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Catholic Prayer: Litany of St. Stephen, Protomartyr

Description:

St. Stephen, the first Deacon and the Church's first martyr for Christ, whom St. Luke calls "a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost," was stoned to death by order of the Jewish Sanhedrin at Jerusalem, and among those taking part was Saul of Tarsus, the future St. Paul. As first of the witnesses of Christ, it is only right that St. Stephen should appear first in the procession of Saints who surround the cradle of the Saviour: his Feast is December 26. The finding of his relics at Kafr Gamala c. 415 is commemorated August 3 throughout the Western Church. His name is in the Canon of the Roman Mass. The above litany is in Sadlier's Golden Manual of 1851; the Antiphon (from Acts 7: 54-60) and Versicle and Response (from same, sung after the Gradual in the Mass of Dec. 26) have been added and also the Collect for his Feast has been substituted in place of a prayer formerly attached to the litany.

Prayer:

Antiphon: And they stoned Stephen, invoking and saying: Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. And falling on his knees he cried with a loud voice, saying: Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep in the Lord.

V. I see the heavens opened, R. And Jesus standing on the right hand of the power of God.

Lord, have mercy on us. Christ, have mercy on us. Lord, have mercy on us.

Saint Stephen, First Martyr, Pray for us. St. Stephen, who suffered for preaching the Name of Jesus Christ, Pray for us. St. Stephen, who so closely imitated Jesus in that great virtue of charity for thine enemies, Pray for us. St. Stephen, who when stoned by thine enemies, didst cast forth sparks, Pray for us. not of anger, but of love, to set on fire their hearts, harder than the stones which they threw, Pray for us. St. Stephen, having recommended thy soul to God, cried for mercy on the souls of thine enemies, Pray for us. St. Stephen, most zealous for the glory of God, b St. Stephen, most patient and constant, Pray for us. St. Stephen, pattern of chastity and purity, Pray for us. St. Stephen, whose heavenly fortitude caused admiration in all, St. Stephen, by whom so many miracles were wrought, Pray for us. St. Stephen, who, in the love of God, was not inferior to the Apostles themselves, Pray for us. St. Stephen, who didst convert many to the faith of Christ, Pray for us. St. Stephen, by whom the Church has received and continues to receive such singular benefits, Pray for us. St. Stephen, of whom it is said, that the Holy Ghost, Who inhabited thy soul, shone and darted forth His rays into thy body, Pray for us. St. Stephen, whose face shone like that of an angel, Pray for us. St. Stephen, filled with the faith and the Holy Ghost, Pray for us. St. Stephen, dear to the Heart of Jesus, Pray for us.

V. Obatin for us, O blessed Stephen, the virtue of holy charity: R. For which thou wast so eminent and we are so needy

Lord, have mercy on us. Christ, have mercy on us.

Let us pray. Grant to us, we beseech Thee, O Lord, so to imitate what we revere that we may learn to love even our enemies: for we celebrate him who could even plead on behalf of his persecutors with Thy Son Our Lord Jesus Christ. Who with Thee and the Holy Spirit livest and reignest God, world without end. R. Amen.

Prayer Source: Kyrie Eleison — Two Hundred Litanies by Benjamin Francis Musser O.F.M., The Magnificat Press, 1944
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