Here is my post for the Evangelium Institute Blog on the Memorial of St. Stephen of Hungary.
Imagine for a moment what it would be like to live in a pre-Christian time, in a society where violence and war were commonplace, where cruelty was often rewarded with praise and power. Now imagine that it’s your responsibility to change that culture, to civilize it, to bring it to Christianity. Well, that’s the story of St. Stephen of Hungary.
He was born in present-day Hungary around the year 975 and was given the name Vajk by his father Geza and mother Sarolt. His grandfather Arpad had conquered the Carpathian Basin in the late 800s and had install Geza as his heir to rule the Magyar people, which is what Hungarians call themselves. In 985, for political reasons, Geza decided to convert to Christianity, and so the whole family was baptized. Young Vajk took the name Istvan, or Stephan, and, unlike his father, took his Christianity very seriously. But he had an uphill battle as there was no Church structure in that part of the world only a few missionaries like St. Methodius and St. Adalbert. He needed to unite his people under one rule to keep them from killing each other, and he needed to bring them to Christ.
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