Ramallah – Jerusalem (Monday, 12/30/2014, Gaudium Press) Recently, Palestinian archaeologist Salah Hussein al Hudeliyya, head of a team of excavations of the archaeological site of Khirbet El Tireh (two kilometers from the Palestinian city of Ramallah) said that it seems that in this area there is the tomb of St. Stephen, the first martyr who is celebrated by the Church on the day following Christmas, December 26. Palestinian and Israeli archaeologists are working on the site.
Traditions say that after spending a few hours exposed to mockery, the body of the first deacon and first martyr of the Church was collected with the aid of Gamaliel, a teacher of Saul of Tarsus, and buried by Christians.
The research has been undertaken by a group of Palestinian and Israeli archaeologists belonging to a project maintained by the Al Quds University and are concentrated among the remains of a large Byzantine complex including a church and a monastery.
The archaeologist Al Hudeliyya said, on site, that an inscription was found indicating that this Byzantine church was built in honor of the first martyr, buried in the year 35 after Christ.
On the authenticity of St. Stephen’s remains, there are several discussions, due, among other reasons, to the existence of great number of shrines containing his holy bones.
Because of this findings, steps are being taken to include Khirbet El Tireh in the pilgrimage itineraries of the Holy Land. (GPE / LMI)
From the editors desk, with information from Fides and Aleteia