Stephen the Martyr

Polittico del 1476, s. stefanoFeast Day: December 26
Canonized: Pre-Congregation

On Christmas Day, we celebrate the birth of Jesus. The next day we celebrate the birth of Stephen. But Stephen's is a different kind of birth; it is his birth into eternal life. Death brought life for him. He is the first martyr of the Christian Church.

In the beginning of the Church, its members were Jews. Many of these Jews lived in Palestine, but others lived in distant cities around the Mediterranean Sea. We call them “Hellenized” Jews. As adults, many of them came to Jerusalem to live.

Among these Hellenized Jews was Stephen. (He may have come from Alexandria in Egypt.) Hearing the preaching of the apostles in Jerusalem, he came to believe in Christ Jesus.

As the early Church grew, the apostles made an important decision. Preaching kept them busy, but many of their followers needed food and clothing. So the apostles selected seven people to collect and distribute these necessities. Stephen was one of the seven, who were known as deacons.

God filled Stephen with grace and power. He did good, just as Jesus had done. But around the year 34-35 AD, some Hellenized Jews felt that Stephen rejected God when he accepted Jesus. So they dragged Stephen out of Jerusalem and began to stone him.

As he died, Stephen said, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” Praying for those who were stoning him, he said, “Lord, do not hold this against them.” With these words, Stephen died. In life as in death, he truly followed Jesus.

St. Stephen is the patron saint of stoneworkers.

Connecting to Be My Disciples®
Grade 2, chapter 11
Grade 3, chapter 9
Grade 4, chapter 23
Grade 5, chapter 23