The Seven Machabees, brothers, and other Jews, suffered martyrdom for their faith in the second century before Christ, under the tyrant Antiochus Epiphanes, the impious King of Syria. They are the only martyrs who suffered before Christ that are honored with a feast of universal observance. Their relics were placed in the church of St. Peter’s Chains beneath the new altar on August 1st.
(Source: The New Roman Missal, Rev. F. X. Lasance)