In the Acts of the Apostles, Stephen is described as one of the seven deacons whose job it was to care for the widows in the early Church in Jerusalem. His eloquent speech before the Sanhedrin, in which he shows the great sweep of Jewish history as leading to the birth of Jesus the Messiah, and his impassioned plea that all might hear the good news of Jesus, leads to his inevitable martyrdom by being stoned to death.
The description of Stephen in Acts bears direct parallels to that of Christ in Luke’s gospel. Stephen lives his own passion; he is filled with the Holy Spirit; he sees the Son of Man at the right hand of God, as Jesus promised he would be; he commends his spirit to Jesus, as Jesus commended his to the Father; and he kneels as Jesus did in Gethsemane, asking forgiveness for his persecutors.
The Feast of St Stephen is celebrated each year on 26th December by a Sung Mass. A statue of St Stephen adorns one of the columns in the chancel.