*For The Twelve Days of Christmas my True Love sent to me the feast of St. Stephen and the story of King Wenceslaus, the feasts of St. John the Evangelist and the Holy Innocents, the feasts of the Circumcision and the Holy Name of Jesus, and the feast of the Epiphany with the Three Wise Kings. And on through the feast of the Holy Family and the commemoration of the Baptism of Christ. If you are loathe to bid farewell to Christmas even then, you may continue it without interruption until Candlemas Day, February 2nd. However you keep it, long or short, it is a far longer season for the Catholic child than the world understands. For him the festivity is not officially over with the last wrapping torn off the last gift, or the last nut retrieved from the last toe in the stocking. The Church would have us enjoy this season now that it is here, and celebrate the feasts that follow.
I will be posting each of the 12 days of Christmas with the Saint story and a coloring page.
ST. STEPHEN, THE FIRST MARTYR
Stephen's name means "crown" and he was the first disciple of Jesus to receive the martyr's crown. Stephen was a deacon in the early Catholic Church. The Apostles had found that they needed helpers to look after the care of the widows and the poor. So they ordained seven deacons, and Stephen is the most famous of these.
God worked many miracles through St. Stephen and he spoke with such wisdom and grace that many of his hearers became followers of Jesus. The enemies of the Church of Jesus were furious to see how successful St. Stephen's preaching was. At last, they laid a plot for him. They could not answer his wise arguments, so they got men to lie about him, saying that he had blasphemed against God. St. Stephen faced that great assembly of enemies without any fear. In fact, the Holy Bible says that his face looked like the face of an angel.
The Saint spoke about Jesus, showing that He is the Saviour God had promised to send. He scolded his enemies for not having believed in Jesus. At that, they rose up in great anger and shouted at him. But Stephan looked up to heaven and said that he saw the heavens opening and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.
His hearers plugged their ears and refused to listen to another word. They dragged St. Stephen outside the city of Jerusalem and stoned him to death. The Saint prayed, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!" Then he fell to his knees and begged God not to punish his enemies for killing him.
After such an expression of love, the holy martyr went to his heavenly reward.
If you are tempted to take revenge, pray from your heart for the one who has offended you. Jesus said: "Forgive and you shall be forgiven".
You can find a coloring picture of St. Stephen here.