The first Martyrdom of the Church occurred, when saint Stephen was stoned to death after he was tried for blasphemy and speaking against the Temple.
Taking into consideration that his name means “crown”, it's very striking that he was the first disciple of Christ to take this “crown” of Martyrdom!
Stephen was a man full of God's grace and power and he performed great wonders and signs among the people.
However he met opposition from the members of the Synagogue of the Freedman, Jews of Cyrene and Alexandria, also of the provinces of Cilicia and Asia. They began to argue with him. But they could not stand up against the wisdom the spirit gave him as he spoke.
The members of the Synagogue of Freedman decided to persuade a couple of persons to spread slanderous words about Stephen. They went telling around that he spoke blasphemous words against Moses and against God.
Their goal was to stir up the people and the elders and the teachers of the law. Sadly they succeeded in this evil plan and they seized Stephen and brought him before the Sanhedrin.
The next step was to produce false witnesses to testify against Stephen. So they secretly persuaded some men to say, “We have heard Stephen speak blasphemous words against Moses and against God.”
The false witnesses testified that they heard Stephen speak against the holy place (the temple) and against the law. They twisted his words saying that according to Stephen Jesus would destroy the temple and change the customs that Moses handed down to them.
While all those people were yelling there and throwing all those false accusations upon Stephen, all who were sitting in the Sanhedrin saw that his face was "like the face of an angel". Read Acts 6:8-15.
Not withstanding this they decided to sentence him to death. Guess who stood there watching this holy man being stoned to death?
Saul of Tarsus, later known as the prince of the apostles, Saint Paul!
The last words of st Stephen were: "Lord, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing!
Yes, indeed a Martyr's death!