Key events depicted in painting:
Pentecost, the Church made manifest – St Stephen, first martyr – St Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles – Persecution – John exiled to Patmos wrote Revelation
Other stuff to cover:
- Apostolic Age
- St Paul the Apostle to the Gentiles, Paul’s travels, beginning of New Testament
- Consul Acilius Glabrio ordered to fight lion, won, Domitian had him executed
- John exiled to Patmos wrote Revelation
CCC 766 The Church is born primarily of Christ’s total self-giving for our salvation, anticipated in the institution of the Eucharist and fulfilled on the cross.
“The origin and growth of the Church are symbolized by the blood and water which flowed from the open side of the crucified Jesus.”
“For it was from the side of Christ as he slept the sleep of death upon the cross that there came forth the ‘wondrous sacrament of the whole Church.'”
And made manifest (obvious) at Pentecost
CCC 726 At the end of this mission of the Spirit, Mary became the Woman, the new Eve (“mother of the living”), the mother of the “whole Christ.”108 As such, she was present with the Twelve, who “with one accord devoted themselves to prayer,”109 at the dawn of the “end time” which the Spirit was to inaugurate on the morning of Pentecost with the manifestation of the Church.
Pentecost was the thanksgiving feast at the end of the grain harvest, which began after Passover. Later tradition made it a commemoration of the giving of the law at Sinai. (see Bible notes)
It is known by several names that derive from its meaning and timing. Also known as the Feast of Harvest (Exodus 23:16), it represents the firstfruits (Numbers 28:26: ) gathered as the result of the labor of those who completed the spring grain harvests in ancient Israel.
It is also called the Feast of Weeks (Exodus 34:22), with this name coming from the seven weeks plus one day (50 days in all) that are counted to determine when to celebrate this festival (Leviticus 23:16).
In the New Testament, written in Greek, this festival is known as Pentecost ( Pentekostos in the original), which means “fiftieth”.
The year the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples, Pentecost fell on May 29th
Stephen’s name is derived from the Greek language Stephanos, meaning “crown”. Traditionally, Stephen is invested with a crown of martyrdom; 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. Rembrandt depicted his martyrdom in his work The Stoning of Saint Stephen.History approximates Stephen’s story around A.D. 34-35, shortly after Jesus’ crucifixion. According to Chapter 6 of The Acts of the Apostles, Stephen was among seven men of the early church at Jerusalem appointed to serve as deacon. However, he is depicted as also successfully preaching to his fellow Jews and bringing many to accept Jesus as the Messiah. After a dispute with the members of a synagogue of “Roman Freedmen,” he is denounced for blasphemy against God and Moses (Acts 6:11) and speaking against the Temple and the Law. Stephen is tried before the Sanhedrin. His defense is presented as accusing the Jews of persecuting the prophets who had spoken out against the sins of the nation:”Which one of the Prophets did your fathers not persecute, and they killed the ones who prophesied the coming of the Just One, of whom now, too, you have become betrayers and murderers.” (7:52)
While on trial, he experienced a theophany in which he saw both God the Father and God the Son: “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.” (Acts 7:56) This vision of Christ standing differs from other Scripture which indicates Jesus sits at the right hand of God – perhaps implying that Christ stood in honor of Stephen whose martyrdom was near.
He is condemned and stoned to death by an infuriated mob, which is encouraged by Saul of Tarsus, later to be known as Saint Paul the Apostle. After his own conversion to Christianity, Paul makes reference to witnessing Stephen’s martyrdom in his writings.
The following account was written by the Roman historian Tacitus in his book Annals published a few years after the event. Tacitus was a young boy living in Rome during the time of the persecutions.
“Therefore, to stop the rumor [that he had set Rome on fire], he [Emperor Nero] falsely charged with guilt, and punished with the most fearful tortures, the persons commonly called Christians, who were [generally] hated for their enormities. Christus, the founder of that name, was put to death as a criminal by Pontius Pilate, procurator of Judea, in the reign of Tiberius, but the pernicious superstition – repressed for a time, broke out yet again, not only through Judea, – where the mischief originated, but through the city of Rome also, whither all things horrible and disgraceful flow from all quarters, as to a common receptacle, and where they are encouraged. Accordingly first those were arrested who confessed they were Christians; next on their information, a vast multitude were convicted, not so much on the charge of burning the city, as of “hating the human race.”
In their very deaths they were made the subjects of sport: for they were covered with the hides of wild beasts, and worried to death by dogs, or nailed to crosses, or set fire to, and when the day waned, burned to serve for the evening lights. Nero offered his own garden players for the spectacle, and exhibited a Circensian game, indiscriminately mingling with the common people in the dress of a charioteer, or else standing in his chariot. For this cause a feeling of compassion arose towards the sufferers, though guilty and deserving of exemplary capital punishment, because they seemed not to be cut off for the public good, but were victims of the ferocity of one man.”
Ref: “Nero Persecutes The Christians, 64 A.D.,” EyeWitness to History, www.eyewitnesstohistory.com (2000)
Nero was emperor until 67AD when he was replaced by Domitian
“The Son is his Father’s definitive Word; so there will be no further Revelation after him.” CCC 73
The death of St John, the last Apostle to die and the only one to die a natural death, ended the public Revelation of God and closed the Deposit of Faith
St John also wrote Revelation, the last book of the Bible.