This calendar of saints is drawn from several denominations, sects, and traditions. Although it will no longer be updated daily, the index on the right will guide visitors to a saint celebrated on any day they choose. Additional saints will be added as they present themselves to Major.
Tuesday, May 7, 2013
May 7 -- Feast of Blessed Gisela of Hungary
How about a little romance in the reliquary?
Reliquary of the Royal Right Hand
I wrote about Saint Stephen of Hungary almost two years ago. Stephen started out as the warlord of a semi-nomadic, heathen horde and ended up as the recognized king of a westernized nation-state. Not only did the Pope recognize his claim to a crown, the Pope actually sent it to him. Moreover, the Holy Roman Emperor, Henry II of Bavaria, recognized Stephen as a king and sent him his own sister as a bride. Kings can't get much more accepted than that.
The Hand Itself
Saint Gisela was, of course, Henry's sister and Istvan's (Stephen's) wife. Their marriage was apparently a rock-solid partnership. Sadly their only son died in a hunting accident, leading to the usual sort of succession discord (i.e. civil war) following Istvan's death. Gisela, being a German among Hungarians bereft of both husband and son, retired to a Bavarian convent where she served as abbess. She was revered by the sisters after her death, but unlike her late husband, she did not get the recognition a saint deserves. About seven centuries after her death folks tried to get her canonized, but it just wouldn't stick. In 1975, Pope Paul VI beatified her, which may be where it ends up unless some miracles start rolling in.
Gisela's Blessed Arm Bone
Where's the romance? It is in Veszprem, Hungary. There, in 1996, on the 1000th anniversary of the wedding of Istvan and Gisela, they were reunited through relics. The right hand of Istvan, the one that raised his crown to the Blessed Virgin Mother as he lay dying, praying that she adopt the Hungarian people, was placed beside a bone from Gisela's arm. They repose together in Saint Michael's Basilica, the oldest cathedral in Hungary. One can read more about this romantic reunion here.