The Protomartyr and Archdeacon Stephen
With crowns of words, as it were with stones most precious,
I now crown Stephen, whom the stones crowned before time.
On the twenty-seventh a stony destiny took Stephen away.
Stephen was the first and archdeacon of the seven deacons whom the holy apostles ordained and appointed to the service of assisting the poor in Jerusalem. Among the Proto-martyr’s persecutors was his kinsman Saul, who became the Apostle Paul. At that time, the Most-holy Theotokos, standing at a distance with John the Theologian, witnessed the martyrdom of this first martyr for the truth of her Son and God. Gamaliel, a prince of the Jews and a secret Christian, clandestinely took Stephen’s body and buried it on his own estate (from the Synaxarion).