Even when condemned to death, Saint Stephen entrusted his life into the Lord’s
hands and forgave his adversaries.
Pope Francis stressed this during his weekly General Audience to the faithful gathered this morning, Sept. 25, in St. Peter’s Square. He was continuing his catechesis on the Acts of the Apostles.
“The actions of this first martyr teach us,” the Holy Father stressed, that our identity as God’s children consists in abandoning ourselves to the Father and forgiving those who offend us.”
Pope Francis encouraged those present to contemplate the martyrs throughout history, and those of the present, adding that to live a full life, one must “accept the martyrdom of daily fidelity” to the Gospel and conformity to Christ.
Greeting English speakers, the Argentine Pope offered some special words to the new seminarians of the Venerable English College as they begin their priestly formation in Rome.
Below is the Vatican-provided English-language summary of the Holy Father’s General Audience commentary given in St. Peter’s Square:
Dear Brothers and Sisters: In our catechesis on the Acts of the Apostles, we continue to
follow the spread of the Gospel throughout the world. In the early Christian community some
complained that their widows were being neglected in the distribution of bread. The Apostles,
aware of their principal calling to preach the Word of God, discerned a solution to maintain the
harmony between the service of the Word and service to the poor. They instituted seven men, on
whom they imposed hands, to carry out works of charity. One of these seven deacons, Stephen,
proclaimed Christ’s Paschal Mystery as the key to the whole history of the covenant, but his words
met with resistance. Yet, even when condemned to death, Stephen entrusted his life into the Lord’s
hands and forgave his adversaries. The actions of this first martyr teach us that our identity as
God’s children consists in abandoning ourselves to the Father and forgiving those who offend us.
Let us ask the Lord that, by contemplating the martyrs of the past and present, we may live a full
life, accepting the martyrdom of daily fidelity to the Gospel and conformity to Christ.
I greet the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors taking part in today’s Audience, especially
the groups from England, Scotland, Denmark, Malta, Norway, Kenya, Australia, Mariana Islands,
China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Sri Lanka and the United States of America. In a particular
way my greeting goes to the new seminarians of the Venerable English College as they begin their
priestly formation here in Rome. Upon all of you, and your families, I invoke the joy and peace of
our Lord Jesus Christ. May God bless you!
© Libreria Editrice Vatican