Saint of the Day: St. Stephen of Hungary
Today is the optional memorial of St. Stephen of Hungary (977-1038).
Stephen was the son of the Magyar chieftain Geza and succeeded him as leader in 997. Born a pagan, Stephen was baptized at age 10, along with his father, and was raised as a Christian. In 996, at age 20, he married Gisela, the daughter of Duke Henry II of Bavaria and devoted much of his reign to the promotion of the Christian faith. He gave his patronage to Church leaders, helped build churches, and was a proponent of the rights of the Holy See.
Stephen also crushed the pagan counterreaction to Christianity, and converted the so-called Black Hungarians after their failed rebellion. In recognition of his efforts, Stephen was crowned king of Hungary in 1000, receiving the cross and the crown from Pope Sylvester II. His crown and regalia became beloved symbols of the Hungarian nation, and Stephen was venerated as the ideal Christian king.
The secret of St. Stephen’s amazing success in leading his people to the Christian faith was his deep devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. He placed his entire kingdom under her protection and built a magnificent church in her honor.
Stephen served as King of Hungary for 42 years and died at Szekesfehervar on August 15, 1038. Soon after Stephen’s death, miracles of healing occurred at his tomb. Stephen was canonized by Pope Gregory XVII in 1083.
He is the patron saint of: bricklayers, death of children, Hungary, kings, masons, stone masons, and stone cutters.