St Stephen (5-34)

Feast day: 26th December

Patron Saint of Those Who Experience Headaches

As one would expect of the first Christian martyr, St Stephen was an extraordinarily fervent follower of Christ, “full of grace and power, [performing many] great wonders and signs.” He gave many wonderful sermons and dedicated himself to his role as archdeacon, fully committed to extending the pastoral care of the Apostles. He was also very knowledgeable of Hebrew scriptures and did not shy away from criticism of the Sanhedrin for their “uncircumcised hearts and ears,” their resistance to the Holy Spirit, betrayal and murder of past prophets, and for not keeping the Mosaic laws and traditions.


For his courage in defending and spreading the faith God revealed himself to St Stephen as he stood in the Jewish court. Then upon his death (having been stoned to death by his accusers) the Lord received his Spirit (St Stephen pleading forgiveness on behalf of his executioners as he departed this world).


As healthcare practitioners, we are currently engaged in many similarly hostile conversations, particularly around beginning of life and end of life issues. If we are to truly be children of God, we must be willing to show the same incredible courage as St Stephen in the defence of God’s laws (“thy kingdom, thy will be done”).


St Stephen, through your heroic witness, hold us steadfast in our faith, even in times of extreme persecution. As healthcare professionals, animated by the Holy Spirit, help us to live out our faith, without fear, proclaiming the full richness of the Gospel. Per ipsum, et cum ipso, et in ipso.


Image: Martyrdom of Saint Stephen, c1660. Pietro da Cortona.


- written by a young doctor