The patron saint of the Archdiocese of Brisbane’s cathedral is Saint Stephen, known as the Protomartyr (or first martyr) of Christianity. His name means 'laurel wreath' or 'crown' in Greek.
Acts 6:11 tells the story of how Stephen was tried by the Sanhedrin for blasphemy against Moses and God and speaking against the Temple and the Law. He was then stoned to death (c. A.D. 34-35) by an infuriated mob, including and greatly encouraged by Saul of Tarsus, the future Saint Paul. Stephen's final speech is presented as making an accusation against the Jews of continuing to persecute prophets who spoke out against their sins:
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. (Acts 7:52)
Saint Stephen is traditionally invested with a crown of martyrdom for Christianity and is often depicted in art with three stones and the martyrs' palm.
As he was dying, Saint Stephen experienced a theophany. His theophany was unique in that he saw both the Father and the Son.
Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God. (Acts 7:56)
The complete text of the life of St Stephen from the Gospels is featured in the glasswork that lines the lower ground floor of the Francis Rush Centre.
St Stephen’s path to martyrdom is also artistically portrayed in the Rivers of Stone, an sculptural artwork by Brisbane sculptor Rhyll Hinwood. This art is found in the liturgical space between the Francis Rush Centre and the cathedral (the north side of the cathedral).