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Saint Bystrík from Ungaricae Sanctitatis Indicia 1692
Nitra, Kingdom of Hungary
|Died||September 27, 1046
Pest, Kingdom of Hungary
|Venerated in||Roman Catholic Church|
|Canonized||1083, Szabolcs, Kingdom of Hungary|
|Attributes||sword, boat, episcopal attributes|
Saint Bystrík (Latin Beztertus Nitriensis, Bestredius, Bestridus, Bestricus, Bistridus, Bistritus; Hungarian Beszteréd, Besztrik, Besztríd, Beszter) (died 1046) was a martyr and the bishop of the diocese of Nitra of probably Slavic or Hungarian origin.
Bystrík lived at the times when the first King of Hungary, Stephen I, undertook the Christianization of the Hungarian clans. Bystrík was appointed the bishop of Nitra, Kingdom of Hungary (the city is in Slovakia today) by him around the year 1034.
The exact place and time of birth of St. Bystríka is unknown, however he seems to have come from aristocratic family who had been Christianised in the mission of Cyril and Methodius before th end of the Great Moravian Empire in 907AD. We can assume that Bystrík graduated from the school of St. Hippolyta Zobor. The disciples of Cyril, and St. Gorazd were spreading out from Zobor at this time and include Astrik, Prokop, Benedikt, Maurus, Radla Svorad Benedict.
According to legend, Bystrík was murdered during the Vatha pagan rising of 1046 near the Danube in present-day Budapest together with bishop Gerard Sagredo (Hungarian: Gellért) and bishop Buldus (Bőd), as they were en route to Budapest for the coronation of the future king, Andrew I of Hungary.
On September 24, the bishops were attacked by Vatha's mob, who began stoning them. Buldus died immediately. Bystrík, together with bishop Beneta, managed to flee on a boat across the Danube river. Bystrík was mortally wounded by a sword on the Pest river bank by the pagans before they could be rescued by the incoming Andrew I. Bystrík died on September 27, the third day after the attack.
Bystrík was canonised during the reign of King Ladislaus I of Hungary in 1083. The remembrance day of Saint Bystrík falls on September 24. In Hungary, this day is the day when Saint Gerard Sagredo is celebrated together with his co-martyrs, Saint Bystrík and Saint Buldus.
Reverence for Saint Bystrík is not very widespread, but there are approximately two dozen of his pictures not only throughout Slovakia and Hungary but by Slovak community also in Australia, Canada, Italy, Poland and the United States. Saint Bystrík can be seen on frescos, on glass, on bells as well as on paintings made on wood and fabric.
The oldest picture of him dates back to the times of baroque and can also be found in the book of the Jesuit Gabriel Hevenesi entitled Ungaricae Sanctitatis Indicia from the year 1692 as Hoffman's copperplate.
On September 15, 2006 the first church was devoted to him in Nemce not far from Banská Bystrica, Slovakia. There is a church dedicated to Saint Bystrík is in Hajná Nová Ves. Saint Bystrík's House is in Čičmany (both Slovakia).
Saint Bystrík is portrayed as a bishop with a book and all attributes that denote the person of a bishop: cope, mitre, crosier, gloves and ring of the bishop. In his left hand, apart from the book, he often holds a sword that is the symbol of the way he died. Sometimes he is portrayed with a boat, on which he flew across the Danube river.
Bystrík is mentioned not only in records of the Nitra bishopric, but his name appears also in the Vatican secret archives. The earliest mention of it can be found in the legend of St. Gerard (13th century). Legend describes the events from the time of the Hungarian uprising in 1046 when Bishops Buldu and Bystríka rescue bishop Benett from the hands of insurgents. Most Hungarian chronicles of later periods which were taken over from the legend description of the events surrounding the martyrdom of Bishop Gerard, took a description of the martyrdom of St. Bystríka. he is also mentioned in the Uhorská chronicle of the 14th century, Buda Chronicle, Chronicle Dubnická, Vienna picture chronicle, Munich chronicle, written in German chronicle of Henry of Mugello and chronicles of John Turca and Anton Bonfini(1491 - 1496).
Considering the tradition of St. Bystríka as bishop of Nitra is old, the first surviving historical sources proving his involvement in Nitra are the Annales ecclesiastici regni Hungariae Melchior Inchofer dating from 1644AD. According to current historiography the historicity of Bystrik is uncertain. He could however be historical and may have served King Stephen I sometime around 1034 AD.
- "Saint Bystrík" (PDF). Hungarian Saints. Hungarian Catholic Mission. Retrieved 8 January 2013.
- BUGAN, Bystrík: Bishop Bystrík in Slovak history. In: Bobak, J. et al .: Historical Proceedings no. 15, 1/2005. (Martin, Solvakia: Matica Slovakia, 2005), p.13-25.
- BUGAN, Bystrík: Saint Bystrík. (Bratislava: Ray, 2007), p204.
- Pâté, Julius et al. Lexicon of Catholic priestly figures of Slovakia. (Bratislava: Ray, 2000), p. 172-174
- ZRUBEC, Laco: Personalities of our past. (Bratislava: Slovak Pedagogical Publishing House, 1991), p. 83-85.
- Bystrik Bugan: Svätý Bystrík. Bratislava : Lúč, 2007, ISBN 978-80-7114-660-5 (English summary)
- Bystrik Bugan: Biskup Bystrík v slovenských dejinách. In: Historical Volume No. 15, 1/2005 (Ján Bobák ed.) Martin : Matica slovenská, 2005, p. 13-25 (German summary)