Who was St Stephen?

In the Christmas song Good King Wenceslas, that good king looked out on the Feast of Stephen. But who was St Stephen?

Very little is known of his early life, but he is believed to have been born a Jew and to have converted to Christianity after listening to the apostles. He was chosen as one of seven deacons to help with the distribution of alms to the poor. So many people converted to Christianity after hearing him speak that his enemies became worried and they accused him of blasphemy. At his trial he looked up to heaven and said that he could see God, with Jesus standing at his right side. This was deemed to be a blasphemous act, and he was then dragged outside the city gates and stoned to death, making him the first Christian martyr.

St Stephen’s Day, or the Feast of Stephen, is celebrated on 26th December.

Related post: Good King Wenceslaus