Wednesday, December 26, 2012
St. Stephen was the first deacon as well as the first Christian martyr. All that we know of him is contained in the Acts of the Apostles, chapters 6 and 7. In Acts 6:5 seven men were selected and specially ordained by the Apostles to take care of the temporal relief of the poorer members. Of these seven, Stephen, is the first deacon mentioned and the best known. The Church had, by selecting him for a deacon, publicly acknowledged him as a man "of good reputation, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom" (Acts 6:3). He was "a man full of faith, and of the Holy Ghost" (vi, 5), "full of grace and fortitude."
Certain Jews, members of the Synagogue of Roman Freedmen, debated with Stephen but proved no match for the wisdom and spirit with which he spoke. They persuaded others to make the charge of blasphemy against him. He was seized and carried before the Sanhedrin.
Stephen spoke to the crowd and recalled the mercies of God towards Israel during its long history and of the ungratefulness by which, throughout, Israel repaid these mercies. “[Y]ou always oppose the holy Spirit; you are just like your ancestors” (Acts 7:51b). His speech provoked the anger of his audience.
Stephen's supposed tomb was discovered by a man named Lucian in 415, which spread his cult when his relics were taken to Constantinople and Rome. Some of these relics included some of the stones that killed him.
St. Stephen's name means "crown," and he was the first disciple of Jesus to receive the martyr's crown. He is the Patron saint of: coffin makers, deacons, headaches, horses, masons, stone masons, Germany, Owensboro, Kentucky, and Prato, Italy.
we celebrate the entrance of St. Stephen into eternal glory.
He died praying for those who killed him.
Help us to imitate his goodness
and to love our enemies.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
Litany of St. Stephen