Saint Stephen is known as the first Martyr. After such a brilliant, holy and happy day as the Nativity of the Lord, we are given the sobering liturgical memorial of one of the early deacons.
Stephen was elected by the 12 Apostles to care for the temporal needs of the poor through the distribution of food and clothing (Cf. Acts). He is the first almoner of the Church. Stephen performed many miracles and confounded the religious authorities in theological disputation while facing false charges. At his trial, Stephen preached the risen Jesus as the Christ to his detractors. He was stoned to death. He prayed for his persecutors as he was dying. One of those who conspired against Stephen was Saul of Tarsus, who later converted and became the great missionary, Saint Paul; he faced death, too, because his belief in Jesus as Messiah.
Saint Stephen, pray for us!