Stephen vs. Henry Budd

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.”

— David Hansen

Henry Budd

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.”

-- Laurie Brock

Stephen vs. Henry Budd

  • Stephen (60%, 4,372 Votes)
  • Henry Budd (40%, 2,975 Votes)

Total Voters: 7,347

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St. Stephen: Saint Stephen, Luis de Morales / public domain, wikimedia commons
Henry Budd: The photograph of Reverend Henry Budd is used with the kind
permission of the Provincial Archives of Saskatchewan.


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160 comments on “Stephen vs. Henry Budd”

    1. The write ups are always great. I just missed the collects for today's match-up. I always look forward to the collects.

  1. Hard choice, but the parishioner's comment about knowing what it felt like to be an orphan when he lost his pastor got me. He seems to have bee a man who understood the failings of others and, rather than berating them for stiff-necked stubbornness, more gently guided them like a parent.

    1. I appreciate the way you've articulated this, Carolyn. I also liked reading that "He worked with those he served and love, and prayed with them." I imagine that this is a large part of the reason his ministry was so successful.

    2. Agreed. Being in a parish with a stiff-necked and stubborn priest, I appreciate the idea of a gentle leader. Henry is appealing and got my vote. Choices are getting harder!

    3. Michelle, you caught my feelings exactly. I was ready to vote for Stephen (after all, my grandfather and son were named after him) but the parishoner's comment that Budd's death left him feeling an orphan more than did the death of his parents really hit home. Would that we all had priests who left this kind of mark on their parishoners.

      1. Yes ... long and patient ministry bears rich fruit. Much as I admire Stephen for his devotion and courage -- and as inspirational as his martyrdom clearly was -- I wonder if he might have served God and preached the Good News more effectively if he had been less quick to denounce his listeners. Perhaps he might have had a long and faithful diaconal ministry of service to the poor and outcast.

      1. Sorry.....Carolyn! I hit "post" too soon and then couldn't figure out how to edit my comment!

  2. Had to. Stephen. Deacons Deacon. Love Henry Budd but Deacons stick together.
    Sorry Henry.

    1. I thought I would stick with Stephen, too, but the love, gentleness, and perseverance of Henry won me over. Priests and lay people can be servant leaders, too, and Henry was clearly a wonderful one. So, this deacon voted for the priest with a heart for service.

  3. I entered the polling booth all set to vote for Stephen. My mother was born on his feast day, and my daughter bears the feminine version of his name. but in this time when the sacred land of indigenous peoples is under threat, this time my vote goes to Henry Budd. Stephen won't mind. He has that angelic face.

  4. Oops, I may have voted twice by accident - my finger "jumped" as I voted for Henry Budd. I can assure you it was an accident!

  5. Lingered over Stephen because I love "Good King Wenceslas", but ended up voting for Henry
    Budd, who managed to see truth and beauty in a faith brought to him by a proud-necked,
    fork-tongued people.

    1. I like that. So often it seems like the truth and beauty get lost in the venality of those who claim to be messengers. Something I need to remember.

  6. I have some problems with martyrdom in this case. Maybe we know too little about Stephen, but I really can do no other than for Henry Budd.

  7. For Stephen and Henry Budd
    Tune: Land of Rest, Hymnal ’82, 304, I Come With Joy to Meet my Lord

    They sought their Lord with joy and faith
    In good times and in tough.
    Of praising God, of speaking truth,
    They could not have enough.

    Of Stephen, Deacon, we must say
    He gave all that he had.
    His sermon blunt annoyed some folk.
    Though stoned he still forgave.

    Of Henry we can’t say too much;
    He worked with those he served.
    He’d no illusions, yet he prayed
    And gave without reserve.

    It’s kind of tough to make a choice
    Between such paragons.
    Their contrasts show God’s gracious love
    Around this diverse world.

    1. I'm very impressed with your new hymn Diana. I've always loved this tune so I just had a delightful time singing it all the way through!
      You didn't just write this today, did you??

      1. Hi Sandy. So glad you like it. Yes, I wrote it this morning. Somehow lyrics sort of appear - except when I want to write real hymns worthy of worship. But these are fun for me. They slow me down, help me to think and pray, and give me joy that they give others joy. Thanks for your kind words.

        1. Stephen. “Ye who now will bless the poor, shall yourselves find blessing.” His story moved me. To honor a Deacon who gave the sermon and guided me through baptism.

        2. Sorry, mixed up placement of replies. But these are "real hymns". They are part of the daily devotional that is Lent Madness.

    2. Your line, "Though stoned, he still forgave" clinched it for me. Our church's Lenten booklet this year focuses on forgiving, and so does my personal meditation. It is a spiritual essential!

    3. I often find myself humming the hymn tunes through the day as I remember the words I know through the new verse you write so brilliantly each morning. Thank you for this service of talent and love this Lent, Diana.

    4. Diana, you certainly have a prodigious gift! I love reading your lyrics while humming the tune in my head!
      Still, you haven't made my choice any easier. The first Christian martyr vs. the first First Nation priest. Wow! My youngest stepson was Stephen (died at 49) and his daughter is Stephanie so despite deep admiration for Henry's witness among his people, my vote goes to Stephen!

    5. I look forward to your lyrics each day!
      Now, I wish that I could make up my mind as well, this is a tough one! I am a deacon, I work with First nations and Inuit, our centres for Indigenous ministry are named after Henry but Stephen has always had a special place in my heart. I think I will think on this a while longer.

  8. Voted for Henry Budd: a pastor that works alongside his parishioners - fully participating in the Monday-Friday life of Jesus's followers - seems a recognition of bi-vocational ministry. Also, the fact that the Sunday after Christmas was a very low attendance day (as it still is) and how much it bothered Budd to witness how his parishioners gave into an excess of sin (alcohol in his case, secularism and materialism in our society) made me feel kin to Budd.

  9. It had to be Stephen for me today - I serve at St. Stephen's Church in Olean, NY and one of my best friends is a Deacon Stephen (not martyred or stoned, but in Seminary now studying for the priesthood) For those who are having a bit of trouble debating who to choose, here is a little song to sing to the tune of "Good King Wenceslaus" while debating. Not a real great work of hymn writing - but not too bad for a first time:

    Great Deacon Stephen once went out to preach a lengthy sermon.
    Little did he understand the response to him would worsen.
    Yet, brightly shown the Son on him, with God and Holy Spirit,
    Though Martyrdom would be his fate, his death by stoning left him great.
    (and worthy of the Golden Halo) Go Stephen!

  10. Budd it is! “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…." It is also fitting to recognize the first First Nation priest.

    1. I voted for Stephen, but I was very impressed that Budd felt "I should do something…to make manifest my gratitude and love to…God".
      As if he hadn't already done so much for his Lord!

  11. "Ye who now will bless the poor, shall yourselves find blessing.” Although they don't actually come from Stephen, these words seem pretty prescient given that a vote in the House today could end up stripping health care from many who are poor in favor of giving tax cuts and subsidies to the rich.

  12. My vote today goes to Stephen, but I was blessed to learn about Henry Budd for the first time, since I joined Lent Madness a bit late this year. Many years ago I helped out with a vacation Bible school program for the children of Cumberland House, a Cree community in central Saskatchewan. The VBS was based at the local Anglican church, evidence of Fr. Budd's ministry among his people so many years ago.

  13. Henry Budd is an incredible example of perseverance and dedication, giving away his own clothing as payment for help in building the first schoolroom. As a missionary to his own people, he served as a bridge between white and Indigenous, but also between so-called sacred and secular work.. This journal entry from 1856 gives insight into Budd's care for all the needs of his community "a Missionary in this country should never think that the time which is not spent in preaching, or teaching, is his
    own, for he is to be everything and do everything . . .that whether he is in the Pulpit, or in the fishing tent, or in
    the sawing tent, is all Missionary work; for as the one is
    the labour for the soul, so is the other for the body." (September 20, 1856)

    1. OK, that clinches it. Henry Budd it is.
      I was leaning toward him anyway (even though I admire Stephen), but your quote, Kara, really shows his understanding of being with and for the people a clergyperson serves.

  14. Last time I voted against Henry Budd, so I decided to vote FOR Henry today. I feel as though Stephen was an amazing saint, but Henry got my vote!

  15. Today we vote on two sorts of indigeneity. There's the indigeneity of the body, one's natal status. And there's the indigeneity of the heart, where one's spirit is natively turned. And I went with Stephen, even though I thought I would support one serving Indian tribes of any nationality. I think I was moved by the Munk sermon: You go wherever the spirit sends you. I am content with whomever the group chooses. But oddly, I was thinking about Augustine's chapter on the miracles performed by Stephen's remains in northern Africa, and it was that idea of indirect action that decided me. The centurion said to Jesus: I am a man under command, and if you but give the word, it will be performed. For whatever reason, that made sense to me today, so I went with the strange logic of miracles.

  16. My brother's name is Stephen and a dear friend, and spiritual mentor, currently pursues a call to deacon-ship. Which from the outside resembles in some ways a martyrdom. At any rate, regardless of the merits of the candidates, I vote with my heart on this one. And isn't that how most votes are cast?

  17. Had to be Henry Budd (with all due respect to Stephen). For my great grandmother, Henrietta, who also loved and served the Cree in Canada (as a school teacher).

  18. Stephen. Without him there might have been no Henry. Stephen decided the faith was worth giving his life.

  19. The wonders of harvesting hay with the community, the evil of alcohol, ministry among the People of the Land, it is Henry all the way!

  20. I liked Henry Budd, but I have to go with Stephen. I've always been a sucker for 'Good King Wenceslas'!

  21. In honor of my brother, Stephen, and my parish, St. Stephen's of Pittsfield, MA, I had to vote for the young man who had the guts to call out his accusers as "uncircumcised in heart and ears," knowing that it would seal his doom.