Feastday: 26th December
Patron Saint of Stonemasons and Proto-Martyr
The name Stephen means “crown”; he was the first
disciple of Jesus to receive the martyr's crown. Stephen was a deacon
in the early Christian Church. The apostles had found that they needed
helpers to look after the care of the widows and the poor so they ordained
seven deacons. Stephen is the most famous of these deacons.
God worked many miracles through St Stephen and he spoke with such wisdom
and grace that many of his hearers became followers of Jesus. The enemies
of the Church of Jesus were furious to see how successful Stephen's preaching
was. At last, they laid a plot for him. They could not answer his wise
argument, so they got men to lie about him, saying that he had spoken sinfully
against God. St Stephen faced that great assembly of enemies without
fear. In fact, the Bible says that his face looked like the face of an angel.
The saint spoke about Jesus, proclaiming that He was the Saviour that
God had promised to send. He scolded his enemies for not having believed
in Jesus. At that, they rose up in great anger and shouted at him,
but Stephen looked up to Heaven and said that he saw the heavens opening
and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.
His hearers plugged their ears and refused to listen to another word.
They dragged St Stephen outside the city of Jerusalem and stoned him to
death. The saint prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!” and then
he fell to his knees begging God not to punish his enemies for killing him.