Dec 20, 2009 / 03:16 am
On Saturday, December 26, the universal church will commemorate the death of St. Stephen, the first man to give his life in witness to the Faith.
St. Stephen was a deacon in the early church. The sixth chapter of the Acts of the Apostles says that, Stephen was “a man filled with faith and with the Holy Spirit... filled with grace and fortitude.” The Bible also notes that Stephen was a gifted orator and that his logic was sound. The conversions of many people are attributed to him.
However, his outspokenness provoked the ire of some of his listeners and he was accused of blaspheming against Moses and against God. He was brought before the high priest and many false witnesses testified against him.
In his defense, he gave an eloquent analysis of Salvation History and the love and mercy of God. He also recounted Israel's repeated ungratefulness towards their God. However, it didn't sway his accusers who proceeded to take him outside the city and stone him.