Saint of the day

Posted in saints by Mike on December 17, 2014

kaszap3Venerable István (Steven) Kaszap was born the third of five children, on March 25, 1916 in Szekesfehervar, once the Roman town of Alba Regia, southwest of Budapest, Hungary. His father was chief supervisor at the local post office. Steven was sent to a Lycee, a school run by Cistercian monks. Until his graduation from the Lycee, Steven was an active member of the Boy Scouts. At the Lycee, Steven had an excellent gym instructor and excelled in gymnastics becoming a champion. As was customary in his high school, a Jesuit priest led one of the student retreats. A classmate of Steve’s arranged for Jesuit Fr. Kovacs to see them; the meeting took place; and then on June 21, Steven visited the Jesuit Novitiate, Manresa and was subsequently admitted to the Society of Jesus.

When Steven entered the novitiate, he appeared to be in excellent health but the medical check-up at the time detected fever. On the warm summer afternoon of July 30, 1934, he entered Manresa, the Jesuit novitiate. As a Jesuit novice, Steven reflected an inner maturity, coming across as a warm, calm, reserved individual who was, at the same time, informal and friendly. After recurrent illness and a surgery, the Jesuits had to send him home in his second year because he could not fulfill the requirements of the novitiate; even so, the Jesuits invited him to return as soon as his health permitted.

kaszap_istvanOn December 16, 1935, the doctor diagnosed a tumor in Steven’s throat and admitted him to the hospital. At five o’clock in the morning on the day after he was admitted, the night nurse was relieved. The patient wrote: “I have great difficulty breathing,” then, “I would like to be washed. The nurse brought him water and washed his sweat-soaked face and hands. Steven wrote again: “I cannot make my confession, but I request absolution for I am repentant. I cannot take communion either because I cannot swallow. I would like the last rites.” He underlined the last sentence. The nurse nodded that she understood. She arranged his bed. Steve was grateful, “The fresh water feels good on my hands,” he wrote in appreciation. The nurse went to fetch the priest. What happened after the nurse left him will remain a secret forever. By the time she came back with the priest, Steven Kaszap was no longer conscious, but his last message lay beside him! “God be with you! We will meet in Heaven! Do not weep, this is my birthday in Heaven. God bless you all!” Steven Kaszap’s eyes were still open, fixed on the crucifix and the Marian medal in his hands, but he no longer saw the nurse nor priest. The priest gave him absolution, anointed him with the sacrament of the sick, and gave him the papal blessing. In less than half an hour, at ten minutes past six on December 17, 1935, he stopped breathing. The townspeople came to believe he was a saint. An investigation into his virtues commenced in 1994, and in 2006, he was declared venerable.