St. Stephen lived around the year 30 AD and, according to the Acts of the Apostles, the Apostles ordained him one of the first seven deacons to look after elderly widows who were being neglected. God worked many miracles through Stephen and he spoke with such wisdom and grace that many of his hearers became followers of Jesus. His enemies were furious to see how successful Stephen’s preaching was and they laid a plot to kill him.
When he was put on trial for blaspheming against Moses and God, Stephen responded by giving a detailed history of God’s blessings upon His people and Moses. Stephen also reminded his audience how the people’s stubbornness had time and again led them away from God’s faithfulness and brought trouble upon themselves. Envy of Stephen’s wisdom and enraged by his rebuke, his enemies stoned Stephen to death while he gazed into heaven, seeing the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. Right before his death, Stephen prayed to Jesus to receive his spirit and to forgive his persecutors.
St. Stephen is venerated as the first martyr of Christianity and is the patron saint of deacons, bricklayers and stonemasons. The statue of St. Stephen in our parish carries a bible and a loaf of bread. The bible reflects his role as a deacon and the wise preaching he was doing to bring others to follow Jesus while the loaf of bread reflects his role in distributing food to the widows and the poor, his main role as a deacon.