Today is the feast day of Saint Ladislas I, King of Hungary. Ora pro nobis.
Ladislaus (Ladislas) I was the grandson of the cousin of Saint Stephen of Hungary and the second son of his father, King Bela. As a young man he had seen his father ascend the throne by a war against his uncle. His cousin Solomon, legitimate heir, was cruel and had been driven out by Ladislas’ older brother, Geiza, who after taking his place had reigned for only three years before his death. The people of Hungary knew of Ladislas’s bravery in combat, his chastity, and his sobriety, above all his charity. He knew many of them by name, and they had named him the pious Prince, for he had built magnificent Christian churches in a land where many still honored the pagan idols. It was with joy that the people chose Ladislas to replace his brother as King of Hungary.
He soon showed himself to be a perfect Christian king by the moderation of his judgments, his affability in receiving even the least of his vassals, his fatherly kindness to all. He restored the good laws and discipline which Saint Stephen had established. Chastity, meekness, gravity, charity, and piety were from his infancy the distinguishing traits of his character. His life in the palace continued to be very austere. He was very frugal and mortified personally, but very generous to the Church and the poor. He always sought God’s greater honor. Generous and merciful to his enemies, he was vigorous in the defense of his country and the Church.
During his reign his kingdom was attacked by numerous neighboring peoples. Before going out to repulse them he always commanded public prayers and a fast of three days. Then at the head of his armies fought and was invariably victorious with the help of God. He was preparing to depart, at the request of the princes of France, Spain and England, as General-in-chief of the 300,000 recruits of the great first crusade of the Christians against the Saracens for the recovery of the Holy Land, when God called him to Himself, on July 30, 1095, at the age of fifty-four years, at Neutra. Miracles were numerous at his tomb, and he was canonized one hundred years later, in 1199 by Celestine III. The same day a small child born without hands and feet was cured by the invocation of Saint Ladislas. (1)
Ladislaus is a patron saint of Hungary, especially along the borders. In particular, soldiers and the Székely people venerate him. A late medieval legend says that Ladislaus appeared at the head of a Székely army fighting against and routing a plundering band of Tatars in 1345. He is also called upon during times of pestilence.He is often depicted as a mature, bearded man wearing a royal crown and holding a long sword or banner. He is also shown on his knees before a deer, or in the company of two angels. (3)
Image: Crop of Ladislaus I of Hungary (3)
Research by Ed Masters, REGINA Staff