Jesus told his disciples that if they followed Him, the world would hate them because they hated him first. And yet the first disciple to die after his death was not one of the original Twelve, but Saint Stephen, the first martyr of the Christian Church.
At the time the new faith began, Christians did not refer to themselves as Christians. That was originally a pejorative term created by Romans. At that time, Christians referred to their religion as “The Way”, in reference to Jesus calling himself “The Way, the Truth, and The Life.”
Stephen was one of seven deacons appointed to distribute food and aid to members of the community. He was the eldest, and was called archdeacon. At the time, Christians were considered heretics to the Jewish faith, as Jesus himself was crucified for claiming to be God.
Stephen was the first martyr of the faith. He was stoned to death, and the Bible also says that Paul was there, although this was before he had become Paul, when he was still Saul of Tarsus.
What strikes me the most about Stephen is how he died. He was not angry nor did he show any hatred towards those stoning him. He accepted his death with dignity. To this day, Stephen is a model for Catholics. His feast day is December 26, the day after Christmas, which is a fitting day. Among his patrons include masons, deacons, and the countries of Italy and Serbia.