Blessed Eusebius of Esztergom

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Blessed Eusebius, along with St. Paul the First Hermit, are the two most significant figures in the history of the Pauline Order. They are, respectively, the founder and heavenly patron. God inspired Blessed Eusebius by a vision to found the Pauline Order by calling together hermits scattered in the forests around Esztergom in Hungary into one religious community.

Early life and youth of Eusebius

Blessed Eusebius of Esztergom
Blessed Eusebius of Esztergom

Blessed Eusebius was born in Esztergom in the Kingdom of Hungary around 1200. He was noted from a young age for his intelligence and piety. He would prefer prayer and silence to the games of other children. A temperament that well suited him to becoming a religious and a priest. So he answered his call from God and was ordained priest upon completion of his studies at the chapter school. According to written records, he fulfilled his priestly ministry with a prayerful soul and piety that impressed those who saw him. So he distributed his prebend (stipend) among the poor and often received the hermits of the Pilis woods who came to town to sell their products. He loved solitude, and the devastation caused by the Mongol invasion of Hungary reinforced the need for expiation in him. Thus, began his desire to become a hermit.

Eusebius the Hermit then Monk

He managed to fulfil such desire when, in 1246, he renounced his office as prebendary and obtained the archbishop’s permission to live as a hermit among the rocks of the Pilis Mountains and spend his life in prayer and fasting as expiation for his country. A cross announced his motto outside his cave: in Cruce salus – Salvation in the Cross.

Inspired by a vision he saw in a dream, Eusebius started to unite the hermits spread all over the Pilis and to visit those who lived in other parts of the country. Though soon, he found he must go to Rome, where he received Pope Urban IV’s permission to found an order. After he placed his order under the patronage of Saint Paul the First Hermit, and in 1256 he participated in the council of Esztergom as prior and provincial of the religious community.

He died on the 20th of January 1270 in Pilisszentkereszt after a serious illness. On his deathbed, he invited his brothers to be faithful to the rules, practice fraternal charity and give good examples. Finally, he passed away, pronouncing the names of Jesus and the Virgin Mary. The brothers buried him in the crypt of the church he founded.

It is little known that the Church never officially beatified him. However, the veneration he had enjoyed for centuries was recognized by the Holy See in 2009 at the request of Cardinal Péter Erdő. His memorial is on the 20th of January.

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