We celebrate on this day the translocation of the body of St. Stephen the Archdeacon and first Christian martyr. That was more than three hundred years after his martyrdom, the reign of Emperor Constantine and the spread of the noble worship.
St. Stephen, the striver and martyr, appeared several times to a man called Lucianus. He was from a village where the honored body was buried, known as the "Village of Gamaliel," near Jerusalem. He told him his name and where his body was buried.
That man went to the bishop of Jerusalem and informed him of what he had seen in his sleep. The bishop rose up, took with him two bishops and the people of the church and went to the place where the body was. They dug the ground, and a mighty earthquake took place. The coffin wherein the holy body was lying was revealed. Sweet and precious aromas came out from it. They heard voices of angels praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace, good will toward men." This praise was repeated and the bishops bowed down before the coffin. They carried it away with songs, hymns and candles until they came to Jerusalem.
Later on, a man whose name was Alexander, and who was from Constantinople, built a church for St. Stephen in Jerusalem and placed the holy body in it.
Five years later, Alexander departed, and his wife buried him by the side of the coffin of the Saint. Eight years later, Alexander's wife decided to go to Constantinople and wished to take her husband's body with her. She came to the church, and she took the coffin wherein the body of St. Stephen had been laid thinking that it was the coffin wherein was her husband's body. She carried it away to Ascalon, and from there she embarked with it in a ship to Constantinople. In the middle of the sea she heard singing and many praises coming from the coffin, and she marvelled. She rose up and examined the coffin and she realised that it was the coffin wherein was the body of St.
Stephen, and this was the Will of God. She gave thanks to the Lord and went on her way until she arrived in Constantinople.
She went to the Emperor and informed him about what had happened. The Emperor, the Archbishop, priests and the people of the city went forth to the ship, and carried the coffin on their shoulders to the royal palace.
God made manifest many signs both on the ship and in the royal palace. They laid the holy body on a litter carried by two mules, and when they came to a place called Constantinious, the two mules stopped. When they beat the mules, they did not move but they heard the voice of one of them saying, "It is meet to place the Saint here." All those who saw and heard this, marvelled and they knew that He who had made the donkey of Balaam speak was He who had made this animal carrying the body of the Saint to speak. The Emperor ordered that a church be built for the Saint in that place. They laid in it the pure gem, the holy body of St. Stephen, the apostle and the martyr.
His prayers be with us all, and Glory be to our God forever. Amen.
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