Saint Stephen

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Saint Stephen (Koine Greek: Στέφανος, Stephanos), the protomartyr of Christianity, is venerated as a saint in the Roman Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran, Oriental Orthodox and Eastern Orthodox Churches.

Saint Stephen's name is derived from the Greek Stephanos, meaning "crown". Traditionally, Stephen is invested with a crown of martyrdom for Christianity; he is often depicted in art with three stones and the martyrs' palm. In Eastern Christian iconography, he is shown as a young beardless man with a tonsure, wearing a deacon's vestments, and often holding a miniature church building or a censer. Rembrandt depicted his martyrdom in his work The Stoning of Saint Stephen.

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Martyrdom

According to The Acts of the Apostles Stephen was tried by the Sanhedrin for blasphemy against Moses and God (Acts 6:11) and speaking against the Temple and the Law (Acts 6:13-14). While on trial, he experienced a theophany in which he saw both God the Father and God the Son:

He was stoned to death (c. C.E. 34–35) by an infuriated mob encouraged by Saul of Tarsus.[2] Stephen's final speech was presented as accusing the Jews of persecuting prophets who spoke out against their sins:

Hagiography

Saint Stephen's hagiography is included in Jacobus de Voragine's Golden Legend. De Voragine's version of the legend begins with a fictional etymology: Stephen (from Greek stephanos, "crown") comes from the Hebrew word for "norm" or "rule"; since he was the first martyr of the New Testament, he set the norm for suffering in Christ. Or, his name comes from strenue fans, "speaking strongly," because of his manner of speaking and his preaching. Or it comes from strenue stans, "laudably standing and instructing and ruling over old women." Thus, according to de Voragine, "Stephen is a crown because he is first in martyrdom, a norm by his example in suffering and his way of life, a zealous speaker in his praiseworthy teaching of the widows."[3]

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