The son of Geysa, the fourth Duke of the Hungarians, and of Sarboth, his wife, who had both been recently to Christianity, St. Stephen was born in 977 at Gran, then the capital of Hungary. After a Christian education under the care of St. Adalbert, Bishop of Prague, and of Theodatus, a virtuous Italian Count, he succeeded his father upon the latter’s death in 997.
The Saint established a solid peace with all neighboring nations and then turned his attention to rooting idolatry out of his country. His methods were those of persuasion and exhortation, but many of his subjects, on account of their attachment to the religion of their ancestors, rebelled and besieged their King in Vesprin. St. Stephen prepared himself for battle by fasting, almsgiving, and prayer, and though his forces were inferior in number to those of the rebels he nevertheless completely routed them.
The work of propagating the faith now went on with renewed vigor. Churches, monasteries, and Bishoprics were founded, and the King sent an embassy to Rome to obtain from Pope Sylvester II the confirmation of his foundations; and, in order to gratify the wish of his subjects, he also besought for himself the title of King. The request was granted, and the Pope sent a rich crown to the holy King. The prelate who brought the crown from Rome anointed and crowned St. Stephen King in the year 1000.
The devotion of St. Stephen toward the Blessed Virgin Mary was such that he placed all his dominions under her special patronage. In war, which he never undertook without necessity, he was always victorious, nor was he ever the aggressor. His time was divided between the duties of religion and those of his station; he kept his soul constantly recollected in God, and in the midst of the world he practiced great mortification and humility. He died August 15, 1038, and his cult was approved in 1083 by Pope Gregory VII.
PRAYER: Almighty God, Your Church flourished through the efforts of St. Stephen when he reigned on earth. Grant that she may now be defended by him dwelling gloriously in heaven. Amen.