[St. Pachomius Library]

St. Stephen the Protomartyr

I Century
Little is known about St. Stephen, the first martyr. He was a Hellenized Jew who lived in Jerusalem and was converted to Christianity. He was among the first seven deacons of the church. The elders of the Jewish temple, having failed to win their argument with him, accused him of blasphemy because he asserted that the temple would be destroyed and the law of Moses had ended with the coming of Christ. Stephen answered their charges eloquently and was stoned to death c. 36.

Legends recorded in Georgian and Slavonic relate that Stephen converted Pilate and his family to Christianity. Other legends say that Saul was Stephen's cousin. Rebuked for his faith by Saul, Stephen fortells Saul's conversion, and Saul strikes him with a stick. Saul then leads the elders in stoning his cousin.

In 415, the priest Lucian discovered Stephen's relics at Kefr Gamla and took them to the church of Sion.

Karen Rae Keck


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