduled in your area. If not, you may wish to consider organizing one.

Blessed Are They Who Mourn

Early Christians were despised for trying to rescue abandoned infants, and burying those they couldn’t save— just as Christians today are despised for trying to save babies from abortion, and mocked for burying them.

So when we visit the gravesites of aborted children on September 13, we’re not only standing in solidarity with the victims of abortion. We’re standing in solidarity with the early Church, whose profound faith in the Gospel is shown so profoundly in those tiny tombs dug into the walls of the catacombs.

What will history record of our faith? That’s up to us.

It’s up to you. Plan to join the National Day of Remembrance for Aborted Children on September 13, and please help spread the word about this important day of prayer and mourning. You will be blessed.

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