Saints and Festivals of the Christian Church – Saint Stephen the Younger

Saint Stephen the YoungerArticle

In the name of Saint Stephen, “The Younger,” of Saint Auxentius Mount, which is remembered by the Church today, is presented one of the most renowned martyrs of the so-called “Persecution of the Iconoclasts.”

Born in Constantinople, of a family of immense wealth, he had entered the monastery of Saint Auxentius as a novitiate when fifteen years of age, and though we may not take time to follow his monastic life and his attainments, the latter are evident from the fact that at the age of thirty he was chosen abbot of the monastery,

Leo III, Emperor of the East, surnamed “The Isaurian” (718-741), infamous for his plunder of the Christian Churches, had also grievously persecuted the Jews, but at last had been “bought off” and “possibly as a part of the bargain” was prevailed on “to oppose the respect paid by the faithful to holy images.”

In another place I shall remark upon these images, which dated even from the time of our Saviour. They included His, as well as many of His followers, but were neither adored nor worshipped; the Christians only holding them in reverence as the representations of holy men. With this as a pretext, Leo instituted a cruel persecution which his son, Constantine V, surnamed Copronunus, carried on for twenty years after he (in 741) became emperor, against these images. He died in 775. In 754 Constantine caused a council composed of 338 bishops known as “Iconoclast bishops” from their coinciding with his decree suppressing the use of images and to compel the “Catholics” (readers should recall the origin of this word) to conform to his decree. To this Saint Stephen refused and soldiers were sent to drag him from his cell. At the same time “suborned witnesses,” his legend tells us, charged him with “criminal converse with the holy widow Anne.” He was examined and condemned to be beheaded, but this decree was changed to one ordering him to be scourged to death in prison. Learning later that Saint Stephen still lived in spite of his scourging, the emperor cried out: “Will no one rid me of this pestilential monk?” It was then that certain courtiers went to the prison and dragged him forth through the streets with his feet tied by cords, and at last dashed out his brains with stones and clubs. The date of this deed is placed in 764, and took place under what has been called “Persecution of the Iconoclasts.”

MLA Citation

  • H Pomeroy Brewster. “Saint Stephen the Younger”. Saints and Festivals of the Christian Church, 1902. CatholicSaints.Info. 24 February 2019. Web. 26 October 2021. <>