The Feast of St. Stephen the Protomartyr

Today, on this second day of Christmas, we commemorate the first martyr of the Christian Church, St. Stephen, whose story is detailed in the sixth and seventh chapters of Acts of the Apostles. St. Stephen was one of the seven original deacons ordained by the apostles, described by Sacred Scripture as “a man filled with faith and the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 6:5). Moved by that faith and empowered by the Holy Spirit, St. Stephen worked wonders among the people of God, defended the Church in debate, and endured the accusations and false witness brought against him by his enemies. Furiously stoned to death, his last words echoed the incredible mercy of his Master: “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” (Acts 7:60).

From today’s Collect:

“Grant, Lord, we pray, that we may imitate what we worship, and so learn to love even our enemies, for we celebrate the heavenly birthday of a man who knew how to pray even for his persecutors. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.”