St. Stephen was the first of the seven deacons chosen by the Holy Apostles to help them minister to the Faithful of the Church, and the story of his martyrdom is related in the 6th and 7th chapters of the Acts of the Apostles. He is considered the first, or “proto,” martyr and died exactly one year after Pentecost. He was a kinsman of a young man Saul, who stood by as he was stoned to death by the Jewish elders. Those of the Sanhedrin who questioned him before they sentenced him to death, saw his face shining with the Glory of God “like the face of an angel,” yet they were unmoved with pity or understanding. He was condemned for telling the truth, and revealing it in their presence as His Master.
There is a church today dedicated to him over the rocks that he died on in what was outside the gates of Jerusalem. In this icon he is dressed as a deacon in his vestments while serving in the church, holding a representation of a church in his left hand, while he censes with a golden censer with his right hand. After St. Stephen died, Gamaliel, who was St. Paul’s teacher and respected member of the Sanhedrin, took his body and buried it on his land.