Devotion to the Holy Martyrs has always been a distinctive mark of the Christian faithful.  From the earliest ages of the Church until the present their witness to Christ has inspired believers to honor their tombs and to trust in the power of their prayers before the throne of God.  The catacombs attest to this in ancient times, and in our own time John Paul II named the century just passed a “century of martyrs.”  Let us go to them then with confidence praying for all the Church in need throughout the world and for our own needs at home.

St. Stephen one of the seven first deacons of the Church was the first or “proto” martyr to the faith in the New Testament Church.  His valiant proclamation of the Lordship of Jesus won him the crown of martyrdom, as narrated by St. Luke in the Acts of the Apostles.  In fact his very name “stephanos” in Greek means “crown.”  His feast in the Roman rite is December 26th.

Prayer to St. Stephen the Protomartyr

O Great St. Stephen, the scriptures tell us that your face was like an angel’s as you witnessed to the truth of Christ.

Please ask the Most Holy Trinity to fill my soul and the souls of all my brothers and sisters throughout the world with a deep hunger for the truth that comes from the Heart of Jesus, and also with the loving courage to embrace and profess the truth even amid difficulties, confusion, and persecution. 

May the serenity and peace which were yours at the hour of your stoning be ours as well as we wait in hope for the coming of the Lord Jesus who lives and reigns forever and ever.

Amen.

 

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