Today’s Saint of the day is Stephen Pongracz, a Saint of the Catholic Church, a martyr, and a Hungarian Jesuit priest.
Brief History and Fun Facts
Besides being a saint of the Catholic Church, Stephen Pongracz was also a martyr and a Hungarian Jesuit priest. Stephen was born in Alvincz Castle in Transylvania Principality around the year 1582. In 1602, he entered the Society of Jesus and later studied in Australia and Bohemia. Stephen had already been ordained for four years when he accompanied fellow Jesuit Melchior Grodziecki for a mission in Kassa, Kingdom of Hungary (today’s Kosice, Slovakia). Pongracz could have lived a pleasantly honorable life in his native Transylvania. However, Stephen preferred to preach the Gospel in Prague, eastern Slovakia.
The two Jesuits (Stephen Pongracz and Melch and Melchior Grodziecki) worked in small towns when they learned that a Calvinist army was marching on Kassa. The Calvinist army was marching in an attempt to expand Gabriel Bethlen’s (Prince of Transylvania) territory. So, Stephen and Melchior returned to Kassa, where a diocesan priest, Fr. Marko Krizin, joined them. On September 5, 1619, the Transylvanian army took over the city and immediately confined Stephen Pongracz, Melchior Grodziecki, and Fr. Marko Krizin, the three priests, to the Jesuit residence.
On September 7, before dawn, soldiers broke into the three priests’ quarters and forced them to apostatize and acknowledge Calvinism. But the three priests rejected the soldiers’ demands, which led to the soldiers torturing them and ultimately beheading them. After negotiations with Gabriel Bethlen, the bodies of these three martyrs were recovered and buried in the vicinity of Kassa. The bodies were later moved to Nagyszombat, today’s Trnava, Slovakia, in 1636.