Stephen's name means "crown," and 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, and Stephen is the most famous of these.
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 Holy Bible
says that his face looked like the face of an angel.
The saint spoke about Jesus, showing that He is the
Savior, 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.
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!" Then he fell to his knees and begged
God not to punish his enemies for killing him.
After such an expression of
love, the holy martyr went to his heavenly reward. His feast day is December 26th.