The congregation was named in honor of St. Stephen, the first martyr of Christianity. We celebrate the feast of St. Stephen in the month of January. Additionally, the church commemorates the feasts of St. George in May and the Ettu Nombu Feast (Birth of St. Mary) in September. In addition to these key celebrations, we also observe the feasts of Mar Athanasius Paulose Valiya Thirumeni in January, His Holiness Moran Mar Ignatius Elias III Patriarch in February, Mar Baselious Yeldho in October, Mar Gregorios Geevarghese (Parumala Kochu Thirumeni) in November.
May the blessings of these saints be with us at all times.
St. Stephen, the patron saint of deacons, altar servers, stonemasons, and casket makers, lived a life of great significance and left behind a remarkable legacy. As one of the first deacons ordained by the Church, he played a vital role in performing charitable acts for the poor, allowing the apostles to focus more on teaching.
Stephen, whose Greek name suggests he was a foreign-born Jew or Hellenist fluent in Greek, was part of a minority in the Christian community. The Hellenists raised concerns about neglecting their elderly widows, leading the apostles to appoint seven deacons to address this issue. Stephen, as the oldest among them, held the title of archdeacon and possessed a remarkable gift as an evangelist, performing miracles and delivering powerful sermons.
His popularity stirred animosity among some Jews, particularly those from the Synagogue of Roman Freedmen. They challenged his teachings, but Stephen excelled in debates, further aggravating his enemies. False testimonies were brought against him, accusing him of blasphemy against Moses and God. He was brought before the Sanhedrin, the supreme rabbinic court in Jerusalem, for trial.
In front of the Sanhedrin and his accusers, Stephen delivered a lengthy speech recounting Israel's history and God's blessings upon His chosen people. He lamented their disobedience despite God's mercy and called his listeners "stiff-necked" for rejecting the Holy Spirit, much like their ancestors.
Infuriated, the crowd dragged Stephen outside the city and stoned him to death. Remarkably, even in his final moments, Stephen displayed a forgiving spirit, asking God not to hold the sins of his attackers against them, embodying Jesus's teaching of loving one's enemies.
The exact location of Stephen's stoning is disputed, with two traditions suggesting different sites in Jerusalem. Christians buried him, but the exact tomb location wasn't specified until a priest named Lucian had a dream in 415 AD. His dream revealed the site of St. Stephen's remains, confirmed by a name inside the tomb. The relics of the first martyr were then transferred to the church of Hagia Sion on December 26, 415, which became his feast day.
In religious art, St. Stephen is typically depicted with stones, a Gospel Book, a miniature church, and a martyr's palm branch. His life and legacy serve as a testament to his unwavering faith and commitment to Christ's teachings.
St. George, born around 280 A.D. in Cappadocia, a city within the Eastern Roman Empire in Asia Minor, embarked on a remarkable journey. After joining the Roman army, he quickly earned recognition for his abilities and dedication, rising to the rank of tribune in the Imperial Guard. Legends suggest he was acquainted with Constantine, who would later become the first Christian Emperor.
In the year 303 A.D., Emperor Diocletian issued a formal edict against all Christians, demanding the destruction of churches, the burning of sacred texts, the degradation of Christian officials, and the enslavement of non-official Christians. St. George, displaying remarkable courage, ventured into the marketplace to publicly denounce the edict, tearing it down before a stunned crowd. This act led to his arrest and an encounter with Emperor Diocletian.
St. George endured extreme tortures but remained steadfast in his faith, even converting a woman sent to seduce him. Frustrated, Diocletian ordered poison, but it had no effect. After numerous failed attempts to break him, Diocletian invited St. George to the palace, offering princely appointments if he would sacrifice to the idols once.
At the palace, St. George met Empress Alexandra, and their conversation led to passionate preaching about Jesus Christ. On the following day, St. George caused idols to collapse, leading to the conversion of many. Diocletian put an end to the lives of the new Christians, St. George, and Empress Alexandra on 23 Baramouda, 303 A.D.
St. George found his final resting place in his mother's home in Lydda, Palestine. King Constantine recognized him as a model of Christian virtue and ordered a church built over his tomb.
Among the many legends associated with St. George, one of the most famous is his battle with a dragon. According to "The Golden Legend" by James de Voragine, this event took place while St. George was stationed with the Roman army in Libya. He slew a fearsome dragon, saving a princess and the entire town, symbolizing his victory over evil through the power of the Cross and faith in Jesus Christ.
In iconography, St. George is often depicted defeating the dragon, emphasizing his triumph over evil by wielding the Holy Cross and placing trust in Jesus Christ. The princess or queen in the background represents the "Holy Mother Church" or the "Bride of Christ," illustrating how St. George defended her until his martyrdom in the face of Roman persecution against Christians.
Mary, also known as St. Mary or the Virgin Mary, is a central figure in Christianity, venerated since the early days of the church, and a frequent subject in Western art, music, and literature. Her significance has evolved through various titles attributed to her in Christian history, including "guarantee of the Incarnation," "virgin mother," "second Eve," "mother of God," "ever virgin," "immaculate," and "assumed into heaven." Mary is celebrated on several feast days in different Christian traditions, some of which are holy days of obligation for Syrian Christians.
Mary's portrayal in the New Testament as a humble and obedient recipient of God's message has made her a role model for Christians throughout history. From the details provided in the Gospels, Christian piety and theology have constructed a multifaceted image of Mary, fulfilling her own prophecy in the Magnificat (Luke 1:48): "Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed."
According to tradition, Mary was the daughter of Sts. Joachim and Anne were born in Jerusalem. She was dedicated to the Temple and vowed to remain a virgin. In Nazareth, the archangel Gabriel announced that she would conceive Jesus by the Holy Spirit. Mary was betrothed to St. Joseph and visited her cousin Elizabeth, who was pregnant with St. John the Baptist. Elizabeth recognized Mary as the Mother of God, leading Mary to recite the Magnificat. Mary and Joseph traveled to Bethlehem for a census, where Jesus was born. Emperor Augustus declared the census, as Joseph belonged to the House of David. After Jesus's birth, Mary and Joseph presented Him in the Temple.
To escape King Herod's wrath, Mary and Joseph fled to Egypt. Upon Herod's death, they returned to Nazareth. Little is known about Mary's life until a visit to the Temple in Jerusalem, where she and Joseph sought the young Jesus.
Mary played a role in Jesus's first recorded miracle, turning water into wine at a wedding in Cana. She was present at His crucifixion and entrusted to the care of the Apostle John. Tradition suggests she was also present at the resurrection and Ascension.
No scriptural account describes Mary's later years, but tradition holds that she either went to Ephesus or remained in Jerusalem. The belief in Mary's bodily assumption into heaven is an ancient tradition in the Catholic Church.
Mary's titles vary among different Christian denominations, including Anglicans, Lutherans, Catholics, Orthodox, Protestants, and Mormons. The Orthodox refer to her as Theotokos (God-bearer), Aeiparthenos (ever-virgin), and Panagia (all-holy). Catholics use numerous titles, including Mater Dei (Mother of God). Some titles, like "Queen Mother," draw from her role as Jesus's mother and the "Queen-Mother" tradition in Hebrew culture.
Overall, Mary's significance transcends religious boundaries, making her a symbol of devotion and inspiration for countless believers across the world.
Mor Athanious Paulose
Moran Mor Ignatius Elias III
Mor Baselious Eldho
Mor Gregorious Geevarghese