Saints Melchior Grodziecki and Stephen Pongracz , SJ
St. Melchoir Grodziecki
Born : 1584
Died : Sept. 7,1619
Beatified : 1905
Canonised : July 2, 1995
St Stephen Pongracz, SJ
Died: Sept 7,1619
Canonized: July 2, 1995
Frs Melchior Grodziecki and Stephen Pongracz became acquainted when they were both at the Jesuit novitiate at Brno but neither foresaw that they would be companions in martyrdom 16 years later.
Melchior was born in his family’s castle in Grodiec in Selesia, Poland. He attended the Jesuit College in Vienna and entered the novitiate in 1603. After studies in Prague, Melchior was ordained in 1614 and worked there until moving to Kosice (today’s Slovakia).
Stephen was born in Transylvania, Hungary and entered the Society at Brno at 20. After he was ordained in 1615, he was stationed at the Jesuit College at Humenne. Four years later he was sent to Kosice.
In the early part of the 17th century, Kosice was a stronghold of Hungarian Calvinists. The few Catholics who lived in the city and the outlying districts had been without a priest for sometime until the King’s deputy asked for 2 Jesuits to care for the religious needs of the neglected Catholics there. Frs Grodziecki and Pongracz were the two priests to arrive in Kosice. As their missionary work amongst Catholics prospered, Calvinists hatred towards them increased. When the two priests heard the news that Gabriel Bethlen, Calvinist prince of Translvania, wanted to expand his territory by appropriating some of the King’s land and his Protestant army was marching towards Kosice, they returned to the city to be with the Catholics. They were joined by the diocesan priest, Fr Mark Krizevcanin.
When the Calvinists Minister in Kosice heard that the Jesuits had arrived, he sent his soldiers to arrest the 3 priests and later had them confined to their residence, with no food and drinks that night, knowing that their end was near, they heard each other’s confession and spent the night in prayer. The next morning, the soldiers tried to make them apostasize and accept Calvinism. When they repeatedly refused, the soldiers lost their patience and brutally burned, dismembered and beheaded them.
Fr Pongracz remained alive for 20 hours. The Protestant leader forbade the burial of the martyrs and it was only 6 months later after their deaths, that a devout Catholic Countess received permission to bury them