.- The annual celebration of the feast of the First Martyrs, or "Promartyrs," of the Church of Rome will be observed in a special way in the Vatican next week. The ceremony for the feast day will be carried out on the very ground where the martyrs, lost their lives at the bidding of Emperor Nero in the year 64 A.D.
According to a press release from the Pontifical Council for Culture, its president Archbishop Gianfranco Ravasi will preside at Mass on June 30, followed by a Eucharistic procession.
The Eucharistic celebration will take place in the church of St. Maria della Pietà in Camposanto, which is adjacent to St. Peter's Basilica. The procession will begin in the church and end in the Square of the First Martyrs of the Church of Rome just outside. In the square a headstone commemorates Nero's persecution and martyrdom of the first Christians in Rome.
The events are being organized by the Pontifical Academy “Cultorum Martyrum”. Those invited to participate include, religious orders present in the Vatican, representatives from the Order of Malta and the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre, priests, members of nearby parishes and all who wish to join in for the celebration of the first Roman martyrs.
On June 28, Pope Benedict XVI will celebrate the First Vespers of the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul in the Basilica of St. Paul Outside-the-Walls. Members of a delegation from the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople will also participate in praying Vespers.