The Bulgarian Orthodox Church marks Friday the Feast of Saint Stephen, the first Christian martyr and first archdeacon in the Jerusalem Community Church.
The community church accepted people from all social circles and the rich supported the church while Stephen designated the activity and the vocation of each member. It is believed that this has been the first real Christian community.
According to tradition, it was so just and fair that it triggered the envy of Judea. People slandered the archdeacon and he was tried by the Sanhedrin (high priests) for blasphemy against Moses and God and speaking against the Temple and the Law.
Stephen was stoned to death (c. A.D. 34–35) by an infuriated mob.
Saint Stephen’s name is derived from the Greek Stephanos, meaning “crown”, or “wreath.” Traditionally, Saint Stephen is invested with a crown of martyrdom for Christianity; he is often depicted in art with three stones and the martyrs’ palm.
In Eastern Christian iconography, he is shown as a young beardless man with a tonsure, wearing a deacon’s vestments, and often holding a miniature church building or a censer.
In 415 AD Christian pilgrims discovered Stephen’s relics, after which they were solemnly transferred to a church built in his honor in Jerusalem.
Saint Stephen Day is also the Third Day of the Nativity in the Eastern Orthodox Church. In Bulgarian folk tradition, it is the name day of people bearing the names Stefan, Stefka and similar names such as Stefanka, Stefaniya, Fanny, Ventsislav, Stamen, Stansilava, Tsanko, Stoyan etc.