St. Stephen of Hungary
Feast Day: August 16
Born: 969 :: Died: 1038
St. Stephen was born in Hungary and was named Vaik. His father was the Duke of Hungary. Then at the age of ten when his family and many other rich people became Christians, he was given the name of Stephen.
But, when Stephen himself became king, the people were still quite pagan and did not believe in God. Some people were cruel and fierce. So he decided to make the Christian faith stronger in Hungary and helped build many Churches.
God blessed St. Stephen because of his hard work and people began believing in 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 wonderful church in her honor.
Pope Sylvester II sent a beautiful crown to King Stephen. This treasure became known as the crown of St. Stephen. During the Second World War, American soldiers captured the crown but it was later returned to Hungary in 1978.
Stephen was a strong, fearless and just, ruler. But he was also gentle and kind to the poor. He tried to avoid war as much as he could. 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 hit him. They pulled his hair and beard, and stole his money pouch.
They did not know that they were bullying their king. And they never found out from him. He took the insult quietly and humbly.
Instead he prayed to Mother Mary: "Queen of heaven, see how your people have treated me whom you made king. If they were your enemies, I would have punished them. But since they are your Son's people, I will suffer this joyfully and say 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 and his people loved him. He died on August 15, 1038. He is the patron saint of Hungary.
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