The body of St. Stephen, the first martyr, with those of some other saints, was discovered near Jerusalem in the year 415. Later the body of the saint was taken to Constantinople and finally to Rome, where it now lies beside that of St. Lawrence. The many miracles that occurred on the finding of St. Stephen’s body led to the institution of this festival, besides that of December 26th. A tradition states that Gamaliel, the teacher of St. Paul, had buried the body of St. Stephen at his country house; Nicodemus and Abibas, son of Gamaliel, and Gamaliel himself, were also buried there.
INTROIT Psalm 118: 95-96
Princes sat, and spoke against me; and the wicked persecuted me: help me, O Lord my God, for Thy servant was employed in Thy justifications. (Ps. 118: 1) Blessed are the undefiled in the way: who walk in the law of the Lord. v. Glory be…etc
Grant us, we beseech Thee, O Lord, to imitate what we worship, that we may learn to love our enemies also; for we celebrate the finding of him who knew how to pray even for his persecutors to Our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son. Who with Thee livest and reignest, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, Forever and ever.
EPISTLE Acts 6: 8-10; 7: 54-59
Lesson from the Acts of the Apostles. In those days, Stephen,, full of grace and fortitude, did great wonders and signs among the people. Now there arose some of that which is called the synagogue of the Libertines, and of the Cyrenians, and of the Alexandrians, and of them that were of Cilicia and Asia, disputing with Stephen. And they were not able to resist the wisdom and spirit that spoke. Now hearing these things they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed with their teeth at him. But he being full of the Holy Ghost, looking up steadfastly to Heaven, saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God. And he said, Behold I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God. And they crying out with a loud voice, stopped their ears, and with one accord ran violently upon him. And casting him forth without the city, they stoned him; and the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man whose name was Saul, And they stoned Stephen, invoking and saying; Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. And falling on his knees, he cried with a loud voice, saying: Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep in the Lord.
GRADUAL/ALLELUIA Psalm 118: 23, 86, 117
Princes sat, and spoke against me; and the wicked persecuted me. V.Help me, O Lord, my God: save me for Thy mercy’s sake. Alleluia, Alleluia.V. (Acts 7: 56) I see the heavens opened, and Jesus standing at the right hand of the power of God. Alleluia.
GOSPEL Matthew 23: 34-39
At that time, Jesus said to the scribes and pharisees. “Behold I send to you prophets, and wise men, and scribes; and some of them you will put to death and crucify, and some you will scourge in your synagogues, and persecute from city to city: that upon you may come all the just blood that hath been shed upon the earth, from the blood of Abel the just, even unto the blood of Zacharias the son of Barachias, whom you killed between the temple and the altar. Amen I say to you, all these things shall come upon this generation. Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered together thy children, as the hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and thou wouldest not? Behold, your house shall be left to you, desolate. For I say to you, you shall not see Me henceforth till you say, Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord.”
OFFERTORY ANTIPHON Acts 6: 5; 7: 59
The apostles chose Stephen, a levite, full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, whom the Jews stoned, praying and saying: Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. Alleluia.
Receive our gifts, O Lord, for the commemoration of Thy saints, that, as suffering hath made them glorious, so devotion may render us blameless. Through our Lord Jesus Christ Thy Son our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God Forever and ever.
PREFACE of the Common
It is truly meet and just, right and for our salvation that we should at all times and in all places, give thanks unto Thee, O holy Lord, Father almighty, everlasting God: through Christ our Lord. Through Whom the Angels praise Thy Majesty, the Dominations worship it, the Powers stand in awe. The Heavens and the Heavenly hosts together with the blessed Seraphim in triumphant chorus unite to celebrate it. Together with them we entreat Thee, that Thou mayest bid our voices also to be admitted, while we say in lowly praise:
COMMUNION ANTIPHON Acts 7: 56, 59, 60
I see the Heavens opened, and Jesus standing on the right hand of the power of God: Lord Jesus, receive my spirit, and lay not this sin to their charge.
May the mysteries we have received aid us, O Lord; and by the intercession of blessed Stephen, Thy martyr, may they confirm us in Thine everlasting protection. Through the Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God For ever and ever.