Rebroadcast of the long-running radio program, The Ave Maria Hour," a presentation of the Franciscan Friars of the Atonement. www.AtonementFriars.org
In the Acts of the Apostles, the Bible says that the apostles of Jesus needed helpers to care for widows and the poor. They ordained seven deacons to that task, and St. Stephen is the most famous of these. He is described as a man filled with faith and the Holy Spirit, who worked great miracles among the people.
Stephen preached forcefully and with wisdom about Jesus, telling all who would listen that Jesus is the Savior that God had promised to send. He scolded local Jewish authorities for not believing in Jesus. At that rebuke, they rose up in great anger and accused Stephen of blasphemy. They dragged him outside the city of Jerusalem and stoned him to death. The saint prayed, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!" Then he fell to his knees and begged God not to punish his enemies for killing him.
St. Stephen is often depicted with stones, a Gospel Book, a miniature church and a martyr's palm frond. He is the patron saint of altar servers, bricklayers, casket makers and deacons. His feast day is celebrated on December 26.