Saint Stephen leads the splendid host of Christian martyrs. He was one of the first seven deacons ordained by the Apostles to administer the funds of the Infant Church among the poor. Saint Luke describes Stephen as “a man full of faith . . . . full of grace and fortitude, he did great wonders and signs among the people.” (Acts 6; 8). But there were some jealous of his influence who bribed witnesses to swear falsely against him. Stephen did not temporize even though he felt that the Council was hardening against him. He reviewed the history of the Jewish people and incensed his hearers by accusing the Jews as murderers of the Just One. They rushed at him and in their anger they ran him outside the city, where picking up stones they beat him to death. Stephen continued to pray for those who were stoning him.
“And the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man whose name was Saul.” (Acts 7:57).
The grace of Christ for which Stephen prayed with his dying voice made that young man Saint Paul.