Today's Saint (December 26): Stephen the Protomartyr

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Stephen the Protomartyr

Today's saint gives us a sober and timely reminder of the trials of the Christian life.

Stephen is the first of the Christians to proclaim Christ, and also the first to be martyred for that testimony. He was one of the seven deacons appointed by the apostles in the early days of the Church, and is most likely of Hellenistic Jewish descent.

Filled with the Holy Spirit and learned in the Scriptures and Jewish history, he gave an apology for the Faith in the midst of a crowd of Jews, contained in the 7th chapter of Acts of the Apostles.

He told them that Moses and the prophets all pointed to the coming of Jesus Christ as the Redeemer of Israel and of mankind, Acts puts it this way, in verses 54-60:

"When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth. But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God. Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord, And cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man’s feet, whose name was Saul. And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep."

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

The Day's Propers
Catholic Encyclopedia article

Books Worth Considering

Their Blood Cries Outamazon
Fox's Book of Martyrs
Reason Is Beguiled: On the Mystery of Martyrdom and of Total Self Gift
By Their Blood: Christian Martyrs of the Twentieth Century

The Treasury of Saints and Martyrs
The Concise Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church
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