This calendar of saints is drawn from several denominations, sects, and traditions. Although it will no longer be updated daily, the index on the right will guide visitors to a saint celebrated on any day they choose. Additional saints will be added as they present themselves to Major.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

November 28 -- St. Stephen the Younger

This story had me fooled. I really thought it would turn out differently than it did.

Stephen the Younger was a retired abbot, living as a hermit, in 756. The iconoclastic movement got in full swing in in the area around that time; that movement interpreted the "no graven images" commandment very strictly and led raids on churches to destroy religious artworks. Priests and monks who had used the artwork for instruction often tried to save the artworks, sometimes resorting to subversion and other times to violence.

Emperor Constantine Copronynus V recruited Stephen for the iconoclastic movement; as a former abbot and austere hermit, he would have good monk cred. Stephen argued with the Emperor, defending the icons. To illustrate the power of an image, he took a coin out of his pocket with the Emperor's likeness on it. He threw it on the ground in front of the Emperor and stamped on it.

Okay, I could see the jail time that resulted from that. Eleven months -- time enough for both of them to reflect about the damage to the Church that was being done by the controversy. After his time in the pokey, Stephen was again summoned to appear before the Emperor. He resumed the argument as if there had been no interruption.

Scourged, stoned, and dragged to death through the streets of Constantinople. Three hundred defenders of icons, including an Andrew, a Peter, a Basil, and of course Stephen.

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