Stephen I of Hungary

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Saint Stephen I (Hungarian: I. (Szent) István) (Latin: Sanctus Stephanus) (Esztergom, 967/969/975 – 15 August 1038, Esztergom-Szentkirály[1][2][3] or Székesfehérvár, Hungary), born Vajk, was Grand Prince of the Hungarians (997–1000) and the first King of Hungary (1000–1038). He greatly expanded Hungarian control over the Carpathian Basin during his lifetime, broadly established Christianity in the region, and is generally considered to be the founder of the Kingdom of Hungary. Pope Gregory VII canonized Stephen I, together with his son, Saint Emeric of Hungary and Bishop Gerard of Csanád, on 20 August 1083. Stephen became one of the most popular saints in Hungary, and the date of his canonization is celebrated as a state holiday commemorating the foundation of the nation.

Contents

Early years

He was born as Vajk[4][5] in the town of Esztergom[4]. His father was Grand Prince Géza of Hungary[4]; his mother was Sarolt[6], daughter of Gyula of Transylvania [7] a Hungarian nobleman who had been baptized in Greece [8]. Though Sarolt was baptized into the Orthodox Christian faith at her father's court in Transylvania [9] by the Greek bishop Hierotheos,[6][10] she did not persist in the religion[11]. According to his legends, Vajk was baptized a Christian by Saint Adalbert of Prague.[12][13] He was given the baptismal name Stephen (István) in honour of the original early Christian Saint Stephen.[14] The baptised name was possibly chosen on purpose, as it means not only "crown" as mentioned, but also "norm, standard" in Hebrew.[15] So the mission of St. Stephen was to grant a norm to Hungary through the Holy Crown (also called the Doctrine of the Holy Crown). However, another reason could be thought of: that Stephen, as fiancé of a woman from the diocese of Passau, simply wanted to do honour to the then-major saint of Passau, Saint Stephen, after whom the Passau Cathedral is named up to today.

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