The Truth About St. Stephen’s Day

Dec. 26, St. Stephen’s day in the West (Dec. 27 in the East) is also known in some countries as “Boxing Day”–there are various explanations for the name, as well as various customs–some may date back to late Roman times and the collection of funds in boxes on St. Stephen’s Day.

My thoughts today center on St. Stephen himself, proto-martyr. What has St. Stephen to do with Christmas?

We think of Stephen as one of the first deacons, and picture a practical man. Yet, says Luke, he was “full of grace and power,” and “did great wonders and signs among the people.” At his death, this deeply spiritual man saw the man Jesus standing at the right hand of God. No apostolic witness prior to this makes such a claim. The apostles had seen Christ ascend, but it is not said that they saw into heaven itself. What’s different here?