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Here is part of the account of the martyrdom of Stephen, from Acts: ‘Now when they heard these things they were enraged, and they ground their teeth against him. But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God; and he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing at the right hand of God.” But they cried out with a loud voice and stopped their ears and rushed together upon him. Then they cast him out of the city and stoned him; and the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul. And as they were stoning Stephen, he prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” And he knelt down and cried with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep’.

Ghirlandaio’s depiction of St Stephen shows a man full of peace, and radiant with the heavenly vision. We pray today for all those who lose their lives for the sake of the Gospel, even today. May St Stephen pray for them and for us in our own witness, and may God bless you this day.