Today's Feast (August 3): Invention of Stephen

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This feast day commemorates the "invention," or finding, of the body of Saint Stephen, the first martyr.

His relics were found in the year 416 by a priest named Lucian. A church was built and dedicated to him at the site of the discover - outside the Damascus Gate - and his relics were housed there for centuries.

In 1882 the ruins of the church were discovered by the Dominicans, and a new church was built there; however, his relics were subsequently moved to the Papal Basilica of Saint Lawrence outside the Walls (San Lorenzo fuori le Mura) in Rome, Italy. The church is one of the Seven Pilgrim Churches of Rome, and it is a fitting place for Stephen's relics to reside, as the church commemorates the martyrdom of Saint Lawrence, one of the first seven deacons of Rome to be martyred in 258.

This day - formally called the Invention of Saint Stephen the Protomartyr - is a "supplemental" feast; that is, it is listed in the Anglican Missal's "Supplement to the Proper of Saints - Masses Observed in Certain Places" and not on the main Kalendar of the Church. When the feast is commemorated, the same propers as the feast of Saint Stephen (December 26) are used.

May we proclaim Christ Jesus both in word and deed in our day, as boldly as Saint Stephen did, no matter the cost involved to us temporally!

The accompanying picture is of the fresco located in Santa Croce, Florence, Italy, and created by Bernardo Daddi (1280 - 1348).

Grant, O Lord, that, in all our sufferings here upon earth for the testimony of thy truth, we may stedfastly look up to heaven, and by faith behold the glory that shall be revealed: and being filled with the Holy Ghost may learn to love and bless our persecutors by the example of thy first Martyr Saint Stephen; who prayed for his murders to thee, O blessed Jesus, who standest at the right hand of God to succour all those that suffer for thee, our only Mediator and Advocate, who livest and reignest with the Father, in the unity of the same Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end.

Catholic Encyclopedia article
Prayer book propers

Books Worth Considering
Fox's Book of Martyrs
Reason Is Beguiled: On the Mystery of Martyrdom & of Total Self Gift
By Their Blood: Christian Martyrs of the Twentieth Century
Seasons in Spirituality: Reflections on Vincentian Spirituality in Today's World
Vincent De Paul & Louise De Marillac: Rules, Conferences, & Writings
The Treasury of Saints and Martyrs
Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church
The Concise Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church
The Oxford Dictionary of Saints (Oxford Paperback Reference)amazon
The Penguin Dictionary of Saints: Third Edition (Dictionary, Penguin)amazon