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Monday, December 26, 2005
Feast Day of St. Stephen
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Feast (1969 Calendar): December 26
Double of the II Class (1955 Calendar): December 26

Today is the Second day in the Octave of Christmas, and today is also the Feast of St. Stephen, the first martyr. What we know about him comes from the Acts of the Apostles. His account is recorded in Chapter 6 and Chapter 7.

"If you know what witness means, you understand why God brings St. Stephen, St. John, and the Holy Innocents to the crib in the cave as soon as Christ is born liturgically. To be a witness is to be a martyr. Holy Mother Church wishes us to realize that we were born in baptism to become Christ — He who was the world's outstanding Martyr" (Love Does Such Things by Rev. M. Raymond, O.C.S.O.)

We have only just celebrated the birth of our Lord and already the liturgy presents us with the feast of the first person to give his life for this Baby who has been born. Yesterday we wrapped Christ in swaddling clothes; today, he clothes Stephen with the garment of immortality. Yesterday, a narrow manger cradled the baby Christ; today, the infinite heaven has received Stephen in triumph (St. Fulgentius, Sermon 3)

Today is also the most appropriate day for the hymn Good King Wenceslas.


The painting is by Blessed Fra Angelico (1400-1455). Saint Peter is ordaining Stephen to the diaconate while Saint John the Beloved (whose feast we will keep tomorrow), holding his Gospel, looks on. The composition is remarkable: the three heads of Peter, John and Stephen form a triangle, a symbol of communion in the Three Divine Persons. Peter is handing over the chalice and paten; they are very large. Fra Angelico makes the Most Holy Eucharist central; he paints what Saint Thomas Aquinas taught, i.e. that the unity of the Church is constituted and held together by participation in the adorable Body and Blood of Christ.

Source to above excerpt: Vultus Christi Blog


Saint Stephen, marytr of Christ, ora pro nobis. Amen
Collect:

Grant us, we beseech Thee, O Lord, so to imitate what we revere, that we may learn to love even our enemies: for we celebrate the heavenly Birthday of him who knew how to pray for his very persecutors to our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son: Who with Thee liveth and reigneth.
Prayer Source: 1962 Roman Catholic Daily Missal

Image Sources: Believed to be in the Public Domain, Titles Unknown

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