36 AD

Christian deacon in Jerusalem and the first Christian martyr

When: AD 36

Where: Jerusalem

Why:  Stephen was bought before the Sanhedrin (*Jewish religious court) and accused of heresy / blasphemy owing to his bleief in Jesus. His  apology before the Sanhedrin (Acts 7) shows even the early church had a strong set of beliefs.

His defense of his faith before the rabbinic court enraged his Jewish audience, and he was taken out of the city and stoned to death.

His final words, a prayer of forgiveness for his attackers (Acts of the Apostles 7:60), echo those of Jesus on the cross (Luke 23:34).