Saint of the day 20141226

26 December

SAINT STEPHEN
The first martyr
Feast

Saint Stephen is one of the first deacons chosen by the early church in Acts of the Apostles.
Upon the death of Jesus, Stephen began to work hard to spread what was then called The Way. He preached the teachings of Jesus and participated in the conversion of Jews and Gentiles. Acts tells the story of how Stephen was tried by the Sanhedrin for blasphemy and was then stoned to death by an infuriated mob encouraged by Saul of Tarsus, the future Saint Paul. He died praying for those who killed him : “Lord, do not hold this sin against them”.

Saint Stephen’s name is simply derived from the Greek Stephanos, meaning “crown”, which translated into Aramaic as Kelil. Saint Stephen is traditionally invested with a crown of martyrdom for Christianity and is often depicted in art with three stones and the martyrs’ palm. In Eastern Christian iconography he is shown as a young beardless man with a tonsure, wearing deacon’s vestments, and often holding a miniature church building and censer.

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Lord,
today we celebrate the entrance of Saint Stephen
into eternal glory.
He died praying for those who killed him.
Help us to imitate his goodness
and love our ennemies.

St Stephen, the first Martyr
Stephen is the first martyr. He was one of the deacons appointed by the Apostles to organize the distribution of food to the poor. He performed many miracles and confounded the Jews in disputation. They fabricated false charges against him. At his trial he preached the risen Christ to them, so they stoned him to death. He prayed for his persecutors as he was dying. One of them, Saul of Tarsus, who was looking after the cloaks of the stone-throwers, was later converted and became the great missionary St Paul.
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