St Stephen the First Martyr

26 Dec 2023

Christianity’s first martyr was probably a Greek Jew.

Stephen’s story is recounted in the Acts of the Apostles.

He was among the first seven deacons chosen to serve the Hellenist Christian community in Jerusalem.

But the wonders he worked rattled local Jewish leaders.

Witnesses at his trial before the Sanhedrin gave false testimony, and Stephen defended himself with a stirring speech recalling the long history of Israel’s relationship with God and calling the Jews “stiff-necked people” who “always oppose the Holy Spirit.”

As he was stoned to death outside the city, he cried out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.”

He is the patron of bricklayers, stonemasons and numerous individual Christian churches.

Text: Catholic News Service,
Image: The Stoning of St Stephen by Annibale Carracci, between 1603 and 1604/Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain