The first Christian martyr in the history of Christianity was St. Stephen. He was the first Christian to be killed because of his religious faith. This is why you might find the adjective martyr next to Stephen’s name in many calendars.
This character is remembered on December 26 to symbolically render the closeness between Christ, born on the 25th.
The origins of the first Christian martyr
St. Stephen’s origin has yet to be discovered; he was probably a Jew educated according to Greek culture.
He was practically a contemporary of Jesus and was commissioned by the Apostles (Jesus’ direct disciples). He became the first of seven deacons to provide for the needs of widows. And orphans in the new Christian communities.
Moved by a burning faith, the first Christian martyr carried out his task with love and kindness. He also devoted himself to preaching to convert the Jews who came to Jerusalem (where he lived). Because of this, he began to attract the hostility of those who frowned upon the spread of the new creed.
In 36 A.D., therefore, he has accused of blasphemy-the the offense against God and sacred things. Most serious at the time and was led with false testimony before the Sanhedrin, the supreme council of the Jews.
During the trial, Stephen spoke to the crowd, preaching one last time about the magnificence of his God. This approach only infuriated the public, dragging him away and stoning him to death.
The life of martyr St. Stephen
He was the first to suffer the accusations and anger of those who, hearing the words of the Gospel, were not ready to accept them. Before him, the word spread by Jesus’ disciples had not yet claimed victims and had not been the cause of the death of those who supported it.
Stephen was a young man full of faith and enthusiasm, so much so that the apostles asked him to help them organize the Christian community in Jerusalem.
He gladly complied and became the first of the seven deacons elected to allow the apostles to concentrate only on preaching the Gospel. In the Acts of the Apostles, we read that although chosen by men and not by the Holy Spirit, as was the case with Jesus’ disciples present on the Day of Pentecost, this did not make these seven deacons any less “full of the Spirit and wisdom” (Acts 6:3).
The first Christian martyr was a man of culture, then, and wisdom. After he was elected a deacon, he worked to relieve the apostles of all administrative matters and evangelize and convert those who came to the city. Many prodigies are also attributed to him.
It was the Jews, annoyed by these conversions, who accused Stephen of blasphemy and stirred up the populace against him.
Dragged before the Sanhedrin, the young deacon responded to the false accusations against him with a long speech in which he denounced the Jews who had been unable to recognize Jesus for who he was, even though patriarchs and prophets had predicted and prepared for his advent.
This exacerbated tempers further, and Stephen was dragged out by the angry mob and stoned to death.
What can we learn from St. Stephen’s martyrdom?
The first Christian martyr story is an example of courage and self-sacrifice, showing how. From the beginning believing in the Gospel was much more than giving credence to the words of a prophet, Jesus. As in that of many who came before Him.
The scope of Jesus’ message is so revolutionary that it instills fear in those who are not ready to accept it. Going so far as to stir up murderous hatred. Thus was born the concept of the martyr. A man or woman prepared to endure unspeakable pain and torment and even to die to bear witness to their faith.
His martyrdom should be a lesson to us so that we may know how to believe the simple historical facts in which God worked, the authentic and straightforward historical records, rather than our profound studies. It should serve as a reminder that our more profound studies will return home. To the simple historical reality in which God intervened.
Why is St. Stephen’s Day celebrated?
It is no accident that the feast of St. Stephen falls so close to Christmas.
In ancient times it was decided to follow the day dedicated to the celebration of Jesus’ birth with other feast days celebrating the memory of men who were particularly close to him. Either because they knew him or because they played some role in spreading his word.
He was the First Christian martyr, which is why he is celebrated immediately after Jesus’ birth.
He was arrested in the period after Pentecost and died by stoning to death. In him, the figure of the martyr as an imitator of Christ is realized in a good way. He contemplates the glory of the Risen One, proclaims his divinity, entrusts his spirit to him, and forgives his killers. After witnessing his stoning, Saul reaped his spiritual legacy by becoming an Apostle to the Gentiles.
The first Christian martyr embraced his faith and wasn’t afraid of its consequences. He is a worthy example for us all to follow. According to tradition, St. Stephen welcomed his death with serenity, calling on the Lord to receive his soul.
He is venerated as a saint by all Churches that admit the worship of saints. He was the protomartyr, the first Christian to have given his life to bear witness to his faith in Jesus Christ. And for the spread of the Gospel. His martyrdom is described in the Acts of the Apostles, where both his call to discipleship and his martyrdom.
The first Christian martyr, Stephen, is a remarkable figure. He lived the same time as Jesus and therefore had the advantage of hearing the story of His life from beginning to end.
His name is mentioned in the Gospel of Matthew and the Acts of the Apostles, where he is depicted as a man of prayer who devoted himself to the spread of the Gospel. And was then unjustly accused of blasphemy and killed because of it.
You can find many representations of St. Stephen’s martyrdom on the walls of churches and houses worldwide. He is venerated as a martyr and saint by the Roman Catholic Church and all the other Churches that acknowledge the worship of saints.