Pictorial Lives of the Saints – Saint Stephen, King

[Saint Stephen, King]Geysa, fourth Duke of Hungary, was, with his wife, converted to the faith, and saw in a vision the martyr Saint Stephen, who told him that he should have a son, who would perfect the work he had begun. This son was born in 977, and received the name of Stephen. He was most carefully educated, and succeeded his father at an early age. He began to root out idolatry, suppressed a rebellion of his pagan subjects, and founded monasteries and churches all over the land. He sent to Pope Sylvester, begging him to appoint bishops to the eleven sees he had endowed, and to bestow on him, for the greater success of his work, the title of king. The Pope granted his requests, and sent him a cross to be borne before him, saying that he regarded him as the true apostle of his people. His devotion was fervent. He placed his realms under the protection of our Blessed Lady, and kept the feast of her Assumption with peculiar affection. He gave good laws, and saw to their execution. Throughout his life, we are told, he had Christ on his lips, Christ in his heart, and Christ in all he did. His only wars were wars of defense, and he was always successful. God sent him many and sore trials. One by one his children died, but he bore all with perfect submission to the will of God. When Saint Stephen was about to die, he summoned the bishops and nobles, and gave them charge concerning the choice of a successor. Then he urged them to nurture and cherish the Catholic Church, which was still as a tender plant in Hungary, to follow justice, humility, and charity, to be obedient to the laws, and to show ever a reverent submission to the Holy See. Then, raising his eyes towards heaven, he said. “O Queen of Heaven, august restorer of a prostrate world, to thy care I commend the Holy Church, my people and my realm, and my own departing soul.” And then, on his favorite feast of the Assumption in 1038, he died in peace.

Reflection – “Our duty,” says Father Newman, “is to follow the Vicar of Christ whither he goeth, and never to desert him, however we may be tried; but to defend him at all hazards and against all comers, as a son would a father, and as a wife a husband, knowing that his cause is the cause of God.”