St Stephen was a deacon who was the first martyr and was later declareda saint. Born in 5AD and believed to have died sometime between 33 and36 AD and he is celebrated on different days based on location. InArmenian Christianity he is celebrated on the 25th of December, in thewest he is celebrated on the 26th of December and in the Eastern he iscelebrated on the 27th of December.
St Stephen is believed to have been born a Jew and there is not muchinformation about his background.
St Stephen was a deacon in the early church in Jerusalem and he wasconsidered an archdeacon because he was the oldest amongst the deacons.According to the Acts of the Apostle, he angered a lot of members ofsynagogues with his teachings.
He was one of the seven Greek-speaking Hellenistic Jews who wereselected to participate in the fair distribution of welfare to theGreek-speaking Jews.
St Stephen was also known for having great faith and being full of theHoly Spirit as he was able to perform miracles in various synagogues ofHellenistic Jews. He performed miracles in Asia and Cilicia. He also haddebates in these synagogues as the members would challenge histeachings, but he was able to baste them in these debates.
Road to Martyrdom.
Due to the fact that he was able to baste his opponents during debates,it angered them as they were humiliated, and this resulted in themmaking false testimonies against them. They dragged him to appearagainst the Sanhedrin which was the supreme legal court of Jewishelders.
The accusations that were leveled against him included that he waspreaching against the temple and the Mosaic Law. During that trial hepresents a speech on the history of Israel and he established that Goddoes not dwell in one place being the temple. In his speech he alsospoke about Israel’s disobedience to God.
All this resulted in him being accused of being blasphemous during histrial as he publicly denounced the Jewish authorities who were judginghim, he denounced them by stating that they were resisting the HolySpirit, he also called out their ancestors for persecuting prophets andthose who predicted the coming of the Righteous One.
All this resulted in him being stoned to death as the crowd could notcontain their anger after listening to his speech. However during thatTime St Stephen looked upwards and cried telling them about an openheaven he was seeing and the Son of Man who was standing on the righthand of GOD.
As he was being stoned, he prayed that the Lord would receive his spiritand for his killers to be forgiven. He then went down on his knees and“fell asleep”. During the whole ordeal, he is reported as beingundisturbed with a face that looked like that of an angel.
After he was stoned, it is reported that there are Godly men who buriedhim and mourned him deeply but the location of where he was buried wasnot specified,
It is believed that his speech comprising almost the whole of Actschapter 7 is indicative of his personality with some modern day scholarslaying the charge of anti-Judaism against the speech.
After the death of St Stephen, the remaining disciples fled to distantlands with many of them fleeing to Antioch.
St Stephen is known as the saint of bricklayers and stonemasons.
In 415 a priest named Lucian had a dream that revealed the location ofSt Stephen’s remains and these remains were taken to the Church of HagiaSion on 26 December 415. In 439 these remains were moved again thechurch north of the Damascus Gate.
He is considered a saint in the Catholic, Anglican, Oriental Orthodoxchurches, Lutheran and the Church of The East.
Most of his artistic presentations usually show him as a young manwithout a beard with a tonsure wearing a deacon’s vest.
5 Interesting Facts About St. Stephen
- Saul who later became the Apostle Paul was present when St Stephen
was stoned to death.
- Only source of St Stephen’s information is the Acts of Apostle in
the New Testament
- Most artistic presentation of St Stephen show him wearing a crown
- The exact site of where St Stephen was stoned is not mentioned in
the Acts of the Apostles and there are two places claimed by two
- There are numerous speeches from St Stephen in the Acts of
Prayer to St. Stephen
We give you thanks,O Lord of glory,for the example of the first martyrwho looked up to heaven and prayedfor his persecutors to Your Son Jesus Christ,who stands at Your right hand,where He lives and reigns with You andthe Holy Spirit, One God,in glory everlasting.Amen.