Saint of the day
St. Stephen of Hungary
St. Stephen was born around 970 in Hungary. This saint’s name had been Vaik. When he became a Christian at the age of ten, he was given the name of Stephen. At the same time, his father, the duke of Hungary, and many nobles also became Christians. However, when Stephen himself became king, the country was still quite pagan. Some people were violent and fierce. So he decided to establish the Church solidly in Hungary. His efforts were blessed by God. The secret of St. Stephen’s amazing success in leading his people to the Christian faith was his devotion to Mary. He placed his whole kingdom under her protection and built a magnificent church in her honor.
Pope Sylvester II sent a beautiful king’s crown to Stephen. This treasure became known as the crown of St. Stephen. During World War II, American soldiers captured the crown. The United States kept it in safety, and returned it to Hungary in 1978.
Stephen was a strong, wise ruler. He enforced just laws. But he was also generous and kind to the poor. He loved to give gifts of money to beggars without letting them know who he was. Once he was giving these gifts in disguise when a crowd of rough beggars knocked him down and struck him. They pulled his hair and beard and stole his money pouch. They never could have imagined they were bullying their king. And they never found out from him. He took the insult quietly and humbly. He forced his thoughts to turn to Mary and prayed: “See, Queen of Heaven, how your people have treated me, whom you made king. Since they are your Son’s subjects, I will take this joyfully, and I thank you for it.” In fact, King Stephen made a promise then and there to give more than ever to beggars.
Stephen was king of Hungary for forty-two years. He died on August 15, 1038. St. Stephen was proclaimed a saint by Pope St. Gregory VII in 1083.
We don’t have to be kings or presidents to realize the powerful impact of example. Some people preach wonderful sermons every day by the way they live. When we need more courage to imitate the good example of holy people, we can ask St. Stephen of Hungary to help us.