St. Emeric of Hungary

St. Emeric of Hungary

1007AD - 1031AD

St. Emeric was declared a saint during a solemn historic event at Székesféhervár, Hungary in 1083AD, 52 years after his death, due to his popularity in Hungary and Poland. With the approval of Pope Gregory VII, St. Ladislas King presided at the ceremony. His father, King Stephen I, was also canonized at this event. After attaining sainthood, St. Emeric was honored as the model and patron of young men.

In the ninth centenary of the death of Bd Emeric (Imre) was kept with solemnity in 1931 in Hungary. Not many reliable particulars of his short life are available. He was the only son of St. Stephen I, King of Hungary and wife Gisella. Stephen was a Magyar (Hungarian) and Gisella was Bavarian. Emeric was the last child born of their marriage and the only one to survive infancy. He was born in the year 1007 and was educated in Esztergom, Hungary, by a Benedictine monk, St. Gerard (Gellert) Sagredo (Gellert later became bishop of Csanád). In baptism Emeric was named after his mother Gisella's brother, Heinrich, King of Germany. In some sources St. Emeric appears under the name Henry.

Emeric was destined to inherit the traditions of his ancestors, which on the maternal side were those of the German rulers of the Holy Roman Empire, and the paternal, the equestrian nomad tradition. When Emperor Conrad II planned to dis-endow the diocese of Bamberg he proposed to give the young prince Emeric an interest in the spoliation, but his father, Stephen would not allow this to happen. A recorded segment of Stephen's parental instructions to his son have been preserved called "The Paternal Ten Commandments,
(Az Atyai Tíz Parancsolat)":

1. Live your religion
2. Respect the Church
3. Honor the Bishops
4. Respect the positions and persons in government
5. Be patient and make best judgements
6. Be cordial toward foreigners
7. Accept good advice
8. Use the wisdom and experience of your ancestors
9. Possess the habit of prayer
10. Perform good deeds

Stephen was desirous of handling some of his responsibilities to Emeric but it is not true that he resigned his crown to him. Though yielding to all the demands made on him in keeping with his princely state, Emeric's energies and attention centered on the Christian faith. He was strongly attracted to the type of spirituality made popular by the Cluny reform, which started in France. Though prevented from joining a monastery, Prince Emeric, in his private life, followed monastic ways, especially, vigils before the altar, prayer and self-discipline. For one only the third generation removed from the natural religion of his Magyar ancestors, his zeal for the faith was exceptional. He did not balk at making any form of sacrifice called for by the prevailing highest level of spirituality, which trait led to his eventual sainthood.

The Hildesheim Almanac gives evidence that Prince Emeric consented to a marriage contract c.1026 for reasons of state to some foreign princess, though per his earlier education, he had made a vow of chastity. It was also recorded that St. Emeric's death was due to a tragic accident that occurred when he was killed by a wild boar during a hunting expedition Sept. 2, 1031. The Prince was buried in the Church at Székesféhervár, feast Nov. 4,1031, and many marvels were wrought at his tomb. Hungary was left without a direct heir to the throne. The bodies of father and son were "elevated" together in 1083, and he is generally referred to as Saint Emeric, but he is called only beatus in the Roman Martyrology, usually depicted holding a lily.

The name Heinrich lent itself to derivatives when spoken in other languages. In English it became Henry, in Latin Henricus, and later Emericus. Latin was the language of the Church, government, university, and army in those days. From the Latin form of the name "Emericus" the Magyars called their prince Emre which though usage, changed to Imre. In English the name has many variants: Emery Emory, Emmrick & Americus. For centuries many received the name Emeric in baptism. For a time the name was very popular in Italy. At his baptism the navigator Vespucci was called Emericus, or in Italian, Amerigo. In the 16th century Americus Vespucius gave the two continents known as North and South America his name. The word 'America' is derived from 'Americus' a Latin form of Emeric.

Bibliography & Credits:
Acta Sanctorum, November, vol. II - Father Poncelet
"Az Arpádok Nyomában" Dummerth Dezsö pub. 1976, Panorama
"American History" pub. 1927, Macmillan Co.
Hildesheim Almanac, Annales Hildesheimenses, The Life of St. Stephen
Cf. C.A. Macartney, The Medieval Hungarian Historians (1953)
Legenda sancti Emerici ducis, in Scriptores rerum Hungaricarum,
ed. I. SzentPétery, v.2 (Budapest 1938) 441-460.
ActSS (Nov. 1894) 2.1:477-491
S. Tóth, Magyar és lengyel Imre-lengendák (Acta Universitatis Szegediensis,
Acta Historica 11; Szeged 1962).
Szent István Emlékkönyv, 3 v. (Budapest 1938) 1:412-418, 557-570; 2:570-573.
D. Vargha, Szent Imre problémák (Budapest 1931).
T. von Bogyay, LexThK2 3:845.
J. Szalay, Catholicisme 4:44.
New Catholic Encyclopedia, p.301
Reverend Francis A. Karpi, Pastor of St. Emeric Church, Cleveland, Ohio, USA

Last Update: 16Mar99 Email: D.L.Emrick

Return to: Emmerich Emerich Emerick Emrick Emrich