Thursday, August 16, 2007

Feast: St. Stephen of Hungary

Be humble in this life, that God may raise you up in the next. Be truly moderate and do not punish or condemn anyone immoderately. Be gentle so that you may never oppose justice. Be honorable so that you may never voluntarily bring disgrace upon anyone. Be chaste so that you may avoid all the foulness of lust like the pangs of death.

– St. Stephen of Hungary

Stephen (or, in Hungarian, Szent István ) was born in 969. In 995 A.D., Stephen married Gisela, a sister of Duke Henry of Bavaria, the future Emperor St. Henry II; in 997, Stephen succeeded to the throne of Hungary. In order to make Hungary a Christian nation and to establish himself more firmly as ruler, he sent Abbot Astricus to Rome to petition Pope Sylvester II for the royal dignity and the power to establish episcopal sees. The pope acceded to his wishes and, in addition, presented him with a royal crown with which he was crowned on August 17, 1001.and united the region into a single nation, suppressing revolts led by pagan nobles, organizing dioceses, and founding monasteries.

In Hungary, his chief festival is observed on August 20, the day on which his relics were transferred to Buda. Thus, August 20 is celebrated as "St. Stephen’s Day - Szent István Nap" - in Hungary, where it is a national and public holiday. In Budapest, the day ends with fireworks over the Danube, much as the 4th of July might be celebrated in the USA, or July 14 - Bastille Day in France.

He was the father of St. Emeric, who died in 1031. Stephen was buried beside his son and both were canonized together in 1083. Stephansdom, the Cathedral in Vienna, is named for this saint. He is also one of Bam-Bam's patron saints.

St. Stephen of Hungary, pray for us (especially Bam-Bam)!

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