St. Stephen (1st. c.) was one of the Church's first deacons in Jerusalem and an eloquent preacher of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. According to Sacred Scripture he was "a man full of faith, and of the Holy Ghost" and "full of grace and fortitude." The account of his martyrdom is recorded in the Acts of the Apostles. After boldly preaching against the Jewish leaders for their rejection of the promised Messiah, he was accused of blasphemy and stoned to death by an angry mob. The man who would later become St. Paul the Apostle, while he was persecuting the Church before his conversion, was among the mob as an approving witness. St. Stephen's name comes from the Greek word meaning 'crown,' fitting as he was the first Christian to earn the martyr's crown. St. Stephen’s feast day is celebrated on December 26th.
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