Stephen was the very first, but many have followed in his steps to martyrdom.
He was described as full of the Holy Spirit, of grace, power and wisdom. When the religious leaders could not persuade or dissuade Stephen, they stoned him to death.
St. Augustine wrote of Stephen, “Those who preach Christ must become both the fire and the gentle dove of the Holy Spirit.” St. Augustine tells us that as a Christ follower we should be both like a dove, acting with unblended kindness, and like fire by standing with fervor.
Stephen’s greatest gift to the church was not only that he was her first martyr, but also his stalwart decision to uphold the mission and the life of the church.