Ordinary Time: August 16th
Monday of the Twentieth Week of Ordinary Time; Optional Memorial of St. Stephen of Hungary
Old Calendar: St. Joachim, Father of the Blessed Virgin Mary, confessor; St. Roch
Vaik, son of Geza, Duke of Hungary, was baptized about 985 by St. Adalbert of Prague who gave him the name of Stephen. He was chosen by God to bring his people to the Christian faith. With the assistance of monks from Burgundy, he established bishoprics, founded several monasteries and re-organized the whole life of the country. Pope Silvester II offered him the privilege of being crowned king and the ceremony took place on December 25, 1000. His great zeal for the spread of the Catholic faith earned him the title of apostolic king and apostle of Hungary. He died on August 15, 1038, the feast of the Assumption of our Lady, to whom he had consecrated his kingdom.
According to the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, today is the feast of St. Joachim, now celebrated July 26. St. Stephen's feast was September 2. St. Roch, mentioned in the Roman Martyrology, was from France, near Montpellier. By the sign of the cross, he delivered many cities of Italy from an epidemic. His body was afterward transferred to Venice, deposited with great honors in the church dedicated under his invocation.
St. Stephen was the first Christian king of Hungary. He was born in 975 at Gran, the son of Prince Geisa, and was baptized in 985 by St. Adalbert. While courting Gisela, the sister of Emperor St. Henry II, he was promised her hand in marriage provided that he remain firm in the Christian faith and lead the pagan Hungarians to Christianity. He kept his word though it cost him dearly. From the hands of Pope Sylvester II (999-1003) he received the royal crown and was solemnly enthroned at Gran on the feast of Mary's Assumption, 1001. (The alleged bull of Pope Sylvester granting to Stephen and his successors the privilege of having the cross carried before them, like metropolitans, is now regarded as a seventeenth-century forgery.)
- A saint upon the throne, who besides being king was the apostle and father of his people! Reflect his spirit in your own family and toward your associates.
- Read more the history of Hungary. This site contains a wealth of information about the Hungarian Holy Crown, the Hand of St. Stephen and other information (Scroll down the page since the links don't work). You can also visit this site for a virtual tour of Hungary.
St. Roch or Rocco
Untrustworthy sources say he was probably born at Montpellier, France, son of the governor there. He was orphaned when he was twenty. He went on pilgrimage to Rome and devoted himself to caring for the victims of a plague that was ravaging Italy. He became a victim himself at Piacenza but recovered and was reputed to have performed many miracles of healing. On his return to Montpellier, he was imprisoned for five years as a spy in pilgrim's disguise when his uncle, who was governor, ordered him imprisoned. (His uncle failed to recognize him, and Roch failed to identify himself.) Roch died in prison and was only then identified as the former governor's son by a birthmark in the form of a cross on his chest. Another biographer says that he was arrested as a spy at Angers, Lombardy, and died in prison there. When miracles were reported at his intercession after his death, a popular cult developed, and he is invoked against pestilence and plague. He is known as Rocco in Italy and Roque in Spain.
- Read more about San Rocco Festival in Aliquippa, Pennsylvania and the Italian traditions surrounding this saint.