St. Stephen, Apostolic King of Hungary, Saint, Warrior, Apostle – Part III

December 21, 2017

Continued from Part II

Saint Emeric or Americo: Somehow, the “grandfather” of the Americas

Because the conversion of Hungarians began with St. Stephen’s and was consolidated in the reign of St. Emeric, both his son and raised by him, we should be profoundly interested in everything that relates to these early days of Christendom in Hungary.

This is the reason why we turn back to this point from time to time in our historical considerations.

Hungarian saints: St. Adalbert, St. Martin, St. Stephen who is at the feet of the Virgin, St. Ladislaus and St. Emeric) defend against the Turks, 1642. St. Ignatius Church of Loyola, Győr

Let us look at a text that tells us the way in which St. Stephen educated his son St. Emeric on how to govern. Depending on the language, German or Visigoth, Emeric is Amelric, Henricus, Emerick, Emmerich, Emericus. In Latin languages its pronunciation was softened and produced Américo.

I think that when most of us talk about South America we have no idea that we are mentioning the name of this holy Hungarian king, Emeric or Américo. Of course, our continent is called America because of Americo Vespucci, a navigator of a less than paramount importance in our history. But he was called Americo because of the great devotion people had to St. Emeric.

So St. Emeric is somehow the remote patron, much like a grandfather, of our continent.

St. Stephen’s Instructions to His Son on How to Govern

Here is the text:[i]

 “St. Stephan left to his son St. Emeric an instruction in ten articles on how to govern well.”

St. Emeric

These ten items are like finials adorning the royal crown. The first of these rosettes is as follows. St. Stephen says:

  “Since no one should aspire to royalty if he is not a faithful Catholic, we have given our holy Faith the first place in our instructions. First of all I recommend to you, my dear son, if you want to illustrate the royal crown, to profess the Catholic faith so firmly that you may serve as a model for all subjects and make all the children and ministers of the Church recognize you as a true Christian. For he who professes a false belief or professes the true faith but does not practice it in his works will not reign in glory or partake in the eternal kingdom; however, if you keep the shield of faith you will have the helmet of salvation.

 “With these weapons you will be able to legitimately combat the visible and invisible enemies, as the Apostle said, ‘for he also that striveth for the mastery, is not crowned, except he strive lawfully’ (2 Tim 2: 5). This is the faith to which I refer.”

St. Stephen goes on to recall the Symbol of St. Athanasius: “If therefore someone under you seeks to divide, decrease or increase this holy Trinity, be aware that he is a son of heresy and not a son of the Church. Avoid therefore feeding or defending him lest he should appear to be your friend and gain favor, for this kind of people infect the children of the holy faith and would miserably corrupt this new people of Holy Church. Be vigilant, above all, to prevent this from happening.”

“Only He Who Belongs to the Church Deserves the Support of the King”

In two words, what he says is: There was a Creed that was called at that time the Symbol of St. Athanasius. This Creed, which incidentally is preserved today in the Church, contained the principal truths of the faith. St. Stephen thus bequeaths that Creed to his son and says: “This Creed contains the true Catholic faith. If someone tries to add or take something from this Creed, let him be cursed,” because that increase would not be done by the Church but by a purely individual initiative and against the spirit of the Church. To mutilate it is tantamount to mutilate the work of the Church.

The Shield of the Trinity, a visual representation of the doctrine of the Trinity, derived from St. Athanasius’s Creed. The Latin reads: “The Father is God, The Son is God, The Holy Spirit is God; God is the Father, God is the Son, God is the Holy Spirit; The Father is not the Son, The Son is not the Father, The Father is not the Holy Spirit, The Holy Spirit is not the Father, The Son is not the Holy Spirit, The Holy Spirit is not the Son.”

On the other hand, only a person that truly belongs to the Church deserves the king’s support. He who does not belong to the Church or does not accept the Catholic Creed must not be supported by the king; the king should neither feed nor help him at all but rather stay away and isolate him, for a heretic infects one who has faith. And it would be sad for this new kingdom, recently born to the Catholic faith, to be contaminated with heresy.

St. Stephen adds, “The king’s first task is to be a good Catholic. The purpose of the kingdom is to be a Catholic kingdom. And because of this the king, above all, will show that he is a good Catholic. He will respect the ministers of God and love the people of God; he will lead the people of God in the fight; he should be a perfect Catholic.”

This is the first instruction. “If he is a good Catholic,” St. Stephen adds, “then he shall be glorified as king. If he is a bad Catholic he will not glory as king but will ultimately be lost, for only he who upholds the true Catholic faith attains salvation.”

Countries and Individuals Are Obliged to Profess the Catholic Faith

This principle is very true. Countries and all individuals are required to believe in God and serve Him above all things. Countries are comparable to individuals. They are not an individual but a legal person of public law. This juridical entity has the same obligations as an individual.

Collectively, a country and especially the State has an obligation to know and profess the Catholic faith. And just as each of us has as his main mission in life to practice the faith and spread it, so also the State’s main mission is to be an instrument of the Church for the propagation of the Catholic faith. Before taking care of finances, a proper administration, diplomacy, armies or anything else the State should, within its own borders, serve the Catholic Church and favor her influence by every means at the disposal of the temporal power.

 The State should also pursue the enemies of the Church and encourage her friends, making all government instruments usable by the Church to influence the country. If the State does this it will meet all other goals. What God said about individuals applies likewise to the State: “Seek ye therefore first the kingdom of God, and his justice, and all these things shall be added unto you” (Mt 6:33).

 A King who seeks to do everything for the Church will have done all the rest

This means that if a king somewhere does all he can first of all to serve the Church he will have done all the rest; for he will have good subjects and will be loved by them. And his good subjects will be courageous, loyal, good taxpayers, orderly and hard-working. They will have magnanimity, will love the marvelous, be idealistic, enthused with the sublime and produce a great culture and a great civilization. The issue is being a good Catholic. However, if they are not good Catholics they will produce nothing good.

Thanksgiving after the battle at Bergisel, 1809.

If it is true that happiness is mainly in the soul – and anyone aware that man is not an animal should think so — then true happiness is found much more in the goods of the soul than in those of the body. And mental balance obviously is, after virtue, the first good of the soul.

Prosperity with imbalances, craziness and crime is not prosperity. It is the prosperity of those who are not Catholic. We must first seek the kingdom of God and his justice and all things shall be added unto us.

[i] We did not find the source of the text on which Prof. Plinio based himself.

Part I

Part II

Part III

Part IV

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