István Pongrácz

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István Pongrácz (1584-1619) was a Hungarian Jesuit priest, martyr and saint of the Catholic Church.

St. István Pongrácz SJ
17th-century drawing
Martyr Saint
Born c. 1583
Alvinc, Principality of Transylvania
Died 7 September 1619
Kassa, Kingdom of Hungary
(today: Košice, Slovakia)
Venerated in Hungary, Catholic Church, Society of Jesus
Beatified 15 January 1905, St Peter's Basilica, Rome by Pope Pius X
Canonized 2 July 1995, Košice, Slovakia by Pope John Paul II
Major shrine Premonstratensian Church (Košice)
Feast 7 September


Father István Pongrácz was born in Alvincz Castle in Principality of Transylvania, entered the Society of Jesus in 1602, and studied in Bohemia and Austria. He had been ordained for four years when he was sent to Kassa, Kingdom of Hungary (today: Košice, Slovakia) with fellow Jesuit Melchior Grodziecki.[1]

The two Jesuits were working in small towns when they heard the news that a Calvinist army was marching on Kassa in an attempt to expand the territory of Gabriel Bethlen, prince of Transylvania. The two Jesuits returned to Kassa where they were joined by a diocesan priest, Fr. Marko Krizin. The Transylvanian army took control of the city on 5 September 1619, and immediately confined the three priests to the Jesuit residence. Before dawn on 7 September, soldiers broke into their quarters and demanded that they apostatize and accept Calvinism. When the priests refused to do so, the soldiers began to torture them and finally beheaded them.[2]

The bodies of the martyrs were recovered, after negotiations with Gabriel Bethlen, and were buried in the vicinity of Kassa. In 1636, they were moved to Trnava.[3]

Veneration and Canonisation[edit]

The cause of beatification of the Kassa martyrs began in 1628 and they were finally beatified on 15 January 1905 by Pope Pius X. They were canonized on 2 July 1995, in Košice by Pope John Paul II.[4] Their feast day is on 7 September.

See also[edit]