St. Stephen Pongracz, September 7

St. Stephen Pongracz of Kosice

St. Stephen Pongracz of Kosice, Jesuit and Martyr
Alvincz, Romania, around 1582 – Kosice, Slovakia, September 7, 1619

Roman Martyrology: In the Carpathian mountains, in Košice, Slovakia today, holy martyr Stephen Pongracz, priest of the Society of Jesus, could not be lead to deny their Catholic faith by hunger, nor the torture of the wheel and fire.

Scion of the Hungarian nobility, he was born in 1582 in the castle Alvincz in Transylvania. After classical studies in his native land and in the Jesuit College in Cluj (Romania today) he entered the novitiate of the Society of Jesus in Brno, in 1602. Then he continued his studies in philosophy and theology in Prague to Graz

Ordained a priest was sent as prefect of studies and especially as a preacher at the College of Humenne (now Slovakia).

In 1619 he was sent to Kosice as chaplain of the Imperial and Hungarian troops of the few Hungarian Catholic civilians.

His activities aroused the anger of the Calvinists, who were in the majority. At the time of martyrdom was 37 years.

When the Hungarian prince of Transylvania, Calvinist, Gabor Bethlen, began the war against the emperor (early 1619) the Jesuits, already expelled from Bohemia and Moravia (the Bohemian Lutherans according Bethlen), found asylum in Austria, Poland and Hungary. Kosice was besieged by the army of George I Rákóczi, future prince of Transylvania (in September). Catholic governor of Kosice was betrayed by his mercenaries, and handed to the people Calvinist Rákoczi, along with three priests guests (September 5, 1619).

The Head of the Municipal Council, Reyner, instigated by Alvinczi Calvinist preacher, called for the death of all Catholics in the city.

The majority of Calvinists opposed to total extermination, but the conviction of three priests was good to all. On 7 September, at night, began the torture, which aimed to bend the spirit and lead to abjure Catholicism. Perpetrators were soldiers Rákoczi, in the presence of Alvinczi and Reyner. Pongracz suffered a long time. Emasculated, suspended with his head down, burned with torches to the exit of the bowel. Believed dead the next morning he was thrown out of the bodies of his comrades in a well drain, where he spent 20 hours still praying all the time.

The murder of the victims caused mild consternation even among the Protestant population, but funerals were banned.

The burial of the bodies took place 6 months later (currently the relics are in the church of the Ursulines in Trnava). Shortly after the martyrdom, Cardinal Pázmány began the canonical process in the beatification, which took place January 15, 1905 in Rome.

Source: Holy See

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