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The American Church Dictionary and Cycopedia

Stephen, Festival of Saint

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A Holy Day of the Church observed on December 26, in memory of St. Stephen the Proto-martyr, i.e., the first Christian martyr. The position of the three Holy Days after Christmas is remarkable. We have here brought into immediate nearness to the Birth of Christ the three kinds of members who are joined to Him by martyrdom, viz., those who are martyrs both in will and deed, as St. Stephen; those who are martyrs in will but not in deed, i.e., escaped with life as St. John; and lastly, those who are martyrs in deed, but had no wills of their own to sacrifice to God, as the Holy Innocents. The Festival of St. Stephen dates as far back as the Fourth Century. The reason for its institution is thus given by an ancient writer, "Christ was born on earth that Stephen might be born in heaven." Nothing is known of St. Stephen before his selection for ordination as a Deacon, but in the 6th and 7th chapters of the Book of the Acts of the Apostles is given a very full account of his being made a Deacon; of his doing "great wonders and miracles among the people," because he was "full of faith and power"; of his accusation and eloquent defense, and finally of his martyrdom by stoning, in the midst of which, like his Divine Master, he prayed for his murderers. In ecclesiastical art, St. Stephen is represented as a Deacon holding stones in a napkin or in his robe or in his hand.

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Bibliography Information
Miller, William James. Entry for 'Stephen, Festival of Saint'. The American Church Dictionary and Cyclopedia. 1901.

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