Welcome to the Saintly Sixteen! From 32 saints we have narrowed the field to 16. For this round, rather than the basic biographical information we enter the realm of Quirks and Quotes. Our Celebrity Bloggers will provide unusual information or legends surrounding their saints along with quotes either by or about their saints.
Don't forget, you can always go to the Bracket Tab to easily find previous battles if you need to refresh your basic knowledge on these saints. This is yet another free courtesy extended to you, the Lent Madness Global Public.
Today we kick things off with Stephen, the Church's protomartyr vs. the Canadian Henry Budd. At stake? The Elate Eight.
Yesterday in another close contest, Fanny Crosby defeated G.F. Handel 53% to 47% to claim the last remaining spot in the Saintly Sixteen. Speaking of which, the Saintly Sixteen begins RIGHT NOW! Time to vote...
On the day following Christmas, Christians move from hearing the stories of the Christ child to hearing the account of the death of Saint Stephen. The connection between Christmas and the first martyr of the church does not seem to be an accident. The Golden Legend proclaims that “Yesterday Christ was born in earth, that this day Stephen should be born in heaven.”
The date (December 26 in the West, December 27 in the East) of Stephen’s commemoration was observed very early, and could have been the actual day of his death, the day his remains were discovered and transferred, or simply an observation that nothing says “Christmas” like a good public stoning – in fact, in Germany the day is sometimes called “second Christmas.”
Regardless of the reason for the date, the remembrance of Deacon Stephen as a servant of the poor caused a particular 10th century Bohemian royal to head out into the deep, crisp, and even snow to provide for a local peasant – a journey memorialized by John Mason Neale’s carol, “Good King Wenceslaus.” The last line of that carol is a witness to the work of Stephen as one of the first Deacons: “Ye who now will bless the poor, shall yourselves find blessing.”
What we know of Stephen’s life comes to us in the brief account of Acts 6 and 7. But the legend of Stephen continues the story – in death, Stephen’s work was not done. According to the Golden Legend, Stephen sent none other than Gamaliel to arouse a priest in Jerusalem to come and uncover his remains.
Augustine of Hippo devotes an entire chapter of his Confessions to the miracles attributed to Stephen when his relics were in North Africa. These included the healing of wounds, blind gaining sight, and numerous accounts of raising the dead.
The remains of Stephen eventually wound up at the Basilica of Saint Lawrence outside the Walls – the resting place of Saint Lawrence, one of the first seven deacons of the church in Rome. Apparently, Lawrence was excited to welcome the first martyr of the church and the patron saint of deacons. When Stephen’s remains were brought there, the remains of Lawrence “as if enjoying his coming and smiling” moved over on their own accord to make room for Stephen.
In the book of Acts, Stephen preaches the longest of the sermons recorded in that book – a sermon which ends with the accusation of his hearers: “You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you are forever opposing the Holy Spirit.” Stephen’s honesty is commendable, as is the realization that it directly leads to his martyrdom.
Preaching on St. Stephen’s Day, Kaj Munk draws out the Christmas connection of Stephen’s martyrdom: “True Christmas joy, no matter how much or how little of it you comprehend, means that you go where He wants you to go.”
The Rev. Henry Budd was the first First Nation person in North America to be ordained in the Anglican Church, and he spent most of his ministry in the Canadian west in an area commonly known as The Pas. Some of Henry Budd’s journals have been preserved, giving us a vision of the challenging ministry in the 19th century in the wilderness.
Budd’s ministry for Christ thrived because he lived with and loved the people he served. He writes of a typical day in August: “The whole week have been devoted to the hay, and our hay is nearly all done. More canoes have arrived. In the evening assembled the people in the Schoolroom for prayer and praise.” He worked with those he served and love, and prayed with them.
Life in ministry is not without challenges. Budd shares his frustration on the Sunday after Christmas: “The Lord’s-day [and] We went over to the Fort at the usual time, in hopes that we would have as good a congregation as we had yesterday, but I found but few that were in a fit state for the worship of God. The greater part of them had been drinking the whole of last night, and of course were unfit this morning for the service of God. They have lost a sermon this day on account of the rum, and who can say whether they will have the opportunity of hearing another? There were, however, some of them who attended, and were present at the morning service.”
The day-to-day tasks of Budd’s ministry are entwined together with longer entries reflecting his deep faith in Christ. “I always think that it is time that I should do something, while in perfect health and strength, to make manifest my gratitude and love to that God, who, I can truly say, has been so good to me all my life…. But by the grace of God alone, we have succeeded in our object in a great measure.
The Rev. Henry Budd died after over 35 years of dedicated ministry. A member of the Cree tribe, reflecting on Budd’s death, shared, “sorry does not express what we felt. My own father died some years ago, but when Mr. Budd died, I felt for the first time what it meant to be an orphan.”
Stephen vs. Henry Budd
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