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Old 29th December 2010, 01:11 PM
Truthseeker Truthseeker is offline
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Default The feast of St. Stephen

Does anyone know why we celbrate the first martyr of the Church, St. Stephen just a day after Christmas ? I read somewhere that since Jesus is King we celebrate first the martryrdom of his first soldier faithful witness
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Old 29th December 2010, 02:12 PM
Ron Conte Ron Conte is offline
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Does anyone know why we celbrate the first martyr of the Church, St. Stephen just a day after Christmas ? I read somewhere that since Jesus is King we celebrate first the martryrdom of his first soldier faithful witness

I've never heard that explanation before, and it does not seem theologically sound to me. Although the figure of a soldier for Christ is used by the Church, it is not the basis for explaining martyrdom. The ordering of the events remembered by the liturgical calendar is not necessarily chronological. Each liturgical year cannot properly space all the events from the life of Christ and from the early Church. So there may not be a strict logical reason for placing the feast on that day.
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Old 29th December 2010, 02:56 PM
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I've never heard that explanation before, and it does not seem theologically sound to me. Although the figure of a soldier for Christ is used by the Church, it is not the basis for explaining martyrdom. The ordering of the events remembered by the liturgical calendar is not necessarily chronological. Each liturgical year cannot properly space all the events from the life of Christ and from the early Church. So there may not be a strict logical reason for placing the feast on that day.

Here is a plausible reason maybe: (taken from http://www.penitents.org/sisco08Dec26.htm)

It is very appropriate that we celebrate the feast of Saint Stephen the Church’s first martyr always the day after Christmas.



On Christmas, we celebrated that our God took on human life so we might someday share His divine life in heaven. And on St. Stephen’s Day, we see what the consequences of embracing that divine life might be. Celebrating the martyrdom of Saint Stephen reminds us that being a follower of Christ means we will be hated, means we will have to suffer. Martyrdom is evil in that an innocent life is being destroyed, but it is good as it leads us to glorify God in our bodies, so others may see and believe. Martyrdom is the highest form of praising God, as long as the reason we are being persecuted is because of the name of Jesus, and not because we’ve done something to antagonize the persecution. Now you don’t necessarily have to die to be a martyr. To be an everyday martyr we must be willing to lay ourselves down for the Lord. That means we must be willing to witness to the Lord with our actions.
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Old 29th December 2010, 03:53 PM
Rob Rob is offline
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In the early Church the day when a holy person died, such as a martyr was considered the day of his "birth" in heaven. So saints were usually identified with the day of their death which was regarded as a day of "birth" rather than the actual day of birth on earth.
For Saint Stephen, since he was the first martyr and lived almost 2000 years ago his actual day of "birth in heaven" might have been forgotten, therefore as convention the fathers decided that his feast would be celebrated the day after the birth of the Lord, that is the 26th of December, since he was the first to die for the Christ.
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Last edited by Rob : 29th December 2010 at 03:58 PM.
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Old 29th December 2010, 05:02 PM
Ron Conte Ron Conte is offline
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According to my Biblical chronology, the martyrdom of St. Stephen probably occurred in winter, but we do not know the month or day.

He was stoned by the Jews, even though the Romans did not permit the Jews to put anyone to death. So this event could only have occurred during a change in leadership in Judea (just as happened later with James the Less). Pilate left for Rome to be judged by Tiberius on accusations of murder made by the Samaritan Senate. But by the time he arrived in Rome, Tiberius was dead. Tiberius died in March, so Pilate must have departed in winter (it was a long journey of 1.5 to 2 months, in good weather, and up to 3 months in bad weather).

After Pilate left, before the next procurator arrived, certain Jews took advantage of the power vacuum to kill Stephen.
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