Saint of the Day – St Ladislaus I – (c 1040-1095) King of Hungary, Apostle of Charity, defender of the Faith. Born in c 1040 in Hungary and died on 1095 in Neutra, Hungary (in modern Slovakia) of natural causes. His relics are at Varadin (in modern Serbia). Patronage – Szekszard, Hungary.
Ladislaus the First, son of Bela, King of Hungary, was born in 1041. By the pertinacious importunity of the people he was compelled, much against his own inclination, to ascend the throne, in 1080.
He restored the good laws and discipline which St Stephen had established and which seem to have been obliterated by the confusion of the times. Chastity, meekness, gravity, charity and piety were from his infancy the distinguishing parts of his character, avarice and ambition were his sovereign aversion, so perfectly had the maxims of the Gospel extinguished in him all propensity to those base passions.
His life in the palace was most austere; he was frugal and abstemious but most liberal to the Church and the poor. Vanity, pleasure, or idle amusements had no share in his actions or time, because all his moments were consecrated to the exercises of religion and the duties of his station, in which he had only the divine will in view and sought only God’s greater honour.
He watched over a strict and impartial administration of justice, was generous and merciful to his enemies and vigorous in the defence of his country and the Church. He drove the Huns out of his territories and vanquished the Poles, Russians and Tartars.
He was preparing to command, as general-in-chief, the great expedition of the Christians against the Saracens for the recovery of the Holy Land, for Ladislaus believed that he was called to die for Christ, when God called him to Himself, on 30 July, 1095.
Legend says that Géza, Ladisluas’s brother, decided to build a church dedicated to the Holy Virgin in Vác after Ladislaus explained the significance of the wondrous appearance of a red deer at the place where the church would be erected:
As [King Géza and Duke Ladislaus] were standing at a spot near [Vác], where is now the church of the blessed apostle Peter, a stag appeared to them with many candles burning upon his horns and it began to run swifly before them towards the wood and at the spot where is now the monastery, it halted and stood still. When the soldiers shot their arrows at it, it leapt into the Danube and they saw it no more. At this sight the blessed Ladislaus said: “Truly that was no stag but an angel from God.” And King [Géza] said: “Tell me, beloved brother, what may all the candles signify which we saw burning on the stag’s horns.” The blessed Ladislaus answered: “They are not horns but wings, they are not burning candles but shining feathers. It has shown to us that we are to build the church of the Blessed Virgin on the place where it planted its feet and not elsewhere.” — The Hungarian Illuminated Chronicle
Ladislaus was Canonised on 27 June 1192 by Pope Celestine III. Legends depict him as a pious knight-king, “the incarnation of the late-medieval Hungarian ideal of chivalry.” He is a popular saint in Hungary and neighbouring nations, where many churches are dedicated to him.