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first roman martyrsThe Church celebrates this feast in memory of the martyrs who suffered during the persecution of Nero, following the fire that destroyed much of Rome in 64.  Christians from every background were put to death with ingenious cruelty.  This was the same persecution in which Sts Peter and Paul were killed.  The pagan writer Tacitus testifies to these events in his Annales (15, 44), as does Clement, bishop of Rome, in his letter to the Corinthians (chapters 5-6). – CTS New Daily Roman Missal 2012, p 2800; Christian Prayer 1990, p 1166

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