A Garner of Saints – Saint Stephen

detail of the oil on oak painting 'Etienne Chevalier with Saint Stephen'; by Jean Fouquet, c.1454; Royal Museum of Fine Arts. Antwerp, Belgium; photographed on 18 April 2014 by Miguel Hermoso Cuesta; swiped from Wikimedia CommonsArticle

(French: Etienne): The events of his history are recorded in the Acts of the Apostles. In the reign of Honorius there lived a priest named Lucianus in the territory of Jerusalem. One night as he was sleeping an old man of venerable appearance, clothed in a bejewelled pallium appeared to him, and touching him with a golden staff told him to go and search among the mounds where his body was indecently hidden, and to order John, Bishop of Jerusalem, to cause the body to be buried honourably. And when Lucianus enquired the name of his heavenly visitor, the apparition answered that he was Gamaliel, the teacher of Paul, and that he lay with Stephen and Nicodemus, and other Christian martyrs. Then the vision disappeared, but Lucianus prayed that if it was a true revelation it might be made to him a second and a third time. At the second vision Gamaliel showed him how he should find the relics, indicating three golden bowls, and a fourth of silver, one full of red roses and the other two of white roses; the silver one containing crocuses. These were symbolical of the relics. At the third vision Gamaliel chided Lucianus severely for his delay. So Lucianus went to the bishop and told him all. And they went accompanied by other bishops to the place indicated by Lucianus, and when they began to dig, the earth shook and emitted a fragrant odour. And they took the relics of the saints to the Church of Syon at Jerusalem, where the fragrant odour healed seventy sick, and there they buried Stephen and his companions. Now Alexander, a senator of Constantinople, went to Jerusalem with his wife and constructed a beautiful oratory to Stephen, and caused himself to be buried near the martyr after his death. After seven years, Juliana, his wife, wished to return to her country and to take her husband’s body with her. After she had obtained the bishop’s permission, he produced two silver shrines saying that he did not know which was Alexander’s. Accordingly she took both. When the body was taken on board ship the angels sang and there was a sweet odour. The devils, however, cried out and ‘raised a great storm, and while the sailors were dreading shipwreck, Stephen appeared and told them not to fear, and immediately there was a great calm. Voices of demons also were heard, and five demons came to burn the ship, but were drowned in the deep by an angel. Arrived safely in Constantinople, the body was deposited in a church. Others relate that Eudoxia, daughter of the Emperor Theodosius, being troubled by a demon, her father ordered that she should be taken to Constantinople to touch the relics of Stephen. At this the demon cried out that he would not go forth unless Stephen were taken to Rome. On hearing this the emperor obtained permission from the people and clergy of Constantinople to take the relics to Rome and lay them beside those of Saint Laurence. However, the people of Capua obtained permission that the right arm of the saint should be deposited in their city, and they prepared a cathedral to receive it. Arrived at Rome it was proposed to place the body in the Church of Saint Peter ad Vincula, but the animals who drew the car would not move, and the demon cried out that Stephen must be laid beside his brother Laurence. Accordingly the body was taken thither and upon touching it the demon came forth from the girl. And Laurence, as if rejoicing at the coming of his brother, removed to the side of the sepulchre, leaving the middle part vacant. But the Greeks who put out their hands to move Laurence fell down as if dead, and though they revived at the prayers of the pope, clergy and people, they died after ten days. 26th December.

Attributes

  • Dressed as a deacon; carries a stone or one is placed near him.

MLA Citation

  • Allen Banks Hinds, M.A. “Saint Stephen”. A Garner of Saints, 1900. CatholicSaints.Info. 26 April 2017. Web. 21 August 2017. <>