Saints in the Roman Canon (Part 23)

In the Roman Canon, after St. John the Baptist, we find St. Stephen.
St. Stephen heads the brilliant host of Christian Martyrs, who, after the death of the
Savior, shed their blood for divine truth. He belongs to those seven wise and pious
men who were ordained as the first deacons by the Apostles; but, before all the
others, he is praised in Holy Scripture as a man “full of grace and strength,…full of
faith and of the Holy Ghost, … who did great signs and miracles among the
people.” As deacon, with loving solicitude, he exercised the charge of caring for the
poor and the sick; he likewise, with great wisdom and power, preached the doctrine of
Christ to the Jews. They obstinately resisted him, and in their fury they stoned to
death this courageous preacher of the truth, which they hated. This took place in the
Valley of Josaphat at the Brook Cedron. Yet “the stones of the brook were sweet to
him,” says the Church, at the same time putting these words in his mouth: “Because
my flesh was stoned for Thee, my God, my soul has adhered to Thee!” Overwhelmed
by the rain of stones and falling on his knees, he exclaimed: “Lord Jesus, receive my
spirit!” and then “he slept in the Lord.” Although ordained as deacon by the Apostles,
St. Stephen preceded the Apostles by his blessed and victorious death. The martyr’s crown
now shines gloriously on his head; the celebration of the day of his death (December 26)
follows the feast of the Nativity of our Lord, and the wonderful finding of his relics is separately
commemorated (August 3). In the sixth century the most of his relics were taken to Rome and
placed beside the remains of St. Lawrence under the high altar of the Basilica of St. Lawrence
Outside the Walls in a splendid marble sarcophagus.
St. Stephen, pray for us!
For the Greater Glory of God,
Fr. Matt