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Saint Gerard of Csanad

Saint Gerard was born sometime between 977-1000 AD to the Sagredo family in Venice. We know his father was also named Gerard and his mother Catherine and that they had been trying for a child for over three years when Saint Gerard was born. His parents baptized him on the feast of Saint George (April 23rd). At the young age of five, Saint Gerard became seriously and gravely ill. His parents brought him to the San Giorgio Monastery in Venice for prayers and his healing was credited to the Benedictine monks who prayed over him.

After recovering, his parents brought him back to the monastery and offered him to the Lord for a spiritual life. The monks brought him in, educated him and eventually was appointed Prior to administrate the monastery until the new abbot Guglielmo was elected. Following this, for five years, Saint Gerard studied in Gaul, studying grammar, music, philosophy and law.

Soon after returning, he left for the Holy Land on pilgrimage, wanting to follow in the steps of Saint Jerome. He began his journey back home somewhere around the year 1021 and was forced to take refuge at the monastery near Istria when a terrible storm hit.

At the monastery, he met Rasina, a monk. Rasina persuaded him to come to Hungary saying

"nowhere else in the world could one find today a more suitable place to win souls for the Lord"

When they arrived in Pecs, Hungary, they met with the Bishop of Pecs (Maurus) and the Abbot of Pecsvarad. These two persuaded Saint Gerard to stay in Hungry and convinced him to meet with with King Stephen I (then king of Hungary). During this meeting, the King told Saint Gerard that Hungary was where God had led him to, that he could preach anywhere in the country, and that he would make Saint Gerard Bishop if he stayed instead of returning to the Holy Land. For several years Sasint Gerard became the personal tutor of the king's son and heir Emeric. Once Emeric's studies had been completed, Saint Gerard retired to live as a hermit near Bakonybel. For seven years he fully committed himself to this lifestyle.

After the territory of a local chieftain (Ajtony) fell to the royal army under the command of Csanad, the territory was renamed in the conquerors honor as Csanad. Stephen I summoned Saint Gerard back from his hermitage and made him Bishop of the new town. Saint Gerard was credited for massive conversions during this time, baptizing large groups of people in the Trinitarian rite.

King Stephen I died in 1038 and was originally replaced on the thrown by his nephew Peter Orseolo. Following controversies of his rule, he was dethroned by Samuel Aba. King Aba visited Saint Gerard and asked him to place the crown on his head during the coronation, but Saint Gerard refused believing the kingship to be invalid.

Just a few short years later, Henry III, the Holy Roman Emperor, invaded Hungary and defeated King Aba at the battle of Menfo in 1044. Peter Orseolo was returned to thrown but deeply hated by the people for his loyalty to Italy and German rather than Hungary. During the the Vata Pagan uprising in 1046, a crowd broke into the monastery and held Saint Gerard with Bystrik and Buldus (his co-martyrs). There are two accounts of his martyrdom :

  1. He was stoned, pierced with a lance and had his body thrown from the Blocksberg cliff

  2. He was palced in a two wheeled cart and rolled down the hill of Buda (Now carrying his name sake, being called Gellert Hill) and beaten to death

Saint Gerard's body was first buried in Pest, but then moved to Csanad in 1053. Saint Gerard with canonized in 1083 by Saint Pope Gregory VII. He is honored as the Patron Saint of Hungary and of Budapest.

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