Saint Stephen was the first martyr of the Church. A holy and virtuous man, he served as a deacon to the Church people. Accused of blasphemy at his trial, he denounced the Jewish authorities who were overseeing his judgement and then stoned him to death. The writings depicting his martyrdom depict many parallels between Stephens death and the death of Christ. His martyrdom as witnessed by Saul of Tarsus, who would later become a follower of Jesus and be known as Saint Paul the Apostle.
He is depicted here with a palm frond, the symbol of martyrdom. He is wearing the traditional stole of a deacon. His white vestment symbolizes purity and the red the death he endured for the faith. He is holding the Church in his hand because his martyrdom became a true witness of bold faith for the entire church. Behind the church are stones, representing the gruesome death he endured that others may know Christ's name. The background is stony as well, mimicking the stones that swirled around his head in the final minutes of his life.
Saint Stephen, protomartyr, pray for us.