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Saints who got 'stoned' - A musical survey

The stoning of St. Stephen by S. G. Rudl (1896). Credit: Renata Sedmakova / Shutterstock.

December 26 is the Feast of St. Stephen, the first martyr of the Church - who died a few years after the Resurrection of Jesus, when Stephen was stoned to death in Jerasulem.

Stephen’s martyrdom is perhaps the best-known instance of martyrdom by stoning, but there are actually a few other saints who were "stoned," in one way or another.

Here's a little bit more about five Catholic saints who were "stoned":

St. Stephen - 'All he's lost he shall regain'

Stephen was a deacon in the early Church, one of seven men chosen to assist the apostles by caring for the widows in the community. Acts of the Apostles describes him as “a man filled with faith and the holy Spirit.”

Stephen performed “great wonders and signs,” and the people were struck by his wisdom. But he also drew the ire of some Jewish leaders because of his preaching about Jesus.

Acts of the Apostles records his martyrdom:

[T]hey cried out in a loud voice, covered their ears, and rushed upon him together. They threw him out of the city, and began to stone him. The witnesses laid down their cloaks at the feet of a young man named Saul. As they were stoning Stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” Then he fell to his knees and cried out in a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them”; and when he said this, he fell asleep.

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St. Paul - The Survivor

St. Paul (then named Saul) was present at the stoning of St. Stephen. After his conversion, Paul was later stoned himself, when a group of people in Lystra was angered by Paul's healing and preaching in the name of Jesus.

But Paul survived the stoning.

Acts of the Apostles records the event:

However, some Jews from Antioch and Iconium arrived and won over the crowds. They stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing that he was dead. But when the disciples gathered around him, he got up and entered the city. On the following day he left with Barnabas for Derbe.

St. Paul ended up being beheaded in Rome around the year 62 AD.

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St. Margaret Clitherow - Martyred 'under pressure'

A convert to Catholicism, St. Margaret hid priests and facilitated the celebration of secret Masses during the persecution of Queen Elizabeth I. For these crimes, she was sentenced to death.

Margaret was not technically stoned - she was pressed to death. The saint was set atop a sharp rock, then had the door of her house lowered on top of her, with heavy rocks stacked on it. Some accounts say the door and rocks weighed more than 800 lbs.

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Saint Lorenzo Ruiz  - 'The Simple Man'

Born in Manila in 1594, Lorenzo lived an uneventful life until as an adult, he was falsely accused of murder and sought asylum on a ship with several priests sailing to Japan, where Christians were being violently persecuted.

In Japan, Lorenzo and his companions - the rest missionaries - were tortured and killed.

Lorenzo didn't exactly go to Japan to be a missionary, or a martyr. He lived a simple life in Manila, until it was interrupted.

But when he was believed to be a missionary, he accepted what came, and he refused to renounce Christ.

In the Philippines, he's remembered as "the simple man."

Like Margaret Clitherow, Lorenzo was not stoned, strictly speaking. He was hung upside down in a pit, in a brutal execution method known as ana-tsurushi. But this method of execution often involved boards fitted around the individual’s waist, and laden with stones to increase pressure and slow circulation, thus drawing out the dying process.

At his death, Lorenzo told his persecutors:

"I am a Catholic and wholeheartedly do accept death for God; Had I a thousand lives, all these to Him shall I offer."

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St. Aelred of Rievaulx - Ouch!

St. Aelred was actually not a martyr. The English Cisterician was a monk and abbot in the 1100s, known primarily for his writings.

But the saint was believed to have suffered from kidney stones in his later years, and is now the patron saint of kidney stone sufferers.

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