What’s in That Prayer? Saint Stephen, the Pugnacious Propagator of the Church

Here is the oration that the Church prays in the Mass and Office of Saint Stephen of Hungary (1038):

Concéde, quǽsumus, Ecclésiæ tuæ, omnípotens Deus: ut beátum Stéphanum Confessórem tuum, quem regnántem in terris propagatórem hábuit, propugnatórem habére mereátur gloriósum in cælis.

Here is my translation:

O Almighty God, grant we beseech Thee to Thy Church that, as she had blessed Stephen Thy Confessor as a propagator reigning on earth, she may merit to have him as a glorious champion in heaven.

Here is the translation from the Divinum Officium site:

Grant unto thy Church, we beseech thee, O Almighty God, that even as thy blessed Confessor Stephen, while he was a King upon earth, was her forwarder, so, now that he is a glorious Saint in heaven, he may be her defender.

There is obvious wordplay involving the words propagatórem (propagator, forwarder, “one who increases,” extender) and propugnatórem (defender, champion, advocate; etymologically: “one who fights for,” from pro- [for] and pugnāre [to fight]). We get the English word “pugnacious” from this same word pugnāre, hence my gratuitous title for this posting.

Something interesting happened to the Brothers on this wonderful feast-day of Saint Stephen of Hungary. One of the altar servers at the Holy Mass we went to this morning was the son of Eduard Habsburg (a.k.a., Archduke Eduard of Austria), the Ambassador of Hungary to the Holy See and the Sovereign Order of Malta. Paul, who seems a gracious young man, is a student at Thomas Aquinas College’s New England campus, a 22-minute drive from Saint Benedict Center. The traditional Latin Mass is currently being offered daily at TAC’s lovely Chapel.

I won’t make too much of it, but it was a sweet little extra on the feast of Saint Stephen of Hungary to receive the King of Kings in Holy Communion with the paten firmly in the grip of a Royal who has a direct connection to that noble nation, as well as the blood of Blessed Emperor Karl von Habsburg — also known as King Charles IV of Hungary.

The Crown of the Apostolic King, Saint Stephen of Hungary. Blessed Karl was the last to wear it.