Stephen, Saint (duke and king of Hungary)
Saint Stephen, or Stephen I, 975–1038, duke (997–1001) and first king (1001–38) of Hungary, called the Apostle of Hungary. The Hungarian state may be said to date from his reign. Because he continued the Christianization policy of his father, Duke Geza, and followed a pro-German policy, he had to put down revolts by pagan nobles. Married to a German princess, Stephen favored German immigration and modeled his administration on that of the German kings. He divided Hungary into counties, governed by royal officials, to prevent abuses by the nobles. His crown, sent to him by Pope Sylvester II, has remained through the centuries the sacred symbol of Hungarian national existence. (From 1945 to 1978, the crown was in the possession of the United States.) He is the spiritual patron of Hungary. Feast: Sept. 2 (in Hungary, Aug. 20).