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St. Stephen

Saint Stephen

Protomartyr

Stephen was most likely one of the seventy-two disciples of Christ. He was first in the list of the seven deacons created in the Acts of the Apostles, and such an effective preacher that before the end of the very year in which Christ died, Stephen was dragged before the Sanhedrin. There the holy deacon proclaimed the fulfillment of the Law in Christ Jesus, and rebuked the Jews for their hardness of heart. The crowd grew angry, at which point Stephen was graced with a vision of Christ above, ready to welcome him, and he cried out “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing at the right hand of God.” The enraged mob was whipped into a frenzy, and without even a summary judgment they dragged Stephen out of the city and stoned him to death, making him the first Christian martyr. His final words on earth, imitating his Savior, were “Lord, lay not this sin to their charge”. Though he did not partake in the execution, in the crowd and approving was Saul, who would later become St. Paul. Because of his martyrdom, Stephen is a patron of stonemasons and bricklayers.

 

Traditional Roman Martyrology for December 26th

AT Jerusalem, the birthday of St. Stephen, the first martyr, who was stoned to death by the Jews shortly after the Ascension of our Lord.

At Rome, St. Marinus, senator. In the time of the emperor Numerian and the prefect Marcian, he was arrested for the Christian religion, racked and torn with iron hooks like a slave, then thrown into a burning pan; but being delivered because the fire became like dew, he was exposed to the beasts without being injured by them, and finally being led again to the altar, the idols of which toppled over at his prayer, he was struct with the sword, and thus obtained the triumph of martyrs.

Also, at Rome, on the Appian road, the decease of pope St. Denis, who sustained many labors for the Church, and was renowned for his doctrinal writings.

In the same city, St. Zosimus, pope and confessor.

In Mesopotamia, St. Archelaus, a bishop celebrated for learning and sanctity.

At Majuma, St. Zeno, bishop.

At Rome, St. Theodore, sacristan of St. Peter’s church, who is mentioned by the blessed pope Gregory.

℣. And elsewhere many other holy martyrs, confessors, and holy virgins.

℟. Thanks be to God.

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