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St. Stephen The Martyr

St. Stephen was one of the first seven deacons who were chosen by the Apostles to look after the needs of widows and orphans in Jerusalem. He is first mentioned in the Acts of Apostles as one of the men chosen for this important task; we know nothing of his life prior to this time. His name is Greek and scholars believe that he was a Hellenist—a Jew born in a foreign land and raised to speak Greek. Stephen bravely and eloquently defended his faith in Jesus before the Sanhedrin, who were angry at his accusations that they murdered the "Just One." He was dragged out of the city and stoned to death. Saul, who would later be known as St. Paul, was at this time an enemy of the Christians. Saul was a witness of Stephen's death and watched the cloaks of the witnesses stoning him. As he was being killed, Stephen cried out "Lord do not hold this sin against them." The martyrdom of St. Stephen is recounted in Acts 6:8-8:1. The feast of St. Stephen is December 26.

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