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December 26


Saint of the day:

Saint Stephen 

Patron Saint of Deacons, altar Servers, bricklayers, casket makers, & Stonemasons

2nd Day of the Octave of the Nativity of the Lord

On the 2nd Day of Christmas....
(The two turtle doves were the Old and New Testaments)

Today is also known as Boxing Day

Saint Stephen’s Story

As the number of disciples continued to grow, the Greek-speaking Christians complained about the Hebrew-speaking Christians, saying that their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution. So the Twelve called together the community of the disciples and said, “It is not right for us to neglect the word of God to serve at table. Brothers, select from among you seven reputable men, filled with the Spirit and wisdom, whom we shall appoint to this task, whereas we shall devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” The proposal was acceptable to the whole community, so they chose Stephen, a man filled with faith and the Holy Spirit… (Acts 6:1-5).

Acts says that Stephen was a man filled with grace and power, who worked great wonders among the people. Certain Jews, members of the Synagogue of Roman Freedmen, debated with Stephen but proved no match for the wisdom and spirit with which he spoke. They persuaded others to make the charge of blasphemy against him. He was seized and carried before the Sanhedrin.

In his speech, Stephen recalled God’s guidance through Israel’s history, as well as Israel’s idolatry and disobedience. He then claimed that his persecutors were showing this same spirit. “[Y]ou always oppose the holy Spirit; you are just like your ancestors” (Acts 7:51b).

His speech brought anger from the crowd. “But [Stephen], filled with the holy Spirit, looked up intently to heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God, and he said, ‘Behold, I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God….’ They threw him out of the city, and began to stone him…. As they were stoning Stephen, he called out, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit…. Lord, do not hold this sin against them’” (Acts 7:55-56, 58a, 59, 60b).







St Stephen was martyred in Jerusalem shortly after the death and resurrection of Christ. The earliest tradition places the location of his martyrdom on the northern edge of the Old City where the present Damascus Gate is located. At the time of St Stephen’s death this location would have been just outside of the city walls. The Byzantines later expanded Jerusalem and named the present Damascus Gate after St Stephen to honor the location of his martyrdom. In the 16th century the Ottoman Turks rebuilt the walls and gave this gate its current name. A later tradition places the martyrdom near the Lion’s Gate on the eastern edge of the city. This tradition is commemorated by a small chapel built over a small outcropping of stone at St Stephen’s Orthodox Church. This chapel is accessed by a side entrance along the church’s northern edge. One then descends a flight of stairs to the chapel. Opening hours for this chapel are irregular. The relics of St Stephen, like the location of his martyrdom, have been held in great honor since the time of the early church. Tradition claims that the tomb of St Stephen was miraculously discovered in Jerusalem in 415 AD through a special revelation given to a priest named Lucian. They were then placed within the now-destroyed Church of Holy Zion which was located in the south-west corner of the city. Then in 439 they were translated to a newly constructed Byzantine church just north of Jerusalem’s walls. This Byzantine church was destroyed by the Persians in 614 AD and the relics lost. A new church built over the ruins of this ancient church, called the Basilique de Saint- Étienne, was dedicated in 1900. It honors the memory of Stephen. At some point relics of St Stephen were purportedly transferred westward to Europe. They are now found in many different cities. Among these is Rome where a long-standing tradition holds that a large portion of his remains rest in San Lorenzo fuori le Mura.

Churches of Honor in Jerusalem


Basilique de Saint-Étienne

(Basilica of Saint Stephen)

6 Nablus Road

91190 Jerusalem, Israel

*As noted above this church honors the memory of St Stephen


Greek Orthodox Church of St Stephen

Kidron Valley

91190 Jerusalem, Israel

*As noted above a chapel just below this church marks a possible location of St Stephen’s martyrdom.



St. Stephen's Day Stew


  • 8 TBSP butter

  • 2 onions, chopped

  • 6 to 8 white mushrooms, thinly sliced

  • 1 pound left-over turkey meat, cut into cubes

  • 500 g leftover ham, Cut into Cubes

  • turkey or chicken stock

  • 3/4 cup cream

  • 1 Tbsp minced fresh parsley

  • fresh chives

  • 2 TBSP flour

  • 12 small potatoes boiled

  • salt TT

  • pepper TT


  1. Preheat the oven to 90 C

  2. Melt 6 Tbsp of the butter in a dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot over low heat, then add the onions and Cook For 10 to 12 minutes, stirring Frequently

  3. Add the mushrooms and Cook For about 10 minutes more, Continuing to stir Frequently

  4. Add the turkey and ham to the dutch oven, stir well, and Cook For about 10 minutes more, Continuing to stir Frequently

  5. Increase the heat to medium-high, add the stock, and deglaze the pot

  6. Reduce the heat to low and stir in the Cream, parsley, and half the Chives

  7. Season to taste with salt and pepper and Continue Cooking For 10 to 15 minutes

  8. Meanwhile, melt the remaining 2 Tbsp of butter in a small pan over low heat, then gradually whisk in the Flour to make a roux

  9. Continue whisking For 2 to 3 minutes or until the roux thickens

  10. Stir the roux into the stew and Cook For about 5 minutes more

  11. Take the stew off the heat, put the boiled potatoes on top of the stew, then Cover the dutch oven and let the stew rest in the preheated oven For 30 to 45 minutes before serving

  12. Garnish with the remaining minced Chives





(St. Stephen's Horseshoes)
On December 26th we celebrate the feast of St. Stephen, the first Christmas Martyr!  In honor of St. Stephen's patronage over horses, special breads filled with chopped nuts and sugar and shaped in the form of horseshoes are traditionally baked on this day in Poland and other Slavic countries.  


Dough Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon dry yeast

  • 1/2 cup milk, lukewarm

  • 3 eggs, small

  • 1 cup sour cream

  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice

  • 2 tablespoons lemon rind, grated

  • 1 cup butter

  • 5 cups flour

  • 1/2 cup sugar

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1/2 cup shortening

Filling Ingredients

  • 1 /2 cups walnuts, finely chopped

  • 3/4 cup brown sugar

  • 1 egg

  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

  • grated rind of 1 orange

  • grated rind of 1 lemon


  1. Dissolve yeast in the lukewarm milk and let stand for 10 minutes.

  2. In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs until light and fluffy.  Stir in the sour cream, yeast mixture, lemon juice and rind. 

  3. In another mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, and salt.  Cut the cold butter into small pieces.  Using either a pastry blender, two knives, or your hands, work the butter and shortening into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse bread crumbs.

  4. Add the flour mixture to the moist ingredients and beat well.  You may need to add more flour, just enough to make a fairly soft and non-sticky dough, depending on the size of the eggs. 

  5. Knead dough briefly. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 1 hour.

  6. While the dough is chilling prepare the filling.  Chop the nuts finely.  (We used walnuts, but hazelnuts or almonds would work great too!) Combine the brown sugar, egg, vanilla and rinds, then stir in the nuts.

  7. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to about 1/8 inch thickness and cut into 4x6 inch rectangles.

  8. Brush the rectangles with some melted butte (I actually skipped this step) and spread a thin layer of filling in the middle.  Starting on the long side, roll each rectangle and form into the shape of a horseshoe.  (Note: As you can see in my pictures above, the filling did ooze out of some of the horseshoes in my first batch.  On the following batches, I made sure the dough was pinched together to prevent this from happening again.)

  9. Place on a lightly greased baking sheet.  Bake at 375˚F for about 15 minutes or until the horseshoes are nicely browned.

  10. Dust with powdered sugar or glaze with a mixture of lemon juice and powdered sugar if desired. 

Chocolate TuTu's Cookies
Spicy Meatball Cookies


  • 2 sticks (8 oz) unsalted butter

  • ¾ cup white sugar

  • ½ cup packed brown sugar

  • 3 eggs, one at a time

  • ½ cup full fat ricotta cheese

  • 1 tsp vanilla

  • 1 tsp baking powder

  • ½ tsp baking soda

  • ¼ tsp salt

  • ½ c cocoa

  • ½ tsp cinnamon

  • ¼ c espresso powder

  • 4 c AP flour

  • 1cup ground walnuts

  • 1/3  cup oil

  • 1/3 cup cream


  1. Cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy.

  2. Mix in the eggs one at a time

  3. Add the vanilla

  4. Add the ricotta

  5. Combine all the dry ingredients

  6. Combine all the oil and cream

  7. Add 1/3 of the dry ingredients and then 1/3 of the cream/oil until they are all used.

  8. Add the optional 1/2 cup of crushed butterfinger candy.

  9. Chill the dough

  10. Make walnut-sized rounds with your hands and place on lined cookie sheets.

  11. Bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes.

  12. Do not over bake or they will dry out too much!

  13. After they are cooled pour ganache or icing over the top.



Chocolate Icing:
In a bowl place 1 cup of semi sweet morsels and one cup of bittersweet chocolate, chopped. In a sauce pan heat about a cup of half and half and two tablespoons of butter. Bring to a boil. Pour over chocolate and stir until smooth. Once the chocolate is melted, spoon onto cookies. Let set for quite a while before stacking.

White Icing:
Powder Sugar, Hot Water, Vanilla, Clear Karo Syrup, & Egg White Powder cooked over a water bath.




Irish Tradition on St. Stephen's Day

The Day Of The Wren (St Stephen’s Day)

One of Ireland’s unique and darker traditions, celebrated on December 26th, relates to killing a small bird in revenge for betraying St Stephen.

“Hunting the Wren” is an Irish tradition that is believed to pre-date Christian times. It sounds pretty cruel, where basically the tiny bird is captured, killed and tied to a pole. Local musicians and dancers would then dress in garish disguises and go house to house collecting money, food and drink for a party. Woe betide the house that did not donate to the cause – the wren could be buried outside their door which would bring 12 months of bad luck!


The feast of St. Stephen, who was the first Christian martyr, is celebrated on December 26th. Connecting the Wren Boys ritual

(Lá an Dreoilín) as the day when the traitor wren betrayed St. Stephen is a good example of how Ireland’s pagan traditions were merged with Christianity (it also happened with St Brigid)


The Wren, the Wren the king of all birds,
St. Stephens’s day, he was caught in the furze.
Although he is little, his honour is great,
Rise up, kind sir, and give us a trate.

We followed this Wren ten miles or more
Through hedges and ditches and heaps of snow,
We up with our wattles and gave him a fall
And brought him here to show you all.


For we are the boys that came your way
To bury the Wren on Saint Stephens’s Day,
So up with the kettle and down with the pan!
Give us some help for to bury the Wren!


Songs of the season

Tori Kelly Performs Hallelujah! 

Read His Story!

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