The Apostle Stephen was the first deacon of the Church. For this, he is called "Protodeacon" or "Archdeacon," and as he was the first Christian martyr, he is called "Protomartyr."
While performing his missionary work, he defeated some Jews in a debate. They brought him before the Sanhedrin, accusing him of blasphemy against Moses. In response, he gave a fiery speech which recounted the history of the Jewish people and their sinful persecution of the prophets and Jesus Christ. In the middle of this speech, he described seeing a vision of Christ standing at the right hand of God.
The Jews then dragged him out and stoned him to death. Before he gave up his soul, he prayed for his murderers and forgave them. They left his body for the animals to desecrate, but the Jewish teacher Gamaliel secretly buried him.
Saint Stephen's principal feast is on December 27. He is also commemorated on August 2 and September 15.
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