Saint Stephan by Carlo Crivelli
|Deacon and protomartyr|
|Died||AD 34 (aged 29)|
Jerusalem, Judaea, Roman Empire
|Venerated in|| Roman Catholic Church |
Eastern Catholic Churches
Eastern Orthodox Church
Oriental Orthodox Churches
Assyrian Church of the East
|Feast||25 December (Armenian Christianity)|
26 December (Western)
27 December (Eastern)
Tobi 1 (Coptic Christianity)
|Attributes||Red Martyr, stones, dalmatic, censer, miniature church, Gospel Book, martyr's palm frond. In Eastern Christianity he often wears an orarion|
|Patronage||Altar Servers ;Acoma Indian Pueblo; casket makers; Cetona, Italy; deacons; headaches; horses; Kessel, Belgium; masons; Owensboro, Kentucky; Passau, Germany; Serbia; Republic of Srpska; Prato, Italy|
Stephen (Greek : ΣτέφανοςStéphanos, meaning "wreath, crown" and by extension "reward, honor", often given as a title rather than as a name, Hebrew : סטפנוס הקדוש), (c. AD 5 – c. AD 34) traditionally venerated as the protomartyr or first martyr of Christianity, was according to the Acts of the Apostles a deacon in the early church at Jerusalem who aroused the enmity of members of various synagogues by his teachings. Accused of blasphemy at his trial, he made a long speech denouncing the Jewish authorities who were sitting in judgment on him and was then stoned to death. His martyrdom was witnessed by Saul of Tarsus, a Pharisee who would later become a follower of Jesus and known as Paul the Apostle.
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages, native to Greece, Cyprus and other parts of the Eastern Mediterranean and the Black Sea. It has the longest documented history of any living Indo-European language, spanning more than 3000 years of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the major part of its history; other systems, such as Linear B and the Cypriot syllabary, were used previously. The alphabet arose from the Phoenician script and was in turn the basis of the Latin, Cyrillic, Armenian, Coptic, Gothic, and many other writing systems.
Hebrew is a Northwest Semitic language native to Israel, the modern version of which is spoken by over nine million people worldwide. Historically, it is regarded as the language of the Israelites and their ancestors, although the language was not referred to by the name "Hebrew" in the Tanakh itself. The earliest examples of written Paleo-Hebrew date from the 10th century BCE. Hebrew belongs to the West Semitic branch of the Afroasiatic language family. Hebrew is the only Canaanite language still spoken, and the only truly successful example of a revived dead language.
Christianity is an Abrahamic monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. Its adherents, known as Christians, believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and the savior of all people, whose coming as the Messiah was prophesied in the Hebrew Scriptures of Judaism, called the Old Testament in Christianity, and chronicled in the New Testament. It is the world's largest religion with over 2.4 billion followers.
The only primary source for information about Stephen is the New Testament book of the Acts of the Apostles.Stephen is mentioned in Acts 6 as one of the Greek-speaking Hellenistic Jews selected to participate in a fairer distribution of welfare to the Greek-speaking widows.
The New Testament is the second part of the Christian biblical canon, the first being the Old Testament. The New Testament discusses the teachings and person of Jesus, as well as events in first-century Christianity. Christians regard both the Old and New Testaments together as sacred scripture.
Acts 6 is the sixth chapter of the Acts of the Apostles in the New Testament of the Christian Bible. It records the ordination of the first seven deacons and the work of one of them, Stephen. The book containing this chapter is anonymous but early Christian tradition uniformly affirmed that Luke composed this book as well as the Gospel of Luke.
The Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran, Oriental Orthodox, Eastern Orthodox Churches, and the Church of the East venerate Stephen as a saint. Traditionally, Stephen is invested with a crown of martyrdom; artistic representations often depict him with three stones and the martyr's palm frond. Eastern Christian iconography shows him as a young, beardless man with a tonsure, wearing a deacon's vestments, and often holding a miniature church building or a censer.
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with approximately 1.3 billion baptised Catholics worldwide as of 2017. As the world's oldest and largest continuously functioning international institution, it has played a prominent role in the history and development of Western civilisation. The church is headed by the Bishop of Rome, known as the pope. Its central administration, the Holy See, is in the Vatican City, an enclave within the city of Rome in Italy.
The Eastern Orthodox Church, officially the Orthodox Catholic Church, is the second-largest Christian church, with approximately 260 million baptised members.It operates as a communion of autocephalous churches, each governed by its bishops in local synods, although roughly half of Eastern Orthodox Christians live in Russia. The church has no central doctrinal or governmental authority analogous to the Bishop of Rome, but the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople is recognised by all as primus inter pares of the bishops. As one of the oldest surviving religious institutions in the world, the Eastern Orthodox Church has played a prominent role in the history and culture of Eastern and Southeastern Europe, the Caucasus, and the Near East.
The Church of the East, also called the Persian Church, was an Eastern Christian church in the Syriac Christian tradition, active c. 410-1552. It organized itself in 410 in the Sasanian Empire in the Council of Seleucia-Ctesiphon, and in 424 declared itself independent of the church structure of the Roman Empire, after which it also became known as the Nestorian Church.
Stephen is first mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles as one of seven deacons appointed by the Apostles to distribute food and charitable aid to poorer members of the community in the early church. According to Orthodox belief, he was the eldest and is therefore called "archdeacon". [Acts 6:5, 8]As another deacon, Nicholas of Antioch, is specifically stated to have been a convert to Judaism, it may be assumed that Stephen was born Jewish, but nothing more is known about his previous life. The reason for the appointment of the deacons is stated to have been dissatisfaction among Hellenistic (that is, Greek-influenced and Greek-speaking) Jews that their widows were being slighted in preference to Hebraic ones in the daily distribution of food. Since the name "Stephanos" is Greek, it has been assumed that he was one of these Hellenistic Jews. Stephen is stated to have been full of faith and the Holy Spirit and to have performed miracles among the people.
The Acts of the Apostles, often referred to simply as Acts, or formally the Book of Acts, is the fifth book of the New Testament; it tells of the founding of the Christian church and the spread of its message to the Roman Empire.
An apostle, in its most literal sense, is an emissary, from Greek ἀπόστολος (apóstolos), literally "one who is sent off", from the verb ἀποστέλλειν (apostéllein), "to send off". The purpose of such sending off is usually to convey a message, and thus "messenger" is a common alternative translation; other common translations include "ambassador" and "envoy".
Judaism is the ethnic religion of the Jewish people. It is an ancient, monotheistic, Abrahamic religion with the Torah as its foundational text. It encompasses the religion, philosophy, and culture of the Jewish people. Judaism is considered by religious Jews to be the expression of the covenant that God established with the Children of Israel. It encompasses a wide body of texts, practices, theological positions, and forms of organization. The Torah is part of the larger text known as the Tanakh or the Hebrew Bible, and supplemental oral tradition represented by later texts such as the Midrash and the Talmud. With between 14.5 and 17.4 million adherents worldwide, Judaism is the tenth largest religion in the world.
It seems to have been among synagogues of Hellenistic Jews that he performed his teachings and "signs and wonders" since it is said that he aroused the opposition of the "Synagogue of the Freedmen", and "of the Cyrenians, and of the Alexandrians, and of them that were of Cilicia and Asia". [Acts 6:9] Members of these synagogues had challenged Stephen's teachings, but Stephen had bested them in debate. Furious at this humiliation, they suborned false testimony that Stephen had preached blasphemy against Moses and God. They dragged him to appear before the Sanhedrin, the supreme legal court of Jewish elders, accusing him of preaching against the Temple and the Mosaic Law. [Acts 6:9–14] Stephen is said to have been unperturbed, his face looking like "that of an angel".
According to the Acts of the Apostles, the Synagogue of the Libertines or Synagogue of the Freedmen were a group of Hellenistic Jews who disputed with Saint Stephen.
Moses was a prophet according to the teachings of the Abrahamic religions. Scholarly consensus sees Moses as a legendary figure and not a historical person, while retaining the possibility that a Moses-like figure existed.
The Sanhedrin were assemblies of either twenty-three or seventy-one rabbis appointed to sit as a tribunal in every city in the ancient Land of Israel.
In a long speech to the Sanhedrin comprising almost the whole of Acts chapter 7, Stephen presents his view of the history of Israel. The God of glory, he says, appeared to Abraham in Mesopotamia, thus establishing at the beginning of the speech one of its major themes, that God does not dwell only in one particular building (meaning the Temple). [Acts 7:30–32] , and inspired Moses to lead his people out of Egypt. Nevertheless, the Israelites turned to other gods. [Acts 7:39–43] This establishes the second main theme of Stephen's speech, Israel's disobedience to God. Stephen faced two accusations: that he had declared that Jesus would destroy the Temple in Jerusalem and that he had changed the customs of Moses. Benedict XVI stated that St. Stephen appealed to the Jewish scriptures to prove how the laws of Moses were not subverted by Jesus but, instead, were being fulfilled. Stephen denounces his listeners as "stiff-necked" people who, just as their ancestors had done, resist the Holy Spirit. "Was there ever a prophet your ancestors did not persecute? They even killed those who predicted the coming of the Righteous One. And now you have betrayed and murdered him." [Acts 7:51–53]Stephen recounts the stories of the patriarchs in some depth, and goes into even more detail in the case of Moses. God appeared to Moses in the burning bush
Acts 7 is the seventh chapter of the Acts of the Apostles in the New Testament of the Christian Bible. It records the address of Stephen before the Sanhedrin and his execution outside Jerusalem, and introduces Saul. The book containing this chapter is anonymous, but early Christian tradition uniformly affirmed that Luke composed this book as well as the Gospel of Luke.
Israel, also known as the State of Israel, is a country in Western Asia, located on the southeastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea and the northern shore of the Red Sea. It has land borders with Lebanon to the north, Syria to the northeast, Jordan on the east, the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and Gaza Strip to the east and west, respectively, and Egypt to the southwest. The country contains geographically diverse features within its relatively small area. Israel's economic and technological center is Tel Aviv, while its seat of government and proclaimed capital is Jerusalem, although the state's sovereignty over Jerusalem has only partial recognition.
Abraham is the common patriarch of the Abrahamic religions. In Judaism, he is the founding father of the covenant of the pieces, the special relationship between the Jewish people and God; in Christianity, he is the prototype of all believers, Jewish or Gentile; and in Islam he is seen as a link in the chain of prophets that begins with Adam and culminates in Muhammad.
Thus castigated, the account is that the crowd could contain their anger no longer. [Acts 7:54] The people from the crowd, who threw the first stones, laid their coats down so as to be able to do this, at the feet of a "young man named Saul" (later known as Paul the Apostle). Stephen prayed that the Lord would receive his spirit and his killers be forgiven, sank to his knees, and "fell asleep" [Acts 7:58–60] . Saul "approved of their killing him". [Acts 8:1] In the aftermath of Stephen's death, the remaining disciples fled to distant lands, many to Antioch. [Acts 11:19–20]However, Stephen looked up and cried, "Look! I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing on the right hand of God!" He said that the recently executed Jesus was standing by the side of God.
The exact site of Stephen's stoning is not mentioned in Acts; instead there are two different traditions. One, claimed by noted French archaeologists Louis-Hugues Vincent (1872–1960) and Félix-Marie Abel (1878–1953) to be ancient, places the event at Jerusalem's northern gate, while another one, dated by Vincent and Abel to the Middle Ages and no earlier than the 12th century, locates it at the eastern gate.
Of the numerous speeches in Acts of the Apostles, Stephen's speech to the Sanhedrin is the longest.To the objection that it seems unlikely that such a long speech could be reproduced in the text of Acts exactly as it was delivered, some Biblical scholars have replied that Stephen's speech shows a distinctive personality behind it.
It has often been observed that there are numerous divergences in Stephen's re-telling of the stories of Israelite history and the scriptures where these stories originated; for instance, Stephen says that Jacob's tomb was in Shechem, [Acts 7:16] but Genesis 50:13 [Genesis 50:13] says Jacob's final resting place was a cave in Machpelah at Hebron. [Acts 8:1] There are at least five of these discrepancies, which some scholars have seen as errors, others as deliberate, in order to make specific theological points. There are also theologians who suggested that this discrepancy may come from an ancient Jewish tradition which was not included in the scriptures or may have been popular among people of Jerusalem who were not scribes. Numerous parallels between the accounts of Stephen in Acts and the Jesus of the Gospels – they both perform miracles, they are both tried by the Sanhedrin, they both pray for forgiveness for their killers, for instance – have led to suspicions that the author of Acts has emphasised – in order to show the recipient that people become holy when they follow the example of Christ – or invented some (or all) of these. The criticism of traditional Jewish belief and practice in Stephen's speech is very strong – when he says God does not live in a dwelling "made by human hands", referring to the Temple, he is using an expression often employed by Biblical texts to describe idols.
Some people have laid the charge of anti-Judaism against the speech, for instance the priest and scholar of comparative religion S. G. F. Brandon, who states "The anti-Jewish polemic of this speech reflects the attitude of the author of Acts."
Acts 8:2 [Acts 8:2] says "Godly men buried Stephen and mourned deeply for him", but the location where he was buried is not specified.
In 415 AD, a priest named Lucian purportedly had a dream that revealed the location of Stephen's remains at Beit Jimal. After that, the relics of the protomartyr were taken in procession to the Church of Hagia Sion on 26 December 415, making it the date for the feast of Saint Stephen. In 439, the relics were translated to a new church north of the Damascus Gate built by the empress Aelia Eudocia in honor of Saint Stephen. This church was destroyed in the 12th century. A 20th-century French Catholic church, Saint-Étienne, was built in its place, while another, the Greek Orthodox Church of St Stephen, was built outside the eastern gate of the city,which a second tradition holds to be site of his martyrdom, rather than the northern location outside Damascus Gate (for the two traditions see here).
The Crusaders initially called the main northern gate of Jerusalem "Saint Stephen's Gate" (in Latin, Porta Sancti Stephani), highlighting its proximity to the site of martyrdom of Saint Stephen, marked by the church and monastery built by Empress Eudocia.A different tradition is documented from the end of the Crusader period, after the disappearance of the Byzantine church: as Christian pilgrims were prohibited from approaching the militarily exposed northern city wall, the name "Saint Stephen's Gate" was transferred to the still accessible eastern gate, which bears this name until this day.
The relics of the protomartyr were later translated to Rome by Pope Pelagius II during the construction of the basilica of San Lorenzo fuori le Mura. They were interred alongside the relics of Saint Lawrence, whose tomb is enshrined within the church. According to the Golden Legend, the relics of Lawrence moved miraculously to one side to make room for those of Stephen.
The Imperial Regalia of the Holy Roman Empire includes a relic known as St. Stephen's Purse which is an elaborate gold and jewel-encrusted box believed to contain soil soaked with the blood of St. Stephen. The reliquary is likely a 9th century creation.
In his book, The City of God , Augustine of Hippo describes the many miracles that occurred when part of the relics of Saint Stephen were brought to Africa.
Part of the right arm of Saint Stephen is enshrined at Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius in Russia. [ dubious ]
In Western Christianity, 26 December is called "Saint Stephen's Day", the "Feast of Stephen" mentioned in the English Christmas carol "Good King Wenceslas". It is a public holiday in many nations that were historically Catholic, Anglican or Lutheran, including Austria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Ireland, Luxembourg, Slovakia, Poland, Italy, Germany, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Catalonia and the Balearic Isles. In Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United Kingdom, the day is celebrated as "Boxing Day".
In the current norms for the liturgy of the Roman Catholic Church, the feast is celebrated at the Eucharist, but, for the Liturgy of the Hours, is restricted to the Hours during the day, with Evening Prayer being reserved to the celebration of the Octave of Christmas. Historically, the "Invention of the Relics of Saint Stephen" (i.e., their reputed discovery) was commemorated on 3 August.The feasts of both 26 December and 3 August have been used in dating clauses in historical documents produced in England.
In the Eastern Orthodox Church, those Eastern Catholic Churches which follow the Byzantine Rite, and in Oriental Orthodox Churches (e.g., Coptic, Syrian, Malankara), Saint Stephen's feast day is celebrated on 27 December. This day is also called the "Third Day of the Nativity" because it is the third day of the Christmas season.
Some Orthodox churches, particularly in the west, follow a modified Julian calendar that places date names identically with the standard Gregorian calendar of widespread civil usage. In those churches, then, the date the feast is observed is generally known as 27 December. However, other Orthodox churches, including the Oriental Orthodox, continue to use the original Julian calendar. Throughout the 21st century, 27 December Julian will continue to fall on 9 January in the Gregorian calendar, and that is the date on which they observe the feast.
In the Armenian Apostolic and Armenian Catholic Churches, Saint Stephen's Day falls on 25 December – the day on which the feast of the Nativity of Jesus (Christmas) falls in all other churches. This is because the Armenian churches maintain the decree of Constantine, which stipulated that the Nativity and Theophany of Jesus were to be celebrated on 6 January. In dioceses of the Armenian Church which use the Julian Calendar, Saint Stephen's Day falls on 7 January and Nativity/Theophany on 19 January (for the remainder of the 21st century Julian).
In the eucharistic celebration on this feast day, it is traditional for all deacons serving at the altar to wear a liturgical crown (Armenian: խոյր khooyr), which is one of the vestments worn only by priests on all other days of the year, the crown being in this instance a symbol of martyrdom.
Many churches and other places commemorate Stephen. Among the most notable are the two sites in Jerusalem held by different traditions to be the place of his martyrdom, the Salesian monastery of Beit Jimal in Israel held to be the place where his remains were miraculously found, and the church of San Lorenzo fuori le Mura in Rome, where the saint's remains are said to be buried.
Important churches and sites dedicated to Saint Stephen are:
In the Catholic Church, the Guild of St. Stephen is an international association of altar servers whose aim is to promote "highest standards of serving at the Church's liturgy".
Timothy was an early Christian evangelist and the first Christian bishop of Ephesus, who tradition relates died around the year AD 97.
Thomas the Apostle, also called Didymus ("twin"), was one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus according to the New Testament.
The Christian holy day of Pentecost, which is celebrated fifty days after Easter Sunday, commemorates the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles and other followers of Jesus Christ while they were in Jerusalem celebrating the Feast of Weeks, as described in the Acts of the Apostles.
Philip the Apostle was one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus. Later Christian traditions describe Philip as the apostle who preached in Greece, Syria, and Phrygia.
Longinus is the name given to the unnamed Roman soldier who pierced the side of Jesus with a lance and who in medieval and some modern Christian traditions is described as a convert to Christianity. His name first appeared in the apocryphal Gospel of Nicodemus. The lance is called in Christianity the "Holy Lance" (lancea) and the story is related in the Gospel of John during the Crucifixion. This act is said to have created the last of the Five Holy Wounds of Christ.
James, son of Zebedee, also known as Saint James the Greater, was one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus. James is described as one of the first disciples to join Jesus. The Synoptic Gospels state that James and John were with their father by the seashore when Jesus called them to follow him. Saint James is the patron saint of Spain and, according to tradition, his remains are held in Santiago de Compostela in Galicia.
In Eastern Christianity an iconostasis is a wall of icons and religious paintings, separating the nave from the sanctuary in a church. Iconostasis also refers to a portable icon stand that can be placed anywhere within a church. The iconostasis evolved from the Byzantine templon, a process complete by the fifteenth century.
Nicodemus was a Pharisee and a member of the Sanhedrin mentioned in three places in the Gospel of John:
The Dormition of the Mother of God is a Great Feast of the Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Churches which commemorates the "falling asleep" or death of Mary the Theotokos, and her bodily resurrection before being taken up into heaven. It is celebrated on 15 August as the Feast of the Dormition of the Mother of God. The Armenian Apostolic Church celebrates the Dormition not on a fixed date, but on the Sunday nearest 15 August.
Saint Philip the Evangelist appears several times in the Acts of the Apostles. He was one of the Seven chosen to care for the poor of the Christian community in Jerusalem. He preached and reportedly performed miracles in Samaria, and met and baptised an Ethiopian man, a eunuch, in Gaza, traditionally marking the start of the Ethiopian Church. Later, Philip lived in Caesarea Maritima with his four daughters who foretold, where he was visited by Paul the Apostle.
In the Eastern Orthodox Church, the feast of the Resurrection of Jesus, called Pascha (Easter), is the greatest of all holy days and as such it is called the "feast of feasts". Immediately below it in importance, there is a group of Twelve Great Feasts. Together with Pascha, these are the most significant dates on the Orthodox liturgical calendar. Eight of the great feasts are in honor of Jesus Christ, while the other four are dedicated to the Virgin Mary — the Theotokos.
In the Christian liturgical calendar, there are several different Feasts of the Cross, all of which commemorate the cross used in the crucifixion of Jesus. While Good Friday is dedicated to the Passion of Christ and the Crucifixion, these days celebrate the cross itself, as the instrument of salvation. The most common day of commemoration is September 14 in Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy.
Thecla or Tecla was a saint of the early Christian Church, and a reported follower of Paul the Apostle. The earliest record of her life comes from the ancient apocryphal Acts of Paul and Thecla.
August 1 - Eastern Orthodox liturgical calendar - August 3
Simeon at the Temple is the "just and devout" man of Jerusalem who, according to Luke 2:25–35, met Mary, Joseph, and Jesus as they entered the Temple to fulfill the requirements of the Law of Moses on the 40th day from Jesus' birth at the presentation of Jesus at the Temple.
Antiochene Rite or Antiochian Rite designates the family of liturgies originally used in the Patriarchate of Antioch.
The Catholic Church in Israel is part of the worldwide Catholic Church, in full communion with the Holy See in Rome.
Jason of Thessalonica was a Jewish convert and early Christian believer mentioned in the New Testament in Acts 17:5-9 and Romans 16:21. According to tradition, Jason is numbered among the Seventy Disciples.
Prochorus was one of the Seven Deacons chosen to care for the poor of the Christian community in Jerusalem. According to later tradition he was also one of the Seventy Disciples sent out by Jesus in Luke 10.
The iconostasis of the Cathedral of Hajdúdorog is the largest Greek Catholic icon screen in Hungary. It is 11 m tall and 7 m wide, holding 54 icons on five tiers. Creating such a monumental work of art requires a number of different craftsmen. Miklós Jankovits was hired by the Greek Catholic parish of Hajdúdorog in 1799 to carve the wooden framework, including the doors and the icon frames of the iconostasis. Mátyás Hittner and János Szűts could only start the painting and gilding works in 1808. The last icon was completed in 1816.
.... St. Stephen's Gate (Lions' gate; Bab Sitti Mariam). The gate owes its name to a tradition according to which Stephen the Deacon, the first martyr, was stoned on this spot. At the beginning of the 20 c. the Greek Orthodox Patriarchy built a church dedicated to the Protomartyr in their property in front of the gate, in an endeavour to pinpoint the tradition of the site, which was falling into oblivion following the construction of the Dominican church and monastery on the site of the Eudocian church of St. Stephen north of Damascus Gate. The Greek builders went so far as to maintain that, in digging the foundations of the new church, they had found a broken lintel with an engraved invocation to Saint Stephen, but their claim, accepted by Macalister and Vailhé, was promptly disproved by Vincent, who was able to show that the lintel came in fact from Beersheba. Vincent and Abel maintained that the tradition about Stephen's stoning at the eastern gate of Jerusalem was not earlier than the 12 c., while the tradition pointing to the northern gate was ancient. .... J. Milik .... suggested that all the tombstones discovered in this area belonged to the cemetery of the Probatica.CS1 maint: Uses editors parameter (link)
The local guides simply moved to the Kidron valley certain holy places, notably the church of Saint Stephen, which in reality were north of the city, and business went on as before.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Saint Stephen .|
|Wikiquote has quotations related to: Stephanus|