St Stephen of Hungary

Deuteronomy 34.1-12; Ps 65; Matt 18.15-20

Stephen, born in Esztergom about 975, was baptised at the age of 10, when his father, the Duke of Hungary, converted to Christianity. He married Gisela, sister of the Holy Roman Emperor St Henry, and succeeded his father in 997. He was crowned the first King of Hungary in 1001 with a crown sent by Pope Sylvester II. He was said to have ruled both forcefully and with great wisdom; he did much to encourage the evangelisation of his people. He established at least one archbishopric, six bishoprics and three Benedictine monasteries, thus encouraging the Church in Hungary to grow independently of the archbishops of the Holy Roman Empire. He protected the independence of his kingdom by repelling the invading forces of the Holy Roman Emperor Conrad II in 1030. Hungary enjoyed a period of lasting peace during his reign, and it became a preferred route both for pilgrims and merchants travelling between Western Europe and Constantinople and the Holy Land.

Stephen survived all his children, dying on 15th August 1038. His death was followed by decades of civil strife in Hungary. Pope Gregory VII canonised both him and his son Emeric. His wife was beatified in 1975.

Posted in Daily Reflection.