With the terrible attacks that happened in Alexandria, and other places alike; why do we classify the 23 who were murdered as martyrs? What's the actual definition of one? As I am accustomed, martyrs are those who willingly choose to die because they wouldn't give up their faith. Can we indeed call the 23 Martyrs? Is it simply a term used to comfort the congregations, families, etc.?
I also recently saw that on the 3rd of Tobe, we commemorate the Slain of the Children of Bethlehem. The Synexarium reading states that they were martyred. Are there different types of martyrdoms? Is there a process used it add/classify saints or martyrs? I'm aware that there's some 50 year canonization waiting period that some popular saints go through after their death. Is there anything else?
There are different ways to classify martyrs. If we take the case of the martyred male children of Bethlehem, they did not proclaim their faith in the bold manner to which we are accustomed to reading of the martyrs' triumph over extensive torture and persecution while persevering in the faith. However, these infants offered what they had for the name of Christ. All that they had was their little lives and innocent souls. The only reason they were massacred was for Christ. Thus, the church took them as her own.
Jeremiah the Prophet spoke this prophecy which St. Matthew included as a reminder to the readers (Jeremiah 31:15; Matthew 2:18). Rachel was from Bethlehem, and in a way a mother to these innocent children, which she also took as her own. The only reason they died was because of Herod's wicked plan to kill the Infant King, Christ. Therefore, they suffered with Christ, bore the cross with Him in their own way, and were baptized in their blood for His holy name:
"A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation and bitter weeping, Rachel weeping for her children, refusing to be comforted for her children, Because they are no more" (Jeremiah 31:15).
In essence, martyrdom in the name of Christ has a great reward. If Christ tells us that not even a cold cup of water is forgotten before Him, certainly every drop of blood is counted worthy. People that lose their lives because they chose to be somewhere good in the name of Christ, while they could have been elsewhere, will have a special reward. This reward begins with the Church placing them amongst the martyrs. This is how God sees how every minute of your life is that precious. He allowed these new martyrs of Alexandria, Nag Hammadi, and many others from diverse places, to honor Him with their blood. He is willing to take anyone at the eleventh hour, just as much as the one who came in at the first hour. Even the littlest effort one makes has tremendous meaning to Him. This we learn from the littlest children of Bethlehem, along with many other martyrs, old and new, that Christ lovingly allows the Church to place them amongst the honored category of saints called the martyrs.