Friends of the Rosary:
Today is the feast of Saint Stephen, the first martyr of the Church, stoned outside of the city wall of Jerusalem two years after the death of Christ, during the first persecution against the nascent Church.
His story of sacrificial love, narrated in the Acts of the Apostles, emphasizes the paralleled with Jesus’ trial. He was the first to follow in the steps of Christ with martyrdom. Like the Messiah, the died forgiving and praying for his executioners (cf. Acts 7:60).
St. Stephen was “filled with faith and with the Holy Spirit” and “full of grace and strength, and he showed himself as a man of God, radiating divine grace and apostolic zeal.
By establishing his feast on the day after Christmas, Holy Mother Church draws a close comparison between the disciple and the Master. We are indicated that to be a witness, an apostle, is to be a martyr, in imitation of Christ.
The day of death, the day of martyrdom is the passage to immortal life.
St. Stephen is usually pictured in deacon’s vestments, holding the symbol of martyrdom, a palm branch.
Jesus, I Trust In You!
St. Stephen, Pray for Us!
+ Mikel A. | RosaryNetwork.com, New York