Lived ? - c 35
Feast day: December 26
Patron saint: Deacons, bricklayers
Saint Stephen, one of the seven deacons of Jerusalem in the time of the apostles, was the first martyr. Saint Stephen was summoned to the Sanhedrin to defend himself against the charge of blasphemy. However, he spoke passionately about his faith, and further annoyed the Sanhedrin by calling them "stiff-necked" resisters of the Holy Spirit. He was rushed outside the city walls to be stoned, crying out in rapture that he could actually see the heavens open and Christ standing at his Father's side. In his final prayer, he begged God to lay not this sin to their charge. Though his killers were committing a sin, he begged for no punishment to befall them. This was very levelheaded of him, despite his earlier rhetoric, and reflects that perhaps h felt he had incited them.