Thought for the Day – 26 December – St Stephen, the First Martyr

Thought for the Day – 26 December – Meditations with Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971)

St Stephen, the First Martyr

“Saul was a member of the band which led Stephen to his death.
He did not actually take part in the stoning of the saintly Deacod but, he co-operated with the executioners.
It is possible that, as he lay dying, Stephen looked up at Saul and uttered his last prayer for this sincere and honest young Jew, who had been led astray by the prejudice and passion of the mob.
In God’s plan, the Martyrdom of Stephen was, in some way connected with the conversion of St Paul, who was soon afterward dramatically won over by the grace of God on the road to Damascus.

Let us endeavour too, to suffer, pray and work for the conversion of our fellowmen, so many of whom, are wandering in the darkness of error or struggling in the clutches of vice.
Let us try, by our sufferings, prayers and good example, to draw down God’s grace on our unhappy brothers.
If we succeed, we shall share in the merits of their good actions and we shall have ensured our own everlasting salvation.”

Antonio Cardinal Bacci



Quote/s of the Day – 26 December – Christ, the Child

Quote/s of the Day – 26 December – The Second Day in the Christmas Octave

Christ, the Child

“Oh great God! Oh perfect Child!
The Son is in the Father
and the Father is in the Son.
How could the teaching this Child gives,
not be irreproachable?
It includes us all to guide us all, His children.
He has stretched out His hands to us
and we have placed in them all our faith.
To this little Child, John the Baptist himself
also gave testimony – “Behold,” he said,
“the Lamb of God,” (Jn 1:29).
Since Scripture has called children ‘lambs,’
it has called “Lamb of God”
the Word of God Who became man for us
and Who wanted to become like us in all things,
the Son of God Himself, the child of the Father

St Clement of Alexandria (150-215)
Theologian, Father

“Maker of the sun,
He is made under the sun.

In the Father He remains,
From His mother He goes forth.

Creator of heaven and earth,
He was born under heaven.

Unspeakably wise,
He is wisely speechless.

Filling the world,
He lies in a manger.

Ruler of the stars,
He nurses at His mother’s bosom.

He is both great in the nature of God
and small in the form of a servant.”

“He became small because you were small –
understand how great He is
and you will become great along with Him.
This is how houses are built,
how the solid walls of a building are raised.
The stones brought to construct the building increase,
you, too, increase, understanding how great Christ is
and how He who appeared to be small is great,
very great indeed…

St Augustine (354-430)
Father & Doctor of the Church

He is an infant,
He does not speak,
He only cries but these cries
are cries of love
which invite us to love Him,
cries that demand our hearts.

St Alphonsus Maria de Liguori (1696-1787)
Most Zealous Doctor

A Christmas Carol
By G K Chesterton (1874-1936)
English Catholic Convert, Writer, Poet.

The Christ-child lay on Mary’s lap,
His hair was like a light.
(O weary, weary were the world,
But here is all aright.)

The Christ-child lay on Mary’s breast
His hair was like a star.
(O stern and cunning are the kings
But here the true hearts are.

The Christ-child lay on Mary’s heart,
His hair was like a fire.
(O weary, weary is the world
But here the world’s desire.)

The Christ-child stood on Mary’s knee,
His hair was like a crown,
And all the flowers looked up at Him,
And all the stars looked down.


One Minute Reflection – 26 December – “Lord, do not hold this sin against them” – Acts 7:60

One Minute Reflection – 26 December – Feast of St Stephen the ProtoMartyr and The Second Day in the Christmas Octave, Readings: Acts 6:8-10; 7:54-59, Psalm31:3-4, 6, 8, 16-17, Matthew 10:17-22

“Lord, do not hold this sin against them” – Acts 7:60

REFLECTION – “Let us imitate our Lord and pray for our enemies … He was crucified yet, at the same time, prayed to His Father for the sake of those who were crucifying Him. But how could I possibly imitate our Lord, one might ask? If you want to, you can. If you weren’t able to do it how could He have said: “Learn from me for I am meek and humble of heart”? (Mt 11:29) …

If you have difficulty in imitating our Lord, at least imitate him who is also His servant, His Deacon – I would speak of Stephen. Just as Christ, in the midst of those crucifying Him, without considering the cross, without considering His own predicament, pleaded with the Father on behalf of His tormentors (Lk 23:34), so His servant, surrounded by those who were stoning him, attacked by all, crushed beneath a hail of stones and, without taking any account of the suffering they were causing him, said: “Lord, do not hold this sin against them” (Acts 7:60). Do you see how the Son spoke and how His servant prayed? The former said: “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do,” and the latter said: “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” Moreover, to make us realise better the fervour with which he was praying, he did not just pray, as he stood beneath the blows of the stones but, he spoke on his knees with sincerity and compassion …

Christ said: “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” Stephen cried out: “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” Paul, in his turn, said: “I offer up this sacrifice for my brethren, my kin according to race” (cf. Rm 9:3). Moses said: “If you would only forgive their sin! And if you will not, then strike me out of the book that you have written!” (Ex 32:32). David said: “May your hand fall on me and my kindred,” (2 Sam 24:17). … What kind of forgiveness do we think we shall get if we ourselves do the opposite of what is asked of us and pray against our enemies, when the Lord Himself and His servants of both Old and New Testaments, direct us to pray on their behalf?”St John Chrysostom (345-407) Father and Doctor of the Church – Sermon for Good Friday “The Cross and the bandit”

PRAYER – Grant us Your Grace, Lord God Almighty, to practise what we worship. Teach us to love our enemies and to pray for those who persecute us. As we keep the feast of Saint Stephen, may we learn from him, who learned from You and prayed, even for the men who stoned him to death. Through Christ our Lord, with the Holy Spirit, God now and forever, amen.


Our Morning Offering – 26 December – Sleep, Holy Babe

Our Morning Offering – 26 December – Feast of St Stephen the ProtoMartyr and The Second Day in the Christmas Octave

Sleep, Holy Babe
By Fr Edward Caswell C.Orat. (1814-1878)

Sleep, holy Babe, Upon Your Mother’s breast!
Great Lord of earth and sea and sky,
How sweet it is to see You lie
In such a place of rest!
Sleep, holy Babe, Your angels watch around,
All bending low with folded wings
Before th’incarnate King of kings
In rev’rent awe profound!
Sleep, holy Babe, While I with Mary gaze
In joy upon that face awhile,
Upon the loving Infant smile
Which there divinely plays.
Sleep, holy Babe,
And take Your brief repose;
Too quickly will Your slumbers break
And You to lengthened pains awake,
That death alone shall close.

Posted in SAINT of the DAY

Saint of the Day – Saint Pope Zosimus (Died 418)

Saint of the Day – Saint Pope Zosimus (Died 418) Bishop of Rome from 18 March 417 to his death, of natural causes, on 26 December 418, Confessor. Greek by birth, his short Pontificate was characterised by serious conflicts with the Bishops of Gaul and those of Africa.

The Roman Martyrology states today: “In Rome on the Via Tiburtina near San Lorenzo, deposition of San Zosimo, Pope and Confessor.”

With the exception of the brief notes reported in the Liber Pontificalis, nothing is known of its history before the election. Zosimo was a Roman Priest at the time of the Pontificate of St Innocent I (401-417), Greek by birth, perhaps descended from a Jewish family, given that his father was called Abraham. He was elected as the successor of Pope Innocent and consecrated on 18 March 417.

Zosimus devoted most of his brief reign to advancing the cause of Papal supremacy, albeit with very little success. Zosimus wrote Episiola Thactaria, condemning Pelagianism.

While personally blameless in his private life, Zosimus did have a tactless and hasty personality, so much so, that he found himself embroiled in various clashes with prelates throughout the Church. In fact he died while preparing to excommunicate a group of troublesome clerics.

In the last months of his life, he also saw an opposition against him arise in Rome, to the point that he turned to complain about it, at the court of Ravenna, he was preparing to fight against this group, when he fell ill, dying on 26 December 418 and being buried. in the Basilica of St Laurence in Rome.


St Stephen the ProtoMartyr (c 05-c 34) (Feast) The Second Day in the Christmas Octave, Madonna della Acheropita, Maria Santissima Acheropita / Our Lady of Acheropita, Rossano, Italy (1140) and Memorials of the Saints – 26 December

St Stephen the ProtoMartyr (c 05-c 34) (Feast) The Second Day in the Christmas Octave
St Stephen’s Story:

Madonna della Acheropita, Maria Santissima Acheropita / Our Lady of Acheropita, Rossano, Italy (1140) – 26 December:

The Abbot Orsini relates: “Tradition has it that one night, a woman in great brightness appeared to a watchman on duty where a new Church was being built in Rossano, Italy. She asked him to withdraw from the place. The next morning there was seen in the building a picture of the Blessed Virgin, painted but not by the hand of man. For that reason it came to be called “Acheropita,” not made by human hands.

The latest historical research has established that the image of Acheropita – a fresco on a pillar – was found in a small Chapel near the cave of one of the many hermits who formed the aura of Saint Nicholas of Vallone in the 6th century.
It seems a holy hermit named Ephrem was very devoted to the Blessed Virgin Mary. In the year 580, a certain Captain Mauricio, was deflected from his course by the winds and landed near present day Rossano. The hermit Ephrem went to meet him with the strange sounding greeting of:
It was not the winds that brought you here but Our Lady, for once you are appointed emperor, you will build a Church here.”
A mere two year later, in the year 582, Mauritius was crowned Emperor and remembering the prophesy, had artists brought to the cave to paint a fitting image of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Although the artists toiled all day, during the night their work always mysteriously disappeared. The Governor, unsure of what was happening, ordered that the cave be guarded at night.
That night as the guards went about their duty in front of the cave, a young woman of rare beauty came out of nowhere amidst a bright light wearing a white silk cape. She asked the guard to depart from the site, which they did. Informed the next morning of what had happened, the Governor went to the Church. To everyone’s surprise he observed an image that perplexed him, for painted on the bottom of the inner wall was a beautiful picture of Our Lady, similar to the Byzantine icons he had seen before. It was exactly where his artists had been trying in vain to draw the image.
The news of the miracle soon spread throughout the City. The faithful began arriving to the place, shouting in wonder and cheering in tears with songs of praise, “Acheropita! Acheropita!
The image became an object of veneration for the people of Rossano and a new Church had to be built to satisfy popular piety in a more worthy manner. That Church is now known as the Rossano Cathedral, and it was built next to the grotto where the image is still preserved. It is also said, that later, the Saracens attacked, trying to surprise the City of Rossano but they were repulsed by Our Lady, who appeared dressed in purple and holding in her hand a lighted torch. The sight of her majesty terrified the Saracens, who turned and fled.
On 26 May 1949, the Diocesan Cathedral was erected at the Shrine. From 16 August to 16 October 1949, a silver Statue of Our Lady was carried on a triumphal pilgrimage through the Archdiocese. 15 August is the annual date for the celebration of the Madonna Acheropita and it is said that during the celebration a wonderful atmosphere envelops the whole of the City, with the festival offering an opportunity for the faithful to demonstrate their love for the Blessed Virgin.
On 18 June 1950, Cardinal Micara crowned the image of the Blessed Virgin.

St Abadiu of Antinoë
Bl Agata Phutta Bi
Bl Agnès Phila
St Amaethlu of Anglesey
St Archelaus of Mesopotamia
Bl Bibiana Khamphai
Bl Cecilia Butsi
Bl Daniel of Villiers

St Pope Dionysius (Died 268) Bishop of Rome from 22 July 259 to his death on 26 December 268. According to early Church records, Dionysius was the first pope not Martyred for his Faith.

St Euthymius of Sardis
St Evaristo of Constantinople
Bl Giovanni Orsini
Bl Jean of Hainaut
Bl Lucie Khambang
St Margaret of Hohenfels
Bl Maria Phon
Bl Marinus of Rome
Bl Paganus of Lecco
Bl Pierre Boffet
St Tathai of Wales
St Theodore the Sacristan

St Vincenza Maria Lopez (1847- 1890) Religious Sister, Founder of the Daughters of Mary Immaculate.

St Zeno of Gaza
St Pope Zosimus (Died 418) Bishop of Rome from 18 March 417 to his death on 26 December 418.