On the feast of Stephen...

Before it was known as the Day After Christmas Sale Extravaganza; before it was known as Boxing Day; before it was even known as the Second Day of Christmas -- it was the Feast of Stephen.  Yes, the day mentioned in the carol about Good King Wenceslaus is 26 December.

St. Stephen is remembered as the first martyr of the church. The name Stephanos in Greek means "crown" or "wreath", as in a victorious athlete's laurel wreath.  I don't know whether the saint lived up to the name he already had, or is honored as having attained the crown of martyrdom. 

Catechism of the Catholic Church, §2473  
Martyrdom is the supreme witness given to the truth of the faith: it means bearing witness even unto death. The martyr bears witness to Christ who died and rose, to whom he is united by charity. He bears witness to the truth of the faith and of Christian doctrine. He endures death through an act of fortitude. "Let me become the food of the beasts, through whom it will be given me to reach God." 
[St. Ignatius of Antioch, Ad Rom. 4,1:SCh 10,110]
The trial, witness, and death of Stephen are described in the New Testament book of Acts, chapters 6 and 7.  In spite of some of the simpering iconography, he must have been a man of great physical courage in addition to great faith.  I hope I don't have to find out what it would be like to face death by stoning.  
"Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God."
[Acts 7:56, ESV]

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