December 26th is the feast day of St Stephen, traditionally venerated as the protomartyr or first martyr of Christianity. A small church dedicated to the saint, Santo Stefano degli Abissini, stands in the Vatican City.
According to the Acts of the Apostles, St Stephen was a deacon in the early church at Jerusalem, where he aroused the enmity of members of various synagogues by his teachings. Accused of blasphemy, he was tried, found guilty and stoned to death. His martyrdom was witnessed by Saul of Tarsus, a Pharisee and a Roman citizen, who would later become the apostle Paul.
In art St Stephen, who is the patron saint of those suffering from headaches, is commonly depicted with three stones and a palm frond, a traditional symbol of martyrdom.
My name is David Lown and I am an art historian from Cambridge, England. Since 2001 I have lived in Italy, where I run private and
small-group walking tours
Search Walks in Rome: