Saturday, December 26, 2015

For All the Saints: Stephen

Today is St. Stephen's Day in many Western Churches; in many Eastern churches, his day is tomorrow. Stephen is considered the first martyr of Christianity, according to the Book of Acts; he was executed on a charge of blasphemy after he gave a lengthy speech about biblical history and Jesus (Acts 7). Another significant thing about his speech and death is that Saul of Tarsus, whose story is also told in Acts, was nearby. He was also among the first deacons selected to serve the needy of the church. St. Stephen's Day is a public holiday in several countries.

The site of Orthodox Saints adds: "According to holy tradition, the martyrdom of St Stephen occurred exactly a year after the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. His body was taken and secretly buried by Gamaliel, a member of the Sanhendrin and secretly a Christian.

"Saint Stephen's relics were discovered by the priest Lucian in 415 following a vision. They were translated to the church built for them in Jerusalem by the Empress Eudocia, and later taken to Constantinople."

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