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Sunday, December 26, 2010 

The Neatest Latin Phrase You’ll Ever Learn Concerning St. Stephan

So, ya want to hear one of the neatest Latin phases ever concerning Saint Stephan who was the first Christian martyr? Heri natus est Christus in mundo, ut hodie Stephanus nasceretur in coelo which means “Yesterday Christ was born in the world so that today Stephan would be born in heaven.” What a wondrous Latin phase that we should all keep in mind as untold numbers of our brothers are today being martyred for confessing Christ as Lord just as Stephan was nearly two thousand years ago as recorded by Luke in the book of Acts.

Where did I find this Latin gem? From today’s writing in the Treasury of Daily Prayer:

Reverent hearts, it is an old, laudable custom to commemorate St. Stephan on the second day of Christmas. For just as the innocent children were the first martyrs after Christ’s birth, so also St Stephan was the first after Christ’s ascension to praise our glorious King Jesus with his blood. Our predecessors used to say Heri natus est Christus in mundo, ut hodie Stephanus nasceretur in coelo. “Yesterday Christ was born in the world so that today Stephan would be born in heaven.” This is speaking rightly and truly of the fruit of Jesus Christ’s birth. If the Christ child had not been born, the entire world would be lost. Thus Stephan’s sleep in death and entrance through the open heaven to the glory of God in eternal life will show us well what great usefulness and goodness we have from the incarnation and the birth of the Child Jesus.

Stephan means a “garland” or a “crown.” Think here of our beautiful Christmas consolation. Whoever believes in the name of Jesus is righteous before God and can expect a glorious crown. Devout Christians are ‘virgins” before God (Matthew 25:1; Revelation 14:4) and have four different virgin garlands. The first is the garland of righteousness gifted. Second is the garland of righteousness begun. The third is the garland of all kinds of cross and thorns. The forth is the glorious garland of perfect righteousness.

The ancient teachers of the Church say that the Lord Jesus loved Stephan in life, in death, and after death. First in life, for He filled him with His Spirit, with heavenly wisdom, and faith unfeigned. Second, in death, for he offered him heaven opened and waited for his soul. Third, after death, for He gave him the garland of glory and set up for him a famous commemoration until the Last Day. These are the beautiful flowers of Christmas. Those who truly love our glorious King Jesus Christ shall be certain of God’s grace in life, in death, and after death. They shall not die, but live, and proclaim the work of the Lord.

- Valerius Herberger

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  • I'm Frank Gillespie
  • From The Haut South
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