Friday, 26 December 2014
Feast of Stephen
The 26th of December is known in the Western Christian churches as Saint Stephen's Day. Stephen was a deacon in one of the early churches in Jerusalem; he was appointed by the Apostles to distribute aid to the poorer members of the community.
His sermons included his views concerning the history of Israel, which were challenged by other synagogues. Although he bested his challengers through legal debate, he was nonetheless declared a blasphemer and stoned to death, thus becoming the first martyr of Christianity. Relics of his are said to be preserved in the Church of St. Stephen in Jerusalem.
Apart from the New Testament book of Acts of the Apostles, Saint Stephen has little mention outside of the Christmas carol "Good King Wenceslaus" as quoted above. In many nations where the religion was historically Catholic, the day is a public holiday and celebrated with feasting.