Posted by: Fr Chris | August 20, 2019

St Stephen the King and Mary’s Triumph in Budapest

August 20 is the feast of Saint Stephen of Hungary on the Byzantine calendar, August 19 on the Latin one. Szent István, as the Hungarians call him, was the first Christian king of the Magyar people. He was baptized as a Christian when he was a child, and took the throne after a fierce struggle against pagan opposition led by his own uncle. He married his wife, St. Gisela of Bavaria, in 997.

Crowned at the start of the second Christian millennium Stephen was confirmed in his royal role by the pope, and since then Hungary has been known as the Apostolic Kingdom. He established a diocesan structure for the Latin Church while endowing the Byzantine rite monasteries of the Greek Church. During his reign, Hungarian rule was established over the Byzantine-Ruthenian Church’s home territories in central Europe. Hungary’s orientation was to the West, not the East, and Latin became the official language of all government business until 1844.

St. Stephen entrusted the Hungarian state to the Mother of God, naming her as the perpetual Queen of Hungary by raising his crown in his right hand to her icon while on his deathbed. His forthright defense of the Church and work on her behalf would probably have earned him sainthood in the medieval mind, but in addition there were miracles of healing at his tomb. The right hand with which he invoked Our Lady’s protection has remained incorrupt to our time. This hand remains in the Basilica of Saint Stephen in the heart of Budapest.

Gyula Benczúr: St. Stephen recommends Hungary under the protection of the Virgin Mary (St. Stephen's Basilica)

Saint Stephen offers his Crown to the Virgin Mary as Queen of Hungary 

A church was dedicated in Budapest to Our Lady as the Kingdom of Mary, the Regnum MarianumThis massive church stood as a sign of the protection of the Mother of God over the Hungarian people. During the Siege of Budapest in 1944-45, the church suffered a direct hit during a bombardment and was  damaged, but Masses continued.

The Regnum Marianum Church (circa 1930)

Hungary was put into the Soviet orbit by the United States and Britain at the infamous Yalta Conference. By 1948 it was under Communist rule, and in 1951 this great church was marked for complete demolition so as to build an enormous statue of Josef Stalin in its place. On August 1, the last Mass was offered at the high altar, and the Blessed Sacrament removed. Crowds stood for hours, singing hymns, with even communists  coming by to show their displeasure at the destruction. Though some people of Budapest surrounded it with a cordon of protesters – a very brave act in the spirit of Saint Stephen! – the secret police swept in and made arrests. Finally the church was blown up, and every surviving piece was carefully destroyed by the communists. It was even forbidden to show photographs of the former church.

The site of the church now became a square for Communist processions, dominated by Stalin’s image. Stalin towered over the city until the heroic Revolution of 1956, when this statue was pulled down by angry Hungarians eager to be freed of communism. Sadly, they lost their fight, and 200,000 fled to the West.

aph: hungarian revolution | Tumblr

Stalin’s head lying on the pavement, 1956 

In the end, Our Lady has triumphed, as she promised at Fatima in 1917. A crucifix was put up  in 1991 atop the pedestal where Stalin once stood.

Image result for budapest regnum marianum templom

The new Kingdom of Mary church has been built at Zoborhegy Square, and a few long-buried pieces of the old church were inserted into it. This was blessed in 1995.

Image result for budapest regnum marianum templom

Regnum Marianum Templom

Related image

Icon of Our Lady, Queen of Hungary, in front of the altar 


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