St. Marko Stjepan Krizin
|Priest and martyr|
Križevci, Kingdom of Croatia, Habsburg Empire
|Died||7 September 1619|
Royal free city of Kassa,
Kingdom of Hungary
|Venerated in||Roman Catholic Church (Croatia)|
|Beatified||15 January 1905, St. Peter's Basilica, Rome, Kingdom of Italy, by Pope Saint Pius X|
|Canonized||2 July 1995, Košice, Slovakia, by Pope Saint John Paul II|
|Major shrine||Esztergom Basilica and|
Church of the Holy Trinity, Košice
Marko Stjepan Krizin (or Marko Križevčanin; Hungarian: Kőrösi Márk) was a Croatian Roman Catholic priest, professor of theology and missionary, who was active in the 17th century. In the course of the struggle between Catholicism and Calvinism in the region then, he was executed for his faith. He has been declared a saint by the Catholic Church, the third Croat to be so honored.
As a candidate for Holy Orders of the Diocese of Zagreb, Krizin then moved to Rome, where he attended the famous Collegium Germanicum et Hungaricum. He personally noted his nationality as Croatian in a document which is available in the college archives. As a student he was smart and considerate. He studied there from 1611 to 1615.
After ordination, Krizin returned to his diocese, where he stayed only a short while. Cardinal Péter Pázmány, Archbishop of Esztergom (then living in Nagyszombat – present-day Trnava – because of the continuing Ottoman occupation of much of Hungary), called him from Zagreb and appointed him both rector of the local seminary and canon of the cathedral chapter.
In early 1619, Krizin was sent to administer the estate of the former Benedictine Abbey of Széplak, near Kassa, Hungary (now known as Košice, Slovakia). Around the same time, the Calvinist Prince of Transylvania, Gabor Bethlen, led a nationalist uprising against the Austrian Habsburgs, who then ruled Hungary.
At the time, Kassa was a stronghold of Calvinism for Hungary. To strengthen the position of the Catholic minority, the governor of the city, Andrija Dóczi, a Catholic appointed by Emperor Matthias, brought two Jesuit priests to Kassa: Stjepan Pongrácz and Melhior Grodziecki. Their presence caused unrest among the Calvinist majority of Kassa.
The Calvinists then incited a rebellion on 13 July 1619, falsely accusing the Catholic minority of arson . That following September, the city came under siege by the forces of the commander of the Calvinist army, George I Rákóczi. On 5 September Dóczi was betrayed by the mercenary forces defending the city and was handed over by the city authorities to him. His Protestant supporters then declared Bethlen "head" of Hungary and the protector of the Protestants. At that time Marko was staying at the then-Jesuit Church of the Holy Trinity, in the company of the two Jesuits ministering to the Catholics of the city. The Calvinist troops arrested the three priests at once. They were then left without food and water for three days.
During this time, the fate of the Catholic population was being determined. At the instigation of a Calvinist minister named Alvinczi, the head of the City Council, Reyner, was demanding the execution of all Catholics of the city. The majority of Protestants, however, were opposed to such a slaughter. The execution of the priests, however, was approved by them.
The commander promised Marko Krizin a church estate if he renounced the Catholic Church and converted to Calvinism. Krizin refused. All three were then tortured and soon beheaded.
The news about their martyrdom stormed across Hungary, shocking both Catholics and Protestants alike. Despite many pleas, Prince Gabriel refused to allowed them to be buried them in consecrated ground. He allowed them have a proper burial only when asked by Countess Katalina Pálffy, six months later.
The three priests were beatified on January 15, 1905 by Pope Saint Pius X. The canonization of the three Košice martyrs was proclaimed by Pope Saint John Paul II on July 2, 1995 in Košice. The remains of the Košice martyrs now rest in various locations, including the Basilica of Esztergom and the Ursuline Church of St. Anna in Trnava.