In the old rite, we remembered the Holy Maccabees today with a commemoration - the seven pre-Christian Jewish brothers whose martyrdom, described in II Maccabees 7, reads so much like a preview of the acta of the Christian martyrs under the Roman Empire.
There is no strictly theological reason why we should not celebrate the saints of the old covenant liturgically; we claim, after all, to be in continuity with the Jewish faithful remnant who did accept their God and Messiah. The practical reason why we do not have more 'Old Testament' saints in our calendar lies in the the origin of our Sanctorale in the cult of the martyrs: they were celebrated liturgically where their bodies were venerated (see my words about S Polycarp on July 11). But I believe the Carmelites, before the Council, kept S Elias (Elijah, for my Protestant readers) on July 20. I wonder if they still do.
Interestingly, the post-conciliar revisers of the Calendar have left us an account of their thinking. I translate [my italics]: "The memoria of the Holy Maccabees, although it is extremely ancient and almost universal, is left to particular calendars: until 1960 only their commemoration happened on the feast of S Peter ad vincula; now indeed August 1 is the memoria of S Alfonso and, according to the rubrics, another memoria cannot be kept on the same day". The revisers know that this commemoration is of immemorial antiquity and amazing universality; they feel embarrassed and sheepish about abolishing it; they can't think of any defence to make, except to appeal to their own novel man-made liturgical dogma (which is out of continuity with the traditions of both East and West) that you can't combine celebrations. The totalitarian inflexibility of innovators!
The Maccabees, of course, did not then bear witness (martyrein) to Christ but to the divine covenant under which God had placed them then. But their liturgical commemoration by us does not imply the new error that Jews now, after the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ, are left outside his gracious call to share the redemption and the new covenant which he, the incarnate Torah, brings to all mankind without racial distinction. It would not now be possible for a Jew to be deemed one of our martyrs because of an exclusive act of obedient witness to the old Torah and not to Christ. But there are theological consequences to be drawn from the cult of S Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, the great Jewish Christian woman philosopher killed by the Nazis and one of Europe's Patrons (whose festival this year on August 9 is sadly obscured because, under the ferocious post-conciliar rubrics, Sunday Masses exclude any mention of saints classified as mere festa). She was killed not because of an explicit refusal - as far as we know - to renounce Christ, but because her murderers hated Jews. Many wondered whether she would be beatified qua martyr. I seem to remember that nobody knew what answer he would give to this question until John Paul II emerged to celebrate her beatification Mass in red vestments.
I would be interested to see the implications of this teased out.
[Her first propers did not describe Edith Stein as a 'virgin'; the present ones do. Was it just yet another of their mistakes by incompetent Vatican liturgists, or did the matter indeed require research? If so, how was it researched?]