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St. Stephen

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First King of Hungary, b. at Gran, 975; d. 15 August, 1038.

He was a son of the Hungarian chief Géza and was baptized, together with his father, by Archbishop St. Adalbert of Prague in 985, on which occasion he changed his heathen name Vaik (Vojk) into Stephen. In 995 he married Gisela, a sister of Duke Henry of Bavaria, the future Emperor St. Henry II, and in 997 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 at Gran on 17 August, 1001 (see HUNGARY.-- History ). He founded a monastery in Jerusalem and hospices for pilgrims at Rome, Ravenna, and Constantinople. He was a personal friend of St. Bruno of Querfurt and corresponded with Abbot St. Odilo of Cluny .

The last years of his life were embittered by sickness and family troubles. When on 2 September, 1031, his only son, St. Emeric, lost his life on a bear hunt, his cherished hope of transferring the reins of government into the hands of a pious Christian prince were shattered. During his lifetime a quarrel arose among his various nephews concerning the right of succession, and some of them even took part in a conspiracy against his life. He was buried beside his son at Stuhlweissenburg, and both were canonized together in 1083. His feast is on 2 September, but in Hungary his chief festival is observed on 20 August, the day on which his relics were transferred to Buda. His incorrupt right hand is treasured as the most sacred relic in Hungary.

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